At Sunday evening’s Golden Globes, the most prominent red carpet star was none other than the now-viral @therealfijiwatergirl. Kelleth Cuthbert, as she was expertly tracked down by The Cut, was the anonymous (but expertly posed) presence holding a tray of Fiji Water in the background of almost every red carpet photo from last night. A true cool customer, Cuthbert responded to the question asking if she knew she was trending on Twitter with two simple words: “It’s calculated.”
If you Google “Fiji Water,” the first question that pops up is, “What is so special about Fiji Water?” Excellent question! There’s something about the bottled water brand’s simple, tropical design and ’80s-chic serif font that’s made it the reigning king of Vaporwave. Fiji’s logo has been the inspiration for countless Windows 95-inspired images and has become a must-have accessory at countless fashion weeks. But how did the “natural artesian water” become Influencer Water™? I did a quick investigation.
rare fiji water aquarium nails for ya thirsty ass bitches pic.twitter.com/LQjSs9Umkk
— KRO (@KROCAINE) November 25, 2016
Touted by the company itself as “Earth’s finest water,” the brand was founded in 1996 and is headquartered in Los Angeles. According to Fiji’s site, the water is sourced from an aquifer on the island of Viti Levu. Since Vaporwave surfaced around 2010, the water—along with Arizona Iced Tea—has very much been an aesthetic. Fiji, by default of being artisan bottled water, has a peak capitalist vibe, which clearly resonates. Plus, the beach-y design is more visually appealing than Evian.
In 2011, Fiji was a sponsor of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, handing out water to parched beautiful people and live-streaming Christian Siriano’s show on fijiwater.com. By 2014, the water bottle brand had earned its place on a list of “hypebeast essentials.”
It would seem that Fiji Water’s influencer status would have jumped the shark after 2014, and yet there’s something that keeps it cool—at least in the eyes of Instagram’s lifestyle gurus. In 2017, Danielle Bernstein of fashion blog We Wore What became an ambassador for Fiji. Of the water brand, she said: “It’s been one of my favorite partnerships of the nine years I’ve been doing this because the brand fits so seamlessly into my life, plus I was already a consumer for years!”
And now we have the Fiji Water Girl keeping the brand relevant as the first meme of 2019. Posing coyly yet resolutely behind almost every celeb on the red carpet, from Jamie Lee Curtis to Cody Fern, she successfully made a water bottle cool again, at least for as long as it has the internet’s fleeting attention.
In an interview with Glamour, Cuthbert, a Canadian native and former social worker, wasn’t expecting all the buzz, even though it was clearly a PR stunt on behalf of Fiji. “This is something I would go viral for,” she said. “I feel like I’ve been photobombing people since I was a kid.”
She also said the report that it was “calculated” wasn’t true—though it seems likely that maybe Fiji, um, told her to say that. On the many photos she was part of, she said, “Sometimes you’re caught between a lot of cameras, so there’s a lot of photographers at different angles. You’re just kind of trapped sometimes. See that’s the thing: I feel like I was looking away, but sometimes I was looking so I could move out of the way.”
Either way, she was the most captivating red carpet presence, in spite of Timothée Chalamet’s Louis Vuitton harness and Lady Gaga’s shallow blue. And thanks to Fiji and their Water Queen, we have (arguably) the first inspirational meme of the year:
— Shelby L. (@ShelBB8) January 7, 2019