Oh, You Don't Know Bethany Mota? Really?

by Marisa LaScala

When Project Runway airs on August 14, the designers will be challenged to revamp vintage men's suits — the really dated kind with ruffles down the front — into modern outfits for fashion-foward women. And, when the dresses head down the runway, YouTube star Bethany Mota will be sitting up there with Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia, and Zac Posen, ready to evaluate each look. Mota isn't a name that's bandied about the couture fashion-week runways, and she's probably not known to the typical Lifetime viewer. So, what makes her a qualified judge?

Because Mota is a fashion expert — a really, really popular one — albeit someone who would be more likely to be featured in Teen Vogue than Vogue proper. She came to fame through her YouTube channel, where she posts videos about fashion, beauty, style, and DIY projects. (She just won a Teen Choice Award for Choice YouTube Star.) When that became ultra-popular, Mota hit the big time, and national retailers came calling.

Mota is also proof that living well is the best revenge. Mota told Today that she started her YouTube channel partially as a reaction to being made fun of at school. "I had been bullied at the time, so I feel like YouTube was kind of my outlet, just to kind of do what I wanted and express my creativity through my content," she said. "I wasn’t really focused on gaining popularity. I was just wanting to have fun.”

How many of those school bullies have millions of YouTube adorers? Besides sending a message to all the haters out there, here are some more reasons Mota is a qualified Project Runway judge.

She Has Her Own Fashion Line

And not just a little collection that she sells through a tiny web store. Her line, called Bethany Mota, is available at Aeropostale. It has kind of a '90s feel to it, with graphic tees, plaid skirts, and floral dresses. She also has a collection of home decor. It all feels cohesive; even the hard-to-please Project Runway judges would approve.

She Has More Viewers than Project Runway

According to TV by the Numbers, the August 7 episode of Project Runway — the one that aired right before Mota's — had a little more than 2 million viewers. Mota, on her own, has three times that many subscribers to her main YouTube channel. In addition to the six million viewers following her regular account, she has a second account —"Bethany's Life" with videos about her personal life — with another 1.9 million viewers. And let's not forget about the 1.8 million people following her Twitter account or 3.6 million people following Mota on Instagram. Project Runway needs her fans more than she needs theirs.

She's Probably More Successful Than a Lot of More Established Designers

In April, Yahoo! Finance estimated that Mota makes $40,000 per month from her YouTube channel alone. Forget about the $100,000 prize money contestants get for winning Project Runway; Mota can easily make more than that every three months. Those contestants should try and follow her lead.

Image: Barbara Nitke/A&E