output_BvuSq5 Girls stalk hardcore.  In about 20 minutes, I can tell you where almost any given person grew up, where they went to school, who their friends are, what kinds of music they listen to, their relationship status (very important), what their favorite movies are, where they work and what they think about.  I can tell you everything.

I Internet-stalked someone investigated a person for the purpose of this blog.  There is a teen taking over the Internet, and I wanted to figure out why.  Of course, this included finding out all information about #AlexFromTarget as possible.

To be perfectly clear, many credible sources, like CNN, New York Magazine’s The Cut and Teen Vogue are also Internet-stalking this student’s rise to fame.

“#AlexFromTarget is a new teen-Internet sensation,” said Aisling Cooney (pronounced Ash-leen Coon-ee), a psychology and theater sophomore at the University of Florida.  “He works at Target. And some girl, in the spirit of stalking and being creepy, took a photo of him while he was working at Target, posted said photo on social media, saying that he was really hot, and he blew up [the Internet]. He’s really just an enigma.”

Alex, with his Justin Bieber-like hair and stellar orthodontist (those teeth!), became famous for doing almost nothing.  He told Ellen DeGeneres that his talent is bagging groceries, and this skill (or his beauty?) transformed Alex from cashier to the next teen heartthrob.

Twitter, the social media platform responsible for Alex’s rise to fame, has also been the source of trends such as #YesAllWomen and #WhyIStayed, which both brought awareness to violence against women.  Similarly, Youtube brought 5 Seconds of Summer, a boy band from Australia, to One Direction’s attention.  Earlier this year, the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association launched the Ice Bucket Challenge on Facebook.

Growing into a massive trend, whether as a person, organization or topic of discussion, has a formula, explained Aisling.

“Becoming famous is a huge combination of luck and maybe talent? Maybe not. I mean, have you heard some of those singers? We have this thing called autotune now.”

Alex hasn’t done anything particularly deserving for all of that fame.  He was born with good genes that he didn’t work for.

“In our world, you will get farther if you’re more attractive,” Aisling said.  “Whether or not that’s the right thing or morally-sound is another issue.”

It’s not that being beautiful and capitalizing on that is a bad thing, but it shouldn’t be a person’s only good quality, Aisling said.  If a photo was posted of her (which is happening right now on this blog) and made her famous, then she’d be able to showcase her singing and songwriting abilities.  Even with these talents, though, Aisling isn’t a well-known artist yet.

“I like to tell myself that it’s not because of lack of talent but that it’s because of lack of a combination of funding, an agent and I’m not truly pursuing it,” Aisling said.  “I really do it more as a pastime.”

If #AlexFromTarget can become famous for bagging groceries, Aisling can, too.  Right?

Aisling bags those (imaginary) groceries like a champ.

Aisling bags those (imaginary) groceries like a champ.

Unlike Alex, Aisling wasn’t looking away from the camera (and she doesn’t work at Target).  She posed.  She made cute faces. She yelled at me to take the picture really quickly because she didn’t want us to get in trouble she didn’t want to make all of the boys in the store run to “her” register.

Just for the sake of coming up with unlikely scenarios, like I do all day, every day some girls do, what would Aisling do if someone she didn’t know took her picture?

“Well, if it just got on social media without me knowing it, I would probably say that it was really creepy, but I would actually be flattered on the inside,” Aisling said.  “And if it made me famous, the ends justify the means. I would just be so excited that my photo was worthy of Internet fame.”

The probability of that happening is very slim, Aisling said.  There’s a reason only boys are the ones that have created the Hashtag Hottie craze.

“[A girl] wouldn’t be famous unless she were naked, I don’t think,” Aisling explained.  “Unless she were either naked or wearing something really scandalous. You don’t see just a pretty girl pop up because she’s pretty. She has to be provocative, I think.”

According to Aisling, teen girls are also more inclined to take and post photos of cute boys than boys are to do the same of cute girls.

“I feel like girls are much more likely to take a creepy picture of a boy because teen girls can often be boy crazy and silly,” Aisling said.  “And I think that’s just how this happened, and that’s the essence of this. Some girl was being silly, and it just worked in Alex’s favor.”

At Gainesville’s Target, you might not find Alex, the Texas native with over 68,000 Twitter followers, but you can find #ShayFromTarget.

Shay and Aisling

Shay and Aisling

“#ShayFromTarget doesn’t need to blow up on the Internet,”  Aisling said, laughing.  “He just needs to blow up my phone because he was lookin’ real cute. #ShayFromTarget is the one that got away.”

With Aisling’s sweet smile, adventurous spirit and undeniable talent for singing and songwriting, there’s no reason she shouldn’t be famous, too.  We’re advocating for #AislingFromAeropostale (her former workplace).

“#AlexFromTarget, I admire you,” Aisling said. “I envy what happened to you just out of chance. And maybe, someday, if the fates smile down on me, I could be #AislingFromAeropostale.”

Tag #GalsOfGainesville and #AislingFromAeropostale to introduce the world to a talented Gal of Gainesville.



The photo that includes me was taken by a random Target employee.  All other photos were taken by me.


One thought on “#AlexFromTarget

  1. Pingback: #AislingFromAeropostale | Ansley Pentz

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