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‘Soy Face’ Is Real, and It’s Annoying — It Just Needs a Better Name

Soybeans don’t deserve this horrifying legacy

Here’s one for ya. On TikTok, you can find video of a woman who says a “techie husband” had her get a chip implanted in her hand. The chip opens the front door of their house — like a key. Doubtless you’ll have your own idea of whether that’s cool or dumb, creepy, Silicon Valley shit, but, if you watch the whole thing, you’ll see the husband’s reaction to the mechanism working.

The face is, as those of us online would say, cursed.

A weird, soundless, open-mouthed excitement that portends nothing good. People have talked about it for years, and called it by many names: “Cuckface,” “Nu-Male Smile,” and, most enduringly, “Soy Face” (sometimes even “Soylent Grin”). You might correctly gather from these terms that the idea traces back to 4chan and other web subcultures in which both young and adult men obsess over theories of gender hierarchy, and their own place in it. These communities have likewise lent themselves to extremist politics, and an epithet like “soy boy” is necessarily a product of a red-meat-eating hardliners. Soy is a food that the alt-right and affiliates have linked with weakness, beta status and femininity, casting it as the vegetarian’s curse, something that can actually give you “man boobs.” This is, thankfully, a debunked myth.

Nevertheless, the thing colloquially known as Soy Face does exist, and it is a blight on our suffering world. There’s no reason for it; the face is bad. And it seems to be getting worse. Where the “Soy Face” concept formerly dwelt and evolved in right-wing shitpost forums, it’s increasingly common in left-leaning Twitter and beyond. Maybe it’s beneath us all to criticize how dudes express hype vibes in a photo, but it’s also embarrassing to keep seeing it done this way, particularly in concert with scraggly beards, square glasses and unfortunate haircuts. It doesn’t help that the source of enthusiasm is often a video-game console or similar digital toy.    

I’d guess the real problem here is guys trying to look like the thumbnail of a 20-minute YouTube unboxing clip. Beyond telling them that nobody gives a shit if they bought a Nintendo Switch, we’ll have to drop the “Soy Face” insult — it springs from bad ideology, and I don’t believe that many of the men pulling this expression are living on tofu diets. If anything, it’s a “Kraft Mac and Cheese Face.”

That’s not very catchy, though, and besides, an effort on my part at a new coinage will just lead someone to dig up photos where I’m making the face, and then I’ll have to delete my whole presence.

Whatever, we need our best minds on this. I can’t continue reading the words “Soy Face” together, or stir-fry night will become unbearable. Leave soy alone! Soy didn’t invent the horrible self-surveillance and visual branding of the 21st century. Soy is great.

As for the face? An atrocity. I don’t mean to be a dick, but… close your mouth. The internet is not your dentist.

I’d prefer not to drag a staple legume of East Asia into the conversation, except we’re out of options for the moment: “Soy Face” has stuck. The sooner you shave and stop emulating your favorite Twitch streamer’s mannerisms, the better off civilization will be. Thanks.