TikTok's 'Kate Spade Wife' Trend Isn't Just Sexist - It Paints An Unflattering Picture Of What We Value

TikTok is a trend machine, but not just one that cranks out the newest, most loved perfumes or shoes or books. TikTok also sets cultural trends; ones that are deeply reflective of the world we live in, often mired by misogyny and competition. Its emphasis on product curation and micro-trends has heightened the concerning conflation of brand or aesthetic identity with personal identity. And this is how trends such as the "Kate Spade wife" enter the social media mainstream. 

The backstory goes like this. One TikTok creator, @limpbizkitfanaccc, who has seemingly deactivated her account, made a TikTok video in which she attempts to mock her ex-boyfriend by attacking his imaginary future wife. "I may not be the one you marry but I'll be the one you think about when you're having silent dinner with your Kate Spade wife wondering if I ever got my drinking under control," the video text reads (via Elite Daily). 

So there's a lot to get into here, as someone's therapist might put it. Some women reacting to the video wanted to, first and foremost, come to the defense of the "Kate Spade wife." So, who is she? First, Kate Spade was an American designer who built a fashion empire and legacy of her clothing, purses, shoes, and more before she died by suicide in 2018. Her designs were considered classic and fun, often worn by young women entering the workforce. But the Kate Spade wife, we can infer from the text, is boring and, put together?

Projecting the Kate Spade wife

While the "Kate Spade wife" had considerable defense online, other women admitted once identifying with the original poster. TikTok user @humancomedian made a hilarious video response. "I might be outing myself as a pick-me, but like, when I was like 19, I definitely thought this way. But I'm getting married this year, so let's get dressed as a Kate Spade girlie," she says, before pulling out a Kate Spade dress. "Hello from your future," another TikTok user, @kateruthjohnson, quips in her video, holding up a Kate Spade wallet. Other women have used the text to caption videos of themselves partying or taking selfies. 

Now, let us get one thing straight. Dealing with breakups can be hard, and seeing an ex move on, happy with their new partner, can be hard, too. A sense of solid self-esteem can be weakened, leaving one prone to feeling jealous or insecure — common emotions that are often labeled taboo. The Kate Spade wife then becomes an imagined person on which to project one's own feelings of worthlessness when such feelings are too difficult to hold themselves. The Kate Spade wife is emblematic of everything that one perceives she lacks, as she juxtaposes the superficially extreme differences between the two. But of course, we know the Kate Spade wife does not deserve to be someone's projection — just as much as the projector does not need to compare herself to other women as a means of putting herself down.

The trend reflects misogyny and sexism

This archetype of the Kate Spade wife is thus available for all kinds of projection beyond just the self — and misogyny and sexism are part of the equation. The Kate Spade wife also reflects certain stereotypes related to marriage, for example, that marriage subjects women to the domestic sphere, seen as unexciting and dull, and thus belittles her as a person. She is then used as a weapon against women who are happy in their marriages or want to be married, who like Kate Spade and appreciate what the brand stands for — all for the attention of a man. 

The question then becomes, why would so many women pin their self-esteem on maintaining man's attention, whether or not that man values them for who they are? And while those who identify with being "Kate Spade wives" can defend themselves and their choices, reacting to a trend by tearing other women down out of spite is not productive, either. The Kate Spade wife trend is thus an echo chamber of reactions when women value the acceptance of men over the acceptance of themselves. TikTok user @elizatwit takes a positive spin on the trend in her TikTok video, as she describes who a Kate Spade wife could actually be — a woman who has many hobbies and a cute sense of fashion. "Let people like things, okay?" she says. But let's not forget that women are more than a brand, and more than their emotions.