These past weeks on TikTok, Gen-Z upstarts have had the audacity to mock women of a certain age (moms in their late 30s) for their side parts and tight jeans. Apparently, these style choices are giveaways that one is “old.”
Millennial moms are not taking this sitting down ― something that’s increasingly hard to do in skinny jeans, anyway, as the “quarantine 15” becomes its own pandemic. A new genre of backlash video has emerged, characterized by a whole lot of “old-lady” side eye.
There have also been passionate defences of the hair-and-jean-style combo that says “mom energy” and designates its wearer as a safe person Gen Z-ers can come running to next time they screw up. And there will be a next time, as @parodymom predicts from inside her SUV, hair defiantly parted to the far left.
Leading the charge, on this side of the battlefield, are Canadian mom vloggers Cat + Nat, who were so outraged by the skinny jean and side part-shaming, that they posted their weekly “Mom Truth Friday” video rant on a Thursday, this week.
Watch Cat and Nat’s video below to witness their glorious take-down of the Tide-pod-eating, balls-dipped-in-soy-sauce generation that seeks to shame the women who gave them life.
Cat and Nat (Catherine Belknap and Natalie Telfer) are BFFs who’ve bubbled through the pandemic together: working from home, without childcare, with seven kids under the same roof. They are mom energy squared; they have a blue check beside their name on TikTok (take that, teenagers!); and they won’t tolerate sass from anybody born after the year 2000.
“You ― as children who many of us have birthed ― are now telling us what’s cool is not OK? No! Some moms are actually changing their style because of this, but low-rise jeans are not coming back for either of us,” said Cat, on a phone call with HuffPost Canada. “Talk to us when you’ve had children,” piped in Nat. “We need those jeans after having all of you.”
While the two have created a whole empire from their irreverent take on motherhood, they have a serious objective for their social media presence and want to help other parents.
The two Toronto moms actually have a close relationship with their Gen Z daughters, as is evident from some of their other videos, in which the girls are clearly enjoying hanging out at home with such old, uncool ladies:
But Cat and Nat are under no illusions that this stage will last forever.
“They’re 11 and 12. It’s early days,” said Cat. “For the moment we have a close relationship, but number 1: It’s the pandemic, and number 2: They need us more because of that at the moment.”
“Cat’s right. They’re still really young; they’re not doing drugs or having sex,” added Nat, before calling out to the girls, who have been lurking in the same room throughout their moms’ interview:
“Are you kids doing drugs?”
“No,” in unison.
In fact, the two mothers have already formed a support group for parents with kids from age six to teens, in anticipation of the inevitably bumpier years ahead. They invite an expert each week to talk with the group about the big stuff affecting their kids, like sex, depression, pandemic challenges ― things parents don’t always feel qualified to deal with.
The group has moderators, so it’s a no-trolling, no-hate zone, where it’s safe to talk about real things. “When you have challenges as a parent, it’s nice to hear you’re not alone,” explained Cat.
The Toronto moms are best known for using their virtual platforms to make fun of themselves and share funny and expletive-laden observations about the wild ride that is motherhood, but ― schtick aside ― they also like to be social media-savvy, to better support their kids.
“Our advice to parents is: ‘You have no idea what things will cross your kids’ eyes, if you’re not on the platforms they use ― not necessarily posting, but definitely looking,” said Nat. “You should be watching things on Youtube and have a TikTok account, because you wouldn’t believe some of the things the kids see.”
Talk to your tweens and teens
Cat said that by being active on social media, she’s able to bring up important topics with her daughter preemptively. Last week when a teen died of a fentanyl overdose, after buying drugs on SnapChat, she texted her eldest daughter to ask if she’d seen that. They went on to talk about how drug dealers are not always the scary-looking people they’re made out to be; sometimes they are peers.
Nat also pointed out that many kids are learning about world events through platforms like SnapChat and TikTok. “That’s how they get their news. They know about everything that’s going on, but they don’t always know if the information they see is right, and that’s where we need to help them make sense of it.”
The two moms talk with their tweens about all the weird (and sometimes dangerous) challenges going around too, such as the particularly stupid ones they referenced in their skinny-jean-and-side-flip-shaming video. When asked to explain what the soy sauce challenge was, they laughed out loud:
“It was a challenge where guys would dip their balls in soy sauce because they were supposed to taste it in their mouth,” explained Cat. “It was about a year ago, around the same time as the Tide Pod challenge ― your kids are gonna do things!”
Ultimately, whether they’re mocking TikTok trends or exposing the messy side of life with kids, they want to remind other moms nobody is perfect ― no matter what you might be thinking as you scroll through another mother’s curated posts.
“We try to normalize this crazy journey and make it fun,” said Cat. “Your kids wont remember a lot of the things you do for them, but they’ll remember how you made them feel.”
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost Canada and has been updated.