Skinny jeans and side parts—an iconic aspect of the early 2000s. Originally popping up among designer collections and socialites, the style soon spread to mainstream America. That is, until now. Recently a new TikTok trend has gone viral as Gen Z users claim that skinny jeans and side parts are out and straight-leg jeans and middle parts are in. Needless to say, millennials are fighting back.  

Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, grew up during the height of skinny jean and side part popularity. Rarely was anyone seen without their side bangs swooped across their face and jeans so tight they could pass as leggings. But now, Gen Z says the same style that defined the start of the millennium is now a sign that one is “old.”  

The trend began with a video by user @missladygleep, who said she doesn’t think anyone looks better with a side part than they do with a middle part, thus lighting the spark of the #middlepartchallenge and a fiery generational debate.  

@ladygleep

When I don’t have bangs I rock the middle part I swear #BeautyTutorial #fyp #middlepart

♬ Middle part baddies – lady gleep

The two generations have been shooting insults back at each other on the app. One millennial, @taylorrainsmusic, has had enough: “I’m sorry, but the generation who ate Tide pods does not get a say in where the part in my hair goes or what pants I wear. Thanks.” 

@taylorrainsmusic

#stitch with @mollietrainor y’all ate tide pods. I’ll part my hair on the side and wear skinny jeans. Enjoy the 90s fashion rn. 😂 youre welcome.

♬ original sound – Taylor Rains

As a 20-year-old born in 2000, I personally identify as a sort of middle ground between millennials and the “Tide Pod” side of Gen Z. I have noticed that my age range of 18 to 24-year-olds have taken a step back from this whole feud, simply watching 14 and 30-year-olds trade insults like a schoolkid fight on a playground.  

Us “Zillennials,” if you will, are not real 90s babies, but we remember the first iPhone being released; we grew up wearing skinny jeans through elementary and middle school; we swore by our deep side parts, and most importantly we still grew up with the good era of Disney Channel. We experienced all of what millennials did, while simultaneously having a tie and connection to Gen Z.  

I myself have recently transitioned back to my natural middle part and haven’t worn skinny jeans in almost three years, but I never thought of it as this generational divide worthy of a TikTok feud—simply my own style and preference as I became more interested in fashion.  

So is one style better than the other? No. 

Everyone knows the number one rule in fashion is that there are no rules.  Whatever makes you feel confident is what you should wear regardless of what one generation might think.  

Abby Maxwell (@abbymax_makeup_and_hair), a cosmetologist at Salon BLAC in Salt Lake City, has noticed a shift towards middle parts in recent years, but doesn’t think one style is better than the other nor should one generation bully the other into submission.  

“The middle part was so ‘in’ in the early 2000s, and then there was this weird point when people started getting ostracized for having a middle part. So, I think millennials are just really confused as to why it’s back.” 

“Do whatever you feel is the most flattering on you,” Maxwell says. “Some people don’t like a middle part because they think it makes their forehead look huge. At the end of the day, trust your intuition. It doesn’t really matter.” 

So, why has this trend gone so viral?

With an ever-hostile political climate, racial justice issues plaguing the country and an ongoing global pandemic, it is nice to have something so trivial go viral that we can all just laugh at and have fun with. After all, we all know this skinny jean and side part debate isn’t going to negatively impact anyone’s life.  

And who knows? In 20 years, skinny jeans could come back in style and it will be the next generation bullying Gen Z for not wearing them. So, hold on to your skinny jeans: one day they may be vintage.  


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