TikTok User Points Out the Deeper Meaning of the “Black Wife Effect” Trend

It’s not just a matter of style makeovers, TikTok @basicallybetsy2.0 argued about the internet trend.


May 7 2024, Published 6:20 p.m. ET

If you’ve come across videos from the “Black Wife Effect” trend on TikTok, you’ve seen Black TikTok users showing off their white partners’ style evolutions — makeovers that are, presumably, a credit to the TikTokers themselves.

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In one video, a man goes from wearing T-shirts and trucker hats to fitted button-downs and pea coats. In another, a man gets a beard and a haircut that frames his face perfectly. In a third, a man ditches a L.L. Bean aesthetic for more of, say, a Hugo Boss vibe.

But one TikTok user explained how these videos actually speak to a issue about how Black women’s contributions to society are significant but not often supported.

This TikTok user says Black women elevate everything — and “on a societal scale.”

A social media user named Betsy, who goes by the handle @basicallybetsy2.0 on TikTok and lists they/them pronouns on Instagram, discusses the Black Wife Effect in a TikTok video that has gotten more than 82,000 views so far. “I feel like there’s so much to break down about it,” Betsy says. “So for me, as I’m watching the Black Wife Effect, what I’m thinking is that everything that Black women touch, they elevate. And that’s not just on a partner scale, that’s on a societal scale.”

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Betsy says that Black women are at the foundation of all social justice movements and at the top of all industries. “And that is not any coincidence,” they add.

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And now Black women are elevating their partners’ fashion sense. But it’s also more than that, Betsy points out. “I thought the fascinating thing about the Black Wife Effect is not even that they look better, their style is better, but it’s also, like, you can visibly see their confidence get better, and that’s something that isn’t a physical thing,” they say. “That’s something of, like, being properly cared for. I feel like Black women have been socialized to be deep carers.”

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But Black women could use support and not just appreciation, Betsy explains.

As the video goes on, Betsy says that Black women are often put on a pedestal and that it’s “a little bit exhausting” having to go above and beyond all the time just to be perceived as pretty, smart, or kind. “That’s why when they exceed in these industries, when they exceed in these fields, when they exceed in these foundations, they do that because the standard is, exceed or not exist.”

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So the lesson of the “Black Wife Effect” shouldn’t be that white people can exploit and use Black women, Betsy concludes. Instead, white people can put in the work. “It should be, let me try and take notes so I can be on the same level, or let me see what they do that really does it, you know what I mean?” Betsy says. “Like, a lot of times, people can appreciate what Black women do, but they don’t how to properly support us to keep doing it.”

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