Kelly Bertrand’s latest take on the generational battleground – and why being cheugy has never been better
Put down your slogan-emblazoned mug and wiggle out of your double ‘G’ Gucci belt, girls – we have a new ‘thing’.
Cheugy – pronounced CHEW-GEE – is essentially part two of the great Generation Z clapback against us millennials (click here for my take on part one!) And while it’s all in good fun (look, they do have a few good points) the term, which was first coined in 2013 by an American high school student but gained traction on Tik Tok a few weeks ago, essentially describes someone who is, broadly, out of date and trying just a touch too hard, or are slightly off trend.
Some examples? Sure. Instagram (seriously). Terms like ‘I did a thing’ and ‘Life’s a beach’. Slogans on anything. Friends memes. Glitter coffee cups. Even the Hemsworth brothers have been labelled cheugy (the SACRILEGE).
Someone who was a total basic bitch in their 20s (hello, myself) is probably (definitely) a little cheugy in their 30s. My personal favourite way of describing it? “Millennial ‘girl boss’ energy and the type of people who get married at 20-years-old.”
It’s different than describing someone as a Basic Bitch, in the sense that a cheugy person will know they’re cheugy and kind of lean into it – to be cheugy is to admit you’re self-aware about being cheugy, essentially.
The originators of the term insist it’s not a negative thing – it’s just the latest in an ever-growing list of identifiers or labels that gain their popularity from social media.
“Everyone can be cheugy,” says 23-year-old early adopter of the term Abby Seigel. “Everyone has something cheugy in their closet. We didn’t intend for it to be a mean thing, some people have claimed that it is. It’s just a fun word we used as a group of friends that someone how resonated with a bunch of people.”
Us millennials aren’t innocent here – God, how we LOVE a baby boomer dig – but while labels like this are tongue in cheek and indicative of different generations, the fact of the matter is that it’s most often women – younger women at that – who somehow end up with potentially negative terms to describe their typical actions and personalities.
So, is that an issue, or are we taking things a little too seriously?
As a self-identified cheugy millennial woman, do I care that I’m a little off trend? Hell no. I LOVE being a little off trend. It’s a sign of being comfortable in the skin you’re in when you no longer give a shit about the cut of your jeans or the label on your puffer jacket (although I will draw the line at low-waisted jeans because that wasn’t a good idea in 2006 and it’s DEFINITELY not a good idea now).
But there is a point to make in the gendered nature of the trend to chuck a judgey label on certain groups, with women making up the vast majority of these stereotypes. While Gen Zers are quick to point out that terms such as cheugy are gender neutral (and as you’re reading this I guarantee you’re thinking of a cheugy bloke in your life who still uses Lynx Africa) there’s no getting round the fact that the negative aspects tend to stick to female specific aesthetics faster than a Schitt’s Creek meme occupies space in your head rent-free for months.
The other thing is that these types of terms change faster than Australian prime ministers. What is cool one week is out the next – and as anyone who has ever been to school ever will know, that’s just human nature.
So, my advice? Embrace your cheugy nature because, why the hell would we change? The point of a bit of cheugy is to love it – to live it, love it and laugh about it, if you will.
I apologise for the above line.
Your complete list of cheugy as rounded up from Tik Tok:
· Saying ‘thank u, next’
· Lululemon (which really is a relief because Jesus Christ those leggings are expensive)
· Buffalo wings
· Keep Calm and Carry On
· ‘Wine O’Clock’
· I Gotta Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas
· Farmhouse décor
· Overly straightened hair
· Still loving Disney as an adult