Sabrina Bahsoon, aka “Tube Girl,” has taken TikTok by storm in recent weeks thanks to her instantly iconic videos taken on London trains. Her videos have kicked off a trend, with countless users recording similar videos and thanking Tube Girl for giving them the confidence to do so in public.
@sabrinabahsoon So now im en route via tube. The man in the back getting a show fr #tubegirl #tubegirleffect ♬ Prada - cassö & RAYE & D-Block Europe
Not everyone is enjoying the wave of Tube Girl-inspired videos, however. One TikToker, @gratorade, argued, “In this digital facade era, it’s cringe and unaware until a hot person does it, and then it’s confident and inspiring. Suddenly, people want to emulate it, because they want to feel like the main character in a crowded train, but really it’s like voyeurism.”
@gratorade #stitch with @Paige Taylor #tubegirl #tubegirleffect #tubegirlconfidence #tubegirlenergy ♬ original sound - grace
“I feel sad that young girls feel this pressure or manufactured desire to capture their nonchalant hotness in every single situation because otherwise, it doesn’t exist. Your confidence, your being doesn’t exist unless it’s content and it’s out there for other people to see,” she continued.
While Grace may have a point about broader issues — the need to record every waking moment and turn it into content, the problems that arise when everyone is experiencing main character syndrome — Tube Girl doesn’t feel like the best example to illustrate it. Who are the people who were making similar videos but didn’t go viral because they weren’t as conventionally attractive as Tube Girl? With no examples to illustrate the point, it feels a little pointless.
@themichaelbarrymore Should I do it on the tube? #tubegirl #michaelbarrymore #confidence ♬ original sound - habz.fx
Comedian Michael Barrymore, who is 71, uploaded a video mimicking Tube Girl’s style from the grocery store and got over 800k likes despite being old and not conventionally attractive; that’s just one example, but the phenomenon has truly taken TikTok by storm, and many users are receiving attention and compliments for their Tube Girl-style videos.
I’m not sure it’s reasonable or fair to put widespread societal problems like the self-esteem of young women or the desire to constantly be perceived and validated onto the shoulders of a university student who happened to go viral. Her videos are fun, other people are having fun creating their own versions. Maybe that’s all it needs to be?