If the most meaningless compliment you can pay someone is that they’re nice, then perhaps the most bruising insult is calling someone boring. At least according to the jury of TikTok users, who are on the lookout for ‘beige flags’ – signs that you are too dull to date – on dating profiles.
Like their toxic older sibling red flags – a term for signs that a person is bad, either for you or just in general – beige flags are early warning signs of incompatibility, particularly found on social media and especially on dating apps. Examples include giving generic or repeated answers to Hinge prompts, regurgitating tired platitudes (see: “living my best life”), or having more than one photo with a dog.
The trend of publicly identifying these flags is led by TikToker @itscaito, the self-proclaimed “CEO of beige flags”. Her videos dominate TikTok’s #beigeflags hashtag, which currently has over three million views. In her clips, Caitlin reviews profiles sent in by her followers, picking out elements that hint at a person’s unsalvageable drabness. What’s more, people seemingly often send in their own profiles. Brave!
In one of her rulings, someone gets a beige flag for answering the “I bet you can’t” Hinge prompt with, “Guess where I’m from”. The reasoning, according to Caitlin, is a lack of originality (though this person does get a pardon for saying “don’t hate me if I ‘put lemon on pasta’”, apparently a more original answer). In another, someone gets three beige flags for featuring three photos “with the boys”, referring to being hungover as “hungas”, and sneaking their Instagram handle into their profile.
Caitlin has also helpfully created a series of videos detailing some of the key beige flags to look out for. These include, but are not limited to, loving food as a personality trait, “geeking out” on Harry Potter, or answering prompts with cliches like, “The best way to ask me out is ‘by asking’”, or ‘I need someone who can ‘keep up with me’”.
For the most part, beige flags are cringe millennial tropes, pointing to the generational wars already common on TikTok, where Gen Z deride their elders for crimes including embracing corporate culture, saying ‘doggo’, and living for ‘90s nostalgia and Harry Potter. While some are churning out these banalities in a misguided attempt to stand out – but failing, because everyone else had the same idea – for others, this is genuinely just how they speak and exist.
In reality, being boring is perhaps no bad thing, particularly at a time when everyone seems to be elbowing each other out of the way to be the Main Character in a stream of endless self-publicising videos. If we were being generous, we’d applaud the beige flag culprits for refusing to painstakingly brand themselves as ‘cool’ and argue that it might make them a more interesting person than someone who goes out of their way to manufacture an idiosyncratic response to every prompt.