It’s oddly fitting, in some twisted way, that the early 2000s received their iconic nickname based off of the nearly disastrous event that kick-started them. Even now, 22 years later, long after the threat of global electronic collapse has elapsed, we still use Y2K to refer to the early 2000s period. And we do plenty of referring to it, what with the way it’s wrapped its hands around the metaphorical necks of the general population as of late. The fixation with the early 2000s in the youth perhaps lies in a sense of misplaced nostalgia for what we barely remember from our early childhoods. Reliving Y2K allows those of us born between the years of 2000-2010 to truly become what we always wanted to be growing up, finally meeting the metric of what was considered cool.
Most Iconic Fashion Trend: Butterfly Clips
Even though these have partially fallen out of fashion in recent years, I cannot underestimate the chokehold that these had on me between late 2019 to early 2020. Every single day until the beginning of sophomore years, I coordinated these with my outfits. I had two in every color, and I attached them to the sides of my hair adjacent to my bangs every morning, making sure they matched at least one of the colors in my outfit for the day. While these accessories were more a product of the late 90s and continued on into Y2K instead of being a pure invention of the era, they were still extremely prevalent amongst Disney Channel stars and Oscar-winners alike.
` Butterfly clips will forever be a timeless accessory that can be easily styled with any manner of outfits and occasions, metallic to pastels, brunch to prom, a tennis skirt to a pair of light wash flares. Regardless of the themes of the rest of the look, you can never go wrong with a few butterfly clips haphazardly placed amid a few flyaway strands. Think Lizzie McGuire, think Britney, think Jennifer Aniston on the red carpet.
Most Iconic TV Show: Gilmore Girls
If I had to sit down with you and have an honest conversation about what my favorite Y2K TV show was, I would spend at least forty five minutes ranting and raving about the cultural reset that was Gossip Girl. Is Gossip Girl an iconic TV show in and of itself? Yes. Is Gossip Girl, which focuses more on an extremely niche subculture that is largely inaccessible to the general population due to wealth disparity and elitism, the best representation of the early 2000s? No.
But what, I ask you, might be a better representation of the Y2K experience? The answer lies in Gilmore Girls. You might protest. You might raise an eyebrow and say, “But Altea, doesn’t Gilmore Girls also have rich people? Rory goes to Yale.” And yes, dear cynical reader, you are correct! But the main focuses of Gilmore Girls are the mother-daughter relationship between Lorelai and Rory and the goings-on of Stars Hollow, not multimillionaires getting up to various shenanigans and being so out of touch with reality they almost float out of their penthouses.
Besides, part of what makes Gilmore Girls the most iconic Y2K TV show is the nearly superhuman amount of topical references that are jam packed into every single episode, with miles of witty banter and cultural jokes that leave the modern viewer feeling slightly out of place. Characters such as Lane and Lorelai are constantly name-dropping a plethora of 90s and 2000s celebrities, songs, and pop culture moments.
Most Iconic Movie: Mean Girls
When I was three years old, I dressed up as a bunny for Halloween, and while I have no memory of actually wearing that costume, I remember one of my parents’ friends making a reference to Regina George. I had absolutely no idea who that was for eleven years, until I finally watched the movie and realized what he meant during the Halloween scene. The fact that a small part of me was so deeply aware of the cultural significance of Regina George that she held onto the memory of being compared to her until she was fourteen is so indicative of the impact that Mean Girls had on society.
Mean Girls is eighteen years old, and still remains a cult classic, to the point where almost anyone can recall various quotes from the movie at the drop of a hat. I myself have seen it four times since I first saw it three years ago, and every time I watch it, I notice something new and intriguing.
Most Iconic Musical Artist: Britney Spears
There is absolutely no way that there can be an artist more synonymous with the early 2000s than Miss Britney Spears. Britney is the Madonna of Y2K, the Beatles of Y2K, the Taylor Swift of Y2K, the ABBA of Y2K. To this day, even just hearing any of her music sends the listener back in time to an era of songs like “Toxic,” “Gimme More,” and “Circus.” While other musical artists may have also had their claim to fame during this time, such as Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, or Beyoncé, their music is not as universally considered a Y2K relic as Britney’s is.
While the 2000s may have officially ended, you can pry some of the most iconic looks out of the cold, dead hands of the Forever 21 designers. People are still strolling around the world dressed like they raided Paris Hilton’s closet (just like in the Bling Ring) and it doesn’t show signs of stopping anytime soon. While the comeback of Y2K seems a little too soon in my opinion (after all, the aftershocks of mid rise jeans are still being felt in some dark dismal corners of the earth) I think it’s safe to say that we can all appreciate a good miniskirt and hot pink baby tee every once in a while.