20 Nov 2023DisruptorsFrom Sibling To Social Media Star: ‘Older Sister Energy’ Rules TikTok

‘Older sister energy’ has taken TikTok by storm as it gives eldest daughters a relatable, humorous way to embrace their bossy tendencies and stereotypes. This trend taps into the universal experience of being the dependable figure in family setups and offers space for community and understanding.

J’Nae PhillipsJ'Nae Phillips is an Insights Editor at Canvas8. After an early career working in fashion and media, her passion for culture and journalism grew and she made the transition to writing and editing full-time. She specialises in fashion, trends, cultural shifts and all of the good stuff that gets people talking.
Makua AdimoraMakua Adimora is a behavioural analyst at Canvas8. After completing a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering, she shifted her focus to culture journalism. With a keen interest in music and culture, she has written for the likes of Vogue, Dazed, The Washington Post, and Al Jazeera, among others. In her spare time, she can be found overspending at Superdrug or writing about the new-school hip hop scene in Nigeria.

Do you always have a backup charger, a Band-Aid and a master plan for every social gathering? Are you the self-appointed protector of your crew, the queen of coordination, and the commander of order in the chaos of life? Well, then you might just be radiating what Gen Zers on TikTok have dubbed ‘older sister energy’.

This trend has given a name and a platform to individuals, primarily older sisters, who are embracing and sharing their high-strung, Type A personalities through a deluge of memes and video content.

In a world where personal traits become internet currency, it's no surprise that ‘older sister energy’ has become a bona fide form of self-expression. It's why the hashtag #oldersister currently sits at 1.5 billion views on TikTok and #eldestdaughtersyndrome has 30.1 million views.

But what lies beneath the surface of this trend? It's not merely about memes and funny videos. It's about tearing down stereotypes, confronting challenges and unearthing the unspoken expectations linked with being an older sister. It's about dissecting the intricate web of family dynamics that shapes people's lives.

The very concept of eldest sisters being endowed with certain characteristics has forged a powerful online community that unites girls and women who want to be understood on their terms.

It’s why safe spaces like Home Girls Unite, an international community and support service for eldest daughters, are breaking the mould and forming deeper connections for girls and women to work through the challenges and expectations that with being the "big sis".

At a time when TikTokers are masterfully reclaiming and redefining their identities through online personas and niche subcultures, the relatability factor has become a cornerstone of online culture – something older sisters are tapping into.

Older sisters have found the perfect stage for their tales of wisdom, wit and occasional bossiness. And the message from this viral wave of videos is clear: being the eldest sibling is a distinct identity – a powerful one at that – and it's about time the world recognized it.

So, if you've ever been labelled as the bossy older sister, consistently wielding your planner and problem-solving prowess, then there are now spaces for you to discuss your feelings judgement-free. Older sister energy is a force to be reckoned with in the digital age and it's something that people can resonate with and learn from in all walks of life.