Recently, a popular social media meme has evolved that uses the name Karen to refer to middle-aged white women. This includes those who throw tantrums at Starbucks or call police on black people for minor infractions like asking that their dog be leashed in Central Park.
But the term is controversial, with some criticizing its sexist and ageist connotations. On the other hand, some claim it serves as a convenient excuse for discussing casual racism and privilege often displayed by some white women.
1. Take care of yourself.
If you’ve ever been labeled a Karen, you understand how distressing and frustrating this can be. But what many don’t realize is that it doesn’t have to be permanent.
The term “Karen” has come to symbolize a certain type of middle-class white woman who exhibits behaviors indicative of her privilege. Examples include demanding to speak to a manager in order to belittle service staff members, anti-vaccine beliefs and racism microaggressions.
Recent examples of Karens include a woman who called the police on black neighbors protesting at her property. Not only are these women loud and demanding, but they can be extremely confrontational as well.
Labeling someone as “Karen” can be particularly upsetting for people with disabilities, as it implies they are being judged in an unfamiliar way. And for those suffering from autism or other conditions, the experience may even be downright frightening.
But for these individuals, being labeled a Karen can also provide them with an opportunity to grow and develop. They can learn how to better deal with those who may not understand their needs or experiences, as well as becoming more aware of the power that their disability has over their life.
Many find the most effective way to cope with their feelings of being labeled a Karen is taking care of themselves. They can exercise, eat nutritious foods, and try meditation or mindfulness exercises as ways to cope.
In addition to self-care techniques, they can consult their doctor about what’s going on inside their body and mind. Doing this helps them recognize what causes Karen meltdowns and find ways to manage it effectively.
2. Be kind to yourself.
Have you been on social media recently? It’s likely that you’ve come across videos of people shouting and screaming at other individuals known as Karens. Their behavior often displays anger, entitlement or disenfranchisement; however, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly why these individuals act this way.
The video of Amy Cooper calling the police on a bird-watcher in Central Park quickly went viral, marking just the latest incident in an increasingly frequent series of “Karen”-related social-media outbursts.
Though these incidents often have a connection to racism, there are plenty of instances in which they don’t. For instance, many “Karens” yelling about mask mandates and people of color in public spaces seem to have no relation to those issues at all.
Denise Dudley, a workplace consultant who studies women’s anger, finds this to be an issue. A study she conducted revealed that women are often encouraged by society to suppress their anger while men tend to be seen as strong and decisive when they do get upset.
It can make it more difficult for them to express their frustrations in a constructive manner and may lead them to feel ashamed about their behavior.
Karen Sandler, an attorney and software freedom advocate, has taken to using their Karen name in order to show the world that it’s okay to express anger – even directed at others. They believe this is a way for everyone to develop empathy towards others regardless of race or gender identity.
3. Stay positive.
When I was diagnosed with scleroderma, many of my friends expressed their fear for me. They knew this disease could potentially ruin my life, but those words proved to be true – staying positive is key in combatting this illness.
However, I was also worried about how people would perceive me if they knew about my chronic illness. I feared they might assume I wasn’t working hard enough to combat it or would treat me differently if they knew.
I was anxious that others might find my disease embarrassing or make fun of me. Thankfully, many friends shared my worries with me and helped ease those worries through the Scleroderma Foundation in my local area.
My friends were an immense source of strength and encouragement during this trying time in my life. Through it all, I discovered how to remain resilient – which proved to be a major step toward discovering my inner fortitude.
Recently, the name Karen has become a widely popular internet meme to mock certain white women. It usually involves someone sporting an “I can’t speak to the manager” haircut and is associated with entitlement and casual racism.
I believe the Karen meme serves to expose and critique the institutional racism and privilege experienced by most middle-class white women. Additionally, it offers us a space to discuss those small acts of white femininity which harm others while appearing harmless to us.
In recent months, the Karen meme has gained widespread momentum online and become increasingly problematic. It often serves to denigrate and mischaracterize women who take action that is racially charged – such as calling the police on Black people or making racist micro-aggressions.
4. Be grateful.
After being called a Karen, it can be difficult to summon inner strength. But there are ways you can combat this feeling of weakness and make yourself feel better.
One thing that might help is remembering what it was like when you were Karen. This could be beneficial as a guide when dealing with people whose actions aren’t acceptable.
Another way to help yourself is taking time out to appreciate the good things in life. This could include something as simple as going for a walk or spending quality time with family and friends.
It may be beneficial to reflect on your health. This is especially pertinent if you’re dealing with a chronic illness or disability.
As you reflect on life as a Karen, it can be helpful to remember all that you have to be grateful for. This is especially true if your partner or children aren’t there to provide as much support as they should.
Karen meltdowns can happen for many reasons, so it’s essential to stay calm and collected when handling these scenarios. There are also ways you can help yourself feel better, such as making a list of all the good things in your life and noting down all the successes.
Though some may attribute the term “Karen” to culturally established notions of rude entitlement, experts disagree. Denise Dudley, an author and workplace consultant from San Luis Obispo, Calif., notes that women tend to be encouraged to restrain their anger while men tend to act more impulsively.
5. Find a new hobby.
When you’re a middle-aged white woman who finds herself labeled as a Karen, it can feel like a personal attack. Whether you are the victim of harassment or simply find yourself around other people who use the term, it can be difficult not to feel targeted.
The term “Karen” has come to be associated with a group of self-important, bossy white women who can be seen engaging in various acts of selfish or racist behavior. It gained notoriety recently as a response to viral videos depicting entitled white women engaging in acts critics have labeled as selfish or racist.
What does “obnoxious rule follower” actually signify? It has come to mean more than simply being an annoying rule follower, with variations including calling the police on black neighbors or even defending your property against protesters.
In 2020, when a white woman called the police on a man in Central Park who asked her to put her dog on a leash, Karen became an iconic symbol of racial injustice. However, this isn’t her first time being used this way.
Another version of the slang comes from stand-up comedy and Reddit. Dane Cook performed a sketch in which he used it to describe an unwelcoming character.
Karen is depicted with less racism and more gender-based criticism, which some may view as weakening the legacy of criticism inherent in her name.
Some have even referred to it as a misogynist slur, based on the assumption that all Karens are white and use their privilege against black men. Jada Chen, an assistant professor of media and cultural studies at the University of Texas at Austin, warns against this mindset.