Everybody knows about the popular Twitter feed, White Girl Problems, but now that 2010’s satirical Twitter sensation has worked its way into mainstream Western culture, I’m noticing some problems. The now-ubiquitous hashtag #whitegirlproblems can be found incorporated into the posts of every social media outlet, signaling the writer’s acknowledgment of first-world privilege and mocking a behaviour they classify as something a typical “white girl” would do. The Internet is full of these references, and as they become part of our daily conversations, I’m concerned about the effect this will have on the way young women are treated, and our culture as a whole.
While #whitegirlproblems raises issues regarding class or race, which I acknowledge, I’m bothered by this notion that it’s okay to place a certain “type” of girl into such a specific category. Sample tweets I found after searching “#whitegirlproblems” include:
@Char_pos1998: I’d sell my Ugg boots for a Starbucks right now #whitegirlproblems
@chisholmME : I just want a pumpkin-spice frappe. #whitegirlproblems
@_DMagz: not having a phone is one of the toughest things ever #whitegirlproblems
And the list goes on, featuring similar themes: Starbucks, iPhones, Ugg boots, yoga pants, not being able to afford all the things they want. The average white young female is becoming a joke, and we’re all buying into it.
After a wildly successful book and subsequent follow-up, White Girl Problems has also inspired several spinoffs feeds, such as Common White Girl (@CommonWhiteGirl) and Basic Bitch (@BasicBitchXO), further perpetuating this stereotype of the average white girl. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t follow some of these Twitter feeds; in fact, I’ve even linked my own tweets with the pervasive hashtag and giggled to myself at my own wit. I started doing it ironically, thinking I’m a smart girl so this doesn’t really matter, but if we as women continue to allow ourselves to feed this notion, it will only make it okay for men to do the same. Where did anybody get the idea that it’s okay to call a woman (or anyone for that matter) “basic?”
Young women across North America are being lumped into this box of Starbucks-drinking, Ugg-wearing, whiny, privileged girls, and for me, it’s almost changed the experience of actually being a white girl: I’m suddenly so self-aware. Not only can I no longer order a Pumpkin Spice Latte without a quick glance around me, embarrassed, but I also can’t wear leggings as pants when I’m feeling bloated, or carry a yoga mat out of the gym without fearing I’ll appear too “basic.” If Eiffel Tower souvenirs from my four trips to France make me look like a poseur, or listening to Taylor Swift for the lyrical content should be done in secret, then how can anybody ever really just be themselves?