Users on the app have created accounts pretending to be American white women who love Trump, wine, and cringe memes
In recent years, the name Karen has taken on a new meaning. No longer just another name, ‘Karen’ has come to signify a certain type of woman: she’s white, typically American, a staunch anti-vaxxer, wine drinker, and a Trump supporter who always wants to speak to the manager. Karen is also the name given to racist white women who call the police on innocent Black people for, say, asking you to put your dog on a lead. According to analysis from Brandwatch, the ‘Karen’ meme has skyrocketed in the last few months, particularly across lockdown and amid the reckoning with racism in the US – in January, there were 100,000 active mentions on social media sites, compared to 2.77 million in May.
Now, in yet another sick burn by Gen Z, first reported by Kat Tenbarge for Insider, teens are creating fake Karen profiles on Instagram to troll these Bible-loving, All Lives Matter advocates. The troll accounts are arguably difficult to discern from actual Karen profiles – they’re full of cringe wine memes, basic interior design, and pics of Minions. The bio’s typically contain descriptions like, “Proud mother of four beautiful creatures”, “40 years young”, and “Stop calling me racist! My dog is black”.
For the eagle-eyed, there are a few things giving these troll accounts away, namely the stock imagery, shoddy cut and paste photos, and pics of famous TikTokers’ families. As the Insider report notes, teens will promote their role-playing accounts on their TikToks, and comment in character on popular pages to get attention.
Below, three teens who set up ‘Karen’ accounts explain their Karen-play, and how it’s surprisingly offered them a new sense of community.
AITANA, 17, US
“I know that some users are just trying to joke around, but many of us actually want to spread awareness on how believable our characters’ behavior is. Trump supporters have such traditional and often ridiculous ideas and beliefs, that it’s hard to fight them without getting “Trump 2020” as a response to avoid our arguments. So, personally I was motivated because I want to point out how ridiculous and ruthless they sound. And when someone tries to have a civilised conversation, they start attacking and belittling us.
Honestly I think our point has already been proven because on some of our comments or posts on different pages, Trump supporters actually believe we are being serious! We may be young, and adults may try to belittle us for that, but we always find different and unexpected ways to respond and do what’s right.”
EWELINA, 14, UK
“The whole Karen account thing started on TikTok, so I decided to join the ‘cult’ and make my own. We are role playing Karens because we’re bored and the whole Karen meme has been going on for some time now! It’s an amazing way to make friends online and start socialising while staying safe because of the coronavirus. There’s an entire group chat called #CoolMoms where kids my age (13-16) pretend we’re wine/soccer mums and just joke around. I’m currently on a chat with about 25 people and I met some amazing friends even though I only had this account for about two days. Of course, it’s inspired by the Karen meme – about white middle aged women who love soccer, Trump, wine and want to speak to your manager – which has been going around for ages. We role play to not only make fun of those women but actually see what their lives are like – at least I do.
Myself and and the #CoolMoms group chat made Karen merchandise for fun – our goal is to master it and start selling it on merch websites and donate our profit to important matters, such as the Black Lives Matter movement or the Yemen crisis. We hope people would spend even a small amount of money on those clothes to help out what’s going on in the world and be a part of this amazing joke.”
ALICE, 15, POLAND
“I’ve decided to join the Karen community mostly because of TikTok. I’ve had this account for around two days, and I’ve already met amazing people. There are also many creeps DMing me writing about how beautiful I am even though I took a random photo from Pinterest. I actually don’t know who the woman on my profile picture is, but photos of my ‘kids’ on my feed are just photos of my favorite musicians, like Andy Biersack or Ronnie Radke.”
This article was updated June 26 to add an attribution to Insider’s reporting