What is Y2K?

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Sasha A. Murray , Staff Writer

The late  90’s 2000’s style has made a comeback, Y2K. As tight shirts, baggy pants, mini skirts, chunky sunglasses and jewelry, and tracksuits become popular again, let’s look at where they came from. 

The Y2K style is typically found in old 90’s movies and shows, but it really comes from the music industry. When a new song comes out, there’s typically a music video to go with it containing artists singing or dancing with their crew in fresh and fashionable outfits. During the late ’90s and early 2000s, a style titled “Y2K” was created by black musicians and creators. One well-known origin of the style was with the R&B girl group, Destiny’s Child, who was always dressed to the tee. This style has stemmed from the black population through their continued contributions of variations of fashion. Essence magazine writer, Shelby Hyde, says, “Michael and Janet Jackson were at the forefront of the futuristic aesthetic intrinsic to Y2K, as seen through their music videos such as Scream. Girl group TLC also took on this futuristic aesthetic, along with rapper Missy Elliot, who showed off their avant-garde sci-fi visuals in their video for No Scrubs. ” There have been numerous variations of this Y2K style during its time that have permitted the vastness of the style itself.

Though this style was popular, it was viewed as controversial during its time. According to Hyde, “ Long before Carrie Bradshaw popularized the beloved monogram necklace that she referenced as “ghetto gold” jewelry. But we all know that ghetto is nothing but creativity that has not been stolen yet, a phrase coined by Ohio-based designer and philanthropist, Ron Blassingame.” One of the main issues with y2k is the application of absurd beauty standards that overlook the black community’s success and originality to instead promote the copy and paste of the white population. One example is the term “ghetto” which was typically used to shame or mock an individual and their decisions. When black artists started to promote the Y2K style, some critics did not agree with it, labeling it as “ghetto”. 

This issue with Y2K being labeled as “ghetto” permits whitewashing during its return. Whitewashing is when another culture steals a previous group’s creation, claiming the copied material as their own. According to non-standard project writer, Raitah Jinnat, “ Y2K trends that got trashed in their time are now making a resurgence as being “aesthetic and it”, ..this co-opting isn’t new— high fashion continuously takes trends Black creatives pioneer and claim autonomy over them, thus erasing their credit. ” With the return of the y2k style, the acknowledgment of origin is well overdue.

The black population has a critical and lasting impact on the world, with the Y2K style being a prime example of that. Do not let it go unnoticed.