What do beige flags represent and why has the concept amassed 975 million views on TikTok?
By Jessica Byrne — Written on Jul 27, 2023
Photo: Alena Ozerova | Viktoriia Lomtieva | Shutterstock
Red flags and green flags have been discussed in dating spheres, friendship groups, and even the workplace for the better part of a decade.
We know red flags generally manifest as social faux pas and potentially unforgivable acts, such as poor hygiene, bad manners, or dishonesty. A sign of one of these will likely see most of us breaking off a relationship or making a mental note never to hang out with someone again.
By stark contrast, green flags are positive qualities.
For example, someone who listens to and respects your boundaries, makes an effort to communicate during tough moments, or has healthy relationships with their friends and family. Most people can agree these are the kinds of people we want around us.
Fresh on the dating scene is the controversial beige flag.
What does it represent and why has it amassed 975 million views on TikTok in such a short period?
What are beige flags?
Just like red flags and green flags, we all have weird quirks that our acquaintances wouldn’t catch onto unless they started spending a significant amount of time around us.
They’re not exactly deal-breakers, nor will they trigger the immediate “ick” the way a red flag does. They’re just weird enough to catch you off guard, making you stop and think twice about who this person really is for a split second.
These strange habits sit in the category of a beige flag.
One of my colleagues, for instance, refrigerates his toast after applying butter because he likes when it “rehardens on the bread.” Odd? Yes. Memorable? Unusually. A reason for his girlfriend to run for the hills? Hardly.
On the topic of romantic relationships, beige flags also refer to the various ways people are treated by their significant other.
In the age of oversharing on social media, thousands of users have eagerly joined in exposing their partners’ beige flags on TikTok.
Some of the content is hilarious, like when one user said her boyfriend “puts his forehead to hers until his vision blurs” and then calls her “pretty cyclops lady” at least once daily.
Others are somewhat heart-warming, like the one below.
Is that beige flag truly beige?
While a large portion of #beigeflag TikToks have bordered on green, some clips have boomed in popularity because, from the outside looking in, the flag appears to be more on the red side.
Considering beige flags are, by definition, behaviors that we regularly acknowledge in another person as unusual and potentially annoying — but tolerate anyway — audiences have been quick to suggest that some TikTok users are making excuses for their partner’s bad behaviors when they should seek out better.
“Girl, that’s actually a red flag,” users regularly comment, followed by a series of red-colored emojis.
Those who have already written on this still-booming TikTok trend have viewed the outpouring of #beigeflag content as proof that the bar is on the floor when it comes to modern romantic relationships.
And since women have primary exposers of their partners’ traits online, it’s sparked a feminist discussion that suggests men refuse to emotionally mature, thus remaining unaccountable for the responsibility they have to nurture their own relationships.
In this light, women continue to settle for less than they deserve.
Multiple viral TikTok clips see women describe their male partners’ beige flags as being generally ambivalent or unbothered about the details of the lives of their loved ones.
Others describe the way their partners often fail to address questions and texts or refuse to engage in conversation about the details of their day when probed.
Some even expose how their boyfriend is always ‘super chill’ except when they start throwing remote controllers like a 13-year-old while gaming.
Those posting these #beigeflags admit it’s infuriating but regularly caption the videos with something along the lines of “Are all men like this?”. A scroll through the comment section often reveals mixed responses ranging from “Dump him!” to “All men are like this.”
Like most TikTok trends, #beigeflags will probably disappear in a few months’ time. Regardless, this may have been a lesson to young people on forming boundaries and expectations about the kind of partner they want — and hope to be.
Your beige flag isn’t my beige flag
All in all, it’s important to remember that red, green, and beige flags are entirely subjective. Everyone has different beliefs, interests, and relationship expectations or ideals.
Most of the time, we’re willing to bend some of our usual rules for the people we love. It’s possible that placing too much weight on beige flags could encourage us to hyper-fixate on minor flaws in the people we care about.
While discussing the subject of beige flags with my friends, we struggled to identify any immediate examples off the top of our heads. This is because beige flags — when truly beige — shouldn’t really be a big deal.
Still, the discussion of them online has been socially enlightening, if not entertaining.
It’s opened the door for conversations to be had regarding unhealthy behaviors and relationship dynamics that are unacceptable or unfulfilling.
Recognizing actions that make you question somebody’s integrity, even for a moment, might be worth registering, as it could be an indication that larger issues could arise later on.
At the end of the day, what someone is willing to tolerate is up to them.
Is putting too much emphasis on beige flags your red flag?
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Jessica Byrne writes about positive social change, specifically ocean health and marine conservation. You can also find her dipping her toes into other subjects like pop culture, health, wellness, style, and beauty.
This article was originally published at Thred. Reprinted with permission from the author.