Who's a Baddie, Anyway?

By Dauda Opeyemi | May 20, 2023

It’s in song lyrics, it’s Instagram captions, I know when you see or hear the word ‘baddie’, the first thing that comes to your mind are the super attractive women you see on Instagram with perfect bodies and make-up.

However, according several definitions of the word⸺rendered by people in the Urban Dictionary, “a baddie is a girl who is highly confident and can hold her own”.  A baddie remains confident and beautiful whether in makeup, barefaced, tight clothes or even in sweatpants. A baddie lives the world on her terms, and she’s also known in pop culture as a bad bitch.

Originally, the term “baddie” was used to refer to a villain, but with antiphrasis—saying the opposite of what is actually meant in such a way that it is obvious what the true intention is—it has been redefined. 

The baddie aesthetic became popularized in the 2010s by African American women, particularly in online communities and social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram as a positive term for women to embrace themselves and accentuate their femininity. This is in the same line as hashtags like #BlackGirlMagic, promoted to boost self esteem.

It is common to hear baddie in the beauty and fashion world, even in song lyrics, fashion trends and even internet memes, further solidifying the term in pop culture.  In the past, terms like “slay queen” and “slay mama” originally meant someone who dresses fashionably, always looks good, and has now been tainted to a gold digger or unintelligent woman. However, this term has been co-opted into mainstream media as a qualifier for an attractive woman who faced a tragedy or died

On social media and historically, when women invent or reclaim terms and phrases to promote female positivity, these words get distorted and lose their original meaning because men, including Nigerian men, twist and bastardize the term and as a result.  women feel reluctant to associate with it. These terms are reduced to being seen through the male gaze; with a tendency to objectify or sexualize women.

In feminist thought, misogyny includes the rejection of feminine qualities. It criticizes institutions, work, hobbies, or habits associated with women. Or in this recent case: the term “baddie”. 

In late April, there was a classification of women on Twitter into ‘baddies’, ‘civilian’ and

‘amotekun’. This grouping covered colourism and class. 

"Baddie: A full time hot chic. Owns her own business. Has a lot of men who do things for her, and spend money on her. She’s always bucked up, but never spends. Gyms, restaurants, ashewo dresses, Snapchat. iPhone 12 Pro Max Upwards," said Twitter user, iDREYY in the start of this extensive thread.


For "Civilian", the tweet author refers to women who work, noting that they're "always tired because work choke. Rarely spends on herself. Has men, but doesn’t have their time. Looking for serious relation." To this user, these women—a step below the baddies—use the iPhone XS Max - 12 Pro or android phones. 

Amotekun refers to a regional security outfit for Nigeria's southwest. This group battles in-state violence by non state actors. However in this case, these women "sells clothes on WhatsApp. Sells perfumes. Does makeup. Has a customized bonnet. Dates yahoo boys. Her WhatsApp status is always full of subs. Never does anything for herself. Always on the prowl for spenders. Uses iPhone 7 Plus - XR."

This classification into a misogynistic hierarchy was even co-opted by the Nigerian front of franchises like Burger King (who have now deleted their offending tweets).



Who's a Baddie, Anyway?

The thing is no rulebook exists on becoming a "baddie". It is about projecting your inner confidence and being comfortable in your body. It’s a state of mind that you can achieve whatever you want and be the best version of yourself.

A Google search on how to be a baddie will show you tips and tricks on changing your look and possibly altering your style in favour of the latest trends. 

Being a "baddie" comes down to being authentic in your own skin.

You can enhance your style: This doesn’t mean you have to discard your favourite tee shirt and Jeans; it just means you have to be more intentional about your appearance. It means you can find and experiment with styles and aesthetics you relate to.

You can play with accessories, try new makeup looks, and go for brighter colours to improve your appearance. We express ourselves in our appearance, and how we look is a significant determinant of how we feel. Putting more effort into your looks boosts your confidence and makes you more comfortable in your body.

Whether you like revealing ashewo dresses or are a modest girl, a Hijabi, or even a nerdy babe, find your style and explore it.

Skin care is all the rage right now, but you don’t have to buy all the things advertised by influencers on social media, just a cleanser, moisturiser and, most importantly, sunscreen. Having healthy skin will boost your confidence, and a skincare routine is a fun and relaxing thing to do.

Build your confidence: it is easy to preach confidence than practice it. There are different books, seminars and workshops all aiming to imbibe people with confidence, but the truth is no one is a master at confidence; everyone fakes it. and in the famous words of Atticus, “She was powerful not because she wasn’t scared, but she chose to do it despite the fear.”

Fear is a normal reaction, but don’t let it stop you from doing what you want. Living in constant fear can put one in a shadow, but emulating confidence will brighten your life and let you take up the space you deserve.

Do something spontaneous: Living in a defined pattern takes away all the excitement.

The world is yours to explore, do things you wish to do, whether a solo date, making new friends or getting a piercing. Just do it because it doesn’t matter what people think. Step out of your comfort zone and live the life you truly deserve.

Set boundaries: As women, we’ve been conditioned to let things go just for peace to reign, but that ends now. Learn how to say No. It’s essential to draw boundaries in friendships and relationships so no one will have the guts to disrespect you.

Set strict boundaries, and you’ll gain more respect. No is a magical word; you should say it more.


Read widely: Baddies are intelligent people. As a baddie, you should always increase your knowledge of interesting things. Read blog posts on fashion, make-up, politics, fiction, and biographies. You can also learn from TikTok and even YouTube. Boost your knowledge on exciting topics that interest you.


Embrace your individuality: The most important thing about being a baddie is living life on your terms, don’t try to fit people’s standards of what a proper woman should be. 

There’s no hierarchy to how women decide to live their lives. At the end of the day, being a baddie is truly in your heart.