People who aren’t chavs think that chavs are offended by the word. I’m a chav and I can tell you with authority that we’re not. Trust me, I have a ghastly Welsh accent, filler in my lips and a penchant for Burberry nova check. Until recently I never even thought calling someone a chav was an insult. I use the term all the time as a compliment, of sorts.
A clip of Kim Kardashian wearing the chav make-up look of yesteryear went viral on social media this month. Taking part in the ‘M to the B challenge’, a TikTok craze that has been going since 2020, Kardashian threw on an orange foundation shade, plus clumpy mascara and ‘concealer lips’ in homage to the British chav.
What is usually a staple of a young girl readying herself for a night on the town in Liverpool was adopted by a reality TV star and business mogul worth £1.5billion. A chav win, surely, though various commentators used Kardashian’s stunt to argue that the word was outdated and patronising.
‘The word chav – though, being American, Kardashian is unlikely to know – is just not a word we use any more,’ wrote the Evening Standard’s Abha Shah. ‘It’s embarrassing and classist.’
Who is the royal ‘we’ there? It certainly isn’t chavs, who have always leaned into chaviness as the opinion-forming classes withdraw in disgust. Shah wouldn’t know a chav if she got slapped by one outside a nightclub.
The official definition of a chav is a young person characterised by coarse and brash behaviour. That doesn’t really come close to explaining the subtleties and widespread cultural essence of the British chav. If you are outside right now, on the Tube or in the coffee shop, you probably have one next to you. Don’t stare.