But let’s drop the fatphobia this time around.
It’s only been four days, but 2022 already looks like a continuation of past pandemic years.
With the uncertainty and stress of our current reality, it makes sense that we look to the past for comfort. And in tune with the fashion times, that means a shortened cycle of style rebirths. On TikTok, the latest trend to make a comeback is the age of the twee.
The hipster aesthetic was popularized on Tumblr in the late 2000s and early 2010s and could best be described as cute, quaint, or vintagecore. The British term “twee” actually dates back to the beginning 1900s when it is derived from a “baby talk” mispronunciation of the word “sweet”.
Style staples include colorful tights, oversized collars, bows, cardigans, blouses, and hairstyles with bangs. Certain objects have also become synonymous with aesthetics, such as ukuleles, tea cups and typewriters.
Taking inspiration from the mod styles of the 60s and 70s, the twee also relies on accessories such as belts, hair bows or berets and saddlebags. Actor Zooey Deschanel is associated at the time, embodying the twee style on the sitcom New girl, which premiered in 2011. Director Wes Anderson has also become known for capturing the twee in his whimsical films, using a distinctly colored vintage aesthetic in his cinematography.
If you were on Tumblr during the twee days, you know how far its impact has gone. It was more than a style trend, it was a cultural movement. Journalist Marc Spitz argues in his book Twee: the gentle revolution of music, books, television, fashion and cinema that aesthetics was the most powerful movement since punk and hip hop. He says the twee has influenced culture as a whole: spanning music, art, film, fashion, food and politics.
The twee revival comes as other aesthetics of the Tumblr era like dark university, alt-goth and Y2K style trends like “the coconut girl” are making a comeback. The resurgence of these trends therefore sparked memories of the fatphobia that existed on Tumblr at that time and how the dominant representations of the The twee style aesthetic excluded taller people.
Despite being a haven for exploring personal style and self-expression, Tumblr in the early 2010s was known to promote eating disorder discourse and unhealthy body image forums. So much so that in 2012, Tumblr had to implement policy changes to delete blogs that “[glorifed] Where [promoted] anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders; self-harm; or suicidal.
While the fashion comeback of the early 2010s gives us all a bit of nostalgia, it’s important to recognize the rigid beauty standards that these styles often relied upon and the harmful discourse about body image that was. ubiquitous at the same time.
Twee is making a comeback in an era when body acceptance is more common. Mandy Lee, TikTok Trend forecaster (@oldloserinbrooklyn) points out that the culture surrounding beauty standards has changed, which will impact the materialization of the twee revival.
“We have evolved over time, and what was accepted and normal then is not the same as what is normal and accepted today,” she said in a recent TikTok. “Like, [if] people come to TikTok and start glorifying the thigh gap, it’s really not going to fly like it was accepted 10 or 15 years ago. We know it’s harmful and it’s not part of the accepted culture.
Ultimately, it’s up to brands to cater for all body types when embracing these style returns. When Miu Miu launched her famous Spring / Summer 2022 collection with the return of the drop-waist mini skirt in October 2021, only slim models strutted the catwalk. This in turn brought back the familiar anxiety of the days when “the chic heroine” dominated the beauty and fashion spaces.
In the age of body acceptance, we have the opportunity to bring diversity to these nostalgic fashion trends. The creators pointed out that those who taller bodies have always sported twee, they just haven’t historically been portrayed in the mainstream media.
As the twee returns to our lives, the appeal for inclusive fashion is more present than ever.