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Not Only Is Kim K Late To This Trend, It’s Also Offensive

Kim Kardashian in a low-cut black dress on a red carpet.

Kim Kardashian has broken the internet with another TikTok trend that she’s not only several years late to but she should never have touched in the first place.

Kim, alongside a slew of other content creators throughout 2020 and 2021 (most prominently Bella Poarch), has done so-called ‘chav’ makeup to the song M to the B by Millie B. This involves heavy foundation, thick eyebrows, cakey nude lipstick, and cheap-looking eyelashes. It’s what many would call a typical type of British makeup, but it’s also perpetuating an exhausted stereotype that I truly thought we were done with at this point.

What is a chav?

The makeup look and corresponding TikTok trend is meant to poke fun at ‘chavs’—so what does the term actually mean?

A chav is a British word for a working-class person and it’s firmly embedded in British culture, from comedian Catherine Tate’s ‘Am I bovvered’ Lauren in The Catherine Tate Show to Lauren Socha’s Kelly in Misfits. When I was in school, it was the standard response to anything seen as common or cheap, but I truly thought we had all collectively agreed to leave it in the 2010s. Apparently not.

While I don’t pretend that classism is gone from the UK, the concept of a chav doesn’t just categorize people as working class, but actually stems from the term ‘council houses and violence’. The very origin of the word implies that people from low-income backgrounds have a proclivity for violence and crime. Co-opting bold eyebrows, heavy gold jewelry, and fake eyelashes for a TikTok trend pokes fun at very real fashion trends for certain groups of people in the past, usually accompanied with a cigarette and chewing gum to add some health-shaming in there for good measure.

The majority of people doing the trend, like Kim K, have enough money to splurge on makeup and beauty products on TikTok, so are very clearly punching down through British social classes. The fact that the ‘chav’ trend has jumped across the pond from the UK to the US means that Americans taking part in it likely have even less of an idea of the term’s classist origins.

Ultimately, the ‘chav’ look on TikTok or in real life only perpetuates harmful stereotypes about the working class, usually involving skits to do with alcoholism, crime, and drugs. While other TikTok trends (“my name’s Tarquin”) also poke at the middle class, the only joke is that they…have nice houses. When you flip it round to look at rich people making fun of working-class people, the punchline is usually that they’re poor, criminals, or drunk. Ha ha, I guess?

Now, I don’t think that Kim has any idea of what she’s saying, to be honest. I don’t even know why she randomly came to this trend in January 2023, which I truly thought had died in 2021. But if her video can serve as a reminder of why we need to stop with classist trends like this one, I’ll take it.

(featured image: ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)

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