How TikTok added a new term into Gen Z’s vocabulary: cheugy


TikTok users declared Gucci belts, among other trends, “cheugy.” But, what does that exactly mean?

Avery Thompson

TikTok is no stranger to the influence of fashion trends. But, there may be one crucial question that you should ask yourself before trying out the latest and greatest trend: is it cheugy?

The word “cheugy” has become a very well-known term to content creators, and Gen Z. Cheugy refers to something that is off-trend, overused, trying too hard or basic. Most videos on TikTok claiming something is cheugy tend to go after millennials’ fashion and the early 2000s. Some examples mentioned the most are Ugg boots and Gucci belts.

A few students at Iowa State listed off some items that they considered cheugy. The list includes bleach blonde hair, Adidas shoes with the staple black stripes, skinny jeans, high-top shoes paired with leggings and zippers with a circle pull. Though this word has become very popular, we ask the question – why?

When asked about her thoughts on the term cheugy, Olivia Perovic, a senior in Apparel, Merchandising, and Design (AMD), was a little skeptical.

“I feel like it kind of encourages problematic toxicity because you should let somebody wear what they like no matter what,” Perovic said, “People are now more than ever hypercritical of not only themselves but others.”

Perovic was very openly expressive in her opinion on the influence of TikTok.

“I think TikTok especially has become more influential than people really intended for it to be,” Perovic said. “It’s influential in every way, like with fashion, life hacks and people in different professional fields that talk about their knowledge. Some of it’s problematic, of course, but a lot of it lets us access so much. Our generation and the one below us, we’re really going to be aware of so many things just because of this one app.”

The “cheugy” trend is not the first TikTok trend to blow up and certainly will not be the last. It has only been around for a short time and has already made a significant impact on the fashion of Gen Z and Millennials. This could be because of the substantial number of people, specifically teens and young adults, who access the app.

Because Tiktok is such a big platform, it provides an opportunity for anyone to use it. The app allows everyone of all skills and talents to post what they wish. Anyone is allowed to give fashion advice even if they aren’t a fashion expert. This allows everyone of all different styles to look for all sorts of outfits they might want to try.

Also majoring in Apparel, Merchandising and Design, sophomore Madison Halliday said she frequently turns to TikTok for ideas.

“I think TikTok has a very strong effect on our fashion today,” Halliday said. “I definitely go there a lot to look for a style I like.”

She said her thoughts on cheugy style were non-participatory.

“People like to hate,” Halliday said. “It becomes a popular thing to hate something that is popular.”

It can be easier sometimes to just agree with the majority to prevent hate from being directed towards you. TikTok, and social media in general, can be very influential in this way. Most people don’t want to be the one that stands out, so they would instead blend in with the crowd.

Marissa Moore, junior in Apparel, Merchandising and Design, advises to not stress what others think.

“There are no rules around fashion,” Moore said. “There are also resources out there to help with your fashion sense. You can wear what you want to wear!”

Given the influence of TikTok, it would not be surprising to see “cheugy” pop up in the Oxford Dictionary one day.