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What in the World is a ‘Tumblr Sexyman,’ Anyway?

This bizarre slang is a whole rabbit hole of character dedications.

The Once-Ler from The Lorax, holding up a fist and grinning.

When new characters hit the screens of TVs or the pages of books, they generally accrue a certain following over time. Many characters are usually either appreciated or disliked for their actions, characterization, or other aspects—but when it comes to the bizarre net of terms and characters that come with the phrase “Tumblr sexyman,” it can be hard to place where, when or even why these strange terms exist. Even harder to understand is the strange obsession with the characters identified as “Tumblr sexymen.” So, that begs the question—what even is a “Tumblr sexyman?”

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This strange phenomenon is thought to have originally begun in 2012 and 2013, when the movie The Lorax was brand new and a strange following developed around the movie’s interpretation of the young Once-Ler. The character became so popular that a huge amount of “ask blogs” dedicated to the character popped up, fanart of the character was made where he was considerably skinnier than usual, and so on. This following of fan work dedicated to the Once-Ler was observed as the first instance of a “Tumblr sexyman,” and since then, several other characters have been considered “sexymen.”

The criteria for a character to be considered a “Tumblr sexyman” vary greatly. The characters in question are usually evil or have some kind of unique trait that separates them form being considered a ‘normal’ character (for example, Sans, a “Tumblr sexyman,” has telekinesis). As for the content created of them, it’s a whole different story—most of the art of “Tumblr sexymen” is the character being drawn as white, skinny and cishet—sometimes with some very bizarre “ships” involved. Though most of these criteria vary vastly from character to character, it is widely agreed upon that in order for a character to be considered a “sexyman,” they need to have a substantial following, and a lot of content needs to be created for them. Most characters are not considered “sexymen” for this reason. The following just isn’t big enough.

There’s definitely lots of different strange Internet trends floating out there, but the phenomenon of “Tumblr sexymen” is by far one of the most bizarre. Though the circumstances of this fandom taking place always differ from time to time, the trend isn’t going to go away any time soon. There’s only one question left that most people find themselves asking. Who will the next “Tumblr sexyman” even be?

(Featured image: Illumination Entertainment)

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