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2022: the year that TikTok went weird

2022 will be remembered as the year that we saw more micro-movements than ever before. Here are five that, five years from now, we may just remember

By Ione Gamble

Trends, once created and enforced by the culture press and celebrities, have grown into an ever-evolving, unpredictable beast with the rise of TikTok. In 2022, the app grew from a hub reigned by choreographed dance routines to a place that loomed large over our society: dictating the celebrity gossip we consume, the music we listen to and the clothes we wear. No longer do the same cultural moments stick around for months or even years. Just like the throwaway nature of a TikTok video, users of the app rinse and recycle trends like they’re going out of fashion. 2022 will be remembered as the year that we saw more micro-movements than ever before. Here are five that, five years from now, we may just remember. 

Catholic chic 

Forgive us, father, for Gen Z are trying to repent for our sins. This summer, Catholicism took over TikTok, with users creating content on how to get the Catholic look and searching for meaning in a higher place. Both ironic and earnest all at once, Gen Z Catholicism isn’t the subversion of teens from eras gone by. They aren’t necessarily adopting Catholic-coded visuals and messaging to subvert or shock older generations, but pushing back at the ever-increasing chaos of the world we live in using the order and ritual of organised religion. 


Picture a bimbo in your head. She likely has blonde hair, a well-endowed chest, and is wearing a velour Juicy Couture tracksuit. The phrase, popularised in the early 00s, was used to launch hate campaigns against Playboy bunnies and heiresses such as Paris Hilton. But instead of fighting against the label and its anti-intellectual associations, these aforementioned starlets became the most air-headed versions of themselves that they could be. 2022 was the year that bimboism made its comeback, with TikTok users reclaiming the aesthetic to prove that beauty and brains are not mutually exclusive. Self-confessed bimbos on the app use their hyper-femininity to create content spotlighting the issues important to them, from racial injustice and feminism to sex-worker positivity and communism. 

Dissociative feminism

Ever felt as though your life is spiralling out of control? Maybe you relate to Fleabag a little too much, or spend your evenings lit by the blue glow of your phone, doom-scrolling to glean meaning from this hell we’re living in. At the beginning of this year, on TikTok, a group of feminists decided that gender-equality through positive change was no longer viable — and instead decided to burrow into their most nihilistic tendencies. These young women consider ‘flawed’ female characters to be their idols. Their beliefs centre on the lack of representation for ‘unlikeable’ women in our current cultural discourse, with dissociative feminists using their own messiness to push back on the idea that women, still, must have it all together to be taken seriously.

Indie Sleaze

It’s 15 years since Skins first aired and changed teenagers’ lives across the UK, but Gen Z discovered the indie music that came to soundtrack millennials’ formative years. One cursory glance at the app and you’re likely to stumble across edits of Alexa Chung’s best style moments, fan-cams of bands long relegated to the near-past, and more party pictures lensed by Cobrasnake than there were Tumblr it-girls. Gen Z are discovering ballet pumps, brightly coloured tights, and leopard-print fur coats; observing, through sartorial choices, the pre-iPhone hedonism of an era they never had the chance to experience themselves.

Goblin mode 

Some of us found the lockdown lifestyle a little more comfortable than we’d like to admit. Staying in your pyjamas all day, not showering for weeks, and losing your hairbrush under a mountain of mess became the look of spring 2022. Ignited by a fake Julia Fox meme in the wake of her breakup with Kanye West, whoever decided to craft the false headline that their relationship broke down as he didn’t enjoy her going ‘goblin mode’ probably had no idea that they would inspire a micro-cultural movement. TikTok users began rebranding being a slob, proudly showing off their most ugly moments under the guise of embracing goblin mode. For a few short weeks, the internet went entirely feral, and just as lockdown restrictions were lifted, we embraced our most disgusting selves.

Taken from the December/January 2023 issue of Rolling Stone UK. Read the rest of our essays reviewing 2022 here.