Yassify: What does it mean and what is Yassification?

Matthew Baines

Yassify: the meme that has been dominating social media since mid November 2021.

If you spend a lot of time on Twitter or other social media forums you might have come across or heard mention of the Yassify Bot. What does Yassify mean though? What is Yassification and how do you become yassified? I will attempt to answer some of these questions right now, if you so please.

Mrs Doubtfire yassified

Yassify is an extension of the LGBTQ+ term Yass Queen, or Yas Queen (you might find the spelling with an enumeration of the letters "a" and "s" for emphasis and high camp value. First let's look at what this term means as it was the forerunner of the new Yassify Me meme.

What is Yass Queen and how does it relate to Yassify?

Yass Queen is an LGBTQ+ term, meant to emphasise the fabulousness of the beholder: anyone striving towards digital perfection with plumped up lips, beautifully contoured makeup and the smoothest skin in the most perfect of selfies. Queen is of course a term that has been used in the gay community for decades going back to the drag balls of New York in the 1980s. The word Queen can also be deliberately misspelt as Kween for comedic emphasis.

Thrown into popular parlance in 2013 by a simple YouTube of Lady Gaga, the term Yass Queen caught on further in the LBGT community and the contoured makeup look was made more popular by the makeup YouTuber James Charles.

In a world where queer people still do not share absolute equality the term enforces a strength of character and boldness. To be oneself and to slay (another LGBTQ+ reference) with as much glitter, camp and fabulousness as is possible.

It is of course not just LGBTQ+ folks who are fabulous (we are looking at you Kim Kardashian and your followers), made possible by the rise of social media and in particular Instagram. Here the selfie is all about getting the best possible light, angle and gravitas to enthral one's followers and earn a share or a re-tweet, depending on the platform. Yet how can we earthlings possibly share in any of this glamour that is bestowed upon us by these A-Lister social media icons?

Enter the FaceApp.

What is the FaceApp you might ask? Quite simply it is an app that can be downloaded to your phone, containing some AI code, that allows the user to transform a mediocre selfie (normal for 99.99999% of us) into one of impossible beauty, poise, fabulousness and - Yass Queen - a Yassification of the normal citizen into what is now known as the Yassify face.

This is of course, not without some controversy. The FaceApp has been accused previously of ageism, and bias towards white skin in its definition of what beauty means. Amazingly, this app is not necessarily used as a joke. Yet this unobtainable level of contour, luscious lashes and perfect hair is of course easily mockable. This is exactly what has happened in the closing months of 2021.

We should also not forget what might have caused the naissance of these digital transformation apps. In a world where advertising sets impossible standards for people to achieve it is little wonder that, with the help of technology, we can all share in some of this plastic glamour. Who hasn't used the Instagram filter on a previous selfie anyway? We accuse advertisers of airbrushing and transforming bodies into society's version of perfection when we are all just as guilty. So are we really surprised where this is all heading?

Toni Collette yassified

Add the Covid pandemic into the mix and with so many of us remaining at home with too much time on our hands for reflection. Reflection both in terms of our mental health but also looking at ourselves in the mirror to create too many selfies to keep in touch with friends and family during interminable lockdowns). 

Then finally a meme of Toni Collette in the 2018 film Hereditary surfaced on Twitter, with a smoky eye juxtaposition to the horror of her actual character. The ink was set and the meme was born.

Enter the Yassify Bot

Not really a bot, but just a Twitter account, that seeks to Yassify both the famous and the great unwashed and transform them/us into things of exaggerated beauty, using the FaceApp. The account is run by a 22 year old student in Omaha who goes under the name Denver Adams. They will take in requests to Yassify any facial image that wishes to be transformed, being careful, of course not to fall into the default trap of racist and ageist transformations.

This is, of course, satire at its finest. The end result of these images are a mockery of the celebrity and influencer culture of over stylised makeovers, extreme facial contours and exaggerated makeup and hair to the level of grotesqueness. This sits perfectly as a subculture of LGBT who are familiar with drag queens, some fabulous, others self-deprecating and ridiculously plastic and overdone - but also very funny. It makes the perfect recipe for an internet meme to explode!

Funny Yassification Yassify Me t-shirts by BillingtonPix

How do I Yassify?

Do you really want to be yassified? Both men and women, paintings and statues can be Yassified. Politicians, comedians and Z-Listers cannot escape the potential for Yassification. For at least the month of November 2021 the Yassify bot Twitter account will take in requests but you might want to play around with the FaceApp for kicks and giggles.

Like Drag, Yassification is both subversion and celebration 

Drag has always been both an observation about impossible beauty standards and a celebration and idolisation of the iconic and camp. An escapism on a Saturday night into a world of glitter, ballrooms, exaggerated hair-dos and makeup. Usually it carries a kitchen sink back story, with snide comments and hilarious one-liners in the style of Kenneth Williams. Or at least it used to. 

As with all things though, subcultures have a habit of becoming mainstream. With its roots in a hidden queer history going back decades, if not centuries, when LGBT folks were persecuted even for wearing too many items of clothing of the opposite sex, it is important to remember the seriousness of this story. Whilst it is great that shows like Rupaul's Drag Race normalise and exaggerate this queer culture, it also risks clouding the history of struggle and swapping it out for one of light entertainment.

Yassification is the transformation of the normal into one of artificiality for the sake of beauty but also for humour. It is, of course, at risk of being an infinitely shallow joke, yet perhaps one that is holding up a mirror to society. Are we that vain that we celebrate these transformations of simplicity into grotesqueness? Does everybody get the joke?

If you enjoyed reading this blog, please leave your comments below. We also sell some Yassify themed products including t-shirts and caps in our Yassify collection. Take a look!


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