The Internet Hates Women

Social media’s obsession with labeling of girls


Since the birth of social media, hashtags, chatrooms and forums have been used to group users based on commonly shared traits. Some of these labels are embraced by their beholders and used to meet people with similar interests; however, others are harmful stereotypes, jokes taken too far, or unrealistic goals that young people try to become. Notable examples from the past decade include the Tumblr Girl of 2013, the Insta Baddie of 2016 and Alt girls from 2020. All of these examples render women as the butt of the joke. 

Women being mocked for their interests is not a new phenomenon, but social media has been a useful tool for lowering the esteem of young girls. Due to the rapid spread of information, trends cycle faster than ever. This creates the perfect environment for teen girls to be drawn to a cute clothing style that’s currently popular, only to be mocked and called “basic” for wearing it months later. For example, as white Air Force 1’s gained popularity, memes began to float around the internet about basic girls and their “beat up” Air Forces, even though the shoe is popular among all genders. The meme also creates an inaccurate generalization that all girls who wear Air Force 1’s do not take care of their shoes.

But these internet jokes often go way beyond something as simple as sneakers. Many harmful stereotypes and forms of oppression become disguised as harmless Tik Tok trends. The “Hot Cheeto Girl” Tik Tok trend was created a few years ago to poke fun at girls who wear long nails and eyelashes, have large hoop earrings and have loud personalities. Though this may just seem like an archetype of a girl you see at school, it is actually a mockery of black and Latina women. These women of color are often stereotyped to be loud and aggressive and this Tik Tok promotes that belief by using pieces of their culture as a part of the joke. This discourages young girls of color from embracing their personalities and can take a major toll on their mental health and self esteem. 

Teen girls’ are more susceptible to the dangers of social media than any other demographic. It is well known that this is due to unrealistic beauty standards and comparing oneself to influencers and other girls’ posts. These unhealthy standards are currently being reinforced through the Instagram and Tik Tok “Clean Girl” phenomenon. For those who are unfamiliar, the clean girl is a recent trend that depicts a girl who wears minimal makeup, has the nicest clothes, clearest skin, most toned body, and is basically just perfect. Social media influencers and celebrities are constantly providing their clean girl makeup routine or clean girl workout or clean girl meal plan. Teen girls are slaving away trying to turn themselves into this magical “Clean Girl” that, in reality, doesn’t even exist. To make matters worse, the majority of content being shoved into these girls’ faces is disguised as self care. For a mind that is still in its pivotal developing stages, it is easy to fall into this trap. 

Even terms that are born from women supporting each other manage to become morphed into a tool to harm women. The term “Pick Me Girl” was created by women to describe a girl that puts down her friends or other women in order to gain attention from a boy. Originally, this word was applicable to specific situations. If your friend made fun of your outfit in front of her crush, she was being a Pick Me girl. But, alas, the internet discovered this word ran wild with it. The word has been oversimplified and used against women in every context but the right one. Even boys have used it to make fun of girls! 

Of all the negative names that society has used to strip girls of their personalities, reducing them to labels, there has been a disappointing lack of jokes created about the different types of annoying men. Where is the Tik Tok trend about sweaty football players? What about the history buffs that always try to correct women? And why has no one acknowledged the hypocrisy of boys making fun of girls for being basic? Women’s variety of styles and aesthetics are the reason behind all of the jokes and trends that society has created to call girls basic. Therefore, it just does not make logical sense for the Alt girl, the VSCO girl, the Gym girl and the Insta Baddie to all be basic, but the millions of teen boys that only wear Nike sweats every day aren’t.