The Downfall of Danielle Bernstein

Danielle Bernstein, also known as @WeWoreWhat on Instagram, a prominent fashion influencer with over 2.5 million followers, has received backlash for a plethora of reasons. Bernstein, not only boasts a huge following but has a successful clothing line, is a best-selling author, and has founded a tech company called MOE Assist. 

What is going on? 

Over the past few months, she has been accused of severely photoshopping her body, not taking the pandemic seriously, and stealing the designs of multiple small businesses.

Her biggest scandal yet revolves around copying a mask design from a small, Latina-owned business. Over the course of the pandemic, companies have been coming out with their own line of masks, Danielle was no exception to this. She announced hers would be lined with a metal chain attached to it - very fashionable and on-brand for the influencer. However, it had come to light that she was not the first person to come up with this as she had been in contact with the small brand @bysecondwind. 

Bernstein had asked the company for masks on the 29th in June via Instagram DMs, and then on the 2nd of July, Danielle had messaged the owners of @bysecondwind telling her that she would be coming out with her own linen-chained masks. The popular Instagram account @Diet_Prada reported, sharing a side-by-side photo of Danielle's masks and the original @bysecondwind’s, as well as the DMs between the two. The results are striking. She has since apologized and taken the masks off her website. 

AOC was seen in her stories wearing the @bysecondwind masks, as well as touring the factory of the small business.

Towards the end of July, @Diet_Prada posted another instance of Danielle and her team exploiting a small business - this time for a pair of shorts from an Australian Etsy seller @artgarmentsau. Her original photo caption stated “Woke up to so many DMs about these shorts that I threw on to get to my shoot yesterday, they’re vintage gym shorts from the 90s and I’m remaking them for my brand! […]”, she has since updated her caption after receiving backlash to include this edit “[…] CORRECTION - these are from Etsy and I totally thought they were vintage but they are made to order - someone on my team ordered them for me a while back - I will not be making them!”.

For both of these instances, the originality of an item is not the problem - the problem was the conscious effort to exploit these small businesses for her personal gain.

And what about her edits?

With reference to Danielle severely altering her body with photoshop, Instagram accounts @wephotoshoppedwhat2 and @weoverwhat, have been regularly posting about instances wherein Danielle’s photoshop is present and subtle. It comes to no surprise that Instagram influencers and other public figures photoshop their appearances, but the problem lies within the fact that most of these influencers are being idolized by young, impressionable women (and men) who try hard to attain the influencer’s bodies when in reality, it is unattainable and simply doesn’t exist. Both of the expose accounts have been posting the DMs they get showcasing @WeWoreWhat’s (ex)followers and their cases of body dysmorphia, as well as their experiences with eating disorders to attain Danielle’s body type - that again does not exist. 

The same Instagram accounts @wephotoshoppedwhat2 and @weoverwhat have also been following Danielle’s Instagram page over the course of the pandemic and it is clear to see that she has not taken the pandemic seriously, having escaped New York City and was seen out partying in the Hamptons and Montauk with other influencers. Despite Bernstein’s claims of being safe and getting regularly tested to attend these parties (which in itself is another problem as rapid tests are not only very expensive, thus making them inaccessible for the population, but are not always reliable either)she has contracted COVID-19.

Takeaways? 

I used to really look up to and admire Danielle for a multitude of reasons, her work ethic, and her lifestyle being some of them. Over the course of these past few months, I have been incredibly disappointed by the privilege she has displayed as well as the lack of transparency with her followers with reference to editing her photos, as I was one of those young, impressionable followers who used to want to look like Danielle.