|Synonyms:||Tumblr Sexy Man|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
The Tumblr sexyman, broadly, is a phrase used to describe any popular male character from fandom that Tumblr users have latched onto. It may be used on characters that are considered (subjectively) attractive or non-human who have been altered by fandom on Tumblr.
For example, the Once-ler (The Lorax, 2012) is sometimes considered the original Tumblr sexyman because Tumblr users made him popular and attempted to make him appear more sexy. Another example is Bill Cipher (Gravity Falls, 2012-2016), who was a fan favorite villain that often got humanizations in which he was made into a skinny white boy. However, these criteria may have begun to change circa 2015 with Sans (Undertale, 2015) and then Benry (HLVRAI, 2020), whose depictions in fandom seem to subvert the typical Sexyman trope (while still qualifying them for the title in other ways). (For more on this, see History).
a tumblr sexy man is a character from any sort of media classified as hot by tumblr. think bill cipher. the onceler. etc— Vanniez-Playland, Jul 27, 2020
A dedicated wiki, Sexypedia, exists to catalogue the various characters given the Tumblr Sexyman treatment, although there may be varying levels of agreement around the extent to which each character qualifies for the title. (See Characters Considered to be Tumblr Sexymen).
The concept of the Tumblr sexyman was, of course, started on Tumblr, meaning it cannot be older than Tumblr itself. That said, the oldest character to be given this title may have been the Once-ler. During 2012-2013 The Lorax and the Once-ler fandom were at their peak, however the term "Tumblr sexyman" would not come until later, after the fandom had begun to dip. Arguably, Wheatley (Portal 2, 2011) may have been a proto-Tumblr sexyman. Wheatley, who came before the Once-ler, was often given the same treatment as a Tumblr sexyman, but never reached the same mass popularity across the website.
Only when it became clear that taking a popular male character and running with them was a trend did the phrase come into existence. It may have been between 2013-2014 when the idea of the "Tumblr sexyman" took off, as this is when Bill Cipher and Tony the Talking Clock (Don't Hug Me I'm Scared 2, 2014) were latched onto by the Tumblr community. [note 1] The original post that coined the phrase is still unknown. To document cases of and discussion surrounding the Tumblr sexyman, a Tumblr blog called sicklywhitedudes was created. The user then started a publicly viewable Google Doc to compile the information on Apr 24, 2020, called the Sexypedia. While the blog and document are useful and in some places cover occurrences in detail, it is also full of personal opinions that other Tumblr users may disagree with (such as Benry counting as a sexyman).
Whenever Tumblr users point out a new "sexyman" they ultimately compare him to the Once-ler, since he his considered the first. Using this comparison, some users have begun identifying new desirable traits across time for Tumblr users that no longer align with the Once-ler. Sans may arguably be where this change began, as he is one of the first "Tumblr sexymen" to not receive frequent humaniation into a white skinny boy. Instead of being dapper, Sans remained relatively chubby, gross, and in some cases heavily monstrous. The Sexypedia, using Benry as a case study, said:
5/3/20: Yknow, the real interesting thing about benry is how self-aware (ha) the whole thing is. People were calling him as “2020’s sans” (not completely accurate but they’ve got the spirit) when he was barely beginning to emerge as one, and the joke is out there now. How much of this reflects this particular fanbase, and how much reflects the times? I think the creation of this document itself, the patterns everyone’s been bringing to the table, is itself a manifestation of how aware we’ve become over time. In fact, with benry, could we be seeing a subversion of the sexyman phenomenon in certain places? Where some people have seen the jokes comparing him to sans or whatever, and are deliberately subverting the sexyman-nearing branch of fanon by portraying him as unappealing or average on purpose? This isn’t new, this has been seen with sexymen before, but, like almost everything else, seems to be happening faster, almost preemptively.Sexypedia
Tumblr users often argue about just who does or doesn't count as a "Tumblr sexyman." Some may see popularity as being a defining factor, insinuating less popular male characters cannot be deemed a Tumblr sexyman. Others simply see it as a matter of fan interaction, such as if the fandom surrounding that character draw/write the character as being sexier than they are in canon.
There is usually a high aversion to characters being called a "Tumblr sexyman," evident in numerous posts that try to discredit the usage of the phrase for specific characters. This may be because those in fandom see the phrase as an insult, possibly because the first character to come to mind upon hearing the phrase is the Once-ler, who has become mainly a joke. Others may see it as a case of cringe culture and feel that they are being made fun of for something they see as harmless (enjoying and/or humanizing a popular character).
Some may see the idea of the Tumblr sexyman as being a critique of the practice of obsessing over characters of a specific type (white, cis, skinny, attractive, well dressed, male) as evident in some discussions on Tumblr. This could further exacerbate the phrase being seen as an insult, particularly in communities where these ideas are considered unfounded by the fandom.
Due to the sometimes vague and varying criteria as to who counts as a Tumblr Sexyman, examples within smaller fandoms or niches are sometimes discussed in the context of speculating whether certain characters would be Tumblr Sexyman if the fandom itself were more popular, such as in the case of Trexel Geistman and the existence of Trexelfuckers.
“tumblr sexyman” has lost its meaning. People see something get popular and instantly thing “yeah there’s gonna be a new sexy man” that’s not how it works. You can’t just make a character into a sexyman in a week. If there isnt at least 20 blogs dedicated to that character and pics of them with captions like “aah my ovaries” THEN IT ISNT A SEXYMAN. IT TAKES EFFORTzeldasoftie, Jul 24, 2020
the original “sexymen” weren’t just “characters a lot of people find hot”. they weren’t just “oh you draw this character hotter than they should be” either. the idea of a “tumblr man” was a sentiment geared towards mostly straight women who would ignore female characters, characters of colour, anything like that, in favour of a rampant latching onto average or even wicked male characters. it wasn’t a conversation about shaming straight women, or anyone who was attracted to these people, but rather, a thinkpiece- why are your favourite characters always men? why do you feel the need to be attracted to something, to “ship” something in media? is it not enough to simply have a poignant theme? why not give more diverse characters a chance?Year2000Electronics, Aug 2, 2020
this argument has been lost to time.nowadays, every single slightly popular male character gets a “sexyman” label hurled at them; people will post in main tags about how x character is a sexyman in a desperate attempt to get people to reblog the funny post. nobody is allowed to like a character anymore.
Basically people see a character be drawn in a fun/cool way and go ‘Ah yes. Sexyman.’ without thinking about what *actually* makes a character a sexyman. It has genuinely nothing to do with the characters themselves, Sans and The Once-ler are incredibly different characters and yet they’re widely regarded as the most prominent example of this phenomenon.Teams-Nice, Aug 2, 2020
idea........ to keep off from using tumblr sexyman for popular male character until they reach the fucking craziness that was that onceler n sans shit n just use tumblr bait insteadBornfromfoam, Jul 24, 2020
Defining the The Sexyman
- If already human they are usually white, skinny, and cis. If non-human, they will be drawn as a white, skinny, and cis human.
- In the moment fans may see the character as attractive, but like with the Once-ler may change their mind as years go by.
- Often has some evil or villainous traits. If not outright evil, character may have some sort of power or special defining characteristic (telekinesis for Sans, being a robot for Wheatley, etc)
- Dapper clothing is either present in canon or given to them in humanizations, such as with the Once-ler, Bill Cipher, and Tony from Don't Hug Me I'm Scared. Not a hard rule, as characters like Sans and Wheatley aren't often given dapper clothing.
- Shipping is generally difficult due to the circumstances of the canon, so characters may either be shipped with themselves (Once-ler, Sans), through incest (Sans/Papyrus), or through pedophilia (Dipper/Bill).
- Alternate Universe galore. Characters may see themselves being shipped with AU versions on themselves (Oncecest, Sancest).
- These characters usually explode in popularity among their fandoms. The fandoms themselves may already be popular.
- The character will see a boom in ask blogs dedicated to them, each with a unique theme.
Characters Considered to be Tumblr Sexymen
Though there are disagreements on who is and isn't a Tumblr sexyman, these characters have either been dubbed sexymen or have had discussion surrounding their categorization as one.
- Once-ler from The Lorax, 2012
- Bill Cipher from Gravity Falls, 2012-2016
- Tony the Talking Clock from Don't Hug Me I'm Scared, 2014
- Wheatley from Portal 2, 2011
- Sans from Undertale, 2015
- Benry from HLVRAI, 2020
- Alastor from Hazbin Hotel, 2019
- Black Hat from Villainous, 2016-
- Squidward from Spongebob Squarepants, 1999-
- See the Sexypedia for more.
Tumblr Sexywomen and Sexypeople
As implied by the name, the Tumblr Sexyman phenomenon tends to be applied to characters who are considered male. However, many fans have argued for female characters to be awarded the title of Tumblr Sexywoman. A dedicated wiki, Sexypedia...2! (or Sexywoman Wiki) was briefly set up before being merged with the Sexypedia due to the difficulties inherent in sorting nonbinary characters into one of the two wikis.
The concept of a Tumblr Sexywoman is less well-defined, as there are fewer characters that are unanimously agreed to fall into this category and they have smaller followings overall. The Sexypedia states that a Tumblr Sexywoman is "a character who shows the 'lanky suitman villain' tropes, is popular with wlw, and/or is highly divisive" but notes that "unlike their male counterparts, tumblr sexywomen can be conventionally attractive and still qualify as a sexywoman. As a result, trying to determine if a character is a sexywoman is more just. Checking the vibe than anything." While various candidates for the title of Tumblr Sexywoman have been put forward, the character who has gained the most momentum so far as the "first" Tumblr Sexywoman is Lady Dimitrescu of Resident Evil Village.
I have bad news guys
after having reviewed some evidence, including:
- the amount of fanart where the character is made much younger and/or skinnier than her canon form
- the quantity of blogs devoted to this character springing up en masse following her release, in particular the sheer amount of x reader AU blogs with increasing disconnect from the canon material
- the discourse surrounding people who are absolutely convinced this character is secretly an innocent protagonist and that any other characters who dislike or hinder her are secretly irredeemably evilI am proud (?) to announce that lady dimitrescu is the first true tumblr sexywoman
Congratulations lady dimitrescu for becoming the first tumblr sexywoman and breaking the glass ceilingYou are truly girlboss
Tumblr Sexyperson is the term used for a nonbinary character who receives this treatment from fans, and is also used as a group term for characters who receive the Sexyman/woman/person treatment. The Sexypedia only gives the following criteria for a nonbinary Tumblr Sexyperson:
Sexyperson is the least common of these archetypes, and serves as a catchall term for nonbinary characters who fall under these tropes. Not much to say here, as their following and tropes tend to resemble the followings and tropes for either of the above.
- Thoughts on the term "Tumblr sexyman", with response from sicklywhitedudes.
- The Phenomenon Of Tumblr Sexymen, video essay by Izzzyzzz.
Links and Resources
- sicklywhitedudes, a blog for discussing Tumblr Sexymen originally run by the creator of Sexypedia, which was handed over to a friend in July 2021.
- Sexypedia- an "encyclopedia" of Tumblr sexymen
Notes and References
- I feel like I first saw people discussing the idea of the "sexyman" after noticing how fans turned Bill and Tony into white skinny dudes in fancy suits. I have no idea what year it started though. (Patchlamb, 7/29/2020)
- The Onceler, Sexypedia Wiki (Accessed 7/29/2020)
- Sexypedia, tumblr. Apr 24, 2020 (Accessed 8/3/2020)
- Sexypedia, Google Docs. (Accessed 7/30/2020)
- In an Ask response on sicklywhitedudes, the new mod, Weston, noted that he didn't think that the original mod's criteria for a Tumblr sexyman were restrictive enough, because "A true sexyman must have a following so large that they become memetic, in my opinion." (Posted July 10, 2021, accessed September 4, 2021).
- Regarding the Sexywoman Wiki, Goldeaglefire1, Sexypedia...2! Wiki. Published May 14, 2021 (Accessed September 4, 2021).
- Sexypedia Guidelines: What is a Tumblr Sexywoman?, Sexypedia. Accessed September 4, 2021.
- Tumblr post by gladosisalesbian, published May 27, 2021 (Accessed September 4, 2021).
- Tumblr post by mintysneezes, published May 27, 2021 (Accessed September 4, 2021).
- Sexypedia Guidelines: What is a Tumblr Sexyperson?, Sexypedia. Accessed September 4, 2021.