Gen Z has rebranded 'wife beaters' to 'wife pleasers' to make it less triggering
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People on TikTok are rebranding the 'wife beater' and it's about bloody time.
Gen Z is now referring to the white singlet top as a 'wife pleaser' to make it less triggering for victims of family violence.
With the rebrand has come a resurgence in the simple white tank top, with TikTokers sharing tutorials on how to style them, and fashion magazines and websites listing the 'best wife pleasers of the summer'.
In 2018, Moises Velasquez-Manoff wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times headlined 'Are we really still calling this shirt a wife beater?'
"I myself have used the term before — and I’ve worn the shirt plenty — but this time it stopped me cold. Given the torrent of revelations of abuse against women in the #MeToo era, the name suddenly seemed grossly inappropriate," Velasquez-Manoff wrote.
He continued: "We don’t call our pants 'child molesters' or our hats 'cat mutilators'. We immediately recognise such descriptions as violent and abhorrent. And yet, we somehow overlook the same when we call our shirts wife beaters."
Despite the opinion piece going viral, the term stuck around for at least a few more years.
While it's hard to pinpoint exactly when the term 'wife pleaser' was coined, it seems to have kicked off in 2022 and has gone viral again over the American summer.
Wife pleaser isn't the only alternative name given to the garment, TikTokers are also referring to it as a 'wife respecter' and a 'wife caresser'.
In 2018, on an episode of Queer Eye, Jonathan Van Ness even called it a 'wife lover'. The gang was making over their first gay subject and he was nervously choosing an outfit to wear to a party where he was planning to come out to his step-mother.
“You can’t really come out in a wife lover,” Van Ness said, switching the white singlet top to a polo shirt.
The term wife beater, on the other hand, seems to have entered the lexicon in 1947 when a man wearing a white singlet top was arrested for murdering his wife.
His mugshot was called 'The Wife Beater' and the term seemed to stick.
It then entered pop culture, when the simple white tank became the trademark style of Stanley Kowalski, Marlo Brando's character in A Street Named Desire, and later, Tony Soprano in The Sopranos.
In 2003, it once again entered the zeitgeist when bad boy Ryan Atwood wore one on the first season of The O.C.