TikTok’s Tube Girl starts an international viral trend

Sabrina Bahsoon poses for a photo on her Instagram. She has become viral for her videos of her dancing on the Tube. // Photo courtesy of @sabrinabahsoon

A choppy video of a lipsync in a full car in the London Underground, also known as the Tube, shot with 0.5 perspective, does not sound like it has the makings of a viral video, yet it has made Sabrina Bahsoon, known to most as “Tube Girl,” an internet celebrity.

Bahsoon, a 22-year-old student in the UK, originally started posting videos of her lip-syncing and dancing to upbeat songs on a Tube filled with passengers.

She explained in an interview that she spends a significant amount of time on the Tube, especially when visiting friends, and that listening to music and taking these videos has allowed her to enjoy the trip more and feel safer. Many of the comments on her original post, which now has 9.6 million views, praise her for her bravery with users like @alyssak saying “tbh…this is actually really healing to parts of my social

anxiety. I like tube girl,” admiring Tube Girl’s unbothered attitude. However, not all responses to her videos have been positive.

Users have also claimed that the trend has been cringy or that Bahsoon’s actions are annoying. Comments like these speak to a larger backlash that women who outwardly portray confidence, whether it be in their looks or their ideas, seem to constantly face on the internet. Women’s empowerment has been around since the first wave of feminism in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It focuses on promoting women’s self-worth and allowing them to feel empowered in their choices; something that self-esteem and confidence play an integral part in. This idea of empowering women to make their own choices has become more and more ingrained into popular culture; however, the way the information is conveyed to the general public often communicates a rather different idea.

Romance novels and pop songs remind us that women are beautiful, but it is only attractive when they don’t know it. Movies constantly convey the idea that beautiful women do not know they are beautiful, and those who do know they are beautiful must be dangerous (turning them into femme-fatales) or are reduced to just their appearances (playing into stereotypes such as the dumb blonde).

While all of this may seem distantly removed from comments on one girl’s post of a dance on a subway, they are in fact intrinsically connected. Why was a woman, showing confidence and having fun, so groundbreaking? Why were so many other women in the comments treating a silly moment as an unachievable ideal? Why did such a small moment of a woman’s happiness spark outrage? Women are allowed to be confident but only in ways that preserve the status quo. With trends constantly pushing women into the spotlight and then damning them from wanting to be on the stage, women’s empowerment may not be as far along as initially believed. Social media trends like “Tube Girl” that center women being confident in the small day-to-day moments are the necessary push to seeing that same representation in the media. A choppy video of a lipsync in a train car may seem like a small moment, but it may be exactly what the women’s empowerment movement needs.