TikTok is a beautiful nightmare that always has a little something for everybody, as evidenced by the pure chaos of the FYP page–which routinely pipes in fitness influencers, toads dressed in gardening gear, and scores of young adults humping the floor to “WAP.” The algorithm is extremely intelligent, scarily so, and has sussed out that we both live in New York City. It is for this reason that we learned of Audrey Peters, an influencer whose feed is like if The Rules and a Sex and the City marathon birthed a Zoomer.
Peters is not particularly unusual, but she is a prime example of how celebrity is made now, following a tattered playbook that is resurrected every time someone new and fresh enters the scene, seeking the spotlight. However, after making a minor splash in the papers for trying to hire an unpaid intern to do whatever it is that she might need, Peters’ trajectory to notoriety is right on track. This is a big step! She’s on her way to something.
Peters’ TikTok, in which the apparently wealthy influencer was looking for an unpaid intern, sparked a rash of criticism about the ethical nature of her request. In a previous post, Peters had allegedly reached out to her following asking for money, a pattern described in yet another, clarifying TikTok that purports to educate users about why Peters’ request was so egregious.
In light of this recent development, resident TikTok scholars Hazel Cills and Megan Reynolds had a conversation exploring the self-anointed “CEO of ‘let’s do it,’” whatever the HELL that means, and why the two of us are so compelled.
Megan: Unfortunately, I am the person at Jezebel who has brought Audrey Peters to your attention, and I will atone thusly for this transgression when I am granted entry into Hell. Do you know or did you know this woman prior to me bringing her to you?
Hazel: Unfortunately I know who this woman is, not because I sought her out but because she was forced onto me by Satan himself. Basically, Audrey Peters is a very popular TikTok influencer-type whose brand is basically Carrie Bradshaw wannabe. The kind of young urban professional who thinks not going to Brooklyn is a personality type, you feel? She got famous on the platform for recommending spots to drink and eat at in New York City, most of which are overpriced brunch spots that single-handedly open up portals to hell (or so I believe.)
Megan: What fascinates me about Audrey is that, yes, the New York she inhabits is a city that feels entirely foreign to me–even though I am roughly 14 years older than her, and have lived here since 2009. She frequents brunch spots and bars that I think are only in the West Village, Soho, and maybe Tribeca, and lives the kind of life that a lot of young people probably think that they will lead if they move to the Big Apple. Part of me watches her content from an anthropological perspective because as I sprint towards my 40s, I feel woefully out of touch with what the children are doing. But, I don’t think she’s representative of what the children are doing? Because not every 22-year-old is playacting being a Carrie with a Charlotte x Samatha rising on a platform that is full of chaos. Like, please look.
Hazel: I think “what it’s like to live in New York City” content does well on TikTok, but I also live here and the app clearly knows that and serves it to me regularly. But most of it tends to be influencer-ized depictions of living in NYC. Suddenly, everyone lives in a glam studio apartment in the UES or a Tribeca loft. Obviously, that is not the reality for most New Yorkers. But Audrey is kind of like if old school Cosmo magazine was a TikTok; she gives tips on red flags for a first date and how to style bike shorts, all delivered with this sort of “hey girlfriend, here’s the scoop!” tone. And maybe that’s what makes her so especially insufferable to me when she comes up in my feed, because there are Audrey Peters all over this city, and they will trample you just to get in line for a bottomless mimosa.
Megan: I agree! There’s a thing to this shtick that I think can work when it actually feels authentic and not calculated. I believe that there are hordes of women of this ilk who would very much step on my Birkenstock if I was the one thing standing between them and Cha Cha Matcha, but I don’t think that anyone is a monolith like that, you know. Fine, sure, and great, but the joy of TikTok is the shred of authenticity. What stresses me out the most about Audrey’s stuff is that she very clearly is gunning to become an Influencer. And, like any influencer on the up and up, she’s already found herself embroiled in a teensy bit of scandale.
It seems that Audrey was on Instagram Live asking her followers for money on Wednesday and then also advertised for an unpaid intern, ostensibly to help with her content creation. Sniff sniff!
Hazel: It always amazes me what people say they need interns for. What on Earth could Audrey be doing that requires her to have what is essentially an employee? Mood-boarding? Organizing her studio apartment’s oven, which most definitely includes her shoes? From the listing, it sounds like she just needs to invest in a nice camera, not enlist a human to take photos, but some people are so eager to put “boss” in their LinkedIn profile that they’ll put out a call for an intern. To her credit, Peters apologized for the listing in the comments of the call-out TikTok and recognized the post was insensitive, and then posted a video apology. But she uses the excuse that her followers reached out wanting to intern for her (again, intern doing WHAT) and talks about how helpful her own unpaid internships were, saying she never thought to look into the “ethics” of it.
Megan: Here’s the thing: you’re right. Here’s the other thing: Audrey and her ilk aren’t going anywhere because this is how famous people are made now! TikTok is both the sausage and the sausage maker, and we are all in thrall to it.
(Updated 3/2/22 with new details)