How to know if YOU are a Karen : A Meme History
Oh Karen, you take so many forms, yet only have one haircut.
You have probably seen the ‘Karen’ Memes, or the Karen hashtags (#AndThenKarenSnapped) or people calling each other ‘Karen’ on social media lately, and wondered to yourself; “Who is Karen, and where did she come from?”
Bellow we’ve listed our favorite Karen memes, and looked into the origins of this domestic antihero. To begin, the rules of Karen involve more than a short haircut…
You are a Karen if:
1.You are very self entitled, and demanding about it.
2. You see yourself as an authority figure, despite the fact that no one gave you any authority.
3. You are far less informed than you think you are.
4. You are the perfect storm of arrogance & stupidity with a ‘can I talk to your manager’ haircut.
The ‘Karen’ moniker, has been used in many different ways, but the first memes began in the 2010’s, and were about women in their 50s-60s, (a very common name in that age group), who were often found complaining to managers at restaurants and retail stores, with an irrational ‘the customer is always right’ attitude, and an overly demanding tone. This is the type of customer who is a nightmare for service industry workers, and for the customer service department.
If you send food back, several times, blame your server, then ask to get something for free…you might be a Karen.
A Group of Karens is Called ‘A Complaint’
Karen The Destroyer
Karen at her most powerful and dangerous
‘KOVID Karen’ knows what YOU shouldn’t be doing!
A Karen finds a nurse in a grocery store, (the grocery store is a Karen stronghold by the way) and the irrational “I’m going to get the manager’ behavior ensues.
In England, a nurse being harassed by a Karen for simply being in a store in her nurse uniform; Karen claiming she’s "spreading germs" due to the uniform and shouts at her (before she started filming) then, in true Karen style, threatens to talk to her manager from FuckYouKaren
Kovid Karen knows what SHE doesn’t have to do
Here is a ‘Karen’, talking about how she will not wear a mask during shelter in place. If you can stomach her tirade, you will see that she is simultaneously very assertive and sure of herself, while also admitting that she is ignorant of the facts and that she will not listen to them if given to her. It is the Covid version of the ‘anti-vaxxer’ Karen.
When Twitter began warning readers that some of Trump’s tweets contained blatant misinformation, Trump put on his Karen wig and began threatening social media companies not to censor him, or else! Trump has really strong Karen energy.
When Elon Musk threatened to move his Tesla factory out of California, unless they let him re-open his factory in the Bay Area. The ‘Elon as Karen’ meme began to flow. In this instance, ‘Karen’ is someone who doesn’t believe that social distancing is needed, and/or that the laws should apply to them. This is the ‘selfish, self-entitled, arrogant’ Karen being applied here.
Remember, although people may appropriate Karen to serve their political purposes, Karen, at her heart, is apolitical. She is just always wrong.
The K.a.r.e.n. System
The dog choking Karen
Here is a Karen trifecta. A white lady exhibiting incredibly irrational behavior, (racism, animal cruelty, panic) while also overreacting and manipulating the authorities to serve her unfounded demands. This is a ‘Super Karen’ in the wild. The man shooting the video is black, and a bird watcher. He asked Karen to put her dog on a leash, and then this happened.
The Karen in this video was fired from her job shortly after the video went viral. We have no doubt that Karen is appealing this decision, and contacting several lawyers.
WHO was the first ‘Karen’?
First names have become ‘memes’ on the internet before. For example the name ‘Becky‘ was selected by the black community, and made famous by Beyonce, to mean a ‘basic white lady with straight hair’. A ‘Chad’, for example, became the the default label for a ‘ young bro in his 20’s’.
It is rumored that the original Karen came from a reddit subgroup started by an angry divorced man who wanted to vent about his ex wife, named ‘Karen’. The group was called ‘/Fuck_You_Karen’ and a version of that subgroup still exists today! It happens to be a great source of Karen Memes.: reddit.com/r/FuckYouKaren.
No really one knows the original author of the first Karen meme, what we do know is that Karen was a very popular baby name for American girls in the 1950’s and 60’s. So it was a very common name for ladies in their 40’s and 50’s during the popularity of the Karen haircut in the mid 2000’s.
The history of Appropriating a name
To put this ‘Karen’ phenomenon in a historical perspective; a much earlier version of this ‘name appropriation/memefication’ can be exemplified by the popular name of ‘Dick’ in the early 1900s. ‘Dick’ is short for ‘Richard’, just as ‘Karen’ is short for ‘Katherine’. But ‘a dick’ over the years has also come to mean ‘a penis’, or ‘a jerk’, and when you put the word ‘private’ in front of it, it means a ‘detective’.
So making a meme/re-appropriating a popular name like ‘Karen’, is nothing new. American culture has been reusing names to symbolize a particular group or a particular behavior for quite some time.
Am I a karen?
If, after reading this you still do not understand what a ‘Karen’ is, and you feel personally insulted by this article, that means you, are a Karen. Feel free to email customer service.