Ok Zoomer: What’s with the crying selfies?

Jul 12, 2021

By Katherine Richardson, LBB Senior Strategist

Ok Zoomer is an LBB series that deciphers Gen Z trends, memes, and slang, so your kids stop calling you “cheugy.” If you have no idea what that means, this series is for you.

We all cry.

There are ugly criers, pretty criers, snotty criers, just-watched-a-commercial-about-abandoned-dogs criers, NYC subway criers…

But there’s one type of crying unique to Gen Z – the selfie cry. Scroll through Instagram or TikTok and you’ll see them everywhere.

The trend, first popularized by 20-year-old YouTuber/influencer Emma Chamberlain, reflects Gen Z’s comfort with feeling all the feelings and sharing their emotions with the world.

“Gen Z embraces vulnerability and authenticity. They want the mask off, they want unfiltered, like ‘I’m gonna take a photo in the bathroom with my zits and just be myself and own my feelings and not be ashamed of them.’” Sam Abrahart, CEO of The Mayfair Group said in an interview with Glossy. (The popular Gen Z athleisure brand blew up during the pandemic for its “Your Emotions are Valid” sweatshirt.)

This is a massive sea-change from the Millennial generation, who popularized a sanitized social media aesthetic – full of colorful walls, perfectly put together outfits, brunches, and smiling faces.

And to that, Gen Z is calling bullshit.

To them, projecting perfection is exhausting, unrealistic, and most of all, against their values. Gen Z-ers report higher rates of depression and anxiety than any other generation. (That’s no surprise, given they grew up online, in a time of economic instability, gun violence, a mounting climate crisis, and deep social division.) Pretending everything’s ok – in the world and in their own lives – just isn’t in their DNA. Honesty is real, relatable, and the default.


So what does this mean for brands?

  1. Keep it real: Gen Z can sniff out inauthenticity from a mile away. Share real people, real employees, and real stories. Sanitized and airbrushed won’t fly. Athletic brand Girlfriend Collective is a great example.

So next time you’re crying, embrace Gen Z authenticity and snap a picture for the ‘gram. If your friends are confused (or concerned), just send them a link to this article. 😉

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