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Caroline Calloway responds to former friend’s viral essay with a series of Instagram posts

The controversial Instagram influencer is in hot water again.


Dominic-Madori Davis

Internet Culture

Posted on Sep 11, 2019   Updated on May 20, 2021, 4:14 am CDT

Early Tuesday evening, a writer named Natalie Beach published an essay in New York Magazine’s The Cut titled “I Was Caroline Calloway.” The essay chronicles Beach’s former friendship with writer-Instagrammer Caroline Calloway and the misfortunes of being her ghostwriter.

Since it’s publication, the essay has left readers stunned.

Natalie Beach’s essay

In the essay, Beach recalls how she met Calloway while they were both students at New York University. As Calloway began to build her presence on social media, Beach would help her write the famous fantasy-like captions that Calloway would become known for.

“Bad guys are easy to spot in situations like what happened in the elevator that night,” one of Calloway’s Instagram’s are captioned from four years ago. “Hello, New Readers! And welcome to my blog!”

Calloway eventually left NYU to attended Cambridge University, where she began to post about her seemingly charming life as an American on the other side of the pond. She would attend social parties, travel the world, and date cute boys.

“The phrase ‘long story short’—much like super powers and kazoos—is difficult to use responsibly,” one of Calloway’s Instagram’s are captioned from five years ago. “But apparently taking photos at formal dinners is ‘against Cambridge rules’ and the waiter had already asked me to stop ‘four times.’”

However, in the article, Beach alleges that Caroline’s fantasy life couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, Beach states, she was the one who helped build and write the whole fantasy of Caroline’s life, and when she went to visit Calloway at Cambridge, she discovered the Instagrammer didn’t have many friends and rarely showed up to her classes.

“She rarely went to class, didn’t hang out with friends, and hadn’t started the dissertation she needed to graduate,” Beach wrote in the article. “She asked me to read the angry-professor emails she couldn’t bear to and just give her the gist.”

Yet, that didn’t stop Beach from helping her. And when Calloway was finally offered a book deal based on her life on Instagram, Beach helped her write the 103-paged book proposal, despite the fact that she knew all the credit would go to Calloway.

“The talent you show in this proposal, both in the writing and the photos from the entire story is this rare, remarkable thing,” literary agent Byrd Leavell apparently emailed Calloway, after reading the book proposal she and Beach wrote.

Calloway shared with her followers who Leavell was and that she had “finished a book,” with, of course, no mention of Beach.

“I know I’ve been off the Insta for a while, but I have an excuse as unglamorous as it is valid: I finished a book,” one of Calloway’s Instagram’s is captioned from four years ago. “Byrd is the Ari Gold of New York literary agents. He wears a blue tooth headset, edits ruthlessly well, and when he likes something he slaps his desk in excitement, grinning, ‘This is fucking money.’”

And though Beach alleges Calloway agreed to give her a percentage of the book deal, Beach ended up not seeing a dime, as Calloway backed out completely from the deal.

“Caroline claimed her failure to write the manuscript was an intentional stand against the patriarchy and a publishing industry that insisted her life story be defined by the men she dated,” Beach’s essay reads. “She could have been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, gone on the tour she always wanted, and recorded the audiobook in that beguiling voice of hers. But she had to be the one to tell her own life story, even if she couldn’t.”

Caroline Calloway anticipated the essay

Calloway, who was expecting Beach’s essay in The Cut to be published, warned her followers days in advance that a former friend would be writing an exposé about her.

“This afternoon I found out that one of the two people I have hurt the most in this world will be publishing an essay about our friendship for The Cut,” Calloway wrote. “Everything in Natalie’s article will be brilliant and beautifully expressed and true. I know this not because I have read her essay but because Natalie is the best writer I know.”

“For five years I saved these papers because Natalie was my best friend and for two years I saved them because she wasn’t,” Calloway shared on Instagram. “These are from the writing class where we met—the first time she edited me. I became a writer because of Natalie.”

“Natalie told me on Wednesday the article was going to published. Today is Saturday,” Calloway wrote a few days ago. “People are already buzzing about this essay. New Magazine loves a scam. Haters and Trolls, don’t you want to hear about the time six years just before this photo was taken when I visited Natalie’s apartment in Gowan’s and said, ‘How can you live like this?’ because I was a spoiled brat.”

Reactions to the essay

When it came time for the article’s publication, Calloway told her followers that the fact-checkers at The Cut finally contacted her. Once the article was live, she officially linked it to her Instagram.

“It’s live,” Calloway wrote on Instagram. “I just have a lot going on right now and I’m not processing sharply.”

However, there was one part of the essay Calloway had problems with. In the essay, Beach recalls how she tried to write part of Calloway’s manuscript by herself, after it became apparent that Calloway was not going to meet the deadline with her publisher.

Beach wrote:

“Back in L.A., I bought us time with the publishers by writing a quarter of the manuscript by myself, but Caroline hated it so much that she threatened suicide if I wrote anymore.”

Calloway, who states she has not fully read the article yet, was made aware of this line by her management team. She posted a screenshot of her texting someone at The Cut to tell them how they failed to clarify that line, even after she told them to prior to the essay’s publication.

“I wasn’t suicidal because Natalie was a bad writer,” the text message reads. “Life no longer seemed worth living because I had a sold a memoir I couldn’t and didn’t want to write and I was living inside an addiction I didn’t know how to solve.”

“TW: Suicide. I’ve never talked about the chapters of my life when I struggled with suicide on the internet before today and I didn’t want you to find out like this. But now you know,” she wrote in her caption. “I don’t resent Natalie for revealing that I was suicidal in her essay. It’s not black or white. Both of these things are true: I wish people hadn’t found out like this AND Natalie’s stories deserve to be told.”

And though The Cut and Beach have yet to respond to Calloway, many on social media have.

“What’s fascinating to me about Caroline Calloway isn’t the novelty of her scam- it isn’t novel or unique at all! She is very boring!- it’s that despite being exposed MULTIPLE times as a mediocre grifter, she’s still earnestly convinced *herself* that she’s special and worthy,” wrote @RivkaGheist

“OK I AM READING THIS NOW and hooooooooooooly shit there is so much to unpack here on self-esteem issues, sunk cost fallacy, toxic friendships (compounded by an obvious wealth gap), and just. So much. I’m going to finish and then tweet a bit about it,’ wrote @_ElizabethMay

“Some of you were never the Natalie in a #carolinecalloway friendship and it shows,” wrote @JoanYay.

“A lot has been written about how you never want a Caroline Calloway as a friend — someone reckless and manipulative — but I’d also read a thinkpiece on how you don’t want a Natalie either, basically an All About Eve-style stalker who uses control and condescension to manipulate,” said editor Heidi Moore.

Caroline Calloway’s other controversies

This certainly isn’t Calloway’s first time in the spotlight.

The Instagram influencer has found herself in controversy these last few years, involving everything from “scam” creative workshops, to selling paintings that never were shipped. She is known for calling out reporters on social media, and has been the subject of multiple think-pieces regarding fame and narcissism in the digital age.

And as for Calloway’s side of the story, she is apparently going to be interviewed by Taylor Lorenz, a reporter at the New York Times.

“Just wanted to let everyone know that I’m doing fine. I’m in a much better place than I was three years ago,” Caroline wrote on Instagram. “And I’m ready to make jokes about the Yale plates: I’ll only tell @taylorlorenz where they are in our interview.”

Calloway continued to respond to Beach’s essay on Wednesday. She made more than a dozen Instagram posts that were collages of the photos/captions that the pair worked on together. She captioned the posts, “By Natalie Beach and Caroline Calloway.”

The only question now is who’s going to play Calloway/Beach when this story finally gets made into a movie?


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*First Published: Sep 11, 2019, 1:55 pm CDT