K-Pop’s Big Tiddie Gang: The Meme That Became A Movement

Photo: Courtesy of DSP Media.
Deep within the vast, competitive world of K-pop, an industry made up of some of the most elite athletes on the planet, lies a very special supergroup you might not know about. No, not that supergroup. Another one entirely.
They’re handsome. They’re talented. They’re the picture of health. They train tirelessly, day-in and day-out, without fear, to achieve their goals. The one thing that unites them? Their beautiful, flawless, sculpted pairs of tiddies. 
Yes, you read that right: Tiddies.
Let’s say it once again so we all get comfortable: Tiddies. Tiddy. Man-Tiddies. Tiddies.
Meet K-pop’s Big Tiddie Gang. This group’s colorful name was coined by arguably one of K-pop’s most colorful idols, Big Matthew, or BM. Née Matthew Kim, the Los Angeles native, who post-college kickstarted his music career in Korea with co-ed group KARD in 2016, certainly lives up to his stage name. He has a titanic presence: Standing at 6’1”, he's made up of — punches numbers — approximately 0% body fat, and has a low voice that sounds like smoldering coals when he spits bars. Therefore, as you can imagine, as far as tiddies go, his are pretty much Grade A. If BM’s tiddies had a personality, they would be that person who is both extremely good-looking but cool, and offers-to-help-you-move nice. Basically the Chris Evans of tiddies. 
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This is how it all started. In March 2019, BM was livestreaming on Instagram when a fan asked him what body part he liked to work out most. “You gotta maintain the pecs,” he said earnestly, gesturing in the air with his hand as if describing a fine wine. “You gotta keep the man-tiddies up. Tiddie game gotta be strong.”
Fans lost it. While this sounds exactly like something that would come out of the mouth of your average 27-year-old American bro-dude, BM isn’t your average person — he’s a K-pop idol. These are celebrities who have been known to blush at the mere mention of the word “chest,” and there was BM, extolling the virtues of beautiful man-tiddies. The next day, fans started flooding BM’s Twitter timeline with phrases like “tiddie,” “big man tiddie,” and “he’s the tiddie guy.” And soon, BM and fans began throwing out shining examples of other idols who seemed to share the same health philosophy, like Monsta X leader Shownu and former Monsta X member Wonho. “Yep, the big tiddie committee,” BM said on another livestream, finally giving their coven a name. Thus, the meme was born.
The list of members has only grown since then: NU’EST’s Baekho, Seventeen’s Mingyu, Pentagon’s Hongseok, Stray Kids’ Bang Chan, The Rose’s Woosung, BTS’ RM, and more. BM had fun playing into it: He would share photos of himself working out with other “members” and even affectionately palm other male idols’ chests onstage.
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Things changed in October 2019. During the Los Angeles stop of KARD’s U.S. tour, a fan told BM that she was in the process of going through chemotherapy for breast cancer, and that KARD’s music had been a comfort to her. “She was tearing up and saying how it meant a lot to her that we had acknowledged Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and something clicked in my head,” BM tells Refinery29 over video call from Seoul. He phoned his parents, who've run a clothing manufacturing business for dancewear in L.A. for years, and pitched them a crazy idea. In June of this year, BM began selling Big Tiddie Gang (BTG) merch through Staydium LA, with a share of the proceeds going to breast cancer research and awareness. “Never imagined so many of you guys have personal experiences with breast cancer. I really hope this can be some help. #saveatiddiejointhecommittee 🖤” he captioned the announcement photo on Instagram.
Two months later, BM posted a letter from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation thanking him for his donation of over $20,000. 
BM still talks about the events of the last year with complete awe. There’s also a true sense of purpose in his voice. Now that he’s had a taste of using his platform for good, he’s determined to do more. This past August, KARD released a new EP, Way With Words; its lead single “Gunshot”, which BM co-wrote, is about the damaging effect of verbal abuse on and offline. And in that same spirit, BM plans to launch a new line of clothing called “Healers” later this year. This time, proceeds will benefit Stomp Out Bullying, a nonprofit dedicated to reduce and prevent bullying, cyberbullying and other digital abuse, as well as educating against homophobia, racism, and violence in schools.
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On our call, he’s wearing a black BTG hoodie, the words “Save A Tiddie, Join The Committee” stitched in rainbow lettering on the sleeves. BM smiles thoughtfully, his eyes crinkling in a way that immediately softens his hulking stature. “My views on what really matters and doesn’t matter have really become clear to me,” he says. “If you’re on top, who cares — someone after you is going to be on top. And someone else after that. But when it comes to someone being healed, I feel like that’s some next level stuff. I live and breathe easier because of my work. That’s enough for me.”
Refinery29: How do you explain “Big Tiddie Gang” to people?
BM: “It started out as something funny I said — ‘tiddie’ isn’t a word you necessarily use in normal conversation. But it’s basically a movement. It started out as a symbol of motivation and positivity to stay healthy, exercise, and keep your body in check. But it turned into something so much bigger.”
Why do you think fans loved it so much?
“Not a lot of idols have talked like that, so I understand how it became a meme. But I had no idea this was going to grow the way it did. The first time this became a whole trending hashtag, I was like…I just said tiddie. This wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the fans, first and foremost. A lot of K-pop fans are down for spreading good. And being able to be a part of that is a huge blessing for me. I don’t think I’m doing much — I’m just being me.”
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You’re known as the idol that says some of the most outlandish things — things other idols don’t usually dare to say. How did you become that guy?
“I’m just too blatantly honest. It’s the L.A. in me — I was born and raised around people that are very open with their opinions. I’ve got nothing to hide. If you ask me something, I’m going to tell you exactly how it is and how I feel about it. There are obviously rules and standards that are placed on idols and other public figures since they're looked at as role models, so they’re careful with what they say. I understand why things are the way they are. I’ve been told why, but...I just don’t listen. And I guess it worked out for me."

If you hate me, that’s all good. I’ve accepted it. That’s not going to stop me from being who I am.

BM
Do the other members of the BTG know about what you’ve done with this movement?
“Yeah! I sent some shirts to a couple members of the gang [smiles]. There are a lot of members: official and non-official. Whoever the fans say are eligible are part of the gang.” 
Now for a technical question: When does a pec become a man-tiddie?
“[Ponders]. Shoot. The first time you hit the gym and you hit those man-tiddies, you’re in. I like to keep Big Tiddie Gang inclusive to everyone. So technically it’s whenever you’re born. Or how about this: You’re part of the gang after your first push-up.”
Does the “ideal” man-tiddie exist?
“There are so many different types of tiddies out there. Even with men — genetically, the way they’re shaped, and how you work them out — so, nah. No. You got man tiddies? They’re nice! Work with what you got. You’re born with whatever you’re born with and it’s beautiful the way it is.”
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How did you get to a place where you’re so comfortable in your own skin?
“That happened recently. I do care about what people think about me. But if they don’t like me for me, that’s cool. That’s your personal preference. I can’t do nothin’ for you — you can stop listening to me or watching me. But this [gestures to himself] is the me I’m always going to show you. I don’t want people to love me for being someone I’m not. Might as well be comfortable in my own skin.
When I first debuted, I was really careful about what I did and said. But I slowly started breaking out. When that was received positively — though it wasn’t all positive, there were people who started hating — it helped me accept myself more. People are going to hate anyways. Who is the most loved person in the world? It’s so hard to say because everyone is going to have a hater, regardless. As human beings we all have our own preferences, and I can’t help a hater. If you hate me, that’s all good. I’ve accepted it. That’s not going to stop me from being who I am.”
That was the theme of KARD’s most recent single, “Gunshot.” Why was this the right time for this song?
“Everyone is on their phones and social media more than they’ve ever been before. It’s so easy to be malicious and negative online because you’re hidden behind a monitor. But it’s so easy to be positive as well. My intention with ‘Gunshot’ was to show what the bad side could do. On the other side of your comment, you don’t know that someone is hurt. You don’t know that they could be going through something awful. Making someone aware of that was my No. 1 intention. People used to say ‘sticks and stones…’ and all that, but now, I disagree with that. Especially with the younger generation. Words are knives and bullets. That’s why I wanted to name the song ‘Gunshot.’
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“Writing the songs and the lyrics, I always pictured myself in these tough situations. I’ve gotten hate comments before, and people bagging on me for whatever reason. I know what that feels like. But I’ve heard of so much worse. I’ve heard of fans whose parents and friends have been verbally abusive. So I also put myself in their shoes — how much pain that kind of hurt would cause. Really diving into the concept and idea of verbal abuse was a different experience. I felt a lot of pain this time, and I hope whoever has been through it and is going through it, that can be a little bit of a release for them — whether it be anger or sadness.”
You’ve said that you appreciate when “fans throw shade” at your work because it starts a conversation. Many people believe you shouldn’t criticize your faves at all. Do you think that a more nuanced interaction with fans helps promote your growth as an artist?
“Yes. If it’s just general shade like, ‘Why does he talk like that,’ ‘Why is he like that,’ then I can do absolutely nothing for you. I’m not going to change, and this is who I’ve been and will continue to be. But if it’s a comment like, ‘Why didn’t you do this with a song?,’ or ‘talk about this’ or ‘apply this,’ then it’s educational for me — the different routes I could’ve taken open up. At the end of the day I’m still a producer and still someone who’s creating something, not only for myself but for other people, too, which gives me a wider view on what I am or am not capable of doing. It’s actually super helpful for me, and I like hearing that because I can potentially apply it to the next song.”
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What is success to you now?
“A lot of people define success as how much money you have, how many houses you can buy, etc. And sure, they can help you live comfortably, but I’m the type of person who if even if those are obtained, I don’t want to be enjoying them by myself. I need to share. Whether it be family or friends, everything is always better when you have someone to enjoy it with. When it comes to music I feel the same.” 
What have you learned about yourself since becoming an idol?
“It’s so easy to be positive when everything is going well. And I’ve had it so good since I was young, even up through college. Things changed when I came to Korea and had to handle everything by myself. When real life struggles began to hit me, I changed as a person. I always try to promote positivity and try to push it, but I’m not always a bright guy. No human can be. When things are bad, that’s when you really need to be positive. But I’m still learning.”


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