Chiara Ferragni Is Using Instagram to Wake 18 Million People Up to the Threat of Coronavirus

Chiara Ferragni—the Italian model, fashion designer, and Instagram influencer—has a new bona fide: public health advocate. Since COVID-19 swept Milan, where she lives with her husband Fedez and their toddler, Ferragni has transitioned from her usual glamazon posts to dispatches meant to impress upon her 18 million followers the importance of not leaving their homes. (She is, thankfully, still sharing her “house look of the day,” driving me to consider how I might “style” my rotating cast of sweatpants.)

When it comes to social media, people have often said, “Instagram is not real life,” and never has that felt truer (or more twisted) than it does right now. This doesn’t feel like real life—watching a world-famous blogger become a voice of reason in our upside-down universe.

I started following Ferragni a few years ago. I liked the cute glittery sneakers she made and even bought a pair. I liked her excess—the sense that she was always doing too much, the most, everything. But I didn’t get really interested in her until Milan went on lockdown.

In Milan—and across the whole of northern Italy—hospitals are on the brink of total collapse, as the number of people who need treatment overwhelms the number of available beds and providers. According to the experts, the progression of the virus in the United States is expected to follow the pace it set in Italy, which means soon we’ll be in a similar situation if we don’t cancel everything to “flatten the curve,” or ensure that demand for health care doesn’t exceed the number of ICU beds and ventilators available.

I have been home with my three almost-teenage children for over a week and, honestly, I’m going kind of nuts. While they commandeer the common spaces to do their homework and watch TV, one of the things that’s oddly kept me sane is Chiara Ferragni’s at once mesmerizing and comforting Instagram stories.

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