We’re back with one of our favorite topics: Labeling aesthetics
Featured photo by wrightkitchen
I am a marketer’s best dream. In the words of one soon-to-be-on-screen-Glinda Ariana Grande, “I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it”. I will consume everything and anything – just as long as it’s in a TikTok that’s quick enough to catch my attention. I just made a trip to Targét to purchase chicken sausage, mustard and cottage cheese because I saw someone on TikTok do it (updates to come on that one).
I think I’ve experienced every TikTok trend that has existed since the dawn of the app – from “hot girl walks” (which, if my Internet history serves me correctly, was the genesis for the topic of today’s post), to the now omnipresent “girl dinner”. And while it might be annoying and unnecessary to assign every aesthetic and trend a name, I do have the app to thank for giving a name to the comforting global coffeehouse aesthetic.
Meet the Tomato Girl.
Who is the Tomato Girl, you might ask? Her name is Francesca, and she grows Roma tomatoes in her not overly-manicured garden, while wearing a cream linen dress. She hand embroiders the napkins she gives guests at her monthly dinner parties. She adorns silk head scarves, traverses across Italian villas, and just might even have a cigarette while on her second bottle of Chianti. She is a gorgeous garden goddess.
My friend Priyanka, who is a fabulous content creator and works at a major American fashion retailer, shared on her Instagram story that while at work, she and her team discussed TGS (this is what Tomato Girl Summer will henceforth be known as). And it was just last week that I received a promotional email from another large fashion retailer which read, “Did you hear? It’s Tomato Girl Summer.”
But is it?!
In Internet time, TGS may already be over before I even hit publish. As of few days ago, a new “trend” came across our screens: blueberry milk nails, which is simply painting your nails a very light shade of blue. In fact, the OPI color associated with the trend is not called blueberry milk, but rather It’s A Boy!. Go figure.
On a side note, I was uncertain if blueberry milk was a real beverage. And if it was, it was something I absolutely want to taste. I’m happy to report that I found a recipe for the concoction and even made some (it was actually delicious).
All this to say – of all of the trends we’ve seen come and go online, I haven’t seen quite reaction like people have had to this one. And the main reason?
It’s the incessant need to label and name every. single. thing.
“There is no such thing as blueberry milk nails, it’s just light blue nails!!!” proclaimed several TikToks.Why must every piece of clothing, every meal, every movement have a name?
I recently attended the 2023 Social Media Day PHL, an annual event that brings together Philadelphia-based communication professionals for a day of social media enlightenment. In between conversations presented by Canva and REC Philly, I went to a seminar given by the head of IBM’s social, Brandi Boatner. The topic she spoke about was de-influencing, the new wave of content creators encouraging followers to perhaps not buy or use a product, or are casually using a product in a video without explicitly promoting it.
While discussing what is a trend vs. what is not a trend, she specifically mentioned the Coastal Cowgirl. It’s exactly what the name evokes – think a California sun-kissed blonde wearing airy fabrics, cowboy boots, a knitted cowboy hat, while listening to this playlist. Can’t you just smell the salty air and Sun Bum tanning oil now? Fast-fashion brand Princess Polly has an entire section of their website dedicated to the trend (we won’t get into the implications of fast fashions here now, but it’s important to mention).
The coastal cowgirl is dreamy, carefree, and breezy. But she is also manufactured, carefully calculated, and mass-produced.
Did anyone ask for a blueberry milk nails, Tomato Girls or Costal Cowgirls? I’m going to go out on a crazy limb here and say probably not.
It’s exhausting – the need to label everything, to keep up with the lifestyles that are being sold to us. And you can’t help but to notice that almost all of these trends are mainly being created and sold to women. It might seem unnecessary and trivial to talk about something like TikTok trends, but not when there’s an impact financially and on self-worth.
I’m including myself here when I say this – but why do we buy into this time and time again, especially when these trends come and go so quickly? Perhaps it’s the lack of identity that we might feel within ourselves, or the thought that if we just bought this one piece of clothing, we’ll finally be the idealized versions of ourselves.
There is a differentiation between feeling inspired by something, whether it be art, décor, fashion, or anything else, and attempting to acquire a particular style that is visually appealing… or tailored for one’s social feed. Whether the purchase is made with the sole intention of sharing on social media or for personal enjoyment, the influence is undoubtedly present.
Pursuing an aesthetic that can never be fully attained has both its financial and psychological drawbacks.
And yet, I’ll still paint my nails a shade of blueberry milk.
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