In photographs, Teresa Oman, with her waist-length hair, ever-parted lips, and freckled nose, looks as though she subsists on berries and dew. Almost all shots of her have been taken outdoors. It’s that wood-sprite look that helped make her one of 2013’s most reblogged models on Tumblr. In person, though, Oman comes across more like someone’s kid sister: pretty but not startling so, smiley, eager-eyed. The only otherworldly thing about her is a quick-to-appear impish grin. She laughs as she talks and has a wolfish appetite.
With her 20,000 Instagram followers and dozens of fan pages, Oman has, without really meaning to, become one of the most beloved models on the internet—alongside such household names as Cara Delevingne, Karlie Kloss, and Erin Wasson. This is despite not yet having booked any major campaigns or editorials (she appears frequently in Urban Outfitters catalogues and in the pages of Nylon—teen favorites, which might explain her large Tumblr following). Oman, who grew up in a “super-hippie” beach town in Australia, doesn’t seem to have any real ideas as to why she’s so celebrated by her fellow YA fans but jokingly insists that we “get to the bottom of it.”
Okay, let’s. Maybe it’s that she’s five-foot-six. And doesn’t look ghoulish, like high-fashion models. On Instagram, Oman comes across like the classmate everyone wants in their homeroom or the most-fun friend from the soccer team. She’s goofy but not self-consciously quirky; cheerful but not ditsy; comic but sarcasm-free (one of her recent Instagram posts, a snapshot at a castle in Germany, is captioned “MOAT lyfe.”) For a generation raised on user-generated content, this is the unspoken ideal. Forget being fierce. Just be well liked.