young woman with "part your hair to the middle" caption over her head, hair parted to the left and then in the middle

@livvy/TikTok

TikTok is debating middle and side parts—it goes way deeper than millennials vs. Gen Z

Fight for your right to side part.

 

Audra Schroeder

Internet Culture

Published Feb 16, 2021   Updated Feb 18, 2021, 2:39 pm CST

The culture wars are out of control: Now they’re coming for side parts.

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If you’ve heard people arguing about side and middle parts recently, it’s likely been framed as a Gen Z versus millennial debate. And of course, much of this discourse is happening on TikTok, where the generational divide is more pronounced.

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But center part advocacy isn’t new. A viral TikTok from last summer is one source of debate about side and middle parts, and led to the #MiddlePartChallenge.

@missladygleep

When I don’t have bangs I rock the middle part I swear #BeautyTutorial #fyp #middlepart

♬ Middle part baddies – lady gleep

A recent Walrus article about TikTok and “generational animosity” apparently (re)stoked some of this. Is a side part really a sign that you’re old? No, but the TikToks of people attempting middle parts are pretty funny.

http://www.tiktok.com/@speedforcecosplay/video/6923605008407645445
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As Vox pointed out, some millennials took the side-part slander a little too seriously, even invoking the Tide Pod defense. But these debates over generational signifiers—skinny versus baggy jeans is also happening on TikTok—are so cyclical I worry the internet is wiping out more than just our critical thinking skills.

Middle parts have been around for centuries, but as author Gabrielle Moss recently pointed out, millennial—and Gen X—culture was informed by the middle part. I vividly remember being a teenager during the 10 Things I Hate About You, pull-two-wisps-of-hair-down-to-frame-your-face era. We already allowed that to make a comeback.

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The main takeaway here is of course that you should wear your hair however makes you feel good and that seriously debating where you part your hair is funny. And that Gen Z is responsible for reviving way more traumatizing content.

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*First Published: Feb 16, 2021, 5:14 pm CST