Nowadays, with the rise of the internet and the pandemic making most of our lives occur digitally, people find themselves on their phones more often. It might go so far, that some individuals can be qualified as chronically online, which is a term used to describe people who find themselves online for an unhealthy amount of time. It can be said that this has gravely influenced most people’s lifestyles rather negatively.
However, this change in behavior was met with many new ideas and various alternatives to this harmful lifestyle. Especially on many social media platforms, influencers used their range to spread and share the way that they have been using the isolation during the pandemic to their benefit. As the matter of lifestyle, aesthetics and individualism are so closely related and relevant to today’s teenagers, mostly girls, this short essay will focus on the different TikTok aesthetics that have developed throughout the pandemic.
As previously mentioned, society’s prior lifestyle has been relatively sedative, comfortable, and as energy efficient as possible. In addition to that, people paid little to no attention to an environmentally friendly and conscious life. Although the internet obviously already existed, it was not until the pandemic that communities and ideas were suddenly so easily spread and shared, picked up, and promoted. This has made it easy for many people, but mostly impressionable adolescents, to find comfort in other communities and partake in their aesthetics, lifestyle, ideology, and more.
Focusing on female adolescents, some examples of lifestyle and aesthetics would be ‘THAT Girl’ also known as the ‘Clean Girl’–aesthetic. People partaking in this community are all about a healthy lifestyle and having their lives together. This consist of waking up early, doing yoga, meditating, being productive, taking some time for self–care every day, and being overly organized and consistent. In terms of physical appearance, their signature look involves wearing white and creamcolored articles of clothing and gold accessories, having their hair slicked back, and applying little to no makeup, however always some lip–plumping, glossy lip–gloss. Naturally, a counteract to this aesthetics developed, being the ‘Feral Girl’ aesthetics. In contrast to the ‘Clean Girl’, the ‘Feral Girl’ uses chaos and complete disorganization to depict their character. They often look a bit rough and tend to wear darker colors and darker makeup. They romanticize heartbreak and female agony and chose madness rather than conformity as a response to the injustice women face in society. Other honorable mentions of sub–communities would be the ‘Soft Girls’ participating in and embracing hyper femininity, the spiritual ‘Witch Girls’ believing in zodiac signs, esoteric and tarot readings, the ‘Indie/Grunge Girl’ listening to records on an old record player and going thrifting frequently and many more.
Although this aesthetics seem harmless at first, almost all of them have a problematic side to them that must be addressed. For example, it must be noted that most of these lifestyles are very exclusive, discriminating, and whitewashed although they are most definitely stolen from black communities. Take the ‘Clean Girl’ aesthetic, women of color have worn their hair slicked back for centuries, and they were made fun of for applying clear lip–gloss and wearing gold hoop earrings. However, as soon as white runway model Bella Hadid or Hailey Bieber start wearing these, it is as if they invented a totally new look and are given all credit for it. In addition to that, ‘THAT Girl’
forces an unhealthy image on people of having to be perfect and put together the whole time,
leaving no room for insecurities or imperfections, when, it is normal to not feel comfortable in
one’s body from time to time.
Now turning to the ‘Feral Girl’, this lifestyle can be highly dangerous to impressionable teens, as it
romanticizes and spreads toxic femininity. They want to suffer and see others, mostly men, suffer
alongside themselves. It promotes things such as shoplifting, viewing men as lesser, or
manipulating and gaslighting. At their worse and most extreme they can be viewed as femcels,
which is the opposite of incels, usually used to describe involuntarily celibate men. In both cases,
the lack of interest these individuals face makes them feel undesirable and unwanted, resulting in
self–loathing behavior. This does not only affect the individual but also their peers.
In the most ideal scenario, these occurrences and lifestyles are just a trend and will come and go
after people realize the problematic themes within them. Even better than that would be, that this
specific toxic aesthetics will not reoccur at all and that in cases of the ‘Clean Girl’, credit is given to the people who really deserve it. Of course, there are also trends, like some of those mentioned
earlier, that show no significant flaws and even aesthetics that truly change someone’s life for the
In conclusion, since society is mostly living online it can be said that people can find the communities and representing lifestyle they want to partake in much more easily than before.
Although not every community is met with the same acceptance as others, it is good that individuals can at least find comfort within these safe spaces online. We need to work towards supporting our differences while still calling problematic behavior out and striving to change them.
Christine Budan 8M // October 2022
Oberstufe // Non–Fiction // Essay