LA Cool Girl backlash revives gentrification debate on TikTok

Chances are, you’ve seen LA Cool Girl. Better than that, you know an LA Cool Girl. Or, at best, you to be an LA Cool Girl.

She’s supportive of the community and she’s attached to the city’s cultural roots. If you need to know a good place to eat Thai or burgers, she’s your girl. She doesn’t take herself too seriously, something like knows Metro bus routes and probably still lives with her parents in her 20s. If nothing else, she herself has no regrets.

Vanessa Acosta outside the subway station at Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights.

Vanessa Acosta outside the subway station at Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

At least, that’s according to LA County natives, who are frustrated with the way the so-called LA Cool Girl has been branded recently on TikTok.

The term may have originated from a satirical TikTok series that detailed the LA Cool Girl lifestyle based on different neighborhoods. Paired with filtered photos, they followed LA Cool Girl’s fashion, dating life and daily routine to create the West Coast Gossip Girl aesthetic.

A TikTok of “LA Cool Girl, the eastern version” featuring images of classy white women in Los Feliz went viral, causing so much backlash that the original creator, from LA , has turned off the video’s comments (the video was viewed more than 670,000 times). Although the video includes the hashtags Los Feliz and Silver Lake, many reviews focus on sorcery and privilege across LA, opening old wounds in a burgeoning city.

The satirical version of LA Cool Girl – a crystal geek sipping coffee alongside celebrities and riding in Anguilla like no big deal – is elusive for many people who grew up in LA and Those locals reached out to TikTok to get the headlines back.

Signs of an LA Cool Girl #1: She Speaks Up

Raquel Santizo in Koreatown.

When Raquel Santizo watched LA Cool Girl’s original TikTok, she quickly created her own series of videos designed for a wider audience.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

In a seven-story building in Koreatown, Raquel Santizo used to share a one-bedroom apartment with her two sisters and her mother. Any lack of privacy is offset by a strong sense of community – she knows the names of her neighbors, the kids watch movies on the floor, and she always feels safe walking down the street.

Now 25 years old and living in San Francisco, things are not the same when she returns to her birthplace. While community and love are still there, the streets no longer feel familiar.

Raquel Santizo in Koreatown.

Raquel Santizo in Koreatown.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

As a child, she watched the “fast-paced” renovation in Echo Park. Now she feels it’s coming to Koreatown.

“It’s hard to see something you love change,” says Santizo. “All I hope is that residents who have been there for more than three decades, like my mother, can still call home their home and feel safe and not pushed out.”

When Santizo watched LA Cool Girl’s TikTok original, she quickly created her own series of videos designed for a wider audience. While the original depicts a more affluent lifestyle, Santizo showcases the life of Flamin Hot Chess plays and art exhibitions.

She’s not a metro expert, but she can find her way, Santizo detailed on TikTok. She probably likes gold jewelry, wears neutrals (but not in a boring way) and has a favorite taco truck in a gas station parking lot. Chances are LA Cool Girl is working class.

“Most of LA is, if we’re real,” Santizo said. “A lot of us are first-generation Americans, so I think there is some kind of pride in that and basically starting your own story, community, American identity in a The city is so diverse and wonderful.”

Sign of an LA Cool Girl #2: She represents

Amanda Tovar in Silver Lake.

Amanda Tovar, 26, outlines the criteria for being an LA Cool Girl on TikTok, being careful not to include anything that requires wealth.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

When these women modified LA Cool Girl, they wanted to make sure she was accessible. Often, being a reimagined Cool Girl is simply being a decent human being.

“She shares resources. She doesn’t guard the gate. She supports others. She doesn’t try because she knows who she is. She respects the culture. She’s healing from the generation, which I feel is a pretty common thing these days,” said Silver Lake resident Amanda Tovar.

Amanda Tovar in Silver Lake.

Amanda Tovar in Silver Lake.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Tovar, 26, outlines the accessible criteria for being an LA Cool Girl on TikTok, being careful not to include anything that requires wealth. Like many Angelenos, she’s struggled to pay rent in the past and hasn’t always been able to invest in a frugal lifestyle. Her vision of LA Cool Girl doesn’t require a heavy wallet.

More than that, she doesn’t want LA Cool Girl to wipe out the diverse community here. Tovar grew up watching Britney Spears, Mandy Moore and Cinderella – popular but also white films. Tovar is Korean of Mexican descent and it feels like she only really saw herself in a popular character when the Bratz line of dolls came out in the early 2000s. She refuses to let the same thing happen to her. kids looking at LA Cool Girl.

“I just don’t want young people growing up thinking you have to be this way to be a great girl when you can just be yourself,” Tovar said.

Signs of an LA Cool Girl #3: She’s Interested In Getting Married

Vanessa Acosta outside the J&F Ice Cream Shop in Boyle Heights.

Vanessa Acosta outside the J&F Ice Cream Shop in Boyle Heights.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Vanessa Acosta, a 32-year-old designer, said that before the valued eloté man left Highland Park and returned to Mexico, his loyal fans came to say goodbye. They flocked to Figueroa Street to buy the last of the elotés and wish him well – and worry that one day, they might have to leave, too.

Acosta, who is known as Highland Park, Boyle Heights and Eagle Rock, has seen street vendors disappear, trendy new stores replacing second-hand stores and families of color. being evicted when transplants increase rents. Before the pandemic, she and her fiancé frequented a small botanical shop owned by a Latina mother and her family. When Acosta returned after quarantine restrictions were eased, it was gone.

Vanessa Acosta of Boyle Heights.

Vanessa Acosta of Boyle Heights.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

“The white transplants with more money with that generation’s wealth will come and take away businesses, retail space and even homes,” Acosta said. “It just seems hopeless. The people in this community and these communities fought and tried to keep these things, but it was just an uphill battle. “

The war has dragged on for decades, but LA Cool Girl has spurred new activism.

Kathrine Braxton, a 26-year-old LA County resident with a Bachelor’s degree in sociology, knows there are nuances to be found in the controversy. She said that while some landlords may be pleased that their property values ​​increase as people move to LA, long-term tenants are frustrated by rising prices.

“I just hope that the people who move here, the unconscious polite kind, will respect where they are moving and think about what they are doing,” she said.

Kathrine Braxton in Old Town Pasadena.

Kathrine Braxton knows there’s nuance found in the LA Cool Girl chat on TikTok.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

If nothing else, LA Cool Girl opened these conversations on TikTok – or at least wrapped them up in a hashtag. Braxton has seen aesthetic controversies spur critical discussions on a platform that is not always considered insightful.

Kathrine Braxton in Old Town Pasadena.

Kathrine Braxton in Old Town Pasadena.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

“The biggest thing that I don’t think people realize is that she’s started the trend that people like me and other people of color are reclaiming LA Cool Girls for themselves,” Braxton said.

The sign of an LA Cool Girl #4: She’s full of things

The authentic LA Cool Girl is being reborn from satire. And like Los Angeles itself, she’s multi-layered. LA’s socioeconomic disparity means she looks different from everyone else, Braxton points out.

LA Cool Girl really isn’t someone to aspire to be – she’s someone Los Angeles women are ready to be.

“When I think of LA Cool Girl, I think of diversity,” Acosta said. “There’s a lot of bags in LA There’s that great girl in East LA, there’s that great girl in South Central, there’s that great girl in Koreatown or the Valley, or there’s that great girl in Glendale. They are everywhere, and they are all diverse, different, and unique in their own right. “

https://www.latimes.com/lifestyle/story/2022-06-23/la-cool-girl-tiktok-trend LA Cool Girl backlash revives gentrification debate on TikTok

Russell Falcon

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