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Aesthetics: The Damage It Has On Teens Mental Health

Emma Hovan
Absurd aesthetics! Aesthetics are getting out of hand. Many people were saying how the names of some aesthetics made absolutely no sense. Eighth grader Livi Adams said, “ I think that Barbiecore and Fairycore are stupid and so unnecessary.”

 Words like “clean girl,” “vanilla girl,” and “coastal grandma” may appear as arbitrary words to many, but to me and my generation, they are distinct styles, preferences and identities, also known as aesthetics.

 The domination of aesthetics within internet culture is due to many factors, each contributing to its pervasive influence on social media platforms worldwide. First, platforms like Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest serve as virtual galleries, showcasing images and content that show aspirational aesthetic ideals. These platforms offer a plethora of aesthetic inspirations, inviting individuals to curate their own identities.

The vanilla girl aesthetic is synonymous with oversized sweaters, light neutral colors, Ugg boots, vanilla Laneige lip sleeping mask and Apple headphones. They also almost always ordered an iced latte with oat or coconut milk.
(Emma Hovan)

So, even though aesthetics may appear harmless on the surface level, there are many damaging problems. The main reason why? It’s detrimental to mental health, but more specifically teens’ mental health.

The quest for self-discovery and identity-formation is a crucial aspect of the human experience, and aesthetics are stripping this natural process away. The pressure to conform to rigid aesthetic standards can impose significant psychological burdens on teens’ minds. The relentless pursuit of fitting into a predetermined aesthetic mold can lead to feelings of inadequacy, insecurity and alienation, as individuals struggle with the boundary between their authentic selves and the idealized prereated personas.

The that girl aesthetic is a trend where women want to be “that girl.” The one who wakes up early, wears athleisure wear, minimal makeup, practices yoga, journals, drinks iced coffee and eats smoothie bowls. Another important factor is that these girls were just constantly trying to improve their lives.
(Emma Hovan)

It also doesn’t help that these aesthetics dictate virtually every aspect of daily life. To conform perfectly to a certain aesthetic you are expected to eat, speak and have certain hobbies that match it. There have been countless times where I decided to order iced coffee (even though I like hot coffee), talked less (even though I naturally love to talk) and started drawing (even though I am the least artistic person ever) just to fit into a certain aesthetic that was made up by social media.

The dark academia aesthetic usually consists of someone who wears vintage clothes, listens to classical music, reads books ( particularly “The Picture of Dorian Gray”), loves Greek mythology and lights candles. They also probably had an intense Harry Potter phase.
(Emma Hovan)

It can not be overexpressed that by grouping oneself into a narrowly defined aesthetic category, individuals risk stifling their own potential for growth and self-expression, as they become trapped in a cycle of conformity and self-censorship. If we want to stop this current online pandemic, we need to denormalize a life where we are constantly trying to abide by these aesthetic rules, and instead normalize people just being people.

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About the Contributor
Emma Hovan
Emma Hovan, Reporter
Hi! My name is Emma Hovan, and I'm a news reporter for Livewire. Outside of school, I enjoy playing tennis, being with my puppy and listening to Taylor Swift.

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  • P

    Patience MulhollandApr 11, 2024 at 12:50 pm

    I think that aesthetics ARE bad for our mental health..

  • P

    Patience MulhollandApr 11, 2024 at 12:30 pm

    I think everyone should have their own aesthetic if they want one. No one should bully anyone for not having one, or having one that no one has.

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    Bella Ayala-TespanApr 5, 2024 at 10:50 am

    I think all aesthetics are wonderful! One of the many ways you can express yourself is by what you wear. I think that’s something people don’t understand. We are all pre-teens/ teenagers Which is when you start thinking of what type of person you want to become. Making fun of someone who’s emo/alt is not going to make you feel better about yourself. Most of the time people make fun of people for something they don’t like about themselves. It’s a sad reality but its true. What people don’t think about is how it affects other people. Everybody has something they don’t like about themselves. We all have both good and bad qualities but that’s what makes us who we are. Being emo/alt doesn’t mean that person is weird or has mental issues. Being a preppy girl doesn’t mean you’re a pick-me and rude. We don’t have to hate each other! We can all live in harmony and embrace what makes us different.

  • T

    Toby GMar 1, 2024 at 10:15 am

    so ya’ll not gonna mention emo or alt? we’ve been bullied BY the preppy girls and boys since our style first came out and nobody talks about that because by now it’s just socially accepted by now because of how often it happens

    • M

      McKenna KoeckMar 4, 2024 at 8:05 am

      Exactly. That’s what I’m saying. I think that bullying other people just because they have a different or unusual clothing style is the bigger problem. I don’t understand why it’s so socially acceptable to be rude to “emo” people. I love all of the livewire articles, and this one has some good points, but I don’t love how they only mentioned “aesthetics” and styles that are very common and rarely ever get made fun of.

  • M

    McKenna KoeckFeb 29, 2024 at 10:37 am

    I think that one of the main problems is ACTUALLY something else. It’s with people who dress in alternative style (like me!). Alternative styles include emo, goth, grunge, punk, scene, etc. Those kinds of people CONSTANTLY get made fun of and picked on and bullied every day just for existing. In fact, alternative style kids are mostly getting picked on by “That girl aesthetic” people AND “vanilla girl aesthetic” people. I can tell you first hand. 99% of the people who make fun of me dress in the “that girl aesthetic” and “vanilla girl aesthetic” style. Also, People automatically assume that people who dress in alternative fashion are depressed, which isn’t true all of the time. Sure, SOMETIMES it’s true, but it’s such a bad stereotype. Not everyone who dresses that way is depressed. We just like the style of clothes. Which AGAIN, I can tell you first hand. My mental health is great, I just like the style of clothing, and people ask me if I’m depressed all the time just because of how I dress. Also, people see ANY alternative type of clothing style and automatically say, “EMO!”. It’s really annoying because when people see literally any style of clothing that they aren’t used to seeing, they call it emo (even if the style isn’t actually labeled emo). People tend to hate “emos” and kids who dress in any alternative style, and I don’t know why. People should really be more open minded. Alternative kids just want to be ourselves and be unique and dress how we want to without getting harassed every day. When I first started dressing in alternative style, I was teased and mocked and bullied all day every day just because of how I dressed. It’s really not fair. So, to anyone who is reading this, don’t judge someone based on how they dress. Don’t make fun of anyone who dresses in a unique or different way. Get to know someone before you judge them. Just like the old saying goes, “never judge a book by its cover.” People judge me by my “cover” all the time without even “reading my book”. So next time you see a kid dressed in emo or alternative fashion, please DON’T yell, “I fell in love with an emo girl” or “tonight will be the night that I will fall for youuu”. and for heavens sakes PLEASE don’t bark. Don’t ask for a “wrist check”, and don’t yell “Suicide squad!” I’ve had people say all of those things to me and it is really rude. It upsets me and makes me feel like I can’t be my true self.

    • A

      Ayden KoeckMar 15, 2024 at 7:45 pm

      what’s emo?