HM micro-influencers take on TikTok: Honor McCarthy ’18

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Kate Beckler, Staff Writer

After jokingly posting a TikTok that blew up in September 2021, Honor McCarthy ’18 has amassed 16.6K followers and 2.5M likes on her account, @gingergrinch.

Her first video was a dance, but she soon realized that type of content was not her strength. Her ticket to TikTok-fame came with a video about her parallel life to another student at Yale University that gained over 4M views and 800K likes. “It was a crazy story about a series of coincidences between me and this other girl named Honor, and the way our lives overlapped in a very parent trap way,” McCarthy said.

Since then, McCarthy has become a “micro-influencer.” She posts frequently to a decent-sized following, with a core group of people she interacts with, McCarthy said. The majority of her followers are women or girls who live in New York.

McCarthy’s content often takes the form of video series documenting her life, such as one where she reviewed graduation dresses. “I decided to try out probably 40 dresses, and all of them were completely horrible,” McCarthy said. She documented her struggles to find a cute white dress after realizing how difficult it was.

She also found success through TikTok sounds, where users sync videos to trending soundbites, often from pop songs. Many of her videos use Taylor Swift lyrics — like one where she riffs on her boyfriend to the lyric, “screaming, crying” from Swift’s “Blank Space,” which has 190.1K likes.

The third type of video that populates McCarthy’s account are “day in the life” style vlogs. “My videos were mostly showing what it was like to go to school, or occasionally extremely basic outfit content like a sweater,” she said.

Occasionally, when she feels passionate about something happening in the world like the overturning of Roe v. Wade, she posts about it, but the majority of her content is not political. 

Drawing upon other creators’ videos helps McCarthy get new ideas and keep her content fresh. She loves watching @clare.sullivan_, an interior designer whose budget-friendly decor inspired McCarthy as she moved into her first apartment, she said.

She also looks to friends from school to find inspiration. “It’s sort of the new Instagram, like a much more unfiltered version of it,” she said. She sometimes sees other students posting the Yale University library on her For You Page, the part of TikTok that targets users with videos geared towards their interests.

McCarthy loves to create content, but she does not take herself too seriously, a trait that makes her videos more relatable, she said. “You’re recording stupid little eight second videos that you know everyone is sending around in their group chats, making fun of you. You just have to stay humble with it.”

If she films too many TikToks in a week, it feels more numbing than meaningful, she said. “I’m not trying to make this a full time job, it would take the fun out of it,” she said. “I like to think of it as a sort of virtual scrapbook or a diary that I look back on and be like, ‘oh my god, she’s so fun.’”

Although TikTok is not her job, McCarthy does earn money from paid partnerships with companies like Mother Denim and Rent the Runway. There have also been a few smaller fashion companies that have sponsored her but those are the main two. 

McCarthy’s favorite part about posting on TikTok is the connections that she’s formed. “As crazy as it sounds, I’ve actually met a ton of girls who have become real life friends through it, and girls who I never would have otherwise.”