#Totes: Used By Scared Of Aging Brunettes With Bangs

More than other textspeak, totes brings on the cringe face. Totes, short for “totally,” is def not about a gym bag. I could say WTF aloud like I’m trying to win a spelling bee and not get the same response. For the moment, #totes is more popular than sexting on Twitter.

With Gchat and Twitter, immediacy and brevity have surpassed the need for accuracy. Words have to be short online and in text messages, giving rise to emoticons and the subject of this essay: totes. It’s being used as emphasis where “totally” or “obviously” could go and just to clarify for those unitiated into totes, it’s not “Totes McGotes.” My mom and your mom might say Totes McGotes, but that tongue twister doesn’t have its source in the intensely capitalized or 140-word world of thought.

Textspeak IRL makes you sound like an idiot, creating widespread resistance to using totes; it’s like “like” to valley girls but it makes you sound smarter if for no other reason than you know how to use Twitter. I’ve cornered the demographic of who uses totes and they’re neither valley girls nor idiots.

According to my Twitter research—just do a search for #totes—most of the users of this word are women in art or publishing in their mid-to-late 20s and 30s. The people I know IRL who drop totes in conversation are brunettes with bangs and master’s degrees. They’re intelligent, but in constant competition with recent college grads. They’re using online maneuvering to appear just as knowledgeable about hot cultural topics in industries where admitting that a gen gap exists is like poison kool aid. Remember when sexting was just something that teenagers did? We’re all trying to act less boring and wrinkled with the help of our digital devices. Like sexting, these ladies are using totes to act and sound younger in fields where ageism starts at 25.

The depths of my research—and it’s totes research—into the etymology of this word’s endorsement by the brown hair with bang contingent goes further than Twitter. Just take a look at the use of totes in this film review about Bridesmaids on a popular blog that will not be named here:

The new Judd Apatow film about the quandries facing unmarried career-minded women is more than a meh-type comparison; after spending years working on becoming cool, someone is there to remind you that there’s still something wrong with your comfortable single life. The women in Bridesmaids should have said totes whenever possible, but I guess that’s for the sequel.

Feel the word come off your lips when you say it slowly, like “ta” in “ta-dah” followed by a short, almost orgasmic “Oh!” It’s one of the naughtiest-sounding words that can be applied to throughly unsexy conversations.

Of course, “the totes” will become popularized with moms IRL—”Totes is the new ‘Totes McGotes!”—and lose its original textspeak reference; it’s slowly becoming used by more than a fair share of Twitter noobs.

Justin Bieber lovers are tweeting #totes. If only they knew that they’re ripping off a word started by people who had the Backstreet Boys and Hanson as teen heartthrobs.

Maybe it’s because teenagers are using totes that it’s well on its way to becoming hated en masse. Regardless of whether the word reaches a plateau of cultural relevance like BFF (now replaced by “bestie”) or OMG (it’s now an Usher and will.i.am song), its origins will always remain the same, started on Twitter by a crowd of slowly wrinkling brunettes with bangs. TC mark

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  • xra

    wait, are you trying to tell me people sext now

  • xra

    wait, are you trying to tell me people sext now

    • Anonymous

      srsly

  • Sara

    Funny, I feel the same way when I see “IRL.”

  • http://www.negativesmart.com/ Candice

    As someone who is 29 and on Twitter, allow me to add: some of the women using “totes” are even more scared of aging peroxide blondes who were formerly scared of aging brunettes with bangs until they got seriously, seriously scared of aging while simultaneously becoming even more obviously scared of aging by trying too hard to give the appearance of not being scared of aging.

    Sometimes this stage is immediately followed by a stage where they will give up using words like “totes” based on the correct assumption that it’s fully ridiculous and has become obvious, but just as often it’s followed by a stage where it might be used even more frequently in an attempt to appear more ironically ironic (maybe even ironically ironically ironic these days) or to try to wrestle ownership of being embarrassing away from younger women who weren’t being nearly so embarrassing to begin with.

    Or something. I mean, I don’t ever use the word “totes”, but I’m typing this while being personally scared of aging and artificially blonde.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, I grew out my bangs, but I still use totes.  Give it a few months; I think you’ll start saying or writing totes.

      • http://www.negativesmart.com/ Candice

        Defo not my style. I prefer to watch a lot of British television and go from there…

  • http://twitter.com/jennifersussex Jennifer Sussex

    Dude, if you try to establish that ageism starts at 25, I am going to be pissed. I think it’s all in your head. The last thing every lady needs is someone quoting a figure for when you should start judging yourself as old.

    :(

    Other than that, I like “totes is more popular than sexting on twitter.”  That’s so true!

    • Anonymous

      Do I want ageism to start at 25? No, but I think women’s anxieties with ageing start younger than men–we have more physical, er, issues, arise at a young age (cellulite, holla!).  Then there’s the “OMG my biological clock is ticking” issue where we’re told we need to have kids before 35–or else those kids we do pop out will be mutants. Anyways, it might be in my head, but I do enjoy a lot of things about getting older. 

  • Brianne

    So I #totes uses “totes.” I’m also a brunette, 23, in grad school….but no bangs. 

    should I just say fuck it and get bangs? I’m confused. 

    • Anonymous

      Always exceptions to the rule.

  • Apow

    fuck you!

  • Steph

    What are you even saying?

  • guest

    I’m a bang-having brunette who says totes

    so you know here’s some more data for you

  • http://brianmcelmurry.blogspot.com/ Brian McElmurry

    seems a growth of valley girl speak, as I say “totally” since I was a kid. I’m 32 now. So of course people late 20’s to 30’s and even 40’s may say “totes.” Seems an adolescent idea to make things cool or uncool, as when you get older fads of what to say or not say seem less relevent. I liked this though btw

    • http://brianmcelmurry.blogspot.com/ Brian McElmurry

      feel bad calling it adolescent. I like this. But I’ll never say or write totes again.

      • Anonymous

        now i feel like i’ll never be able to say totes out loud with full sincerity. but you know, there’s def other words you can shorten. 

      • http://brianmcelmurry.blogspot.com/ Brian McElmurry

        I think the word “grody” should make a come back. Like, “That’s totally grody.” But never “grody to the max.” Never. Maybe even “grotes.” Like, “Taco Bell, grotes!” 

  • Anonymous

    i prefer #totez not #totes. #totes just looks stupid. i mean… i am not talking about convenient canvas bags. jesus.

  • MMMullaly

    I’m pretty sure a lot of people use it because they think it’s the cooler version of Paul rudd’s character’s verbal faux pas in I Love You, Man. Really.

    • Joy Jalapolis

      I prefer Totes McGotes over Totes, solely because of Paul Rudd’s character’s verbal faux pas in I Love You, Man.

  • Biobebop

     Totes has never really irritated me the way “natch” or “ridic” do.  And so often I see them in professional, unabbreviated writing on sites like Jezebel or Timeout. 
    The aging thing hits men to….balding, and you can’t exactly put that under some spandex-enhanced garment. Tangent: part of me wonders if HD pornography is unintentionally, and incrementally, ushering in a level of body acceptance.  sort of.

    • Anonymous

      Everyone looks good on a blurry iPhone pic or on Youtube. Cellulite doesn’t usually exist in these mediums. 

  • Guest

    guys… gays have been saying “totes” for years. like most obnoxious (obnox?) slang, it trickles down to said aging brunettes and their counterparts in pop-culture centuries after the homos have moved on to other words/phrases. 

  • Guest

    OKAY?!?! Some people like to have fun with their words. Not everything needs to be so boring and formal. Sheesh, lady.

    • Anonymous

      I support saying totes and using #totes.

  • Jess

    What a weirdly specific and pointless criticism of an abbreviation. What does anyone hair color have to do with it? Except that you probably hate some brunette with bangs who says “totes” and this is your passive aggressive virtual catty call-out. 

    Also, did you even watch Bridesmaids? The main character isn’t “career minded” nor is she in some perfect “comfortable” single life. It’s so annoying when people harp on ANY female -led movie that deals with love. Yes, it’s a universal human experience to desire love and companionship. 

    Aside from that, this piece is confusing and muddled.

    • Anonymous

      I’m a brunette with bangs! 

  • Jess

    What a weirdly specific and pointless criticism of an abbreviation. What does anyone hair color have to do with it? Except that you probably hate some brunette with bangs who says “totes” and this is your passive aggressive virtual catty call-out. 

    Also, did you even watch Bridesmaids? The main character isn’t “career minded” nor is she in some perfect “comfortable” single life. It’s so annoying when people harp on ANY female -led movie that deals with love. Yes, it’s a universal human experience to desire love and companionship. 

    Aside from that, this piece is confusing and muddled.

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