The subgroups of TikTok

Pictured are key items in a trendy vsco girl outfit. Oversized shirts, multiple scrunchies (not for using just wearing), and puka shell necklaces complete the look (Photo courtesy of Kaitlyn Stocum).

TikTok — the app for all of Gen Z. The app is reminiscent of Vine in its immense popularity, but vastly different. The app itself is simple: Users pick a song or sound clip to lip-sync or dance along to.

TikTok’s audience is mainly middle/high school girls, with some adults and boys scattered here and there. Much of what appeals to these audiences are the trends that make TikTok itself popular whether the appeal be dances or funny video clips. 


But as the app’s popularity increases, so does its range in terms of users. The app breaks down into five main categories (for the most part): vsco girls, e-girls/e-boys, baseball/lacrosse boys, artists, and soft girls/boys. Each group of people have their own distinct personalities as well as outfits to amplify the character or person they are trying to create.


Vsco girls: These are the girls who have those little white shell necklaces, carry a hydro flask, have hundreds of scrunchies, wear Birkenstocks, and wear shirts so long they cover their shorts. This group gained popularity due to, ironically, the recent viral TikTok of a girl with all of the above items, seemingly making fun of the girls that a) own these items and b) say “sksksks” and “anioop”. Now, a chorus of “sksksks” fill the room when someone drops a hydro flask.


E-girls/e-boys: Possibly the first real group of Tiktokers, the e-people (for lack of a better term) are basically soft emos. So take the cutesy, possibly feminine people, and combine them with emos, and you have e-people. The main factors of an e-person include pretending to be sad and wearing chains and multiple shirts over another for fashion. This trend has mostly died off, taken over by the now popular vsco girls.


Baseball/lacrosse boys: It truly doesn’t matter what sport you play, if you’re a high school athletic boy that is somewhat fit, you’ll be popular on TikTok. Just simply appear shirtless on the screen and boom — instant popularity. The concept itself sounds quite silly, but part of TikTok is making silly, meaningless videos.


Artists: For some reason, videos of people painting random items around their house, clothing, and mini canvases always pop up on the “For You” page. If there’s any talent found on TikTok, it’s certainly in these artists. Some of the more popular painting canvases include electrical socket covers, sweatshirts, and shoes. This is definitely a better side of TikTok as many of the comments are positive and encouraging.


Soft girls/boys: Take the emo out of the e-girls/e-boys and you’ve got soft girls/boys. Cutesy music, rosy cheeks, and butterfly clips mark the soft girls and same goes for soft boys, minus the butterfly clips. Although some of these videos can be a little cringey, it’s nothing truly harmful.


It seems one of the main reasons these subgroups appeal to TikTok’s main audience of teen girls is the unreal qualities they present. They appear as a character of the person and appeal to the entertainment side of TikTok, and less of the relatable side.


Overall, TikTok subgroups aren’t as bad as many make them out to be. There are certainly some bad/cringe-worthy parts, but there are plenty of diamonds in the rough.


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