Jokes about distinctive-looking blue ankle socks are as native to the internet as people with mental health issues, with jokes about the "grippy" psych-ward staples going as far back as 2012. But in recent years, grippy sock imagery has become a staple of mental health humor, especially on the side of the web with a particular affinity for the 1999 movie Girl, Interrupted.
Here's how rubber-soled psych ward socks are used in meme culture online.
What's The Earliest Mention Of 'Psych Ward Socks' Online?
A March 10th, 2012 post by mental health advocate Jennifer Marshal discusses the lasting significance of her "psych ward socks." The post poetically delves into how Marshal still reaches for the socks sometimes and wears them, mentioning how she once asked the psych ward for an extra pair of the "cozy socks" while being discharged.
X Usage In Memes
A January 24th, 2016 post on Reddit's /r/bipolar shows a user asking where they could buy the "psych ward socks" in bulk, with another user providing a link to an Amazon link for "hospital socks"
In June 2018, Twitter meme account @EDMemes tweeted a screenshot of a psych ward sock being slipped onto Cinderella's foot.
In March 2020, Reddit user /u/mediumfirmtofu uploaded a photo of a turtleneck sweater they made entirely out of psych ward socks to /r/bipolar, gathering over 2,000 upvotes. The user also shared another art project, showing how they turn some more grippy socks into high-heeled boots.
For the full history of psych ward socks, be sure to check out Know Your Meme's encyclopedia entry for more information.