Everyone’s mad at Instagram lately, albeit for the wrong reasons. This whole “pivot to video” it’s allegedly doing is good, actually; it means more strangely entrancing clips of JoJo Siwa dancing and doing somersaults on my feed. Recommended content from accounts I don’t follow? Whatever! It’s called “scrolling past them,” people.

One thing I cannot scroll past, however: those wretched “Little Miss” memes. Acquaintances who are certainly not actual friends have inundated me with these horrendously unfunny “jokes,” clogging up the Instagram Story feed for the past few weeks. Every time I log on, someone I begrudgingly follow has declared a randomly assigned character named “Little Miss Cheeto Fingers” or “Little Miss English Major” as “so relatable 😂.”

I’m sure you’ve seen them too. They’re simple posts, parodying the Mr. Men series of kids books that launched in the ’70s. Each book stars a brightly colored blob named things like “Mr. Messy,” “Mr. Mean,” or “Mr. Tickle” (ew). The spin-off Little Miss books were first published a decade later. They lean in more stereotypical directions: There are characters like “Little Miss Bossy,” “Little Miss Chatterbox,” and “Little Miss Scatterbrain,” each with their own story. There have also been several animated series centered around the characters over the decades, with another one tentatively announced for 2023.

But the Mr. Men and Little Miss characters are best known for their merch these days. I don’t know anyone who can recall a single one of these books, but everyone has seen a shirt, magnet, or mug with a Little Miss or Mr. on it. They have peak consumer potential, because people love to buy things that they can point at and say, “That’s so me!” The characters’ reductive quality, defined by a single adjective, is perfect for them.

What makes these memes a little more unique, I guess, is that they’re aimed at an older audience—one that is online without being Online. That is to say, these memes make broad gestures at knowing what’s popular on social media. Among those things are standoms (“Little Miss Loves Jonas Brothers”), open horniness (“Mr. U Up?”), and self-deprecation (“Little Miss Takes 2 Hours to Get Ready”).

These jokes are rarely timely, provocative, or surprising. Worse is that they all look the same. Since there’s a limited number of Mr. Men and Little Miss figures to choose from, there are a ton of repeats. “Mr. Herpes” is also “Mr. Can’t Drive.” “Mr. Diabetic” looks exactly the same as “Mr. Aspiring Musician (He’s Really Bad).” “Little Miss Spicy Chicken Sandwich” is twinning with “Little Miss Made Euphoria a Personality Trait.” That it’s so easy to just swap out the text with the same exact character is a sign of weak humor: None of this is commentary. None of the actual images are intentionally chosen. These memes might as well be crafted by an algorithm.

Still, Little Miss Persists. And you better believe branded pages have gotten in on the action too. An MCAT prep page shared “Little Miss Always Wanted to Be a Doctor.” She looks a lot like “Little Miss Needs All 96 of These Open Browser Tabs,” the character shared by business news page The Hustle. An Irish women’s health center gave a shout-out to “Little Miss Never Misses Her Cervical Screening.” NBC went with a wonky version of the meme, tweeting a photo of Mariska Hargitay of Law and Order: SVU on the typical white background: “Little Miss Actor, Director, & Executive Producer.”

Instagram itself tweeted “little miss chaotic photo dump;” all the replies were from users saying things like, “little miss my page was hacked and no one will respond to my support ticket.” Now is really not the time for Instagram to try playing nice by invoking the monster it helped create.

Once the Israeli Defense Forces chimed in with its take, my suspicions were confirmed: The Little Miss/Mr. trend needs to go. We are now living in a world where “Little Miss Combats Terrorism in the Middle East” exists, and I want out.

Alas, that was one week ago, and Instagrammers keep churning out this lackluster content. It’s not like they need to worry about running out of images to choose from—they clearly don’t care about that. All I can hope for is … well. I have no hope left for any of us, to be frank. Just call me Little Miss I Give Up.





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