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What does the latest TikTok trend ‘stale’ mean?

Are YOU clean or musty? TikTok trend sees users asking people to rate their appearance on whether they look like they’ve “haven’t showered in days” (and being pretty won’t save you!)

  • Social media users use the word ‘musty’ to insult celebrities in the app
  • Trend has evolved towards users guessing if someone else is ‘dirty or unsanitary’
  • Users post videos of themselves and ask others to rate how clean they look


Sometimes it seems almost impossible to keep up with social media trends, and this bizarre new expression is sure to leave many internet users scratching their heads.

The word “musty” was once used to describe something old with a musty smell, but has now been reinvented by TikTok users around the world to denote a person who looks unsanitary or dirty.

It seems to have started last year when several social media outlets flooded some celebrities with comments calling them “musty” for having a grungy style or looking sweaty and tired during a performance.

The hashtag has been viewed nearly 500,000 times and, of course, users have used the phrase to create a viral challenge asking other users to tell them whether they “look stale or not.”

Musty is used in the app to describe someone who looks like he is unclean, untidy, or has a bad smell. One user (pictured) joked about the bizarre trend and joked that she was adopting the ‘Musty girl aesthetic’

Kyeeshia, from Manchester, received a host of bizarre comments when she posted a clip of herself - with several saying she was both beautiful and 'musty'

Kyeeshia, from Manchester, received a host of bizarre comments when she posted a clip of herself – with several saying she was both beautiful and ‘musty’

Musty is used in the app to describe someone who looks like he is unclean, untidy, or has a bad smell.

The phrase is defined on Urban Dictionary, an online collection of slang word definitions, as a “person who smells like they haven’t showered in days” or a foul odor, or “a foul odor coming from someone.”

The insult has been hurled at many celebrities on the app, including British indie rock singer Yungblud who was labeled ‘musty’ after a video of him spitting his beer off stage during a performance went viral.

YouTuber Bryce Hall was called “stale” for growing a mullet, while other A-listers called “stale” by TikTok users include Ed Sheeran, Post Malone and Megan Fox’s rapper boyfriend Machine Gun Kelly.

1638367694 970 What does the latest TikTok trend stale mean

1638367694 775 What does the latest TikTok trend stale mean

1638367695 410 What does the latest TikTok trend stale mean

A viral trend is for TikTok users to post a short clip of themselves and ask others to reveal whether they look

A viral trend is for TikTok users to post a short clip of themselves and ask others to reveal whether they look “stale” or not. Shown, comments on a video asking if a user is ‘stale’

And while the likes of Kim and Kourtney Kardashian have brought grungier style into the mainstream after announcing their relationship with Travis Barker and Pete Davidson, users have also taken the insult to celebs just coming back from a gym session.

American singer Dixie D’Amelio, 20, burst into tears on her reality show The D’Amelio Show after trolls called her “musty” on a video of her looking sweaty after a workout.

A viral trend is for TikTok users to post a short clip of themselves and ask others to reveal whether they look “stale” or not.

Kourtney Karfashion and her fiancé Travis Barker have brought grungier style mainstream, which may explain the stale trend on TikTok

Kourtney Karfashion and her fiancé Travis Barker have brought grungier style mainstream, which may explain the stale trend on TikTok

The trend started with celebrities being labeled stale for their looks, most notably Megan Fox's beau Machine Gun Kelly

The trend started with celebrities being labeled stale for their looks, most notably Megan Fox’s beau Machine Gun Kelly

Kyeeshia, from Manchester, was faced with a host of outlandish comments when she posted a clip of herself – several of which said she was both beautiful and ‘musty’.

Clean but unobtrusively stale, one user said, while another agreed, “Musty. You’re still beautiful, you just give me stale vibes.’

“You’re so beautiful, but you give me stale vibes,” commented a third.

TikTok user Georgia asked if she was 'musty' and got comments saying she looked 'absolutely clean'

TikTok user Georgia asked if she was ‘musty’ and got comments saying she looked ‘absolutely clean’

Several users have made fun of the bizarre trend, joking that they’re adopting the “Musty girl aesthetic” and sharing videos with tags like mustygirlsummer — but others have called the trend “problematic.”

One user said they wouldn’t join the trend because most of the users labeled “musty” are mostly non-white users, those with acne or bad skin, and dark skin and hair textures.

“Sorry, but I’m so tired of this whole “do I look stale” or “what a little trend” because it’s always the people with yellower skin tones or acne and dark circles or skin and hair textures that get told that they look musty and smell,” one user wrote.

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