Christian Girl Autumn

It's Fall Y'all

The myth of Persephone and Demeter is common and oft told. The loss of a child to a foreign unknown land. A time of great grieving for a mother. Her growing grief surrounds us slowly each day. A frog being boiled. Each day, less green and full of life than the day before it. Until suddenly every tree is bright yellow or red or orange. Just as suddenly all of the leaves are gone and we steel ourselves for the long winter ahead of us. A dark story for a dark time. 

Autumn, however, is the poet's favorite season. Beauty in death and all that good stuff. Robert Frost made a killing with his leaf poems. TS Eliot launched a crusade against spring, a season of rebirth in favor of fall. As most children age they come to appreciate autumn the way the poets do. The pressure to have fun all summer long, draining them and they long to return to the structure of school. In recent years we as a culture have all come to appreciate autumn. A cultish fan base formed around a season. But in a way what’s not to love? Surely what’s good enough for the poets is good enough for the girls of instagram. 

One celebrated poet, however, is more partial to summer. Megan thee Stallion, in the fall of 2019, began a movement. Hot Girl Summer. Her fans, the hotties, were to act accordingly and have their own hot girl summers. “Being a Hot Girl is about being unapologetically YOU, having fun, being confident, living YOUR truth, being the life of the party etc” is how Megan describes and instructs us all to have a hot girl summer. I love Megan thee Stallion, I think she has IT. She seems to be the life of the party wherever she goes and every new detail revealed about her makes her more appealing to me and other fans. She is magnanimous, magnetic, and simply lights up a room. When she says have fun and be yourself, I want to. But I and the other fans  know we are not Megan and do not possess her energy. After all trying our best for Hot Girl Summer we needed something new, and something more fitting for the cozy slowed down vibe of autumn. Even though Hot Girl Summer was about being yourself, we knew that curling up by the fire and a light stroll through an apple orchard was not what Ms. Thee Stallion had in mind for us. 

Enter Christian Girl Autumn. It is everything Hot Girl Summer wasn’t. It was slow, celibate, and most of all: Cozy. In the mid 2010s fall became embroiled in a culture war. Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Starbucks in general, Instagram,Taylor Swift, all of it became labeled as for “white girls”. There are many sides to the “White Girl Jokes” of 2013 Tumblr. Was it internalized misogyny? Was it  Women of Color criticizing their oppressors? Was it a false flag operation by men to get us to hate each other instead of our real enemy, Men? I’ve seen every argument for and against. Eventually, somehow, everyone cut their losses and agreed on basic as a better descriptor for these people. It was still derogatory but now the race and gender of the people you are criticizing is obscured. At some point, for some reason, these people reclaim Basic. It’s no longer bad to be basic, it’s neutral. At some point all of us must be basic. No one is purely original all of the time. Within all of us there is a capacity to follow the status quo, at least some of the time. It’s easier to wear the same things everyone else is wearing. Sometimes the basic version is the best version. There’s no use rejecting quality for the sake of individualism. 

By the time Christian Girl Autumn rolls around, the basic war seems to be over. We’ve all accepted that pumpkin spice lattes are a fun seasonal fall treat. We accept these girls as a part of life. Tide goes in, tide goes out. One person posts a tweet calling for Christian Girl Autumn in a semi satirical way. Let’s all be these women for the next four months. Enjoy fall to its fullest potential the way they seem to. They’re right about one thing at least, Fall is Good and we should enjoy it. To me, Christian Girl Autumn was a call to these girls we made fun of for so long. No one knew how to do Autumn better than them. They were vilified for their love of autumn and their obsession with Instagram for so long and now we needed them. We would learn from them. Learn to enjoy the simple things since we could not hack it as Hot Girls for much longer. 

 Christian Girl Autumn was not necessarily a full throated celebration of these women. It was a desire to be like them in a way that most of us knew was unattainable. Christian Girl Autumn started on gay twitter, the fun side thats mostly stans in their twenties with jobs. The halfway point between full stan and 401k corporate gay twitter. In these circles, Christian is a word that’s bristled at. Too many are familiar with the horrors that word causes and want nothing to do with it. Christian is bad, no bones about it. But! The modern day evangelical movement is a great propaganda machine and those girls seem so happy. Maybe youth group is the secret. Modern mainstream evangelicals have also updated their look for the current moment. They’ve joined us in the present and have a studied aesthetic to seem more normal and less amish. They look    stylish and happy, something they did not look like before. They look so happy but happy in a way that comes from turning ones brain off. We could be like them if we didn’t think so fucking much. If we knew that He would provide we too would be happy. But we know too much about too many things to ever trust that He will provide in the way they promise that he will provide. Plus they can’t go to gay bars. 

Christian Girl Autumn was never supposed to be real but we all took to it. Yes, we do want to be like those girls, we said, half joking. Of course, those who could not give in so easily were quick to remind us that time with these stylish southern rich straight white christian women might not be all it's cracked up to be. They reminded us that girls like that had used those facets to bully and belittle others. It may look fun from the outside but we should remember why exactly we are on the outside. The girl in all these photos was probably a racist and might not love her LGBT fans the way they loved her. 

Now we come to the best part of Christian Girl Autumn, it’s mascot. Caitlin Covington. For some reason her photos are the ones chosen and circulated. She really does have a sparkle to her. In the line up of her and the other christian girls you can alway spot her. It takes a little bit because she does look like every other bitch to quote the poet Bhad Bhaby. In the beginning stages of Christian Girl Autumn, we had no idea who this girl was and people wrote storied fictions about what this girl must be like. All of them, not bad guesses for the name of the movement and her assumed demographic. 

But they WERE bad guesses! Caitlin Covington turned out to be the opposite of what we were expecting. In her own words "I'm a daughter, friend, wife, and an expecting mother. I'm a gay rights and Black Lives Matter supporter, and I think all people should be accepted for who they are.” Despite being maligned for weeks on the internet, Caitlin responds to the memes with grace and a kind heart. Several iterations of “Y’all are too much 😂😂😂” are in her quote tweets. Caitlin runs a popular instagram so she knows how this goes. It’s a good PR move to be gracious. She responds well, people like her, and her Instagram grows. The story ends there. It resolves as most memes do, with a Buzzfeed interview with the subject. That usually kills the meme but in this case it breathed new life into it. We continued Christian Girl Autumn in honor of Caitlin. We learned about her humanity and it only made us like her more. It was such a relief to know that this girl was on our side and we could continue to engage in the meme in good faith.  We got a redo as a way to be nice to her. Days passed and things changed and the meme fell to the wayside. Autumn gave way to Winter and soon the world changed. 

The year between the first Christian Girl Autumn and the next one was long and upsetting. So much had changed. The Internet was a much darker, unkind place. I did not believe we could return to Christian Girl Autumn. That was a pre pandemic kindness we were no longer capable of. But like clockwork the queen returned. We pasted her iconography everywhere, hoping to invoke a better, easier time. She arrived bearing gifts. She was pregnant! Information that I did not know was on the table. I did not realize we would be privy to the growth and development of this woman’s life. She did not disappear quietly into her pre-meme life. She continued to share with us. She was pregnant and told us, the vile public. However she wasn’t done with her yearly moment in the spotlight. The creator of Christian Girl Autumn announced she was transitioning and launched a gofundme. Before we even had a chance to hold our breath and wonder how Caitlin would react to this news, Caitlin had already donated a significant chunk of change and retweeted the link to her now large platform. Whenever I think about this I get a little choked up, despite myself. It spoke to a warmth we somehow always knew she possessed. I think about these two bound together by a one off joke, now linked forever and for the better. The innocence or malevolence or whatever emotion the first tweet carried is now gone and replaced with joy. An inextricable link of kindness between the pair. The first year ,one made the other famous and the second year, Caitlin used that fame to help her starmaker. 

Now in the third year, Caitlin returns to us. There is a vaccine and we are able to participate in our desired fall activities. Caitlin is here and we again circulate her photos. She is now more a symbol of fall than the arrival of the pumpkin spice latte. Before the leaves change, Caitlin arrives. Christian Girl Autumn is as much a myth of the seasons as the one of Demeter. Both women of the harvest. Both women worshipped for their association with the seasons. But with Caitlin, her arrival brings the harvest, just as Persephone's departure does. She fits our more modern interpretation of fall as well. Instead of mourning, it is a time of great happiness and joy. Now, in the retelling, we must imagine Demeter happy. A woman whose joy causes the seasons to change. As if by pure will power alone Caitlin Covington can make it fall. I’m happy to have her and hope she enjoys her stay. I look forward to seeing her next year. No matter what comes our way, or what state the world is in, I hope she arrives in late August in her chunky sweaters, ready to welcome us to another Christian Girl Autumn. Perhaps in the future we will recognize this connection more strongly and Demeter will be dethroned from her place on the dome of the Vermont State House, and we will cast our girl in gold and place her likeness where she can overlook many falls to come.