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How An Orange Can Define Your Relationship, According to TikTok

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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

We are all trying to survive in a world where nuanced analyses are boiled down to 280 character tweets, where intense topics like mental health and politics are condensed into colorful infographic slides, and where only a few seconds of a soundbite go viral on TikTok. These quick and simplified languages of social media have trickled into real life. Introducing: the Orange Peel Theory. 

The “Orange Peel Theory,” defined and analyzed by Vox and numerous other pop culture sources, is a simple test that women can perform on their boyfriends or husbands. The women, primarily in heterosexual relationships, ask their man if he can peel an orange for them. If he does, he loves you; if he doesn’t, sucks for you, I guess. Most importantly, don’t forget to film the entire thing and post it for your followers to see. 

Its logic is very solid: if a man won’t do something as minuscule as peel an orange for you, or any other task that you both know you’re capable of doing, then he won’t be pulling his weight in a relationship. This is important as women move away from being a benevolent caretaker and second mommy to their boyfriends. Women have been socialized to be the selfless giver, and this test will hopefully show that their partner is willing to do his share for larger relationship responsibilities, from splitting chores to raising children. 

The concept is also adorable. It sounds like something from a romantic comedy. Reminiscent of Mia in “The Princess Diaries,” believing that the perfect loving kiss will end with her foot popped in the air, or in “27 Dresses” when the leads realize they have the same favorite part of a wedding, or in “The Wedding Singer” when they both realize their partner isn’t the one because neither will give up an airplane seat. 

Movies end after a couple hours, however. What happens to the characters after the credits roll is up to interpretation. Unfortunately, our lives aren’t movies. There is no way that an entire relationship can be dependent on a piece of fruit. 

The Orange Peel Theory is a product of a social media landscape that prioritizes quick answers, snappy trends, one-upping, and feeding anxiety. An orange-peeling boyfriend is another checkmark on the list of things social media tells women we need in order to be happy and more put together than other women, falling somewhere between Stanley cups, elective Botox, and that Rhode phone case that holds a lip gloss. 

When you have all these and get to add a boyfriend who peels your oranges, you have all of the buzzy things that say “I’m better than you. In a few weeks, there will be another hydration method, bizarre beauty trend, or boyfriend litmus test to follow, and you’ll be back at square one. Sure, your boyfriend peels your oranges, but does he do this niche thing that I just came up with to make you feel bad and subsequently force you to make more content for social media? Didn’t think so. 

Simplifying an entire relationship dynamic to an orange is reminiscent of how everything from food to skincare to fashion is boiled down into a short, appealing, and snappy name so it’s fresh, trendy, and makes you ignore how simple it really is so you’ll buy into it as a trend. “Cinnamon Cookie Butter Hair” is just brown. “Blueberry Milk Nails” is just light blue nail polish. “Girl Dinner” is snacking at best and an eating disorder at worst. 

The “Orange Peel Theory” is a cute way to say that you’re terrified of having a boyfriend who won’t pull his weight in a relationship. Women are trying to find companionship in a world that has told us to give up everything for men, and told men that it’s okay to sit around and let their wives take care of everything for them. It’s a lot cuter than the “Diaper Change Test” or the “Doesn’t Get Grossed Out By My Period Hypothesis.” 

Men are, notoriously, the worst. An orange is still not the answer to finding the perfect needle in the haystack of the misogynistic, immature, detached, and unwashed men who don’t deserve you as a partner. It’s a good idea, but a peeled orange should not make or break a relationship. It doesn’t help that this test is being broadcast to your followers. You’re risking being publicly humiliated for the chance of being praised. It’s also important to note, as this New Yorker article satirizing the trend points out, he’s also on social media, and he could just be playing along because he knows what his answer means.

A boyfriend will likely last longer than a TikTok trend. Despite what the algorithm is saying, there is a lot more to building a relationship than a piece of fruit. It’s disheartening that women have to display our relationship anxieties on social media, begging our partners and our followers for this week’s version of validation, knowing that a new test or trend is on the horizon, waiting to feed on our insecurities. Drop the fruit, turn off the phone, and seek out your mother, therapist, friends, and loved ones in the real world because they certainly care about you more than your TikTok “for you” page.

And frankly, you deserve a lot more than just an orange.

Madison Reinhold is Marketing Director, Events Assistant and Staff Writer for Her Campus at MSU. She leads the Design Team which produces content for social media as well as merch and recruitment, in addition to planning team events and contributing articles to Her Campus. Madison is a senior studying journalism with a concentration in writing, reporting, and editing, with minors in women's and gender studies and history. She also interns for MSU's Center for Gender in Global Context, creating social media content, contributing to their newsletter, and editing their department magazine. She previously interned for local non-profit The Women's Center of Greater Lansing. Additionally, she works for MSU's College of Social Science Office of Student Success, providing supplemental instruction to students. In her precious free time, Madison is attempting to write her first novel, playing fetch with her dog, Hazel, or finding a new niche history book to obsess over.