The Truth About Tumblr Girls

Skins (UK)
Skins (UK)

This week, G-Eazy released a music video called Tumblr Girls, featuring cuts of beautiful sad actresses mixed with actual posts from Tumblr.

When I first saw the title of the video, I was extremely excited. I’ve been on Tumblr since I was a teenager. It’s 99% run by sad teenage girls who are pretending to be happy IRL. Most of them struggle with eating disorders, self harm issues, and serious suicidal thoughts (I know, I was among them). But as I grew a little older, instead of outgrowing Tumblr, I grew more connected. I had gotten a decent hold of my issues, but I couldn’t abandon this world where so many people were hurting.

I realized that over the age of 20, there really wasn’t much recognition that this world even existed. Generation Y had Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest – all social media that, contrary to Tumblr, expects good news, bright shiny faces, and perfect lives.

Tumblr welcomes the dark, the sick, the broken. It is a deanpan “fuck you” amongst the eternal smile of the rest.

Skins characters rule Tumblr, particularly Effie, for her manic depression, and often Cassie, for her anorexia and Luna Lovegood-like quirky isolation. Those characters were on air in 2007 (Effie through 2010) and still they express emotions that current programming in the United States hasn’t managed to do. (Effie’s most popular: “Why bother? Caring about people.”)

You get a few GIFs of the dark couple Violet and Tate from the first season of American Horror Story (Violet’s a cutter). You get some Lana del Ray and Sky Ferreira, queens of glamour tragedy. You get grunge party girls passed out in ripped tights and Doc Martins. You get rainy cities, rustic woods, tons of smoke seeping from young lips, and girls with their eyes covered up by the words “I’m fine.”

You get lines like:

“And it just hurts like hell.”

“The only thing I’m good at is destroying myself.”

“But boys don’t fall in love with the sad girls.”

“Be like snow. Beautiful but cold.”

“I have more scars than friends.”

“Girls work on their looks, not their minds, because they know boys are stupid, not blind.”

“Less thinking, more drinking.”

“Sometimes we take chances. Sometimes we take pills.”

So you can imagine how I wanted to increase awareness of Tumblr to the older generations. So they can know what’s going on. The severity of anxiety and depression amongst the very young is at an all-time high, but from Facebook and Instagram you’d never imagine that for a second. “Oh, look how perfect their lives are.” “Everyone looks so happy, they’re doing so well.

I see the title of G-Eazy’s video and I’m thrilled. Could it finally be Tumblr Girls being seen? Could they gain recognition in mainstream culture for the very real complexities of their struggles?

Yeah. And then I watched it. I was incensed. A male perspective on Tumblr Girls could have been huge. But instead, it creates a massively simplified and erroneous view of what the girls are.

Tumblrs show both glamorized/prettier/skinner versions of girls’ lives as well as more tragic versions — and instead of recognizing that, he buys that what they blog is the core truth of what’s going on with them (not an indication or symptom of something more), and furthermore, likes it.

While also judging the shit out of it.

“I’m in love with these Tumblr girls, with skinny waists and drug habits

Pretty faces love status, she acts as if she’s the baddest”

Not only that, but the girls he’s singing about in the video are mostly the girls that are IN the pictures and GIFs being reblogged on Tumblr, but not really the girls behind the computer screens. The girls behind the screens will usually blog only certain parts of their bodies at certain angles, like their legs if they have a thigh gap or their arms if they’ve just cut or a stomach if it’s concave.

And the last thing those girls need? To be told a skinny waist and a pretty face are the only things that make them attractive, and then judged for their depression because their bodies are never good enough.

So essentially, the video (a) squanders an opportunity to shine some real light on Tumblr girls (b) encourages the obsession with skinny, pretty, and party culture (c) fails to recognize that the girls being blogged are not the real Tumblr girls but the models they aspire to be and (d) degrades the girls continuously (“Loves the drama / she chose it.”)

Right? Yeah, she chose this. That’s why she blogs pictures of cutting and drowning and demons. Because she loves it. TC mark

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