What does being so babygirl mean and what’s Jacob Elordi got to do with it?

By Alma Fabiani

Published Jan 26, 2024 at 03:54 PM

Reading time: 4 minutes

Forget about rizz, cheugy, and sneaky link—the term ‘babygirl’ is officially back, and it’s giving me serious 90s R&B flashbacks. On Thursday 18 January 2024, Saturday Night Live dropped its weekly teasers for its (at the time) upcoming show on Saturday 20 January, which was hosted by Saltburn hottie Jacob Elordi and featured actor and singer Reneé Rapp as musical guest. The video showed the two stars alongside SNL comedian Bowen Yang cracking jokes about the 6 feet 5 inches tall—yep, that’s 1 metre 96—star “being so babygirl.”

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“Reneé, you were so right, he is so babygirl,” joked Yang with a smirk, to which Rapp replied, “He’s so babygirl.” “Me? I’m a baby girl? So what’s Reneé?” asked Elordi. “Oh, I’m mother,” Rapp responded.

Now, let’s touch base for a second: are you confused about what’s going on here? If so, you might not be a Gen Zer, and there’s absolutely no shame in that, but you might need an explanation. Here’s what being so babygirl means, and why Elordi so perfectly encapsulates that energy.

What does babygirl mean?

In the eyes of Gen Z, saying that a man is “so babygirl” is used to describe a man who is cutesy in a slightly submissive way. Seen by many as a direct reference to Elordi’s character of Felix in Saltburn, it paints a picture of a man who’s giving serious vulnerable energy.

That being said, it seems that the modern definition of the term is still quite loose as it further travels our FYP. For example, Urban Dictionary describes the phrase as referring to a man who is “extremely sexually attractive with a good personality.” Another definition reads, “grown fictional men who have the fandom in a loving chokehold.” Heck, a third one states: “A fictional man who a tumblr user likes a lot. Similar to a blorbo or a poor little meow meow,” whatever that means…

Over on TikTok, one particularly viral video argues that a babygirl should have two of three things: “eyes, cries, and war crimes. They have beautiful eyes, they’ve cried onscreen, and they’ve committed atrocities.” Side note: it seems might dating pattern indicates a clear babygirl obsession.

@nbca98

Like castiel is sooo baby girl to me hes got all three!! He also has the highest body count out of everyone in spn and that is saying somethin!! #supernatural #castiel #fandom #babygirlification

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Professor of Communication and Rhetorical Studies at Syracuse University, Sylvia Sierra, spoke to Grazia and described it as positively feminising men. “Typically, there’s negative valance attached to these terms for women. With babygirl, you’re not seeing that. It actually is being used in a positive way, like you’re highlighting favourable qualities in a man.”

Which other male celebrities are also babygirls?

While I’m sure more names will soon make the list, actors such as Paul Mescal, Pedro Pascal, and Keanu Reeves are obvious picks. A special mention to Jeremy Strong’s Succession character Kendall Roy is also needed.

What does mother mean?

When Rapp calls herself “mother” in the SNL teaser video, she’s describing herself as, according to our trusty Urban Dictionary, “a woman who’s iconic and constantly serves cunt.” There you have it, folks, the Gen Z take on a term that their older counterparts use to refer to a female parent.

Where does baby girl come from?

As I briefly mentioned before, it’s not the first time the term has been trending. Baby girl, or babygirl, depending on how you pronounce it, has been used affectionately in various contexts for many years, but its popularity in music and pop culture notably increased in the 90s and early 2000s. This increase can be attributed to its frequent use in R&B, hip-hop, and pop songs during that era. Artists often used the term in lyrics to convey affection, endearment, or a sense of intimacy, if you get what I’m saying.

In the 90s, R&B and hip-hop music saw a surge in popularity, and ‘baby girl’ became a common phrase in the lyrics of many songs from these genres. It was used by a range of artists, from established names to emerging talents. The term encapsulated the style and language of the time, resonating with the youthful, ‘urban’, and often romantic themes prevalent in the songs of that era.

The early 00s continued this trend, with baby girl being a staple in the lexicon of popular music, further cementing its place in contemporary culture.

How is the babygirl trend is already impacting popular culture?

Interestingly, Bumble recently revealed that open-hearted masculinity is on the rise, a welcomed relationship attribute for many. When it comes to relationships, 1 in 4 men state that they have actively changed their behaviour, becoming more vulnerable and open with people they are dating than ever before.

For a quarter of these men, this new-found openness has had a positive impact on their mental health, and for 1 in 3 men, a lack of vulnerability is now a dating dealbreaker.

In fact, the majority (87 per cent to be precise) of people on Bumble globally agree that kindness is now the most important quality in a potential partner over other attributes—with kindness being defined by the Bumble community as honesty, empathy, generosity, compromising, and emotional availability. Sounds familiar?

Bumble’s Sex and Relationship Expert, Dr Caroline West, shares her thoughts on men being more open-hearted and embracing their inner babygirl in 2024: “It’s only January and already our feeds have been flooded with moments from celebs channelling open-hearted masculinity, which is why it’s no surprise that Hollywood’s new it guy is ‘so babygirl’. From a relationship perspective, it’s positive that we now are in a society where men are welcome to be vulnerable and open. It’s cool to be cute, and that can mean being much more upfront about your emotions, which can be attractive for people looking for meaningful connections.”

Dr West goes on to add: “We have so many role models now—like Harry Styles, who talk about kindness and are comfortable in their masculinity, whatever that looks like, or Pedro Pascal, who shares his feelings of anxiety on the red carpet and the social causes he’s passionate about. Having more positive role models encourages us to be more open about issues like toxic masculinity and how patriarchy can actually be very harmful to men, making dating more transparent and progressive for everyone.”

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