1. Baby Gronk + Livvy
What it is: Sports fans on the internet let out a collective “what?” this week over a TikTok post that brought LSU gymnast Olivia “Livvy” Dunne and an elementary school football hopeful nicknamed “Baby Gronk” together.
Why it became a meme: One is the highest-earning female athlete in the NCAA, and the other is a fourth grader whose father is taking him on tours of various college football programs. So what do Livvy and Baby Gronk have in common? Changes to NCAA “name and likeness” (NIL) rules that took effect in 2021 have made it possible for collegiate athletes to have lucrative careers as influencers. Baby Gronk seems to be on the fast track to that career path, while Olivia Dunne is already there. This particular video showed the two entering each other’s orbit and mixed in so much Gen Z slang that it was nearly unintelligible. The viral video of their meeting was narrated by a poster called @h00pify, whose stilted delivery style came across as trying very hard, making it A+ meme-grade material.
Start the conversation: What do you think about collegiate athletes having influencer careers?
2. Dressed Like a Fish
What it is: #mermaidcore and #barbiecore are two trending aesthetics inspired by what’s showing in theaters this summer.
What it looks like: #barbiecore started trending last summer, and involves biker shorts, cropped tank tops, platform shoes, bold makeup, and of course, lots and lots of pink. We may not have reached peak #barbiecore, as the Greta Gerwig-directed “Barbie” film starring Margot Robbie won’t make its debut until July. In the meantime, #mermaidcore has been having its moment this June, partially due to Disney’s release of the live-action “Little Mermaid” film. #mermaidcore involves shells, pearls, layered necklaces, maxi skirts, gauzy fabrics, bikini tops, and pearlescent nails. Both trends will feel nostalgic to anyone who grew up in the 80s, but Gen Z brings their DIY-skills, body positive attitude, and an internet-informed sensibility to make the looks their own.
Start the conversation: What do you think about trends like #barbiecore and #mermaidcore?
3. Dating (Conversations) Made Easy
What it is: Two new resources to help parents and caring adults talk about dating and relationships with the next generation are now available at Axis.org.
Why we did it: Since the launch of our new website, visitors’ most-searched term has far and away been for resources on dating. Our publishing team kicked into high gear to put together a new set of materials that take some of the stress and awkwardness out of these conversations. Today, we’re pleased to announce a brand new Parent’s Guide to Teen Dating, and a new video series on Dating as well. These resources are brimming with the best of current research on dating trends, dozens of biblical tie-ins, up-to-the-minute examples from the world of media and entertainment, and of course, conversation starters.
Start the conversation: When your friends talk about relationships, what kinds of things do they say?
Song of the Week
“Fast Car” by Luke Combs: Reaching #4 on Billboard, #4 on Spotify, and #5 on Apple Music, this song is country artist Luke Combs’ nostalgic tribute to Tracy Chapman’s 1988 hit of the same name. With a beautiful chorus about a glimpse of belonging and hope, the song is essentially about the desire to make something of our lives, and the struggle to overcome poverty and generational curses. Combs decided to record his cover of the song verbatim, including the line “So I work in the market as a checkout girl,” out of a desire to “just be mega-respectful of the song.” For the full lyrics, click here.
When Luke Combs sings, “I had a feeling that I belonged / I had a feeling I could be someone,” he captures one of the deepest motivations of the human heart: the desire to find the ones we fit with, with whom we can thrive. Søren Kierkegaard once said, in his customarily dramatic way, “Deep within every man there lies the dread of being alone in the world, forgotten by God, overlooked among the household of millions upon millions.” Human beings will do almost anything to belong—including the adoption of #barbiecore and #mermaidcore aesthetics.
This same motivation is behind dating relationships as well. And it’s no wonder: God created us for human connection. When He made the world in Genesis 1 and 2, there was only one thing that He said wasn’t good: the fact that Adam was alone. So God created Eve—and we’ve been fixated on human connection ever since. In fact, sometimes we even connect the dots between people when a strong link doesn’t exist, like when @h00pify used the phrase “rizzed up” to refer to interactions between 10-year-old Baby Gronk and 20-year-old Olivia Dunne. (If you missed it last time we covered the term, “rizz” is basically slang for “charisma,” and typically refers to charming someone, or flirting with them.)
In the modern era (and perhaps, always), all kinds of weird problems and complications get attached to our God-given desire for connection. Between social media pressures, situationships, hookup culture, countless dating apps, the potential for rejection, and trends like ghosting, navigating relationships, romantic and otherwise, in the modern world is less than straightforward. Again, this is why we created our new resources on dating to help parents and caring adults navigate these topics with teens.
And yet as important as navigating these topics well can be, ultimately only God can fulfill our desire for belonging. As Augustine once put it in a prayer to God, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” We hope that as you and your families grow in relationships with others, that more importantly you continue to grow in your relationships with God—the ultimate source of all our belonging and meaning.
Here are some questions to spark conversation about these things with your teens:
- Can you think of a time when you experienced the feeling of belonging? When was it?
- What’s one thing you think more adults should understand about dating in your generation?
- What do you think about the quote from Augustine? Do you agree? Why or why not?