A SWUG, or a Senior Washed Up Girl, is a young woman in her final year at a four-year collegiate establishment who has also given up the possibility of youth. They boldly abstain from dressing up, they rarely go to parties, and declare disinterest in romantic or sexual relationships. They want to sit on a couch drinking wine with fellow SWUGs. They are a movement and their interests include apathy and "not giving a fuck."
In a piece for The Cut, Justin Rocket Silverman delves deep into the world of this burgeoning new coven. It's insightful, often hilarious, and certainly worth a read, but in the meantime, here are some choice pull-quotes from the original article:
- Raisa Bruner, a Yale senior who wrote an article on the topic in the Yale Daily News, calls SWUG-life: "the slow, wine-filled decline of female sexual empowerment as we live out our college glory days."
- Sophomore Greg Kelley euphemistically and grossly defines a SWUG thusly: "It's a girl who has been through the meat grinder. A seasoned veteran who knows the ropes."
- Yale SWUG Michelle Taylor declares SWUG-identification reveals a fascinating life of the mind: "Saying ‘I don't give a fuck' at the right moment, it makes you a more complex person."
As Silverman notes, these young women aren't actually washed up; he imagines they will flock to New York or Los Angeles in a few months where they will once again dress up, dance, drink, and flirt: "But for the few months left of their senior year, the SWUGs of Yale can embrace an identity that gives them the joy of momentary apathy."
The super-popular, zietgiesty tumblr "What Should We Call Me" resonates with this attitude, as does a recent, puerile post on BuzzFeed: "Life in Your Early Twenties Vs. Your Late Twenties". The declarations of "aging" are being made at increasingly younger ages; it's now trendy to be a Cathy cartoon or a Liz Lemon at 24. BuzzFeed's listicle shows a leap from stereotypes that once categorized people in their 20s to cliches that characterized people in their 40s. Clubbing went from a Coachella-like, Day-Glo fueled rager to something that induced the declaration: "This is boring as hell." Bliss for later twenties was to take a day-long nap, hanging out with college kids meant fumbling with newfangled catch-phrases.
Certainly the SWUG-lifestyle and its continuation across the 20s is based firmly in some irony, but there is also an attention-seeking aspect. While this could have been some chill relaxing friend appreciation (touted by some SWUGs) and not a declared movement, SWUG-life is an assertive social brand. By setting up this category, there is a sense of achievement of this identification. The SWUG label is a rallying cry—a proud badge and a campus wide meme, championed by outlets like SWUG Diaries and Spinstagram/Spinstagran.
Declaring "‘I don't give a fuck' at the right moment," does not a "more complex person" make. Rather than embracing personal growth internally, there is a clamorous, exaggerated declaration that growing out of a social scene is the equivalent of being "washed-up" in the face of other's halcyon days. Overall, SWUG-life appears to be a melodramatic desire to make an identity out of boredom and dissatisfaction with the collegiate social scene.
It will be over soon, dear ones. Consider embracing your disinterest in Ivory Tower socializing as a sign of maturity, not an identification with apathy.