Odds are if you’ve been on Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok the past several weeks, you’ve seen the colorful emoji-like characters from the children’s book series, Mr. Men.
The 2D characters have become the face of a viral meme trend as people use them to share their “red flags” and express communal angst over the general state of the world. The trend appears to transcend any particular platform. At time of publication, the “Littlemiss” hashtag on TikTok has over 89 million views, and individual posts on Twitter have received as many as 43,000 likes.
In case you’re not up to snuff with the canon of British children’s literature, the characters come from an illustrated book series called Mr. Men. The series began publication in 1971 and was written by Roger Hargreaves. It now spans dozens of books, including a related spin-off called Little Miss, and even an animated television series. When Roger Hargreaves passed away, his son Adam Hargreaves took on the series.
Each Mr. Men story introduces a new character who has a name based on a single defining characteristic. (For example, Mr. Impossible’s single trait would be that he can do anything and nothing is impossible for him.) The characters have long been the stuff of memes and corny T-shirts (you probably recognize Little Miss Sunshine), but around mid-July the characters started to pick up traction on social media again.
Now, people have been posting the characters with alternate captions detailing what possible traits might represent them. It’s 2022 though, and people can’t help but make light of more flawed characteristics. Popular versions include “Little Miss won’t ask for help even with a knife in her leg” or “Little Miss indecisive.” Mainly, people are dragging themselves and others.
little miss aquarius, capricorn and virgo pic.twitter.com/CzxYNcw04Y— Céline (@selangelic) July 21, 2022
What is the origin of the Little Miss memes?
The origin of this particular spike in interest is a bit hard to pin down, but at least a few popular versions have gone viral. On April 17, Twitter user Dreamgirltat posted an image with the caption “Little Miss smokes too much weed” that got over 36,000 likes. The meme archive Know Your Meme also credited Instagram user Juulpuppy with popularizing the format after the user posted a carousel of nine images on Instagram on April 19, that earned roughly 39,000 likes in three months. Regardless of the precise origin, a constellation of viral posts from varying sources helped contribute to the popularization of the images.