All the things Gen Z said were ‘uncool’ in 2021, from skinny jeans to blonde hair

·4-min read
 (iStock/Warner Bros/Christian Erfurt/The Independent)
(iStock/Warner Bros/Christian Erfurt/The Independent)

As a society, we’re no strangers to generational wars – just look how long the Boomer/Millennial discourse about buying a house went on. We never did stop buying avocados, by the way.

While a new generational war has been simmering away for quite some time, in 2021 it finally came to a head, with Gen Z – the term for those born between 1997 and 2012 – labeling a myriad of millennial stalwarts as uncool or “cheugy”.

Cheugy (pronounced chew-gee, for the uninitiated) is a term coined by Gen Z and defined by Urban Dictionary as a “catch-all word” to describe anything untrendy, uncool or “basic”.

If you happen to wear your blonde hair in a side parting, don skinny jeans and use the tears of joy emoji more than all the others, you’re cheugy (although, it was the most-used emoji of the year, so who’s cry laughing now?)

Will you never stop quoting Harry Potter as long as you live? Cheugy. Do you still contour your face to try and pretend you have cheekbones? Yep, cheugy.

Read on for all the things Gen Z determined was cheugy and uncool in 2021.

Skinny jeans

Just as millennials banished low-rise jeans as soon as we could, Gen Z has called for the end of skinny jeans. Earlier this year, a fashion chasm opened up between the two generations, with the younger generation mocking millennials’ love for the skin-tight denim.

Instead of skinny jeans, Gen Z’s denim of choice is straight leg, “mom” jeans, boot cut, boyfriend jeans and even the dreaded low-rise jean.

In April, as Gen Z started to bring back the latter, it left those in the older generations “horrified” at the thought of donning low-rise denim and they were quick to voice their opinions on social media.

“We as a collective are not doing enough to stop the return of low-rise jeans,” one person wrote. Another added: “We all need to stay vigilant and stop low-rise jeans from coming back.”

Side partings


27 years of side parting be gone ✨ 💁🏻‍♀️ #middlepart

♬ original sound - ADAMRAY

For people with long hair, it tends to either fall in a side or a middle parting. However, Gen Z considers a middle parting to be superior, thank you very much.

In a TikTok video posted by @missladygleep earlier this year, she said: “Prove me wrong, but I don’t think there’s a single person who looks better with a side part than they do a middle part.”

The video saw a pile on of Gen Z’s agreeing with the user, claiming a middle parting to be the look of choice. So it’s bad news for those of us who are - and forever will be - allegiant to the trusty side part.

The laugh-cry emoji (😂)

Despite being the most-used emoji of 2021, Gen Z has deigned the laugh-cry emoji (😂) to be deeply uncool.

In fact, they find the smiley emoji to be passive-aggressive and have said they got put off using the laugh-cry face as it has been overused by older generations.

Instead? Gen Z use the skull emoji (💀), to indicate they are “dying” with laughter, or the tears emoji (😭) to express their emotions.

Blonde hair

In November this year, blondes were left feeling attacked by Gen Z after they labelled lighter locks as “cheugy”.

Model Alyssa Lorraine shared a video explaining that she was frustrated that she dyed her hair back to blonde now that it “isn’t trendy”.

“Went back to blonde after hiding my natural colour [and] dying it crazy colours for 17 years. Now blonde is cheugy,” she said.

Social media users cited celebrities like Hailey Bieber, Florence Pugh and Gigi Hadid all dying their hair brunette as evidence that blonde is cheugy.


If not being able to dye our locks blonde wasn’t enough, this is also the year Gen Z said we were no longer able to define our cheekbones.

March this year saw the 2016 vs 2021 makeup trend take off on TikTok, where beauty influencers showed the difference between how we do our makeup now versus how we applied it in the mid 2010’s.

Instead of block brows, Gen Z prefers a more natural definition. Instead of contouring our faces to oblivion, they like a hint of blush on the cheeks.

Harry Potter

Oh, you know the first film line-by-line and consider being a “Hufflepuff” to be one of your personality traits? Yep, you’re a true millennial (and Gen Z thinks you’ve overdone it with the Hogwarts references).

The original hate for Harry Potter came from a 2020 TikTok video posted by user, @mayalepa, who said: “Tired of Boomers bunching Gen Z and millennials together, because I personally don’t wanna be associated with people who still think that ‘Harry Potter’ movies are a personality trait.” Ouch.

The Harry Potter hate has only gained traction in 2021, but with the cast reuniting for a special airing on New Year’s Day, could 2022 be the year Harry Potter lover’s get their redemption? We’ll just have to wait and see.

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