Trendy aesthetics are killing individuality (and capitalism loves it)

  • Editorials
Elizaveta Glushak ('23)

 

The image above is what first comes up in Pinterest upon typing “Trendy outfits” in the search bar. Right away, as someone who keeps up with fashion trends on the internet to an extent, I can give you the labels on the aesthetics of these outfits: “grunge”, “y2k”, “indie”... I’m sure there are synonymous terms that may also enter the mind, as the internet is constantly fueling us with new terms, new beauty standards, and new concepts of what society perceives as fashionable. Basically, we are provided with a digital catalogue on a monthly, if not weekly, basis. Surely it is undeniable, and comprehensible, that all of us young people want to look good, not to mention the psychological desire to fit within a group – in this case that being a niche. In trying to constantly adapt to those we are steering further away from the ability to have an idea of what we like, not as elements of a greater mass. 

 

Two years ago, Tik Tok skillfully drew an entire generation towards wearing cow print; now, we find ourselves investing in velour tracksuits, graphic tank tops (that is if you prefer the y2k), or thrifted lacy shirts and dainty jewelry (perhaps the vintage “hippie vibe” appeals more). The point is that once such trends disappear, so do the clothes back into the depths of an overflowing closet, and the hangers are adorned with new pieces that we believe “call to us more”. We are constantly trying to fit into ever-changing norms to appease mass media, without realizing that those aesthetics are cages, they limit people to certain styles. Consequently, they fear to ruin their feed or break from a list of qualities that for that month they felt connected to. Do not confuse this analysis with me speaking against self-discovery, quite on the contrary, I’m an advocate for trying everything (my hairdresser even refuses to dye my hair because of how irreparably damaged it is); however, constantly wishing to match trends only prevents us from taking a stepback and objectively looking at clothes in a thrift store without buying them to fit one type of look. People begin to see others as mere products of the way they dress: they are quick to assume their music tastes, hobbies, political inclinations, and even their sexual orientation. This further puts pressure on feeling as though your interests aren’t represented by a carefully curated aesthetic term on the internet — making you feel as if you aren’t valid. 

The best of it, really, is how much capitalism adores that. We devour trends and they devour our money. Brands thrive off of social media features from aesthetic influencers, and even more from a group of teenagers made to seek a constant fashion label which they cannot achieve unless they scavenge the online stores that do choose to keep up with such aesthetics. Because how dare we try to love ourselves if we don’t fit into those searchbar titles on the internet? We can see that many stores, ranging from big fashion houses to fast fashion brands that are bought and thrown away in the span of months, such as Shein, are attempting to adopt what is fashionable and feed into the consumer’s demand. Naturally, that is how capitalism works in the fashion industry. Brands incorporate the trends in amalgamation with their own individual aesthetics, however, in the modern day it can be agreed that there is constant change of what is popular, following on the desires of impressionable teenagers who create their personalities based on the unavoidable curse of social media. It would be extremist to argue that this means social media is entirely evil, because it is not at all, however, there is a clear correlation between ever-changing trends and their sellability. 

 

Wear what you want. I love clothes, all of them, so why limit yourself to a single coquette-the virgin suicides-chanel-red lip-summer dress aesthetic? 

 

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