If you’re extremely online, you’ve probably encountered the term “thicc,” or seen someone post a thicc meme or two. It’s internet speak for curvy—and people are using it as a positive modifier. Thicc appeared in several popular memes over the last year, including Thicc Mark Zuckerberg, Thicc Elastigirl, and Thicc Kylo Ren. Celebrities who were photographed looking especially buff, like James McAvoy and Kanye West, also got the “thicc” treatment. But how did “thicc” originate on the internet, and why do people love to use the word? Here’s the thicc backstory.
What does Thicc mean?
“Thicc,” and its more bodacious older sister, “one thicc bih,” began as a way to describe curvy, full-figured women in pop culture. Now, people are applying the term to anything that features curves—including animals and anime characters. At best, Thicc functions as a genuine compliment. At worst, it’s a yet another problematic slang word stolen from Black Twitter that evokes issues of cultural appropriation and body image.
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Where did Thicc come from?
An offspring of “thick,” “thicc” is a word adopted from African American Vernacular English used to describe curvaceous men and women. According to Know Your Meme, one of the first mentions of the word on the internet was on an Angelfire-hosted hip-hop website made in November 2004.
Like most internet slang, thicc initially circulated online among Black communities. The term was first used on Twitter in early 2009, where many users included it in tweets quoting Lil Wayne’s verse, “I like a long-haired thick redbone,” from the song “Every Girl” by Young Money. “Thicc,” like “thick,” was typically used to positively describe sexually attractive women with voluptuous bodies.
I like a longhaired thicc redbone!
— Skeme (@Skeme) March 1, 2009
One Shawty Was Thicc As Fucc Doe… She Mite Make Da List….
— RealNigga.Com (@HeartOfDaEast) April 10, 2009
RT @Mrlucc News Flash Ladies! A guy telling u that your "Thicc As Fucc" in your 20s, just means that your gonna b "Fat As Fucc" in your 40s.
— D (@AmazinBlasian) April 14, 2009
The term quietly circulated in various online communities until mid-2015, when it took off on more mainstream platforms like Twitter and Tumblr and was adopted by meme lovers and anime nerds. It was finally submitted to Urban Dictionary on October 13, 2015 by user thiccbitchrivermonster.
— Julius (@juliusmusiic) April 25, 2015
Can we talk about how thicc KAKASHI looks here pic.twitter.com/Qj1fHnUfbT
— Naruto Fantasies (@FantasiesNaruto) March 29, 2015
Many of the memes used “thicc” to describe random Spongebob Squarepants characters such as Squidward, Bubble Bass, and Kevin the Sea Cucumber.
There are so many thicc bois in SpongeBob.
— Jensen (@AlmightyMandals) September 4, 2017
One Thicc Bih
In late May 2018, a song called “One Thicc Bih” was created on Ditty, an app that converts text into singing, and posted to Tumblr, propelling “thicc” to mainstream meme status. And like that, “Mr. Krabs is one thicc bih / let me see that krussy” was the lyric of the summer. (Trying to explain this sentence damns you to the seventh circle of hell, so you’ll need to read this article instead to find out what “one thicc bih” means.)
After that, absolutely nothing was sacred. The video went viral, inspiring countless other hellish memes to follow.
“Extra thicc” was also coined in 2015, according to Know Your Meme. YouTube user NixonAteMyPaste uploaded a remix of a remix of an episode of Samurai Jack titled “Extra ＴＨＩＣＣ,” which attracted 650,000 views and 1,000 comments in the following two months. The original episode included Aku, the main antagonist, describing a henchman as “extra thick.”
Apart from its many offshoots, Thicc remains mostly a surreal compliment reserved for only the most bootylicious celebrities and cartoon characters.
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Thicc in pop culture
Rihanna, our ultimate Thicc queen, has arguably been the only person assigned the label without irony or humor. After she put on some weight last year, people online began calling her “Thickanna” and praising her fuller size.
Following the news of Incredibles 2, photos of Elastigirl and her hourglass-shaped body spread across social media, where many users commented on her “thicc” figure. It became so bad that even a writer for the New Yorker couldn’t keep his thirst to himself in a review of the new film.
Even suburban moms need a slice of the Thicc pie. The minions from Despicable Me were given the Thicc treatment after images of their “sexy” bodies circulated online, one of which came directly from their standalone film, Minions. Rest assured, these memes are completely ironic. We think.
Even in the midst of the chaos that was Avengers: Infinity Wars, people still managed to meme the hell out of one of the saddest films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One particularly polarizing debate emerged over supervillain Thanos’ “thiccness.”
Thicc Thanos is going to destroy my friendships when I'm receiving stuff like this pic.twitter.com/eStSwOZAOL
— Alex (@AIex24) May 11, 2018
I can’t tell if I aspire to be skinny legend Mariah Carey or thicc queen Mark Zuckerberg pic.twitter.com/6Yoi5cm9RW
— David Nguyen (@iamduckz) April 13, 2018
6) Kylo Ren
In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren (played by Adam Driver) appears shirtless in one scene, showing off his arm and chest muscles. The internet swooned, and Thicc Kylo Ren was born.
The issue with Thicc: Cultural appropriation and body image
Despite its adoption into popular culture, thicc has been criticized as yet another act of cultural appropriation, much like the slang that has come before it (see: “bae”). It’s no secret that having a big butt and curvy body is “on fleek” now, but when we consider these changes in a societal context, more problematic implications arise. Once again, a phrase that is culturally specific to Black communities has made its way into the mainstream. White people and non-Black people of color alike can use these phrases freely while Black folks are denied basic human rights.
It's super telling that white nerd culture has wholesale stolen thicc from AAVE, remains super racist and then also drools over anime girls who are "thicc" but also are drawn with thigh gaps and calls them waifus
— W.I.T.C.H. (@appleciderwitch) June 13, 2018
Not only is it a linguistic issue, but it also speaks to harmful beauty standards that disproportionately affect Black women. Given thousands of years of dangerously negative attitudes toward Black women’s bodies—and their rear ends in particular—the glorification of a thicc figure may seem like a step forward but instead follows a legacy of sexualization and objectification. Furthermore, thicc is just another unattainable body type disguising itself as “fat positivity.” When people say “thicc” or “thick,” they really mean “slim thick,” which doesn’t come in all shapes and sizes.
Slang words would be all fun and games if they existed in a vacuum. But they don’t. The lesson? Be mindful of the meanings behind the words we use, stay thicc with your knowledge, and tread lightly.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.