Last weekend they revealed themselves to the world with a tweet and a video, and this week the girls are hitting the press…Well, we use that word lightly around these parts. At any rate, I’d wondered who was behind the @wstrngirl account since I heard about it last fall, but not in a way that made me want to launch an investigation. Moreso in a way that I would pay attention if someone told me and I didn’t have to work too hard to get the information (Like I said- Hardcore journalism over here). Fortunately the girls eventually took the latter route and we now know @wstrngirl to really be MIT grads Romina (@rcortellucci), Taya (@denotts) and Alicia (@AliciaDeB). If you aren’t familiar with the account, or you’d like a quick refresher check out the 100 Typical Western Girl Tweets From @WstrnGirl we posted yesterday.
Because I’m curious by nature, as I’m sure most of you are, I had a lot of questions I wanted to ask the girls so we decided to interview them. If you’re familiar with the account (or the girls) you’ll be able to tell almost right away which tweets came from whom just by reading their responses. I’d like to thank the girls once again for being such good sports and I’d like to give a double middle fingered wave to all the haters out there that don’t understand satire… No it’s not a mythical half-man-half-goat hybrid. If you were confused by that one, please go read a book after reading this interview.
How did you girls meet?
Romina: Taya and I met because she was forced to endure living on the same floor as me in Med-Syd, way back in first year, us being two out of the three MIT students on the floor. And after bonding over our strange pop culture obsessions and witnessing each other sacrifice our dignity, she was stuck with me. Alicia and I were on the MIT soph team together back in 2009, and we became a poorer version of MK and A.
Alicia: Between the three of us we spend an obscene amount of time trolling the web (sometimes for class, sometimes we don’t have an excuse) so this ended up being the perfect project.
What inspired you to create the account?
Romina: The whole #whitegrlproblems thing. Then I feel like we all kind of joked about it, but nothing really happened until one day Alicia messaged me the account info and that was that.
Alicia: The three of us have a similar sense of humour, we find things like College Humour’s Very Mary-Kate, thefrenemy.tumblr.com, and @whitegirlproblems hilarious- I think they contributed to the inspiration.
Which one of you is most like @WstrnGirl?
Romina: I’m going to deflect the question by pointing out that everyone who enjoys it is a little guilty of being a bit of a “WstrnGirl”.
Taya: Alicia, because she’s the only one who still gets excited when she sees the Balloon Man (at Jack’s).
Do you identify yourself as a typical Western girl?
Alicia: I frequent Ozen too often to deny that
Taya: As the token blonde, I have zero grounds to say otherwise.
How many people knew you were behind it?
Taya: Not a lot. Our close friends knew. I slipped up once or twice and revealed it, but it was to people I trusted, and if anything they loved being in on the secret. Or they were too terrified to face the wrath of @wstrngirl… Either/or.
Were you surprised at how many people started to follow?
Taya: Absolutely… Also, a little terrified.
Romina: Definitely. What started out as joke between friends catapulted into a strange phenomena.
What was the biggest challenge in running the account?
Taya: Definitely being frequent with the tweets. In between hunting for The Perfect Beige nail polish, and disgracing our family names on Richmond Row, we were also full-time students and sometimes life caught up with us. So we had to learn to make time for @wstrngirl, especially when it really started to take off.
Romina: For me, it was probably censoring myself and not overdoing it in tweets. I felt the constant need to make sure I never really crossed the line. And grammar – It never really was my strong point in writing and I did not want to be harpooned by our followers for it.
Alicia: I am terrible at keeping a secret, so that was definitely the hardest part for me, especially when friends would brought it up.
Was it ever difficult to come up with new material to tweet?
Alicia: As long as you know the prime people-watching-places on campus it’s hard to loose inspiration. Think Quotes, Centre-Spot and a classic JBR’s Wednesday.
Some of the tweets were a bit “controversial.” Was there ever a negative response to the account?
Taya: Of course, but deep down, everybody loves a villain.
Why did you keep the account a secret?
Romina: The anonymity allowed us to really write whatever we wanted without experiencing personal backlash. Also, people responded better to not knowing where it was coming from but relating to it anyway…I feel like it added to the fun.
Now that people know you were behind it, how have they reacted?
Taya: Not going to lie, I was super nervous and had no idea what to expect. I was shaking when I tweeted the “reveal” video. But everyone has been so amazing and so supportive, it’s been the biggest ego boost in the world. I’d also like to thank everyone for not commenting on my aggressive roots in the video.
Romina: To say we were loved by all would be a lie, but honestly I do not regret a single tweet. And not everyone is going to enjoy every single tweet, but it was all our attempt at humour. I think there was a bit of commentary on how we made “Western Girls” appear to be superficial alcoholic sluts, but if anything I think we showed that we have the capability of laughing at each other and ourselves. Those moments where people could not see the satire in it made me really want to say “Relax, it is a joke.”
Do you have a message for the haters?
Romina: I would love to throw in a Destiny’s Child “Survivor” reference here, but really we were lucky to have had some great supporters. Honestly, if people don’t care for us, the feeling’s mutual.
Alicia: I think one of the reasons that @wstrngirl worked was because we never responded to negativity- Anyone who has time to get worked up about someone joking about bar food and leggings-as-pants should probably re-prioritize.
Taya: Do Hot Yoga.
What was the best thing about running the account?
Romina: Being in a room when people were talking about the account without having any clue I was a part of it. It gave me a strange sense of pride while feeling like a badass spy.
Taya: Reading all the responses and random tweets people mentioned us in! We didn’t always respond, but we read each and every tweet, and it was just so cool to see how enthusiastic people were about what we were doing. I’d airkiss all of you if I could.
Of the 3 of you who tweeted the most?
Romina: It was definitely an even mix between the three of us. I think that is what made it really work- We all have similar but different variations of humor. The few of our friends who knew our secret began to actually point out which one of us did each tweet.
What made @wstrnGirl different from other university related Twitter accounts?
Romina: I think we ignited the trend, and just really kept it going while the few other accounts teetered out. I would love to say it was just because we are wittier and funnier than everyone else in the world, but I think we just tweeted what we thought was funny and were lucky enough to have people relate and respond.
Alicia: It was the original, and we already had a strong stereotype to work with.
Taya: If Western is Carrie, then Queen’s is Charlotte, Laurier is Samantha and Waterloo is Miranda. And everybody always wants to be Carrie.
The @wstrnGirl avatar is perfect, but where is it from and why did you choose it?
Romina: Alicia found it, so all credit is her’s. But I will say I found the background, I thought it was really cool and just took it off tumblr (I don’t know if either of us have violated any copyright laws…If so this is awkward)
Taya: …Like you said, it was too perfect. It completely epitomized that stereotypical hair-flipping Western Blonde. When I showed the account to my parents, they spent 10 minutes arguing over which blonde girl was me.
Alicia: We found it on a visual bookmarking site called WeHeartIt, and thought the ‘anonymous blonde at a raging dance party’ was a good fit.
Some of the Tweets were borderline social commentary, while others were a little sillier, do you find that you each tweeted with a different “voice”?
Alicia: I think that if you knew us well enough you could figure out which one of wrote each tweet, especially since I always forgot to hash-tag.
Taya: Absolutely, I can instantly tell which tweets were from Romina and which were from Alicia. But as for commentary, we always wanted to remain relevant and acknowledge current events, which is why there were tweets about the election and TED Talks.
I feel like you were always at Jim Bob’s? Any truth to that?
Romina: I only really went to Jim Bob’s a few times this year, so sadly not for me anyways.. But I’m sure Alicia and Taya have some lovely stories and NSFW photos.
Alicia: Anyone in their last semester at Western should rediscover Jim Bob’s as they knew it in first year.
Taya: 2.50 Killer Kool-Aids are my Kryptonite.
What do you think about @UWOBro?
Romina: Fist-bump. But really…The account was actually made by a friend of ours, and I genuinely loved some of the tweets however sporadic they were/are (I’m highly doubtful he is continuing it).
Alicia: I heard he is single.
What was your favourite tweet from @WstrnGirl?
Romina: “Middle parts are not for everyone” “I hate how you have an iPhone”
Alicia: “I told my dad that Aritzia was a grocery store when he asked about the Visa bill” or anything regarding the UWO Trinity (Homecoming, Halloween & St Patty’s)
Taya: It’s so hard to pick just one… But I loved “If you’re not in the booster juice line, you’re a nobody” mostly because I survived off of Matcha Monsoon’s for the entire month of March.
Was there anything you wanted to tweet that you thought might be too much?
Taya: We tried to be an equal-opportunity offender, but I think we were good about never crossing a line… Which is mostly because we made Romina run all her tweets by us first. She has no filter.
Romina: …Honestly I think there were a couple drug references I wanted to make that would have crossed the line. (I feel like I need to put in a disclaimer here to be both politically correct and not burn any of my future career paths, that I do not endorse drugs of any sort!…But comedy knows no boundaries)
Will you keep the account going?
Alicia: Probably not. All three of us felt like it wouldn’t be the same maintaining the account from outside the Western bubble.
Taya: It’s time for @wstrngirl to hang up her purple and white striped rugby polo and metallic violet AA leggings… Until homecoming, that is.
If you were to tweet from the account right now what would you say?
Romina: “Selling off my old extensions to pay for my 4 month vacation #offers?”
Alicia: Competing with Oprah for retirement attention has been tough.
Taya: “The official @wstrngirl cookbook ’101 Carb-Conscious Chickpea Recipe’s’ hits the UWO bookstore this fall!”
What’s next for you in life?
Romina: A fifth year of Western where I use the powers of social media for good or to continue to pester my friends until I network my way into a job that will allow me to insure my hair for millions of dollars. Or I will be looking over my application to Hogwarts, and if they don’t accept me then I will probably end up on Real Housewives of New Jersey. I’m exactly what they are looking for- Italian, big hair, and an affinity for making uncomfortable situations even more awkward.
Alicia: I’m going to school in Toronto next September for Public Relations (I’m such a stereotype).
Taya: I wish I knew… I’m taking the summer off to chill and focus on more important things (like myLookBook.nu) and then I’m going to start looking for an internship for September (Hint – I need a job).
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