The latest entry in the absolutely pointless intergenerational war between Gen Z and the ancient millennials is so utterly befuddling that I feel it is necessary to address it once and for all, in an attempt to issue something close to a declarative statement on the matter. It seems that Gen Z has come for skinny jeans and, for some reason, side parts, and the millennial mamas who are the vanguard of these sartorial choices are NOT going to take this shit sitting down.
Gen Z teens on TikTok have gathered their resources to wage a war on the twin scourges of skinny jeans and side parts, two styling choices that are apparently a hallmark of millennials. These items are canceled. Middle parts and a straight-leg jean, of the sort that was popular in the ‘90s when Gen Z were toddlers being babysat by elder millennials, are the move. Burn your Madewell skinnies, throw your Old Navy Rockstar Jeans in the garbage. Part your hair down the middle like a Hanson brother. Refusal to adhere to these strict guidelines results in a fate worse than death: obsolescence and cultural irrelevancy.
It makes sense that the teens of Gen Z, who are frightening to me for many reasons, are rejecting these styling choices. Teens on TikTok dress like the Delia’s catalog, which has little to do with whether it actually looks good and more to do with the insidious ’90s-redux shit that Urban Outfitters has been peddling for some time. Fashion is cyclical and the worst of the past always comes back in some fashion or another, remixed and rejiggered slightly, and then snapped up by a generation who were literal infants when the styles first became popular. Skinny jeans and a deep side-part, still popularized by mid-tier Christian lifestyle influencers and the like, aren’t ugly per se, but they aren’t fashionable at the moment. No one likes to be told that they’re irrelevant or out of vogue, especially when they’ve spent their entire life thinking otherwise, so for the millennial mamas of Instagram still beach-waving their hair in the morning before parting it so far on the side that it looks like a combover, news of the cancelation hit hard.
My TikTok algorithm stopped serving me any content relating to this war, noting correctly that I prefer to watch people make the feta pasta instead. However, Reels, Instagram’s attempt at TikTok’s success, has provided me with a fair amount of retorts from an army of women that, I’m sorry, frighten me a little.
A common theme in these retorts is that Gen Z ate TidePods and did not learn how to write in cursive. While I agree with the first point, I’d argue that the second has nothing to do with anything? I am an elder millennial who can write in cursive, but the last time I wrote anything by hand that was longer than a grocery list, my hand cramped.
Others who dare challenge the moral superiority of Gen Z’s audacious claims have done so by bravely appropriating a Billie Eilish song—the patron saint of the generation they are attempting to skewer.
I’m happy that these women have found a platform for their brave stance against Gen Z’s tyranny. However, everyone here is missing the larger point, which that no one cares what you wear or when you wear it. Skinny jeans are fine, Levi’s Wedgie jeans are fine, parting your hair down the middle only works if you want it to work for you, and at this point, everyone has been inside for so long that I fear we’ve all forgotten how to interact with other people in a way that is even close to meaningful or, at the minimum, not offensive? One of the lesser-known side effects of long-term social isolation is... whatever this is, I guess? Generational wars that turn into “discourse” for one to three days before everybody forgets about it and moves on to the next is one way to pass the time, but another good way is to sit down, close your eyes, and log off.