TikTok Users Dub Sneaker Culture, Ugg Boots, Gucci ‘Cheugy’ Belts – Sourcing Journal
If you read the New York Times, watch the “Today” show, or keep a close eye on the latest happenings on TikTok, you may have recently come across the word “cheugy”.
The nebulous word – often phrased as a Gen Z term referring to Generation Y – can be applied to a variety of things, ideas, or people. Usually synonymous with “basic,” but not inherently negative, cheugy (pronounced “chew-gee”, apparently) captures everything from Minion memes and cargo shorts to lasagna and an obsession with sneaker culture.
Introduced into public consciousness in large part thanks to a March TikTok video, cheugy actually dates back to 2013. According to the New York Times, Gabby Rasson, now a 23-year-old software developer, coined the word as a high school student seeking to describe people who were slightly off trend.
“It was a category that didn’t exist,” Rasson told The Times. “There was a missing word that was on the edge of my tongue and nothing to describe it and ‘cheugy’ came to me. The way it sounded matched the meaning. “
From there, it spread organically through friends she made in school, camp and then college. An Instagram account by the name of cheuglife appeared in 2018. Cited in several recent TikTok videos explaining the term, cheuglife appears to be the unofficial arbiter on all things cheug. Shortly thereafter, the narrative added its definition of the word to Urban Dictionary, describing it as “the opposite of fashion.” Stylish in middle school and high school, but more fashionable. “
However, the term didn’t really start to take off until March 30, when 24-year-old Los Angeles editor Hallie Cain posted a video on TikTok briefly encouraging other users to pick up the term.
“Alright TikTok, I have a new word for you that my friends and I are using, which you clearly need,” Hallie Cain said, shortly before moving on to another video with the text “Things That give off ‘I got married to 20’ vibes, ‘and visuals of retail shelves filled with wood block decorations.’ Or people will say things like ‘this is millennial’ or ‘the energy of the girls. “All of these terms mean the same thing. The word is cheugy.
Cain’s video, which identified phrases about clothing, Herbal Essences shampoo and Instagram captions like “life is a beach” like cheugy, clearly struck a chord with at least some members of the TikTok community. So far, the video has racked up over 650,000 views and 111,000 likes, a decent response, but not overwhelming by TikTok standards.
Then the New York Times wrote about cheugy. Posted online last week and in print on Sunday, the piece appears to be the cause of the recent wave of gossip.
Within a week of the article’s publication, the “Today” show, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Vox and Daily Mail all covered the term. Urban Dictionary named it its word of the day Wednesday. Buzzfeed even created a quiz for site visitors to vote and definitely decide what exactly is and isn’t cheugy. Notably, none of the major battlegrounds of Generation Z’s Great Millennium War – the skinny jeans, side parts, and the word “doggo” – received the cheugy designation.
So what is cheugy?
Flip flops, bro tanks and snapbacks are all cheugy. Herringbone patterns, cable knit socks, Ugg boots, giant scarves, everything Hurley, Golden Goose sneakers and Gucci belts have also been dubbed cheugy. But cheugy is not limited to fashion. Broccoli and Cheddar Soup in a Bread Bowl at Panera Bread? Cheugy. Ax body spray? Cheugy. Cruise ships ?, “Cheug-mobiles”, says cheuglife.
Of note, Levi’s, Birkenstocks, thrift and tailoring survived the Cheug Wars unscathed, earning the designation “decidedly un-cheugy”.
But is being cheugy a bad thing? It depends on who you ask. Abby Siegel, a 23-year-old producer and former student at the University of Colorado, Boulder who the cheuglife account cites as introducing the term, says anyone can be cheugy.
“Everyone has something cheugy in their closet,” Siegel told The New York Times. “We didn’t intend it to be a mean thing. Some people have claimed that this is the case. It’s just a fun word that we used as a group of friends that kind of resonated with a group of people. “
The Instagram cheuglife made it clear early on – less than two months after its inception – that the term was not intended to be used as an insult. “’Cheugy’ doesn’t reflect a person’s character and honestly isn’t that deep. We are all cheugs, ”he wrote.
In a follow-up to her original video, Cain clarified that she wears clothes knowing they are cheugy. A millennial TikTok user whose three topic videos racked up over 3.5 million views conceded that he enjoyed a few cheugy things – Buffalo Wild Wings, to name just one. Many of the dozens and dozens of videos with the hashtag “cheugy” – in total, they have garnered 3.3 million views – feature users explaining how cheugy they are.
The destination of the term is unclear. It was by no means a popular word until the end of March. Cheuglife’s Instagram page only surpassed 1,000 followers after Cain made his TikTok video. These kinds of shallow roots do not bode well for long term longevity.
Cain, the one who brought the word so much attention, seems entirely over with the cheugy discussion, especially with how she sees it being used to “fuel a generational feud.” As a 24-year-old, she noted, she has been associated with both Gen Z and Gen Y and doesn’t identify with either. “Nobody ever talks to me about #cheugy again,” she wrote.