Thanks to TikTok, there's a new way of describing an uncool aesthetic without being malicious.
First things first: There is absolutely no shame in being basic or liking what you like. None whatsoever. You like side parts? Great! Skinny jeans? Keep rocking them. There's not actually a generational battle about what's cool and what's not. Millennial moms in their thirties and forties shouldn't need to have teens approve of their style. But if you've found yourself scrolling through TikTok or other forms of social media and asked yourself, "What the heck is this 'cheugy' thing I keep hearing about?" well, let's learn together.
"Cheugy" is kind of like "basic," which means someone who has unoriginal taste in clothes/hair/shoes/caffeinated beverages, etc. It's pronounced how it looks, "chew-gee." It's also a way of describing someone whose tastes are a little...outdated.
To put it in millennial mom terms: If you're still rocking a Bump-It, or if you have the words "Live, Laugh, Love" emblazoned on a piece of decor in your home, well...you might be cheugy.
There's even an Instagram account dedicated to the Cheugy Cause: @cheuglife, where a variety of items are highlighted as being cheugy. While a majority of the aesthetic in question targets millennial women, the "cheug life" comes for all genders, ages, and backgrounds. (Other things that make the cheugy cut: men's cargo shorts and gym shorts, flat-brimmed baseball hats, etc.)
If you're a millennial mom, you probably know what/who Rae Dunn is. If you like your mugs labeled "coffee" and your sugar containers labeled "sugar" in pencil-thin, scrawly font, well...that's cheugy. So are sock buns, "girl boss" merch, chevron prints, displaying empty wine bottles as home decor and using captions like "I did a thing" on Instagram.
According to The New York Times, the term was coined by Gaby Rasson, a 23-year-old LA-based software developer. She said started using the word back in 2013 while attending Beverly Hills High School. She wanted a way to describe people who were a little basic, a little out-of-date.
If you're self-confident and don't care what other people think, well, then apparently you're "non-cheugy," according to Rasson. (Yes, it's all extremely confusing when you get elbows-deep into the nuance of it. But I never said I wasn't cheugy, myself.) The term can come off as a negative way to describe someone or something, but Rasson and her group of friends, who were the first to begin using the term years ago, all identify as cheugy in some ways.
"Everyone has something cheugy in their closet," said Abby Siegel, a friend of Rasson's. "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 somehow resonated with a bunch of people."
Here's the thing about liking trends in general: we hop on the bandwagon for clothes, pottery, wall decor and accessories because we like them. Something about whatever the trend is resonates with us at a certain point in our lives and we buy it, wear it, or display it. And we hold onto those things because they're still useful to us in some way, because we can't afford to keep up with the Joneses or because we still like it.
Like what you like and don't take "cheugy" personally, is my advice. We were all young once, and none of us thought middle-aged people were the height of coolness when we were teenagers. I'm cheugy, you're cheugy—it's all in good fun. But now that you know how to define cheugy, may you honor the cheugy-ness inside you and be able to laugh a little at the perfect absurdity of it all.