91-year-old becomes YouTube star with heartwarming isolation videos

A 91-year-old woman has become a YouTube star after modelling her favourite quarantine outfits in backyard fashion shows.

Betty McDonald lives in Georgia, where businesses like gyms and bowling alleys have begun opening up, before shelter-in-place orders ended on April 30.

Betty McDonald has gone viral with fashion shows during social distancing in the USA. Photo: YouTube/ A Good Neighbor

Betty’s advanced age makes her vulnerable to the virus, and staying home has dampened her spirits, particularly given her penchant for elaborate outfits and perfect presentation.

“Ms. Betty is used to social interaction — going to church, the senior citizen’s centre, and Cracker Barrel with friends,” caretaker and neighbour Kim Taylor tells Yahoo.

“Not being able to dress up, she has been bored, so I suggested doing a fashion show outside.”

“That was music to my ears,” Betty tells Yahoo. After a few twirls in her Albany yard wearing her fanciest garb, Taylor decided to introduce her to YouTube.

In two videos posted to Kim Taylor’s YouTube channel, Betty shows off a variety of Goodwill outfits from her three closets.

The first is a black-and-white jacket with a patterned skirt, the second a blue hat with jewelled hearts and a red blouse with a white blazer, plus chunky and glittery jewellery to finish it off.

In a touching twist, the fashion shows are actually a tribute to her husband John Henry McDonald who died in 2007 after serving 20 years in the U.S. Air Force. The couple of 58 years met at a USO dance at Tyndall Air Force in Panama City, Florida.

“We danced, we dated, and four months later, we married,” Betty explains in an April 22 video, adding the pair loved dressing up for outings to the movie theatre and dance club.

“He was my best friend and he was my personal chef,” she says in the video. “This is for you, dear John. God bless.”

To preserve her energy, Betty and Kim film each outfit on separate days, then Kim edits and posts them on YouTube. Reading the positive comments has invigorated Betty, who looks forward to dictating each reply as Taylor types on her laptop.

The fashion shows have distracted the 91-year-old from worrying about the coronavirus pandemic, says Taylor.

“She is a wonderful lady and when she does her fashion shows, the cares of the world fade away.”

She may be an internet sensation, but Betty is still somewhat tech illiterate, with Kim doing the legwork when it comes to uploading the fabulous clips.

“She asks me, ‘What’s on YouTube? today,’” says Kim, saying she is teaching Betty how to send text messages on her flip phone, however, she doesn’t have an internet connection.

“Now, Ms. Betty calls me her producer,” she says. “I joke that when she’s famous, we’ll need [professional] camera equipment.”

“I feel like a natural star,” the 91-year-old quips.

One of McDonald’s childhood dreams is to ride in a convertible car, so a test drive might be in their future, although Kim will take the wheel – no true star can drive to their own red carpet after all.

“I will sit in the back and wave,” says McDonald.  

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