In the early 2010s trendsetters like New Girl actress Zooey Deschanel, fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson and model Alexa Chung popularized the style. The look was characterized by kitschy vintage styles like colorful satchels, large retro glasses, bangs, stockings and printed shift dresses from ModCloth (before Walmart acquired it). It was popular among the indie-hipster set and fashionistas alike.
In many ways twee was a reaction to the Girls Gone Wild, blinged-out party girl and hypersexualized aesthetics foisted upon women in the early 2000s. It also coincided with the mainstream’s new embracement of “nerd” culture like the Big Bang Theory and the early inklings of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For the first time, it seemed, it was cool to be kind of dorky and offbeat.
But twee fashion gained traction right along with another important movement, the body acceptance movement. Twee received criticism for centering waify, white women and overlapping with Tumblr’s notoriously insidious pro-ana content. Now Twee is making a comeback on TikTok — and it’s polarizing.
“No. We aren’t starting this again. 2014 Tumblr cannot come back. Twee coming back will be the beginning of the end,” a user wrote in a video. “It wasn’t all Zoey Deschanel and mustaches… It was racism, fatphobia, self-harm posts and eating disorder (ED) forums. I could go one forever.”
TikToker @mrgtfrench wrote of the subject, “Twee never went anywhere, we’re all just in ED recovery. I suggest an updated term where we still dress cute but we’re as fat as our bodies are supposed to be.”
Meanwhile, others are sharing old photos of their twee phases nostalgically but even they are critical of the aesthetic.
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