The Brief: The "I'm Baby" meme has spread to TikTok in videos where people recreate their old baby photos.
Earlier this year, I’m Baby memes went viral online as a way to embrace one’s vulnerable, needy, and infantile side. In late October, the meme took a new form on TikTok with a more literal interpretation. In the #ImBaby TikTok challenge people re-enact old baby photos, comparing their past selves to their current selves.
On TikTok, videos associated with the hashtag #ImBaby have been viewed over 1.2 billion times. In these videos, someone strikes a pose, often one that seems strange at first. Then, the screen switches to an old baby photo, in which they’re posing in the same way and making the same facial expression however many years later. Sometimes, these videos include a parent or sibling posing as well, often wearing the same outfit as they did in the original picture.
TikTok’s iteration of the I’m Baby meme is vastly different from the original version which spread on Twitter and Instagram. The original meme largely consisted of millennials making jokes and commiserating about longing to be cared for and to return to a child-like innocence. It also played with the concept of a daddy or zaddy and “baby” being a common pet name. The TikTok version is more about sharing cute baby pictures, perhaps while also longing to return to an easier, simpler time in one’s life.
#ImBaby on TikTok