The proliferation of TikTok among Zoomers, likely to be the most prominent demographic of newly minted service members, has led to the birth of a new word to describe a person who still ascribes to trends that are outdated and trying too hard: “Cheugy.”
Although most of the “cheugy” rhetoric centers on millennial women who still prominently display “Live, Laugh, Love” signs above their mantles and talk fervently about their Harry Potter houses, it turns out anyone can be “cheugy.”
That means you, too, military dudes. It won’t be long now before Gen Z comes for you.
Cheuginess might seem difficult to define, because it’s subtly different from terms like “basic” or “faddish,” which are less self-aware.
Regardless, here are some military guy trends you might want to avoid if you don’t want to be labeled “cringe.”
Being a bro-vet, for starters, is definitely cheugy. Dressing head-to-toe in veteran-owned apparel line clothing that answers the prompt “tell me you’re a veteran without telling me you’re a veteran” is one thing. Graphic tees, it turns out, are a very cheugy item. Another is the constant sporting of Oakleys, especially around the back of your neck when you’re indoors. Seriously, just take them off. They clash with your equally cringe neckbeard anyway.
Your equivalent to the millennial woman’s “Live, Laugh, Love” sign are those overly edited black-and-white gym Instagram photos shot from the neck down every week with motivational quotes from your favorite Navy SEAL’s new book. Mega-cheugy. After all, one of the greatest tell-tale signs of cheuginess is the unironic use of cliché hashtags.
It’s probably more basic, but let’s also add buying a Camaro, Mustang, or Charger in taxi-cab yellow or fire-engine red to the list of cheugy things. It’s sad we have to say that calling your car your baby or financing any vehicle at 20-or-more percent is one the most unfortunate military stereotypes that has carried from generation to generation. Even worse is when you deck that car out with bumper stickers that say “Semper Fi” or “Honk for Freedom.”
To go even deeper, bragging about how manly you are by making a big deal about the artisanal coffees you brew in the wilderness and using beard oils that are caveman approved might be a bit cheugy, too.
However, a tenet of avoiding cheuginess appears to be “not caring what anyone else thinks.” So I guess, if you truly love all the potentially cheugy things I listed, you could just live your life without worrying what Gen Z thinks. What a concept.
Or you can fight the Zoomers for your right to rock a “1776″ T-shirt and whip around in your lime green Corvette in the comment section of Facebook — but that would probably be the cheugiest thing of all.
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.