Dixie D’Amelio and the Art of the Internet Clapback
With new partnerships underway, Dixie D’Amelio doesn’t have time for trolls, but she’ll make time for the occasional clapback.
It’s easy to say that Dixie D’Amelio is only famous because of her sister. It’s an assertion you’ll often find browsing through the comments section of any of her social pages — the ones that collectively have more than 67 million followers. But you’d be missing the bigger picture actually believing that. The older D’Amelio sister isn’t the clout-seeker you might typically expect infamous families or inner circles of L.A. creators.
In fact, she’s quite the opposite. On Dixie’s pages you’re not going to find a carefully curated collection of posts bred from a social media team, publicist, or manager. You’re not even going to find something curated from the typical influencer. You know, the balance of thirst-traps meets photo shoots meets brand partnerships meets “down-to-earth” luxury ranch shots.
You’re just going to find Dixie, a satirical 19-year-old who’s basically just playing it by ear like the rest of us. And the same can be said for her in person. Or, in this case during Covid-19, over the phone.
She told V that she doesn’t want her lasting legacy to be dance numbers, enviable video montages or even hilarious (and often warranted) responses to trolls. She wants it to be her positivity.
“I just want to spread a lot of love online, and fun and humor, because things are taken so seriously,” she said after a Labor Day Weekend spent at the beach with friends and family. “I hope people just remember me bringing happiness and positivity to an app — and laughter when you need it. The internet can be a dark place and if I can help stop that, I’ll be happy.”
Speaking of her happiness, you’ve likely heard her single, “Be Happy.” The song took her from TikTok personality to multifaceted celebrity, beating out Travis Scott and Kanye West’s collab for the top spot of YouTube’s trending list (in just a few hours), and nailing a spot on Billboard’s Emerging Artists. And just last week its remix had a similar impact. It jumped up the site’s trending charts and has already warranted close to 14 million views.
But between her hmm-hmm-hmm chuckles and quick, casual responses, you’d hardly be able to tell what a whirlwind year she’s had.
These past few months alone, she’s launched a makeup line with her sister, Charli, became a major campaign face for Hollister, and has been curating a new podcast that’s set to launch later this month. And that’s in addition to the already large amount of time she spends making music and video content.
Throughout our 45-minute call, the star said thank you more times than I could count. And seemed more hesitant to discuss her successes than she was to, say, the weird TikTok pages she likes to follow, or the ability for regular teens to make it big on the social media app.
Now in L.A. in a home with her family, Dixie’s days are packed from morning to night with brand deals, photoshoots, and trips to the studio. She recently signed with Jennifer Lopez’s record company, HitCo Entertainment, and is chipping away at more music.
“I can’t compare it to anyone just because I’ve been trying everything and trying to figure out what I like,” she says of the work she’s developing. “Billie Eilish is a big inspiration.”
Over this time, she’s finding that along with pop, she loves the slow, all-encompassing impact of the piano. And the anticipation surrounding more releases isn’t just coming from her fans, it’s coming from other artists.
She’s been receiving a lot of advice lately from music industry insiders and other singers she’s admired. Taylor Swift even sent her a cardigan after dropping her surprise album, Folklore.
The best advice she’s gotten? “Staying away from boys and trusting your gut,” she said.
These words of wisdom come in handy when she receives backlash online from guys who slut-shame her or from ex-boyfriends who gaslight her. But sometimes staying away isn’t enough, and she’ll hit back. But when they go low, she stays light.
“I just use humor to deal with things,” she says of the clapbacks she’ll occasionally post. One of her most recent features her singing along to her ex-boyfriend’s song in which he sings about not cheating on a girlfriend. In the video, Dixie’s singing along to the lyrics while a greenscreen projects what looks like messages from an unfaithful guy trying to hit up other girls.
“I’d rather have fun with it and make a joke,” she said of these instances. “Nothing would offend me to the point where I’d say something hurtful. The internet is stressful.”
That online stress is something she experiences every so often, and leans on her family to combat. If there’s something particular that’s bothering her, she’ll ask her parents the best way to go about things, and sometimes that’s not responding to the aggressor at all.
“From my parents, I learned a lot,” she said. “They are very good at talking us through things. It’s very easy to approach them in situations where we don’t know what to do.”
If things ever become too stressful online, whether it’s on TikTok or other social media, that’s when Dixie says she might reconsider her work life.
“I don’t want TikTok to consume me,” she said. “I don’t want to go somewhere thinking, ‘Oh, I need to make this video with that person to stay relevant. I want to keep being myself and having fun, and I don’t want people to think that I’m putting things out there that aren’t real.”
So it seems what we can expect for her future includes a lot of the same humor, humility, and humbleness that she shows today. The kind of light-hearted kindness you’d want anyone to treat you with, and the kind that you’d hope that say, 67 million people, could be influenced with. The kind that, clearly, isn’t coming from someone who’s just famous because of a sister.