Another day, another way to make fun of Millennials.
The term “cheugy” has cropped up in internet culture as a term to describe anyone who is unironically out-of-date or cringey. Think: MLM girlboss, Disney adults, and men who post pictures of themselves holding fish. Also, chevron. Always chevron.
Origins of cheugy
Allegedly coined by 23-year-old software developer Gaby Rasson in 2013, the term has stuck after going viral in a TikTok posted by Hallie Cain on March 30th. In her TikTok, Hallie nominates cheugy as the word to describe “the type of person who gets married at 20 years old” or has “millennial girlboss energy”.
#cheugy now has over 4 million views on TikTok and has been covered by major media outlets like The New York Times, Rolling Stone and Vox, who have taken their stab at defining the term and analysing its cultural significance.
According to Know Your Meme, cheugy describes the “intersection of millennial, girlboss, and out-of-style cringe.” The New York Times points out its distinction from the concept of “basic”, which alludes to conformism or people who are generic in their tastes. They suggest that cheugy is not necessarily a negative descriptor, but just refers broadly to someone who tries too hard or is out of date.
It’s not just people either — brands, concepts, and even things can be considered cheugy. See, American Eagle, lake culture, and the phrase “live love laugh”.
Some definitive examples of cheugy
- Live Love Laugh signs
- Minion memes
- Disney adults
- Making any of the following your personality
- Harry Potter
- Loving dogs
- Friends TV show
- Gender reveal parties
- “Saturdays are the for the boys”
- Photos of men holding fish
- Barstool Sports
Who is talking about it?
Interestingly, Gen Z does not seem to be the main group using this new buzzword. The term is being used by Millennials to talk about how Gen Z perceives them but is not being used by Gen Z themselves.
Most of the current discourse for the broader public is people trying to determine who— or what— is and isn’t cheugy. The rest appears to be Millennials having an existential crisis.
Only months after the attack on side parts and skinny jeans, Millennials have been struggling with the reality that they are no longer the youngest and “coolest” generation of adults online.
Critiques on cheugy
Similar to the war on “basic”, critics have said the cheugy aesthetic plays into misogynistic and classist tropes in determining what is considered out-of-date.
Kate Kennedy, host of the Be There in Five podcast, critiqued the term on her Instagram stories, writing, “there’s a fine line between lighthearted celebration and another way to trivialise women’s interests.”
Critics have come for cheugy-shaming, saying it’s time to stop attacking people for expressing happiness in the things they enjoy.
After all, aren’t the people who are unashamedly cheugy just their most authentic selves? Maybe we could all use a little cheugy confidence in our lives, too.