New Gen Z withdrawal: the meaning of “ cheugy ”
It’s pronounced “chew-gee” and is a term that has found fame thanks to Gen Z’s favorite social media platform, TikTok.
In the broadest sense, cheugy describes items and fashions that are simply obsolete. Pass interior design and once beloved basics have fallen victim to the descriptor, along with everything from overused social media captions to high profile public figures.
Cheugy can describe anything that isn’t trendy, but it’s most often used to refer to things considered vaguely traditional in the early 2000s and 2010s – providing a new way for Gen Z to ‘hang around’ millennials, Vice reports.
The New York Times (NYT) says the term can be used to describe someone, often a millennial woman, who “tries too hard”, while the London Evening Standard says to “think Basic Bitch 2.0” for get an idea. The general consensus is that cheugy describes a harmless lack of taste.
A 23-year-old software developer is credited by the NYT with coining the term. Gaby Rasson began identifying cheugy trends as a Beverly Hills High School student in 2013.
The phenomenon apparently spread through word of mouth among school and college communities until Los Angeles copywriter Hallie Cain, 24, posted a TikTok video in March featuring “the word you didn’t know. not that you needed ‘in action.
TikTok posts with the hashtag #Cheugy have since garnered more than 24 million views, and Google searches have gone from nonexistent interest to peak interest in just a few weeks. Part of the plot surely lies in the difficulty of pinpointing exactly what counts as cheugy.
“What is and isn’t cheugy is very subjective and changes quickly,” notes NYT tech reporter Taylor Lorenz. The term can divide opinions. “I’ll send something to our group chat and I’ll be like, ‘Is this cheugy?’ and some will say “yes” and some will say “no,” Cain told the newspaper.
Cheugy “isn’t meant to be negative,” the Daily Mail says, but others disagree. While this may seem like a light Internet fad, cheugy has been seen as “a reductive, dismissive, or even offensive bunch of people who just like what they like,” says Refinery29.
Class issues entered the conversation, as well as race. TikTok user Kiera Breaugh sees cheugy as a way for “white women to micromanage what makes other white women cool in a way women of color don’t.”
Identify the cheugy-ness
Even the most rushed taste maker is likely to experience an episode of cheugy, which can reference everything that was in fashion for millennial teens.
Products such as Herbal Essences Shampoo have been identified as cheugy, while a boxed statement of “Live, Laugh, Love” will also earn cheugy points. If motivational quotes and life goal graphics are frequent additions to your Pinterest boards, you’re walking a fine line – especially if you’re wearing Ugg boots while doing so.
Mugs and stationery with “Girlboss” designs have also come under fire in the wake of the cheugy movement, as have “grown-ups who still love all things Disney,” People magazine says.
The London London Evening Standard offers a simple and effective litmus test: “If your most used emoji is the laughing crying emoji, welcome to Cheugsville, people: You.” That said, you might end up with Fearne Cotton and Holly Willoughby, who the diary also describes as “a little cheugy”.
Too cheugy to be cheugy?
As long as something was once widely regarded as fashionable but isn’t now, it’s likely to be cheugy. In fact, “one might even argue that the word ‘cheugy’ has already been so overexposed that it is itself cheugy – if it was ever trending enough to qualify,” says Refinery29.