The question on everyone’s mind: who is Tube Girl? The follow-up question: why should we care?
Anyone who’s taken public transport has seen people behave oddly on the train. Maybe it’s a man barking at nothing. Maybe some lady has her bare feet resting on the seat in front of her, toes out and everything. Once I saw a man take a bite of an unpeeled orange and throw it on the ground. That’s just something that I have to live with. If you’ve ever been on a city bus or train, you’ve seen something that made you go “Hmm. Okay.”
One influencer has taken the setting of a London train (or “tube,” locally) and made it her own personal stage. “Tube Girl,” or 22-year-old Sabrina Bahsoon, has been active on TikTok for several years, but is only now gaining a larger following. Why? Her account exhibits dozens of accounts of incredible self-confidence, dancing, and lip-syncing boldly, regardless of how populated the train car is.
Tube Girl Takes To Transit
Bahsoon’s page is growing rapidly due to this content, which only started in August of 2023. Despite this, she’s been active online for years, working as a model to pay for her pre-law degree. “Live your life. Romanticize your journey. Trust me, no one actually cares,” writes Bahsoon in one of her early videos, strutting down the aisle to a Nicki Minaj song.
Along with an increase in her virtual audience, keen viewers can see growth in her physical audience, with the train cars growing more and more populated with each passing video. Bahsoon’s upward trajectory as “Tube Girl” is visibly promoting self-confidence, and the willingness to act boldly in front of the general public. We love to see it!
Trains, Trends, and Trepidation
While Sabrina Bahsoon is only one person, “Tube Girl” is a rapidly-rising phenomenon. Others are following her lead, dancing and playing with camera angles during their own commutes. Even small businesses are hopping on the train, so to speak, from jewelers to small breweries, to promote their products.
It’s worth mentioning that, for many people, this is much harder than it looks. “This might be the closest thing to exposure therapy a lot of us ever get,” states @katherout on TikTok, referencing the fear of ridicule and rejection people might face. I attempted bringing Tube Girl Energy to my commute in Denver, but locked eyes with a transit cop and switched cars at the next stop. Can’t win ‘em all, I guess.
From London to the L-Train
The trend is about self-confidence and the reactions of others shouldn’t really matter. However, it’s interesting to note that different populations seem to care less when witnessing Tube Girl-esque shenanigans. Bahsoon’s London audience watches her out of the corner of their eyes, but people in New York will attempt to discreetly film from their laps, or otherwise won’t even flinch. One Berliner has people staring in the background, and people from smaller cities are often too nervous to try it. I suggested participating to an old high school friend living in Dallas, who said that she’d “rather eat glass than act stupid on the DART.” Knowing that Bahsoon is based in London, is the perception of her different than if she was in New York? If so, why?
Country, Culture, Confidence
Some believe that it’s due to a cultural difference between America and the UK. Olivier Guiberteau with the BBC writes that “according to many outsiders, [Brits] are reserved, unemotional, and self-controlled.” When presented with a bold manner of self-expression and a devil-may-care attitude, such as dancing in a crowded train car, the London population at large may see this as out-of-place. Bahsoon herself is not a London native, having grown up in Malaysia, and doesn’t seem to feel the need to keep to herself. It is likely due to her growing up in a different culture that she feels the confidence to be “Tube Girl,” an attitude that many wish they could adopt for themselves.
Comparing this to New York City, an American metropolis with a similarly expansive public transit system, this sort of behavior feels right at home in a subway. People have been goofing off and performing on New York lines for years, so to see a young lady dancing on her phone isn’t an event; it’s just Tuesday.
(Of course, I’m coming at this from the perspective of an American who’s never lived abroad. The information I have about London culture is entirely secondhand.)
End of The Line
Ultimately, emulating Tube Girl involves becoming a spectacle, and choosing to not be bothered by it. Whether it’s self-confidence or unawareness doesn’t change the fact that Bahsoon’s decision to romanticize her commute has changed many perspectives. The Tube Girl trend encourages all demographics to stop and smell the roses.