New York City TikTok creator @SubwaySessions went viral this week for her capturing her outfits on public transportation. But after giving a tone-deaf interview on Wednesday, her fame is dividing viewers.

The creator, Kristina Avakyan, over the weekend posted a now-viral video of herself wearing a sheer bodysuit, orange basketball shorts rolled down to make them low-rise, and fuchsia heels.

Her outfit divided viewers: Some said they didn’t understand her vision, while others declared it a slay.

@subwaysessions #subwaysessions #newyork #fashion #style #new #subway #kyankri ♬ original sound – Kyan Kri

On Thursday, Avakyan’s video had almost 2 million views, and her subsequent viral videos of her outfits posted this week landed her an interview with the Cut.

In between comments about her wanting to “provoke emotion” via her style and being into fashion since she was a child, Avakyan made statements about people living in Queens (a borough) and Harlem (a neighborhood), two New York City areas that were historically non-White and/or Black.

“The most comforting fact is that I live on the Lower East Side, and I never have to go to Queens or Harlem, where people don’t understand,” Avakyan told the Cut. When pressed to clarify her comments, Avakyan said Queens and Harlem were “family-oriented places” where they wouldn’t “understand [her] vision.”

And her statements were not received well. In the comments section of her most viral video (linked above), many are ridiculing her for her mischaracterization of Harlem and Queens.

“People in Harlem and Queens wouldn’t get this,” @gabi_bailey commented.

“I don’t get it,” @junojoon wrote. “But I’m from Harlem.”

“Sorry… I live in queens and have an apt in Harlem as well,” @heyjay113 commented. “I don’t get it.”

Ellice Ellis (@ellicellis) made a TikTok explaining the frustration many feel with Avakyan, in which she says her statements about Harlem and Queens are “the loudest dog whistle that [she has] ever heard in [her] life.”

“White women consistently act like they invented high-low dressing,” Ellis says. “Black women, Latina women doing that for years. So to even say that a person in Harlem wouldn’t understand you wearing basketball shorts and, I guess like, a fun top is just really dumb.”

@ellicellis Afte this can we collectively stop talking about #subwaygirl #lowereastside #fyp #nycfashion ♬ original sound – Ellice E

Discussions of Avakyan have made it to Twitter, too. Ryan (@anoceangoddess), a woman of color from Queens, shared Ellis’s TikTok on Twitter and asked everyone to “please stop talking about that tacky classist and racist subway girl.”

In an interview with the Daily Dot, Ryan said that she found Avakyan’s comments arrogant and out of touch.

“I can read between the lines when she mentions Harlem and Queens,” Ryan told the Daily Dot. “To make it seem as if we couldn’t understand someone wearing heels with balled-up shorts and a stretched-out top is absolutely ridiculous as women of color have been mixing and matching different fashion styles forever.”

Ryan added that “to be a trendsetter, you have to respect the people who have created the trends in the past,” which she doesn’t feel Avakyan has done.

And with regard to Avakyan saying that her thoughts about Harlem and Queens are because they are family-oriented and have an older population, Ryan said that was “complete bullshit.”

“Reducing fashion sense down to age, race, and mailing address is a pure joke,” Ryan told the Daily Dot. “When we give someone like that woman a platform we allow history to be erased and rewritten. It is unacceptable.”


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*First Published: Aug 3, 2023, 3:42 pm CDT

Tricia Crimmins

Tricia Crimmins is the IRL staff writer at the Daily Dot. She is also a New York-based comedian and an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Previously, she has written for Mashable, Complex Networks, and Moment magazine. She can be found on Twitter at @TriciaCrimmins.