The Brief:

As defined by social media and TikTok users, Soft Season, Soft Szn, or #SoftSZN is a springtime shift towards gentler styles and moods. 

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DEEP DIVE

It’s cool to be soft. On social media, people of all genders are showing off their softness, vulnerability, and tenderness through what is known as “Soft Season” or “Soft Szn.” This season and trend are said to take place in spring and early summer. Many young people are demonstrating their shift into #SoftSzn through videos on TikTok.

TikTok #SoftSZN

Soft Season is being portrayed in TikTok videos through someone’s transformation from “hard” to “soft.” These videos typically show a transformation from an eBoy or eGirl to a sofyboy or soft girl. People switch from a punk, goth, and generally harsh style to outfits and mannerisms reflective of softness, springtime, positivity, and kindness. Softness is visually conveyed through pastel colored clothing, flowers, smiles, and other springtime aesthetics. The videos are typically performed to a song clip by Luffy With A Bun.

Softboi Season

For boys and men, embracing this style and outlook is a way to counter the idea that masculinity and softness cannot coexist. Steps as small as wearing flowers in their hair, being more openly emotional, or channeling their inner Timothee Chalamet can be a significant way for boys and men to reject toxic masculinity and societal expectations that men must be “hard,” aggressive, and even violent. For some adopters of this style, it is more about an aesthetic fashion choice while for others it is a mindset and lifestyle.

The term softboy has previously been applied to refer to a type of f*ckboy who acts like he is sensitive but still perpetuates toxic masculinity. The concept of Soft Season or Softboi Season is a way to embrace the ways in which boys and men can be softer without being any less “manly.” Based in both aesthetics and actions, this movement is an embrace of sensitivity as something that can coexist with masculinity.

For trans men as well as queer and non-binary individuals, Soft Szn and a positive softboi label can be outlets for celebrating gender expression and identities that do not fall within a strict binary.

K-pop Influence

This incarnation of the softboy has been influenced by South Korean culture and K-pop. As men in South Korea choose to embrace styles and behaviors that have traditionally been associated with femininity including makeup, clothing styles, dance moves, and more. Many boys and men in South Korea and around the world are rejecting toxic masculinity and replacing it with a softer, more tender form of masculinity.

Examples, Memes, & Commentary

#SoftSzn is both an internet meme and a wider movement towards so-called softness. As it’s a “season,” it will likely cycle into something else, perhaps back to eGirl/eBoy season, spoopy season, or something else entirely.