Last year, after Megan Thee Stallion inspired the term "hot girl summer," another seasonal catchphrase, if you will, took root: "Christian Girl Autumn." The moniker was first used in a tweet that ended up going viral:
Since then, the photo of Emily Gemma and Caitlin Covington, lifestyle bloggers from Oklahoma and North Carolina, has been repurposed time and again, referred back to whenever the phenomenon of "basic girls loving fall" needs to be illustrated. There’s nothing really inherently autumnal about the photo, but the blanket scarves, brown leather booties with jeans cuffed just so and the perfectly-curled ringlets struck a chord with an internet so used to seeing influencer upon influencer post their ~fall vibes~ photos from the apple orchard (you know the ones).
Covington and Gemma had all the right in the world to fire back at some of the comments, but they instead chose to see the humor in it. Which is saying something, especially since some of those who commented chose to negatively focus on their own snap judgments surrounding things like the intersections between religion, privilege and tolerance.
The women shared at the time that they understood people poking fun at them. They do blog for a living, after all, and they told Buzzfeed last year that the photo -- taken in 2016 -- originated from a shoot they did quite literally for "fall content" for their blogs.
"I can't deny that I love fall and everything that goes along with it. When it comes to fall, I totally admit to being 'basic,' and I'm okay with that," Covington told Insider. “We look so basic in our blanket scarves and holding our pumpkin spice lattes,” she also shared with Buzzfeed. (Aha! So they are PSLs!)
Even while they understood the mocking-adjacent tweet, Covington and Gemma spent time sharing things about themselves to remove the negative connotations that some replies dipped into.
"I'm a daughter, friend, wife and an expecting mother. I'm a gay rights and Black Lives Matter supporter, and I think all people should be accepted for who they are. I think if someone sat down with me for 15 minutes, they would see that, too," Covington (who's now expecting another baby) told Insider.
Now, a year later, the photo is resurfacing as pumpkin treats are once again appearing on Target’s shelves and the leaves are changing color. But Covington is going viral for another, way more wholesome reason this time. The original creator of the meme, 20-year-old Natasha, recently shared a GoFundMe to help finance her gender-affirming transition procedures. Covington, who has always held Natasha in high regard, sent her a $500 donation and shared the link with her fanbase.
"I thought her meme was creative and funny. She's always been kind to me, and I feel like we'll always share a connection because of the meme," Covington said.
Covington’s sharing of the GoFundMe goes further than a friend being supportive, though -- as a blogger, her following is massive (and only grew after the creation of the meme), with nearly 2 million total followers between her Twitter and Instagram accounts. Natasha definitely deserves some credit for getting Covington’s blog career to where it is today.
Covington, who spent a lot of time pushing back against the more divisive replies and harmful stereotypes to that original photo, sent a message with her donation: to not assume intolerance, to give others the benefit of the doubt and to work together to be better versions of ourselves every day. We’re seeing two people, from different walks of life, coming together in support of happiness. Sure, it’s a tweet that’s responsible, but isn’t this what humanity is about?
"Natasha has been vulnerable about her transition and about the struggle to be accepted by her friends and family, which I think is so courageous," Covington said. "I support her decision 100 percent -- I am always in favor of people embracing who they really are and to feel confident in their own skin and find happiness."
‘Tis the season for plaid, tall boots and acceptance.