The "Pigtail Theory" Is Circulating Around TikTok and It's Pretty Disgusting

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Apr. 13 2023, Published 3:57 p.m. ET

A new infantilization of women dropped, and it's right up there with somehow being in possession of a completely hairless body. Sadly, this one is also hair-related. A social experiment on TikTok continues to yield some predictably yucky results when it comes to how men treat women they perceive to be younger. So grab a barf bag, and let's dive into the very gross pigtail theory on TikTok.

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What is the pigtail theory on TikTok? We don't love it!

In September 2021, TikTok user aliveandwellandsexy, aka Grace, posted a brief but effective TikTok about wearing pigtails to work. In it she's wearing a pink hat, black T-shirt, and the aforementioned braids. Grace looks like any person going to work in the service industry, usually comfortable. However, we soon realize all is not what it seems.

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"When you wear pigtails to work, and make double the amount of tips than usual," Grace captioned over the video. The implication is that she was tipped more, presumably by male customers, because pigtails tend to make the wearer look much younger. If we expand upon that further, and God help us because we must, the conclusion one can draw is men treat very young women better. Sadly, her experienced was echoed by many using the hashtag "pigtailtheory. "

Sadly, the pigtail theory seems to hold water for the women who tried it.

As of the time of this writing, the pigtail theory hashtag has garnered nearly 20 million views, with no end in sight. Countless women have tried it, and most of them have found that it works. They vary in age and appearance, which gives this experiment even more credence. TikTok user Michelle Hawkins tested it out one evening when she forgot to turn on the open sign for half her shift, yet reported that she took home more than her usual tips.

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"These things did something," said Michelle while holding up one of her pigtails. She then scrolls through her tips which shows folks handing over 23 percent, 34 percent, and event 50 percent as a tip. Michelle then offers some inclusive advice: "Ladies and dudes with long hair, if you wanna wear your pigtails, wear the heck out of them."

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In April 2023, TikTok user zalaiyanefwani did what she called the "pigtail theory: Black girl edition" at her job where she serves golfers while they play. One man called her "beautiful" after commenting on her pink skirt. At one point she got a $7 tip on a cup of ice. Finally, a gentleman agreed to purchase the 3-for-1 beer deal if zalaiyanefwani agreed to go out on a date with him.

If we want to spin this in a positive light, and we have to or we'll run screaming into the night, these women are using the male gaze for financial benefit. They are using a horrifying kind of attraction to their advantage by making more money. They are successfully working a system they did not establish, and while it's not ideal, we do applaud it.

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