Karen has become a symbol of white privilege and entitlement in popular culture, best known for her noise complaints and anti-science beliefs.
Some have accused the Karen meme of being sexist and classist; this includes real women such as Philadelphia community organizer Gwen Snyder being targeted. Others see it as a way of confronting the complex position white women often occupy: victims of misogyny and racism while simultaneously possessors of privilege.
1. They Have Asymmetrical Hair
Some would argue that Karen has always been with us – from Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” intro girl to Mean Girls character Karen herself. Karen often serves as an insult for white women who act entitled and demand beyond their scope of privilege, often through social distancing techniques such as distancing or unfair policing practices related to coronavirus outbreaks. Recently however, its significance has taken on new meaning with those using coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to police others unfairly.
There are ways to identify Karens in the wild. Keep an eye out for these indicators:
2. They Wear Asymmetrical Clothing
The internet can often make fun of people named Karen, just as it mocks Beckys and Chads. Karens in particular often come under fire due to their entitled attitudes; police seem to always know when one is nearby!
As part of the COVID19 pandemic, we’ve witnessed many Karens demanding that their local grocery store or restaurant treat them more respectfully than other customers. A notable case involves one “San Francisco Karen,” who called 911 on a black birder for spray-painting “Black Lives Matter” graffiti in Central Park.
At first glance, Karen may appear unassuming or pleasant enough. To detect her quickly and avoid her wrath, look out for: Her asymmetrical bob haircut (think of an emo meets scene look with sharply dyed blonde highlights); clothing or make-up MLMs like Mary Kay or LuLaRoe outfits; her “speak to the manager” mentality
3. They Have Asymmetrical Eyes
Karens have long been associated with aggressively sending back food orders and demanding to speak with management, while often engaging in racist microaggressions or being anti-vaxxers – all characteristics which help weaponize their privilege and use it against others.
Memes about real people named Karen can feel insultingly personal. One Karen from Philadelphia told CNN that hearing the name being used so flippantly still hurts.
Karens of all generations may feel stigmatized online; some young Karens might not even realize they’re being teased online by memes about them; but these memes likely have an effect on how their name is perceived; it may have even contributed to its decrease as a popular baby name choice today.
4. They Have Asymmetrical Lips
Karen in the Wild refers to any white woman who exhibits excessive entitlement and demands beyond her means, often characterised as racist and engaging in privilege-based behaviors such as arguing over Pumpkin Spice Lattes, calling police on black neighbors and showing road rage.
“Karen” became widely-used following the coronavirus pandemic, when viral videos depicted white women engaging in selfish or racist behavior. This term spread widely through millennials and Generation Z who began using it to refer to members of their own demographic engaging in such problematic actions. Karen has since experienced decreased popularity; nevertheless it may live on in popular culture as an insult directed towards middle-class white women who exploit their privilege.
5. They Have Asymmetrical Teeth
Recent years have witnessed intense criticism surrounding the Karen meme as an act of misogyny. Philadelphia community organizer Gwen Snyder and British feminist commentator Julie Bindel have both pointed to its use as an insult against “bitch,” while other critics note how she can subtly alter white female stereotypes.
Karens often employ aggressive methods of protest against what they perceive to be injustice in society – often by calling the cops. Examples include the pool-patrol Karen who yelled at someone swimming naked near her neighborhood or “Dog Park Debbie”, who threatened a black birder in Central Park with her gun – although there’s little this obnoxious subset won’t do to voice its displeasure over perceived inequity.
Karen has become so iconic that she even has her own subculture of mockery and ridicule known as Karencore. Fans of this satirical subreddit appreciate the stereotypical middle-aged, suburban, minivan driving white lady who wears rhinestone jewelry and sports an “speak to the manager” haircut while listening to 2000s hits from Spotify playlist.
6. They Have Asymmetrical Eyebrows
Internet culture makes it easy to turn anyone into a meme, but that doesn’t necessarily make them beneficial for yourself or anyone else.
Karen has become the embodiment of an idealized white woman – middle-aged with an asymmetrical bob and an entitled yet ignorant attitude who demands she speak directly with their manager. However, some critics argue that the term Karen represents something much sexist.
Real-life Karens often get a bad rap online. One called the police on her neighbor for stenciling a black-lives-matter message in front of her house, and has threatened to sue Target, Dairy Queen and Home Depot employees over COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, she believes she deserves half of tips at local ice cream shop – not forgetting her unusual eyebrow shape that stands out against everyone.
7. They Have Asymmetrical Ears
Karen has become an iconic stereotype to represent middle-class white women who exhibit behaviors derived from privilege. These include demanding to speak with “the manager” so as to belittle service industry workers, being anti-vaccination and engaging in racist microaggressions.
Karen first reached its highest popularity level in 1965; however, negative associations have since seen its use decline to become only 329th most common girls’ name in the US.
If you encounter a Karen in the wild, try engaging her in conversation using only positive topics, like animals or politics. This will make her seem more reasonable and reduce the chances that she lashes out against you or throws things. It has proven successful in most situations – just make sure not to overwhelm her as this will force her out of battle altogether!
8. They Have Asymmetrical Lips
Internet’s most notorious Karens are middle-aged white women who use their privilege to take advantage of service industry workers and commit microaggressions that offend. They’re usually those who demand to speak to managers, brawl with Red Lobster staff and call the cops on black neighbours over minor or fictitious violations.
But why do Karens seem so popular as targets? According to software freedom advocate Attiah, it may be due to timing – Karens became popular around the same time as Central Park protests and George Floyd’s death at police hands, creating a perfect storm that exposed longstanding problems. But there’s more at play; culture also plays a factor as she notes the meme has its roots in black American internet culture.
9. They Have Asymmetrical Eyebrows
Karen is undeniably an extremely dangerous figure. Using her privilege and power, she leverages it against those of color by creating an environment in which their identities can be threatened and used against them; calling the police on black neighbors for minor or even fictional transgressions becomes second nature to her.
Karen today is an amalgamated creation, made up of stereotypes from Reddit, Dane Cook and Mean Girls and refined to become an irreverent yet destructive presence in contemporary life.
There are ways to identify Karen before it becomes too late. Look out for unflattering soccer mom bobs and drive too much SUV and park inappropriately; also avoid feeding her; it will only lead to regret (Image via Twitter).
10. They Have Asymmetrical Ears
Experts often point out that Karen’s asymmetrical ears are telltale indicators. One analyst noted, “they look like little blobs which don’t quite line up.”
Since COVID-19, “Karen” references have gained currency as a way to describe those acting irrationally or using white privilege as an excuse to discriminate against others. One woman named Karen even reported her black neighbor for writing “Black Lives Matter” in their front yard stencilings.
Critics counter that Karen is no new phenomenon and isn’t limited to suburban middle-aged females with soccer-mom bobs who demand to speak with managers; in fact, her usage may stem from misogyny and class prejudice – though critics also note that using phrases such as “oK KaReN” could help mitigate her affect on them.