Have you heard about #aesthetic? Of course, this is one of those words which isn’t limited to the wonderful and weird world of social media, but it’s fair to say that the Internet really thrives on the peddling of different #aesthetics.
If you’ve been reading this column over the years – it’s always so lovely to meet a fan – you’ll know that I’m very much of the opinion that the Internet is the enemy of nuance.
It's incredibly hard to communicate the myriad complexities of a thought in a 280-character tweet, or in caption to a photo on Instagram or Facebook. Obviously, that’s why you have to pick up a copy of CONNECT to read my column in order to get your monthly dose of cerebral stimulation!!
In addition to online discourse being un-nuanced, there is an argument that #aesthetics also become very compartmentalised.
There’s something about the online platforms which thrives on categories. Perhaps because you have to associate everything you post with certain hashtags or search terms, the content which does well is that which fits neatly inside a particular kind of box. And as a result, these very distinct and fixed #aesthetics emerge.
For example, when you’re browsing on Pinterest (which is basically Google for people with great taste), everything is classified according to its particular style or #aesthetic. You’ve got ‘minimalism’, ‘maximalism’, ‘boho’, ‘emo’, ‘cottagecore’ etc.
Pictured: Pin it! #aesthetics thrive on Pinterest.
Now, I wasn’t born yesterday (shock horror) so I know that these styles and aesthetics have been around a lot longer than social media has.
However, at a time where people are watching their fave content creators posting fashion, makeup and interior tutorials and ‘Get Ready With Me’ videos so they can exactly replicate the same #aesthetic as them, I wonder how much room there is for experimentation and the blending of lots of different styles.
Don’t get me wrong, there is oodles of creativity and exciting mish-mashing of various looks on social media. But I guess, sometimes, within this #influencerculture, is the same kind of innovation open to those who are ‘influenced’ or is there an obligation to recreate the #aesthetic of those they follow on TikTok, for instance?
I’m aware I sound about 100 years old. I’ve sat studying far too many eyeliner tutorials in my time to judge this kind of behaviour. And I’m not judging at all! I think it’s amazing that content creators are de-mystifying the process of how to experiment and create certain #aesthetics – I just hope that those watching feel they can invent and re-invent their own looks and they shouldn’t be bound by these arbitrary #aesthetic categories.
Pictured: "People are watching their fave content creators posting fashion, makeup and interior tutorials and ‘Get Ready With Me’ videos so they can exactly replicate the same #aesthetic as them."
When I was growing up, I would only shop in second-hand and charity shops and my #aesthetic style would flip-flop from neon steampunk to romantic hippie festivalgoer. One day my #aesthetic would be 'princess' and the next it would be 'pirate'... Oh wait, maybe that was just fancy dress.
My point is that different #aesthetics aren't rules you have to strictly abide by. Tear up the rulebook! Experiment! Wear a hat as a sock! Get your knees out! Give everything a go once and find your own personal style!
This article first appeared in Connect Magazine, which you can read in full below... And click here to browse the full selection of previous Connect editions...