An Open Letter To Millennials From A ‘Cusper’

Dear Millennials, 

I may not be the voice of my generation, but it feels like it’s time to speak out on something that’s hitting really close to home. By now, you’re aware that TikTok has been turned into a battlefield for the war between millennials and Gen Z. 

Unfortunately, the true victims seem to be everyone’s least favorite middle child: the so-called Cuspers. While everyone has a different time frame for who they consider being on the cusp, I tend to go with people born from 1997-2000. We’re the ones who graduated college right before or during the pandemic and who are losing some of our most formative years and early work experiences to Zoom. 

For years, I’ve had all of the benefits of both generations, and the ability to be flexible in my identification. Yes, maybe I did spend most of my English classes in high school taking BuzzFeed quizzes. But I also absolutely rocked the skinny jean/leather boots/side part combo in many of my early Instagram pictures. As a then-16-year-old cusper, it felt like an honor to share some of those formative experiences with my camp counselors and babysitters. 

However, the battle between the generations has forced me to pick a side. And, honestly, I think I need to go with Gen Z. Looking in the mirror, it seems like my only choice. My hair: in a claw clip with a middle part. My jeans: wide-legged with black-and-white patchwork (they’re super cute). My top: well, it kinda looks like I went to Target and got a pack of Hanes children’s ribbed tank tops and tried to make them trendy. 

At the same time though, I have reached the age where I am a loyal Tretinoin user and put on sunscreen every day (we’ve gotta be preventative). I also absolutely have respect for millennial “culture.” I love that you’ve normalized getting wine drunk most nights and I adore that you’ve made it cool to rewatch the same three sitcoms over and over again. While I wouldn’t advise making Harry Potter into a personality trait, I did rewatch Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets last night and had an incredible time (if you care, I’m obviously a Ravenclaw). 

Look, I know my audience, and I know most of you are millennials, and I want to say thank you for everything that you’ve done. Deciding to lean into the Gen Z of it all was a hard choice, and I want to be honest about why I had to make it. 

This all started with a few random teenagers pointing out that skinny jeans and side parts simply are no longer in style. It only took a few TikToks for you guys to lose your shit, which is honestly really funny. The ironic part about it is that you all say we’re such a sensitive generation, but who is freaking out over a few TikToks and memes? You guys. 

To put it in language you guys understand, this is so not fetch. Or, for the worst of your generation, this is not girlboss behavior. I’m sure the people reading this are too smart for this, but the fact that millennials made full-on TikTok songs as responses to jokes high schoolers made is… well… not it.  

@delanielynneAlso, 😂 ##seltzersquad ##whiteclaw ##millennialsoftiktok ##millennial ##whatsgoingon ##genz ##PupPeroniShuffle ##GetReadyWithOldSpice ##ThisorThatSBLV♬ original sound – DelanieLynne

It’s hard to hear, but, as a cusper, I feel like I want to offer some advice. Friends and The Office aren’t even that good, and if you’re going to build your entire personality around a TV show, try something from this decade. For your own health, I am begging you to throw away the Naked eyeshadow palette you got for the holidays in 2014. Also, please stop asking if we even know what things like Myspace are. We obviously do, we were also like 7 when it was a thing. 

I literally do not give a fuck how you wear your hair, or your jeans, if you use a crying emoji, or if you quote The Office on social media. I’m not asking for much, just to be able to go on Instagram without seeing a post of one of you at Disney, because even though it’s a pandemic, you just missed it so much. Or to open TikTok, which is my favorite app, without another millennial self-righteously parting her hair to the side and lip-syncing one of your new TikTok war songs.

At the end of the day, I love and respect millennials—you guys truly did pave the way for us. And the fact that I have a Juicy sweatsuit on the way to me serves as a constant reminder of all you have done. Please don’t take this too personally. That said, I’m feeling pretty good about the Gen Z of it all. 

With all of that said, maybe it’s time we all go outside (safely, of course) and like, maybe touch a piece of grass. 

Written with so much love,

Reagan Anthony, former “cusper,” proud Gen Z

Images: CHAINFOTO24 / Shutterstock

Go Ahead, Pry The Skinny Jeans From My Cold, Dead Hands

Less than two weeks after my groundbreaking defense of the crying laughing emoji, and the war between millennials and Gen Z rages on. Much to my surprise, it seems nobody really cares that much about the emoji, and rather, everyone—from corporate Twitter accounts to PR execs hawking pants—has zeroed in on the youth’s ridicule of side parts and skinny jeans. Look, I know I said you could have them, Gen Z, but I actually lied. I didn’t spend my entire adolescence agonizing over whether I had an oval or a heart or a round face, just for some kids to tell me that I would have been fine accentuating the roundest part of my face all along. Plus, I’m a 5’2″ adult whose biggest growth spurt was two inches, compared to the typical half-inch-per-year I was growing before. Do you know how long I tried to find jeans that would fit? Do you understand the vindication I felt when they invented jeans that didn’t pool around my ankles? And you want me to go back to drowning in denim—for what? For ~aesthetics~? No.

That said, I of course understand that there are certain fads millennials popularized that did not exactly stand the test of time. I’m not saying we’re infallible geniuses, I’m just saying there are plenty of things to mock us for that would be understandable. Things like:

Making Liking ‘The Office’ A Personality Trait

The show’s pilot brought in over 11 million viewers, and before it got poached by Peacock, was said to be Netflix’s most-watched show. The Office is immensely popular, and somehow every single millennial on Hinge thinks they’re the only person who can recall the origin of “Dwight, you ignorant slut”. And this from the generation that turned liking popular things into an inherent character flaw! Oh, so we draw the line at getting your toiletries from Target, but not at this? Sure, Jan. That makes sense. (And no, I’m not talking about Jan Levinson-Gould.)

Fanny Packs

We killed fanny packs, and then we brought them back. Millennials giveth, and they taketh away. When I was 9 years old and marching in a parade with my Girl Scout troop (don’t ask) and my mom gave me a fanny pack in which to hold all my belongings (probably all of like, my Tamagotchi and a Band-aid), I wanted to die before I’d slap that thing around my waist. And yet, what was I sporting to every music festival from 2015 and beyond? You’re damn right, a fanny pack. We didn’t even try to rebrand these, we just went from hating them one day to wearing them everywhere the next. And can we talk about the design of the fanny pack? It’s useful, of course, but we are really acting like having an oversized crotch belt is cute. And nobody is stopping us!!

Wire-Rimmed Glasses

 

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Once again, the very same glasses I made fun of my mom for wearing in the 90s, I now own. It’s the circle of life, it’s the wheel of fortune. Millennials are out here looking like 1970s creepers, and we’re doing it on purpose. Because we think it looks good. Make fun of that—not the fact that I part my hair on the right side because I’ve been conditioned by women’s magazines into thinking it frames my face better. What about the gigantic metal circles? Those don’t frame my face well at all. In fact, they’re falling off!

Leggings

Leggings! We’re really going to come for jeans that taper at the ankle but not pants that are made of full-on elastic? (Yes, I’m aware that they are not literally made of elastic, but just go with me.) We have built entire empires on stretching fabric over our butts, and we don’t even pair leggings with long shirts anymore! And can we talk about “control top” leggings for a second? Because these are really shame-worthy. Millennials have been so brainwashed by diet culture that we will willingly stuff ourselves into stretchy torture devices and sit in those all day, because God forbid anyone have a slight lump anywhere on their body. We took leggings from occasional workout bottoms and sleepwear (they were never meant to be full-on pants), then we turned them into pants, and then we removed the comfort. And control tops aren’t subtle, either. We’re walking around with leggings that have a waist trainer at the top. Classy.

Our Obsession With Kitchen Appliances

If the air fryer or Instant Pot had never been invented, would any of us have personalities? Probably not, if a quick scroll through millennial Twitter is any indication (and I absolutely include myself in this). Actually, you know what, I bet Gen Z does make fun of us for this. But just wait until you get the little suction cup that separates your yolk from the egg whites—it will truly change your life.

Curtain Bangs

 

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Maybe the reason Gen Z seems to have no issue with curtain bangs is because they are designed to be worn with a middle part. Touché, kids. Touché. Mostly what I find most mockable about curtain bangs is the fact that they’re… not really anything. They’re just bangs, that you part? Ok, I guess. They’re that awkward growing-out-your-bangs stage, but on purpose? Well f*ck me for thinking the whole point of bangs is for them to cover your forehead.

Mostly what I admire most about Gen Z’s criticisms is that they have all this low-hanging fruit at their disposal, and they instead go for the unexpected. It’s never the bad trend they ridicule; it’s the wardrobe staple that we thought was inoffensive, impossible to dislike. It just goes to show that nothing we hold sacred is safe, and we will never be cool in the eyes of the youth, so we should stop trying.

Images: Joshua Rondeau / Unsplash; hilaryduff, warbyparker / Instagram