Cool Girl On The Internet: Polina Malko
Polina Malko is
probs defs the coolest 11th grader in the whole of New York City. She is a model and student who moved to The Big Apple with her parents from a small village in Belarus when she was five. Although she has a following of over 60K and is totally beaut, the young whippersnapper is still as humble as ever, and is super focused on getting a solid education.
We caught up with Polina to reflect on her former One Direction obsession, going to high school in the age of social media and dealing with #haters online.
Ava Nirui: Tell me a little about yourself?
Polina Malko: I was born in Belarus and I moved to New York when I was five and went to a private pre-K school so I could learn English. I went to a public school my whole life and now am in high school just trying to get through it.
Do you remember much of Belarus?
Not from when I was born there, but I go back there every two years and it's pretty much the same exact thing. There's nothing there. My parents were born in a little village — there's one supermarket and one school. There were like 15 kids in the village. Moving here was a big change, especially having a lot of friends [in NY]. But people in Belarus still hate America.
Do you like going there?
I hate it, there's nothing there. I have no friends, and the friends I do have are way older than me now and they don't wanna talk to me cause I'm from America. When I go there, I go to the potato farm with my mum.
Do you know what you want to do after you're done with school?
I wanna major in English, maybe be an English teacher, and minor in business. I still have two years to go, so I have some time to think!
Do you chill with kids from your high school?
My boyfriend is from school, and I have great friends from school. It ranges — last year my friends were from the internet but now most are from school 'cause I'm focusing on school.
Do the people from the internet find it weird that you're in school?
Yeah, when we were really close they would be like, "Let's hang!", and I'm like, "Um... I'm in school". There would be parties and concerts I couldn't go to 'cause I was doing homework. At the time, I felt like I was left out. I'm not that upset now cause I'm working on going to college. I could always focus on modeling but I'm glad I have school as a back up.
Do you feel more advanced/mature than kids in school because you are big on social media and have more real life experiences outside of school?
They think that way about me 'cause they all follow me on Instagram. I don't think that way at all. When I'm in school, I think about school only. I also like having a division between school in Brooklyn and hanging in Manhattan with other friends.
Why do you think you have such a large following on Insta?
This is embarrassing, but four years ago I was the biggest One Direction and The 1975 fan. I loved them. I started out on Twitter and people knew me as the 1D fan girl and I would go out and people would recognise me. Eventually, I made an Instagram and posted my pics and then put those on Twitter too.
So you had a fan account?
Yes, it was insane. When The 1975 got big, I was into them and had a fan account and through that got an even bigger following 'cause The 1975 fan base is huge and they're really into social media. They're "trendier" than 1D so I preferred that scene. It allowed me to meet a lot of Instagram people, and I met Ellis that way. I realised how ridiculous that was and stopped and started modeling and gained more [followers] through that.
Do you still love 1D?
No, I don't!
Nope. I don't know what happened.
Not even Harry Styles?
My favorite was Niles.
I love Zayn! He's the coolest.
Oh yeah, he's the hottest. I lost interest when I got older and just kind of had this realisation, [and] I quickly fell out of it. I'm more into rap now.
What's the Australian version of 1D?
Oh, 5 Seconds of Summer? I hate them! I got so much hate cause One Direction fans and 5 Seconds of Summer fans have rivalry. I used to burn their mags and put them on vine!
How did you first get into modeling?
I didn't really wanna model but one of my friends asked me to shoot for them and it blew up on Twitter. This photographer asked to shoot me with Ellis and I saw her and thought she was so beautiful. That shoot was horrible though, the photographer was like 12 and the clothes were awful. Ellis was like, "My friend wants to shoot us together" and after that a bunch of people asked to shoot us. I stopped at the end of last year and Ellis kept going and is rocking it!
Do you think in the long term you wanna be a model or continue with your education?
In the industry, I don't think I would necessarily make it as a model. Maybe later on things will change and society will change it's standards. When I was modeling at the beginning, and seeing all the other girls, I didn't feel comfortable. But I eventually stopped caring about how other models looked and only caring about how I look. I do enjoy it though. I hope to still do it on the side!
Do you ever get hate on Instagram and how do you handle it?
I never get much hate 'cause I never talk about controversial topics. There were a group of people who used to hate me from The 1975 days. I used to be friends with some of them, but when I got really into school and couldn't hang out they thought I thought I was too much of a big shot. They would make hate accounts and were really mean to me. It look me a while to get over it. Sometimes I'll see them commenting and tagging each other in my pictures but it doesn't bother me. They never say it to my face though. That's how people are... I'll be at work and they'll come in and hide, but on Twitter they'll talk about me. It's like, get over it! In terms of handling it, you need to ignore it. They want a reaction out of you.
What's your dream job?
I would wanna work for a magazine, maybe doing social media. Social media has always been in my life and I feel like I know a lot about it. I want to be in the fashion industry and continue writing and maybe casting.
Photos & Text: Ava Nirui