If Gen Z Is The ‘Most Diverse Generation Ever’, Why Are We Still Idolizing Skinny, Rich, White Women?

As demonstrated by the most recent skinny jeans and side parts scandal that rocked millennials everywhere, tying ourselves to shared generational labels is a pillar of meme culture — or broadly, today’s culture. Generational stereotypes have fueled the formation of countless online communities, but they’ve also caused hot-blooded arguments across age lines. After Baby Boomers criticized Millennials for not buying houses, it sparked economic discourse around responsibility and capitalism, and the “OK Boomer” meme popularized during the 2020 election signified Gen Z refusing to feign respect for racist and misogynistic elders. To say the least, there is weight and substance behind these memed stereotypes.

As digital natives in a digital world, Gen Z’s cultural influence is undeniable, but the one stereotype that overpowers the rest is that we are “diverse.” A quick Google search will show you that Gen Z is labeled as the “most diverse generation in history” and that we “demand diversity in the workplace.” However, of the top 100 creators on the social media platform most commonly associated with Gen Z, TikTok, the vast majority are white or white-passing. Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae, the golden girls of Gen Z, are thin, upper-middle-class white women. Simply put, it ain’t adding up: if we’re so diverse, why aren’t the people we idolize?

When Addison Rae appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in March to perform multiple dances originally created by Black TikTokers, it sparked a conversation about white mediocrity. D’Amelio and Rae are certainly not as talented as Keara Wilson, who created the “Savage” dance that propelled Addison Rae to superstardom, or Jalaiah Harmon, the originator of the “Renegade” dance that did the same for Charli. But comparing talent isn’t the problem: these women took Black choreography and used it for their own benefit, and were rewarded. Whether it’s subconscious or not, the fame that we’ve given them is because they fit the mold of who women are supposed to want to be.

In the same way that millennials adore celebrities like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, the supposedly diverse and inclusive Gen Z continues the cycle of rewarding attractive, rich, white women for existing. While society’s cultural icons have evolved from supermodels (1990s) to celebrities (2000s) to reality stars (2010s), the skin color and proximity to wealth of our superstars has remained consistent. Despite their wealthy, white California childhood, the Kardashians adopted Black culture to differentiate themselves from the thin blonde stars popular in the 2000s. They injected their butts and lips to recreate features found naturally on Black women, appropriated Black hairstyles, almost exclusively dated Black men, and recreated age-old Black and Latina fashion trends

This look was, yes, a departure from parallel generational icons Paris Hilton and the Olsen Twins, but it wasn’t new. Black women, who grew up wearing wigs and had naturally big lips, certainly aren’t growing multimillion-follower fan bases or offered the cover of Vogue, but rather are discriminated against for living out their own culture while white women run through their trends faster than Fashion Nova can produce a rip-off. 

The Kardashians shared everything from their petty fights to brutal divorces, parental blowups, and personal anxieties on national television. But the “relatability” or “reality” they may have shown on TV does not a billion-dollar empire make: they wouldn’t have had the lip kits, curvy shapewear, or half as much media coverage without appropriation.

TikTok was supposed to democratize the social media industry with an algorithm that let anyone get famous — or at least “TikTok famous.” Instead, we’ve repeated the same process of propping up white women who manipulate Black culture to appeal to the masses, yet remain safe from systemic racism in their peach skin. As the biggest Gen Z idols in the world, Addison Rae and Charli D’Amelio pocket millions while the Black girls who created the dances, and the music they dance to, remain nameless or endure hate at an alarmingly higher rate. Black creators’ followings remain significantly lower, and their sponsorship deals even sparser. Meanwhile, these white TikTok stars are hanging out with the Kardashians, with nary a Black woman in sight.

Would we still be idolizing these people, however, if corporations like NBC (the network that airs Jimmy Fallon’s show) and TikTok itself weren’t inching us in that direction? In March 2020, an internal memo was leaked revealing that TikTok’s algorithm doesn’t push darker, disabled, or “ugly” videos, making it significantly harder to “blow up” as a Black creator even if you have better content. Most of the companies giving out these sponsorship deals are run by majority-white Millennials or Baby Boomers who are inclined to stick with the already-advantaged white women that look like them or their children. 

We won’t reach equality for these influencers until the most prominent corporations and influencers make a conscious effort to give Black creators the exposure their white counterparts get. Companies must do this through providing equally lucrative sponsorship opportunities, and the biggest celebrities must take responsibility for benefitting from the systems that allowed them to grow by offering slices of their fame to prop the culture originators up. 

Gen Z definitely cares about diversity, but the systems in place created by previous generations don’t allow that to be reflected in our culture idols. If algorithms don’t allow Black creators to make it on their own, it’s up to influencers and social media users to make conscious choices to highlight and reward that talent, or we’ll be watching history repeat itself for the next generation, too.

Image: Todd Williamson / E! Entertainment

The Cringiest Celebrity TikToks Of February 2021

Does anyone else feel like the last few weeks have been some of the bleakest so far? Nearly a year into the pandemic, the combination of terrible winter weather, vaccine frustration, and just general life stuff have created a perfect storm of bad vibes, and it seems like a lot of us have been feeling it. But you know who hasn’t let the less-than-ideal mood get in their way? The celebrities on TikTok. To them, February 2021 seems like any other month, and that means they’re still cranking out the content that just makes you go “…why?” From Gen-Z to Boomers, some of our favorite famous TikTokers have been doing their worst lately, and here’s your latest batch of cringe.

Heidi Montag

@heidimontagCan you pull down your mask if you see papperazzi? ##fyp ##foryoupage ##beverlyhills♬ original sound – heidimontag

Heidi, Heidi, Heidi… I’ve grown accustomed to Heidi’s weird TikToks around the house—the terrible lip-syncing and random product placement of Spencer’s crystals throughout the videos, but this is a new level of cringe for her. She and Spencer are walking down the street, and she asks if she can take her masks off for the paparazzi. Obviously, the answer is no, but seeing her get so excited to have her picture taken just makes me kind of sad. Idk, maybe I’m still in my feels about Framing Britney Spearsbut I have a hard time not getting angry at the thought of invasive celeb photographers. Heidi’s also been ramping up her content about #filming, so it seems like the new season of The Hills should be coming soon.

Bryce Hall

@brycehallroots @joshrichards @imgriffinjohnson♬ original sound – Bryce Hall

If you’ve read my articles in the past, you’ll know that Bryce Hall is my least favorite of the Gen-Z hot guy cohort on TikTok. Aside from practicing terrible COVID behavior, he also just seems like a f*ckboy, and this video of him and two of his Sway House buddies shotgunning energy drinks isn’t doing anything to dispel that notion. At least they’re wearing shirts in this video, because I was actually starting to wonder if they owned any clothes other than t0o-tight sweatpants.

Dr. Phil

@drphilThis new grand baby better hurry up!

♬ Rugrats Theme (From “Rugrats”) – Just Kids

Dr. Phil has always been one of my least favorite people on TikTok, and this video of him looking longingly out the window as he waits for his grandchild to arrive is so staged it hurts. Why does this old man have a BIB on his shirt? And how much did he have to force his wife to play along for the video? Also, he clearly hasn’t been able to get his botox during the pandemic, because homeboy is looking way older than I remember. Anyway, his son Jordan McGraw had his baby with Morgan Stewart, a girl named Row Renggli, so hopefully his weird videos will be replaced with cute baby content soon.

James Charles

@jamescharlessurprise… 🤰🏻💕 what should I name her♬ Still Into You by Paramore – Ariam

Last week, James Charles pulled two different social media stunts in the time it takes me to get out of bed n the morning. On the same day he tried to trick us into thinking he was bald, he also posted… a fake pregnancy announcement? We all say that bizarre recreation of Beyoncé’s nude pregnancy photos on Instagram, but you may have missed this TikTok where he shows off his “transformation.” I still don’t understand why this was ever a thing, but I hope James got the attention he was craving.

Charli D’Amelio

@charlidameliolink to sign up for @step in my bio💗 ##steppartner♬ original sound – charli d’amelio

I’m all for TikTok creators like Charli hustling and making money from their platforms, but taking financial advice from someone who was born in 2004 just doesn’t sit right with me. She’s advertising for Step, a banking and debit card service aimed at teens, which is supposed to help them build credit and learn about money management. Sounds like a smart idea, but I feel like they should be aiming their marketing at parents of teens, not kids who are scrolling on TikTok. We’ve seen people like Billy McFarland and the Kardashians market some questionable cards before, so I’m not trusting any famous person when it comes to financial advice.

Images: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com; TikTok

The Most Cringeworthy Celeb TikToks Of The Week

Welcome to 2021! The news is still a mess, we’re still stuck in our houses, and yes, the celebrities are still at it on TikTok. 2020 was a banner year for everyone from the A-list to the D-list throwing their hat in the ‘Tok ring, and while some of them abandoned their accounts months ago, others are still cranking out the content, good or bad.

Just like last year, I’ll be bringing you the best of the best of the worst celebrity TikToks, so keep reading if you’re in the mood to be uncomfortable.

Heidi Montag

@heidimontag##duet with @addisonre♬ YRN (tik tok) – Tyler April

Okay really, why is Heidi Montag so obsessed with Addison Rae? After that weird New Year’s video where she went on and on about being proud of her, now she and Spencer are duetting one of Addison and Noah Beck’s dance videos? This feels incredibly thirsty to me, because most of the time people don’t really duet dance videos on TikTok, they just make their own video doing the dance. Also, this isn’t the main issue, but Heidi and Spencer are not good at the dance, and I feel very uncomfortable with Spencer in general.

Noah Beck

@noahbeckhey @netflix can i pls be in one of your rom coms or something??♬ original sound – .

Speaking of Noah Beck, he’s busy trying to get noticed by Netflix. In this video, he lip-syncs one of Noah Centineo’s monologues from To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, asking in the caption to be cast in one of Netflix’s rom-coms. I mean, ew. First of all, no one wants to see that (okay, someone probably does, but still no), and second, he already has millions of followers! He doesn’t need some dumb Netflix movie! I don’t think this will actually happen, but if it does, I might have to cancel my Netflix subscription.

Christine Quinn

@xtinequinn##stitch with @dianasaurusrex124 Even on vacation in the middle of the ocean I can’t pull him away 😅 ##fyp ##boyfriendwontcheat ##tellmehow ##cute ##funny♬ original sound – Christine Quinn

Christine Quinn, our favorite ice queen from Selling Sunset, seems to be done with the whole “quarantine” thing, not that she was ever doing that good of a job with it. She and her rich hubby are currently on vacation in Bora Bora without a care in the world, as their home city of Los Angeles is the literal COVID epicenter. Great! I hope it was worth it, because in this video Christine shows us that her man is busy playing computer games, even while they’re in a villa in the middle of the ocean. Stay home, people!

Scheana Shay

@scheanaFound this in my drafts and haven’t posted a TikTok in a really long time 😂 ##throwback ##savage

♬ Savage – Megan Thee Stallion

Scheana hasn’t posted on TikTok in several months, but she resurfaced this week with… an old draft of her attempt at the “Savage” dance. Nothing says you’re back like a weak try at a nine-month old trend! I love Scheana, and I would protect her at any cost, but she’s trying way too hard here, and this really should’ve stayed in the drafts. She should pivot to posting pregnancy content, because those videos would probably actually be really cute.

Heidi Montag

@heidimontag@addisonre congratulations girl! You killed ##2020♬ original sound – heidimontag

On New Year’s Eve, Heidi celebrated the end of 2020 by… congratulating Addison Rae on her successful year and calling her one of the biggest MVPs of the year. It’s unclear what the connection is here—this isn’t a Kourtney/Addison situation. I don’t think they actually know each other, and Addison didn’t even comment on Heidi’s video. Ouch.

Jonathan Cheban

@foodgodBE CAREFUL!! This combo of baby formula is CRAZY!!! @aidengod2 ##рекомендации ##fyp ##babyfood♬ original sound – foodgod

I had to double check, but no, this isn’t one of Kourtney and Scott’s kids. It’s just a random kid named Aiden with 600 TikTok followers whose name on the app is “I want to Be famous.” Can someone check on this kid? I’m not sure how Foodgod knows him, but either way, don’t feel great about this collab. Also, I never need to see videos of adults eating baby food.

Tana Mongeau

@tanamongeaulolnew video in bio. should i make a storytime? hahahahahaha♬ original sound – Brandan Surdyk

Tana has a habit of sharing a lot of messy details about her personal life on social media, and she’s bringing that energy int0 2021. In this specific case, she’s feuding with her ex Bella Thorne, who released a song in December called “Stupid F*cking Bitch”, which is suspected to be a Tana diss track. Tana responded with a YouTube video where she reacted to the song. In this TikTok, she brags about “exposing” Bella, and says that for years, she was “too afraid to say something bc she’s evil.” Personally, I feel like these two need to hash things out in private.

Howie Mandel

@officialhowiemandel##duet with @charlidamelio ##homemade♬ Vroom Vroom – Gwendolyn_Takapu

Moving on from Tana’s dumb drama to the dancing boomer crowd, Howie Mandel is trying here to keep up with Charli D’Amelio, and it’s not going well. I’ll restate just as a 2021 reminder: if you can’t dance, no one is forcing you to dance on TikTok!

James Charles

@jamescharleshappy new year♬ Kujo freestyle – LuXDistinct

2021 already wasn’t off to a great start, but things were only made worse by this video of James Charles pulling down his pants and repeatedly clenching his ass cheeks for the camera. Why??? Why must we see this? It’s one thing when James tries to twerk, but this is just unnecessary. Either learn to dance or just don’t!

Images: JNAM / Shutterstock.com

Who Is Addison Rae & Why Is Kourtney Kardashian Obsessed With Her?

When it comes to keeping up with TikTok, I basically just don’t. I’ll watch what people send me, and of course I love cringeworthy celebrity TikToks, but mostly I’m content leaving Gen-Z alone to do their dances and troll President Trump in peace. But sometimes the world of TikTok crosses over into the real world, and by the real world, I actually mean the world of the Kardashians. Recently, Kourtney Kardashian and her fam have been spending a lot of time with Addison Rae, who happens to be the second most followed person on TikTok (after Charli D’Amelio). She also happens to be 19 years old, which begs the question: Why is Kourtney Kardashian hanging out with someone half her age?

First, let’s take a step back and learn a little about Addison Rae. Surely, someone with over 50 million TikTok followers must be super creative, or funny, or talented, right? You would think, but much like Charli D’Amelio, Addison mostly posts videos of herself dancing or lip-syncing in her flawlessly lit house. And just like Charli, Addison was a member of the massively successful Hype House collective, though she doesn’t publicly associate with the group anymore. So basically, Addison is just your average TikTok teen who happened to rack up a ridiculous amount of followers. Casual.

The roots of Addison’s Kardashian Konnection can be traced back to March (which feels like approximately 17 years ago), when 10-year-old Mason Disick had his brief but iconic moment on social media. You may remember his drama with Jeffree Star, but that actually happened after Mason went live on TikTok with… Addison Rae. Kourtney quickly shut down Mason’s social media accounts, but apparently she connected with Addison through all of this, and at the end of June, she and Addison posted several TikToks with each other. Then, a few days later, this Instagram post nearly broke the internet:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Kourtney Kardashian (@kourtneykardash) on

First of all, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, and most people are being careful about who (if anyone) they’re hanging out with in close proximity. There was obviously no social distancing happening here, so you had to wonder: were they being careless, or were Addison and Kourtney in each other’s bubbles? The former seemed more likely, considering that Kourtney hasn’t actually been that careful recently. In the past month, she’s been at Khloé’s birthday party, on a huge family trip to Wyoming (along with some of North’s friends), and spotted out at restaurants multiple times. I’m not even judging, but it’s not like Kourtney is only seeing a few close friends.

But despite how random their initial hangout seemed, nearly a month later, Addison has actually been spending a lot of time with Kourtney, Scott, and the kids. Last week, she posted this picture, and explained in the caption that Mason was the one who took it:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

me ft. masons finger and kourtneys shoulder

A post shared by ADDISON RAE (@addisonraee) on

Over the weekend, she shared photos of her and Kourtney floating, fully clothed, in the pool:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

so what

A post shared by ADDISON RAE (@addisonraee) on

Addison also posted a TikTok featuring Kourtney, Scott Disick, their three kids, North West, and a couple random men who I don’t recognize. Um, how many people are at this house? I still won’t even let my landlord in my apartment to fix something, meanwhile, Kourtney’s place is crawling with people. Also, is Scott living there? Is he officially back with Kourtney?? So many questions, and zero answers.

@addisonre♬ Tap In – Saweetie

But they’re not just at the house! In addition to being at Kourtney’s all the f*cking time, Addison also went to dinner with her at Nobu Malibu twice last week, because they can, I guess. They’ve also been to the beach with Kourtney’s friends with no masks in sight. With the age difference between Addison and Kourtney, people (me in my group text) have started to joke about Kourtney adopting her, but actually, this whole situation is bizarre. You’ve got Addison, who’s half Kourtney’s age, who met Kourtney through Mason, who’s half Addison’s age. None of these people should be friends with each other—it’s weird!

When it comes to why Kourtney and Addison are obsessed with each other, there’s really no satisfying answer. We basically know how they met, but when it comes down to it, these are two famous people who understand how clout works. Do they enjoy each other’s company? Probably, but they also know it’s good for both of them to keep making videos and taking bikini pics together. That’s showbiz, baby. (Sidenote: Kourtney, if you’re interested in adopting me, my DMs are wide open.)

Images: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images for NYFW: The Showskourtneykardash, addisonraee / Instagram; addisonre / TikTok