How Tube Girl got me on the slay train
By Sury Dongre
When it comes to Tube Girl (she went viral on tiktok for filming herself in 0.5 and modeling), her power cannot be denied. Sure, everyone is deep in their devices, but ultimately, I look beyond the subway car. Tube Girl has sparked a movement of people absolutely slaying in public and embracing who they are. And that’s pretty impressive from one video on the Victoria line.
To me, she’s getting people out of their phones and into the real world. Admittedly, they’re filming themselves, but people go from being absorbed within their online spaces to being active contributors to those spaces. One of the main criticisms of the online age is the isolation people feel at home and on the train — everybody is absorbed within their phones and laptops. By being so prominent and so flagrant, Tube Girl may not be inspiring the people in her compartment to get up and dance with her, but she is putting the call out to the girls and the gays across the world. And they’re responding. I think that’s quite exceptional — she manages to get people out of their little bubbles and put themselves out there.
There is something to be said about interpersonal connection — Tube Girl may have inspired thousands, but in the end, she really isn’t friends or even acquaintances with any of those people. At the end of the day, a TikTok comment can’t replace real human connection. While Tube Girl may not actually be connecting with people, the value comes from the inspiration she provides.
Personally, I hate talking to people. I hate going up to people and I hate starting conversations. Half of that is because I don’t have the confidence and/or self-esteem to believe that I can do those sorts of things.
Tube Girl, on the other hand, is completely unapologetic about being who she is. She symbolizes the “look cute, drive fast, give no fucks” social ethic that I can only dream of, and she’s honestly an inspiration. If Tube Girl can film herself in 0.5 on a London subway, then I can ask someone about the weather. Tube Girl pulls people out of their little commute bubbles and into the real world, and with that comes some degree of real human connection and intimacy.
Ultimately, Tube Girl is the epitome of the collective and community — she’s getting people more comfortable in public and in their own bodies. One of the reasons people prefer to just scroll on their commutes is because doing anything else can be perceived as awkward and anxiety-inducing. By putting herself out there, she’s breaking the barrier of restraint and hiding and pushing other people to do the same. Little by little, Tube Girl is pulling people out of their phones to slay the runway (or subway) and be present, even if it’s just on their morning commute.
By Elizabeth Lee
There’s just something dystopian about Tube Girl.
Yes, she’s sparking confidence, making people feel good about themselves and others, bringing her excitement to a place that is a notoriously sad and isolating environment. No one can deny that.
But something just feels weird watching a stylish, young girl slaying away in a corner of the tube while the older, working population stares at their phones in the background on their morning commute. Even haters of Tube Girl & Co., those who look down on the new wave of girls lip syncing into their phones on the phone, do so by filming the Tube Girls themselves and posting it online while laughing at how silly they look. The ability to hide behind a screen — for both uplifting and demeaning cases — means that you lose a sense of personhood.
To me, Tube Girl feels like yet another manifestation and coping mechanism for modern isolation. A really hot and confident coping mechanism. Like putting on the cuntiest Hello Kitty Band-Aid you can find at CVS Pharmacy.
We quietly film ourselves when we look good and quietly film others when we think they don’t, and with it creates a bubble of shared feelings that pops as quickly as it was made. We’ve built an online community of confidence, but perhaps at the sake of personal connection.
There is an epidemic of loneliness. It’s no coincidence that some of the most popular and confident people with a strong online presence frequently talk about struggling with loneliness. My personal favorite, Ashley from Bestdressed, was always open about her mental health and difficulty navigating the social friction that comes with adulthood. Even A-list celebrities like Taylor Swift mention that fame comes at the cost of being alone.
There’s an irony here — the more loved you are by the masses, the less you feel loved by those closest to you. Projecting confidence into the phone in your corner of the subway brings you no closer to the people around you. If a tree falls in the forest but no one is around to hear it, how many TikTok views would it get?
It gives me the same feeling as when you come home alone after a night out with your friends, and suddenly you get a pit in your stomach and can’t tell if you feel any less lonely than you did before you left. Putting the phone down after filming a cute TikTok and looking back at the train full of people looking at their phones feels analogous to coming home and turning on the lights to find the same apartment just as you left it. Presenting yourself as cool, confident and distant may feel self-empowering in the moment, but when the cameras stop rolling, what are you really left with?