A hot meme on TikTok right now is teens poking fun at a pair of Christian YouTubers with a pretty small following after a YouTube star introduced their videos, which he called "brainwashed and sexist," to the masses.
Bethany Beal and Kristen Clark are two sisters better known as "Girl Defined" on YouTube. They launched their channel and blog in 2014 to "help modern girls understand and live out God’s timeless truth for womanhood."
The sisters also have written three books and speak at events around the country. Their videos have been viewed more than 13 million times, but in the larger YouTube ecosystem, they are pretty small potatoes. They have 152,000 YouTube subscribers and around 47,000 Instagram followers: healthy, but far from celeb status.
But over the past year, Girl Defined has been launched into meme stardom after being featured by megastar YouTuber Cody Ko.
Ko, who has almost 4 million YouTube subscribers, has a series with fellow YouTuber Noel Miller called "That's Cringe," where he watches and parodies other YouTube videos. The sisters and Ko didn't return requests for comment from BuzzFeed News.
Last year, Ko and Miller did a "That's Cringe" on Girl Defined, calling the channel "brainwashed and sexist."
The first video they critiqued was "Is It Okay To Be Obsessed With Guys?" Ko and Miller made fun of a story Clark told about doing a U-turn while driving after seeing a guy driving by that she was "obsessed with."
Ko and Miller watched a second video from Girl Defined called "6 Guys You Shouldn't Date, Court, or Marry." One of the hypothetical men the sisters said people should avoid is "Mr. Struggle," a guy who is struggling with big sins.
Ko and Miller mock this advice as "condescending." "I've been Mr. Struggle before, fuck you guys!" Ko said, before they both embrace the title of "Mr. Struggle."
The first video got 15 million views and is Ko's most popular video to date on his entire channel. So Ko and Miller did a part two on Girl Defined a few months later, featuring their video "Why I Waited Until Marriage to Kiss." It's been viewed 10 million times.
Ko and Miller's videos are more than a year old but recently have been given new life on TikTok. Ko's fans have turned some of the greatest hits from his Girl Defined videos into memes that poke fun at the sisters, their views on dating and sexuality, and their promotion of purity culture.
According to TikTok, videos with the hashtag #girldefined have been viewed more than 5 million times.
Popular formats are parodying the "Mr. Struggle" video, like this one from Ally Jonas. She told BuzzFeed News her video was inspired by Ko.
The U-turn thing is another popular one, like in this video from 16-year-old Caroline.
Many of the teen girls, along with some teen boys, are happily announcing they are headed straight to hell.
One TikToker named Olivia told BuzzFeed News that she actually used to be a fan of Girl Defined until about a year and a half ago.
"I already was having a lot of doubts about my own personal religious beliefs and then seeing Cody Ko's video basically sealed the deal for me," she said.
Olivia confessed to her former fandom on TikTok by making a video of an email she sent Girl Defined when she still was a fan.
Olivia said she is still religious, but she just has "different viewpoints now."
"While I still have great respect for them and following their beliefs I think they can be very hypocritical and judgmental toward people who don’t share their same views," she said.
The meme has become so popular that people are branching out to consuming more Girl Defined content. One girl did a dramatic reading of an excerpt from Girl Defined's book.
Another teen, named Julia, told BuzzFeed News she found Girl Defined through Ko and Miller, and one night watched some of their videos with her male best friend.
She said in the video that the sisters said, "you shouldn’t be close friends with those of the opposite gender." They thought it was hilarious, so they made this.
The teens behind the memes told BuzzFeed News that while they think Girl Defined have good intentions, they worry their views could be harmful to other girls. Julia said that while she doesn't agree with the viewpoints the sisters espouse in their videos, but she believes they are allowed to "have their own opinions and faith."
"Sometimes I do worry about the impression they leave on their audience, considering some of their opinions can be on the extreme side and I’m sure there are young girls who look up to them," she said.
Caroline agreed, saying she thinks "their intentions are good but they are way too harsh in what they say."
"Some of their lifestyle techniques are so strict that it seems like a joke," she said.
She added: "I think they can believe what they want to believe and practice what they want to practice. But, they shouldn’t make others feel bad for not practicing what they do."
Ally said she is a Christian herself, but she thinks Girl Defined's views are "way too extreme." She said she thinks it is important for people like Ko and Miller to call people out when they are sharing harmful beliefs on YouTube.
"I feel like, although people’s opinions do need to be respected, if they're using those opinions to hurt other people it’s important to call them out," she said.