Illustration by Bridget Meyne.
Do you like True Religion jeans? Is Effy Stonem your style icon? Have you ever wondered out loud where your tobacco is? Are there times when you feel yourself getting uncontrollably drawn to Southbank? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be eligible for the “Southbank Girl” label.
Over the past year, a new trend has emerged on TikTok. Videos of the Southbank girls were all over the London For You page, with users like simp4beanz sculpting the archetype. They had vocal fry, disassociated themselves a lot and wanted everyone to know that they love smoke cigarettes. In the early videos, their uniform was either the Depop homepage or the Urban Outfitters stash. At the same time, Southbank, as a spot for all genres, was spending time on TikTok – there were a large number of videos showing how cool Southbank and all the people who have been there were.
Videos like these made Southbank sound exciting and being a Southbank Girl attracted some, who then made videos about aspiring to be a Southbank Girl. Those aspirations – surprise, surprise – were torn in the comments. The Southbank girls, according to commentators, were private schoolchildren who bullied their parents into sending them money for drugs; who could be identified from miles away by their affected rasp of, “Rah, where’s my baccy?”
The teens have been hanging out in Southbank for decades – some are guys, some are girls. But when I saw the term “Southbank girl” on TikTok, I couldn’t relate this supposed stereotype of K-holing Godolphin students to the girls I saw hanging out in the skate space. and under the arches of Leake Street, just around the corner from Waterloo Station.
Like most trends mocking teenage girls, there was a lot of artistic license taken in the early videos. However, over time the Southbank Girl’s signifiers changed – they got more Gothic, with CP Company beanies and Juicy Couture bags traded for Monster cans and a pair of Demonias. It was more in line with what I saw when I went to chat with some of the kids hanging out under the arches of Leake Street.
I only met one person who accepted the âSouthbank girlâ label. 16-year-old Molly goes to Southbank with her friends up to four times a week. Although she accepts that the term can apply to her, she says it is used by “men with small cocks”. For what it’s worth, Molly fits the description in some ways – she goes to Southbank frequently and is stylish in a way her parents probably don’t really understand, but she wasn’t rude and she doesn’t fit in. private school.
When I told the skateboarders about the Southbank girls being in the skate area, almost everyone agreed it was boring. Millie, 16, said that for skaters like her, the presence of “Southbank girls” can make it more difficult to respect. âMost boys are nice, but some can be particularly tough,â she said.
Foey, 15, said that for many ‘Southbank is a space to escape’ from the dry suburbs of London and a place to meet like-minded people. He goes out with friends and a healthy escape almost every Saturday, but says he takes precautions he doesn’t see others doing.
After passing out in Southbank, he decided that drinking was not for him in a setting like this. According to Foey, a sober person is an unusual sight under the arches of Leake Street. He describes seeing âpeople collapsing on the groundâ and worries about the safety of the girls hanging out in the tunnel.
When I asked if the Southbank culture encourages a dangerously casual attitude to drugs and alcohol – if the Southbank girls are really all doing K-hol intentionally and constantly – Foey replied that it was not specifically Southbank that encouraged this behavior. He pointed out that you might find similar behavior in various other “grounds” across town – and he’s right. Head to Primrose Hill, Hampstead Heath or Wandsworth Common on a Saturday night and you’ll find a similar mess.
So while the idea of ââa Southbank girl is pretty funny, there’s not a whole lot of truth to it. Southbank Girls exist to the extent that there are Southbank Boys – that is, there are both boys and girls hanging out in Southbank, smoking cigarettes and sometimes doing drugs . Be careful, it’s only girls who laugh online.