What’s ‘twee’ and why is TikTok debating its return?

What is 'twee' and why is TikTok debating its return?

Zooey Deschanel trying twee in an episode of New Woman.


In 2021, TikTok unseated Google as the most well-liked area on the Web, and now it is trying prefer it’ll take over Instagram as the final word house for vogue influencers. 

With one of many largest audiences on the planet, TikTok is liable for the rise and fall of many a pattern. When TikTok speaks, individuals pay attention. Currently, nonetheless, TikTok fashionistas have been divided over the potential resurgence of a really particular and iconic pattern: twee. 

@flashesofstyle How are we feeling about this resurgence? Idk but 😅 #twee#tweestyle#tweefashion#fypシ#fyp♬ Why Do You Let Me Keep Right here? – She & Him

Even for those who’re unfamiliar with the phrase, you may possible acknowledge the look. Suppose early 2013 ModCloth aesthetic — swooping bangs, Peter Pan collars, cutesy cardigans, skater skirts with patterned tights, crimson lipstick, ukuleles and typewriters. 

Primarily, take a look at nearly any picture of Zooey Deschanel circa 2011-2014 to be smacked within the face with twee, or hipster vogue. It was an extremely fashionable aesthetic, particularly amongst the Tumblr crowd.

@steffydegref It’s again, and I’ve been ready ceaselessly. #twee#indie#indiesleaze#tumblr♬ Why Do You Let Me Keep Right here? – She & Him

On the one hand, some customers are adamant that the pattern is returning, warning vogue followers to prepared their ballet flats and berets. Others, nonetheless, are dismissing it as the most recent in a line of TikTok algorithm bubbles destined to burn itself out on hypothesis and drama. 

No matter whether or not it is again, although, it is already dealing with backlash. So why is an aesthetic inflicting a lot division? 

This is the factor: It is probably not about vogue in any respect. Once you boil it down, the underlying problems with the talk aren’t primarily based on clothes selections. They’re primarily based on misleading algorithms, damaging on-line conduct and the concern of a cyclical web. 

The TikTok bubble impact

TikTok’s algorithm is designed to know you higher than you already know your self. It serves you limitless personalized movies that take note of your interactions, all to make sure you see the precise content material you may get pleasure from most. 

However the humorous factor about people is that we even have a very poor understanding of scale and relevance exterior of our personal bubbles. So, for those who’re getting inundated with a specific sound or pattern on TikTok, your mind will possible suppose that it is a a lot larger deal than it’s. 

Regardless of not having that many precise movies comparatively — just below 7,000 for the principle TikTok sound — the twee revival debate is inflicting real-world pattern forecasters to concentrate. Why? As a result of, as was the case when TikTok witches induced a real-world fuss by “hexing the moon,” even microcosms and pockets of the web have the capability to create nice social affect and alter. 

What’s so scary about twee?

The preliminary wave of twee got here at a time when Tumblr reputation was paramount — the extra reblogs you had on a cutesy photograph with a poetic caption, the extra indie and iconic you had been. It was an angle as a lot as a vogue motion, just like what we would now name hipsters.

Sadly, nonetheless, it additionally got here with some deeply regarding attitudes towards physique sorts and elitism.

@wannabehayleywilliams We nonetheless have time, audio nonetheless has lower than 550 movies beneath it. #tumblr#2014tumblr#aesthetic#twee♬ Why Do You Let Me Keep Right here? – She & Him

Between 2011 and 2014, Tumblr had itself a severe consuming dysfunction and self hurt downside, with numerous blogs dedicated to selling and striving for anorexia and “thinspiration.” Coinciding with the height of twee reputation, the aesthetic went hand-in-hand with dangerous “thinspo” propaganda – anybody who wasn’t skinny sufficient wasn’t thought of “twee” a lot as “frumpy.” It was elitist and harmful.

Consequently, the lingering notion of twee and indie sleaze for individuals who had been on Tumblr in these days is commonly one in every of perilously skinny legs clad in tights or sepia-toned cardigans masking self-harm scars.

We have discovered so much for the reason that Tumblr days. We grew out of the mustache pattern, we discovered that Tom was the true villain in basic twee movie (500) Days of Summer season, however the Web hasn’t totally caught up with physique neutrality and progress. 

To this present day, social media websites wrestle to maintain a lid on pro-anorexia content material, with Instagram coming beneath hearth for its failure to guard teenagers from that kind of content material as lately as final month.

With TikTok already having confronted related points, individuals noticing the resurgence of twee are involved that, whereas we might mud off the cardigans and tights, we’ve not come far sufficient to go away the dangerous attitudes behind. 

@rebxtat Perhaps sharing a sizzling take while cleansing out my fish tank x #twee♬ Why Do You Let Me Keep Right here? – She & Him
@vonmunster i regarded like this and listened to chelsea grin #twee#indie#tumblr♬ Why Do You Let Me Keep Right here? – She & Him

Do we have to fear about this?

As is so usually the case on-line, the discourse surrounding the twee debate is larger than the talk itself. What began as a easy pattern revival has grown legs partially because of the consideration that naysayers have introduced upon it.

However as for whether or not we ought to be nervous, it actually comes all the way down to how a lot religion individuals have in their very own capability to manage content material and the way a lot they belief social media to maintain the harmful concepts at bay. 

The priority is that if the damaging associations with twee come again alongside the pattern, there may very well be microcosms and TikTok algorithm bubbles circulating the identical harmful concepts and mentalities that induced such uproar on Tumblr. 

In an article from The Guardian, it is steered that TikTok may really find yourself being extra harmful due to the demographic of its customers. It is not laborious to circumnavigate phrase restrictions — we have already seen customers get round TikTok censorship with intentional spelling errors — and with so many younger customers it is a concern.

Certain, there might not be that many movies about it now, however for the individuals who stay inside that bubble, it feels large, and the facility of teenage lady affect should not be underestimated. 

Let’s simply bear in mind for a second that no one is arguing the deserves of the particular garments, although I am positive no one desires twee revival to enterprise into mustache-core once more. No person is afraid of a plaid skirt and tights combo. 

However given the harm that the broader twee-thinspo Tumblr pairing did within the early 2010s, it is little surprise persons are apprehensive.

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