Culture

Junk Explained: Who And What Is A ‘Karen’?

"Do babies named Karen even exist? Or do they just appear one day with 3 kids and wanna speak to the manager?"

Karen Speak To The Manager Explainer

Everyone’s met a Karen before.

It’s every retail worker’s biggest fear: a champagne gold minivan in the parking lot, a choppy bob bouncing in the wind, a freshly ironed pair of summer jorts, and two screaming kids in tow. It’s Karen, and she’s here to speak to the manager. 

The phenomenon of the Karen character has well and truly taken 2019 by storm. Alongside the almighty ‘ok boomer‘ meme, Karen memes have united those fed up with entitled, middle-aged white women. 

What Exactly Is A Karen?

Well, according to the most-popular Urban Dictionary definition, Karen is: “44, and mother of three. Blonde, owns a Volvo, annoying as hell and wears acrylics 24/7. Currently at your workplace speaking to your manager.”

The submission continues, “Mid-aged white women with bob cuts are not to be spoken to in any sort of tone.”

The thing about Karen as an entity is, you don’t need to be named Karen to be a Karen. Karen is a way of mind, interchangeable with any popular name for a white woman aged 40 to 60. Carol, Linda, Susan, Janet – the name isn’t important.

Karens existed before 2019 and will continue to in the years to come, but the name will likely change with the times. Maybe it was Margaret 30 years ago trying to give the manager a piece of her mind, and perhaps it’ll be Avery in the future.

Similar to “boomer” being a mindset over the literal definition of “baby boomer”, you can be a Karen without technically being called Karen. The name is applicable to any angry, over-dramatic, entitled Gen- X white woman, often characterised by a specific type of  bob cut and a brazen need to speak to the manager.

Other characteristics of a Karen include being extremely nosey and judgemental, and adorning their 3-bedroom home in the suburbs with “live, laugh, love” wooden plaques.

Where Did Karen Come From?

The long-running joke is that Karen’s just simply love speaking to managers when things go wrong. Or when things go right. Basically, Karen’s just love speaking to managers regardless of what’s going on.

The “Can I Speak To The Manager” Haircut meme is what provided the basis of the Karen meme. Back in 2014, @johnnylogic uploaded the old-school meme to Reddit, which inspired people to find similar traits of women who get a kick out of speaking to the manager. These traits included the type of cars these women drove, their haircuts, outfits, cooking specialities, and number of kids.

 

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The haircut meme evolved with people starting to give middle-aged names to the manager-loving antagonist of life — with Karen obviously sticking best. Then in 2017, the Fuck You Karen subreddit was born to share memes and hatred over the Karen’s over the world.

But the concept of giving names to groups of people or unknown characters in stories is not new. After all, Becky became synonymous for white women after Beyoncè released ‘Sorry’ in 2016, revealing Jay-Z’s infidelity.

In 2018, these names took on new meaning when a slew of white women started reporting and harassing innocent people over trivial things. Barbecue Becky made headlines in 2018 for calling the police on a black family enjoying a picnic at the park. Permit Patty gained attention the same year for reporting an 8-year-old girl for not having a license to sell bottled water in front of her house.

More recently, Kidz Bop Karen went viral in 2019 for her verbal abuse of a passenger in a ride-share over an almost-accident. Just this weekend, #TooStrongForYouKaren started trending after a literal Karen abused an Aboriginal family over a flag on display.

The one thing all these women had in common? They were all middle-aged white women who felt entitled and didn’t mind their own business. All these women were Karens in every sense of the word.

2019: The Year Of The Karen Memes

The notoriety of these angry white women pushed the concept of Karen-type women as memes into the spotlight. People weren’t happy with the entitlement these middle-aged white women had, and decided to poke fun at them through memes.

 

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The Karen meme has even made it’s way onto TikTok, where people have started making jokes about Karen’s and their constant need to speak to the manager.

Some even poked fun at the name Karen itself, implying that the surge in the name would’ve been horrifying for anyone in management in 1946.

Others even questioned why exactly anyone would voluntarily name their child Karen in the first place.

But most just used TikTok to show us exactly what the Karen’s of the world are like.