Kayla Lewis (aka Vine [R.I.P.] star Peaches Monroee) is the innovator behind the highly popular “eyebrows on fleek” saying that entered our cultural lexicon in 2014 after Kayla’s original Vine post went viral.
The phrase appears everywhere, from beauty blogs like Refinery29, to magazines like Seventeen, even appearing in branding for companies like Taco Bell, the phrase is ubiquitous, and the creator hasn’t seen a single cent in compensation. While this could generate a discussion about intellectual property and plagiarism, it also has strong ties to “what makes an author.”
Our discussion in class of what constitutes an author suggested that an author is an author when they produce something that is repeatable, or easily attributed to them. Foucault discusses the author as a part of the discourse (p. 2o), wherein knowing the author adds a referential layer of meaning to the text. In Kayla’s situation; her statement is easily repeatable – as I mentioned earlier, it appears in print in almost every beauty website and magazine, and referring to “eyebrows on fleek,” “outfit on fleek,” anything on fleek is very common in everyday conversation, but it gets more interesting when we analyze Foucault’s statement of author adding referential meaning. Some texts, he says, do not require authors, as they were circulated and valued without even considering the author. This is like what happened to Kayla – her phrase gained cultural value without her authorship, however, she complicates this by attempting to attach her name to this phrase.
Learning about the author does in fact add a layer of referential meaning to the phrase. Kayla grew up in Chicago. This information is relevant because it relates to the formation of the term ‘fleek.’ In Chicago, common slang for something looking nice is “flickin”, so it is likely that the origin of fleek derives from this word – which can help explain the meaning of this word.
This makes me question – is it fair for Kayla to ask for compensation & recognition for this phrase, when it seems to be a remix of a phrase with an unknown author? Do you think she deserves recognition because this phrase is being used by brands?