The NewSLU

The Student News Site of Saint Louis University Madrid Campus

The NewSLU

The NewSLU

Cottagecore and VSCO Girl: Self-Expression or Limiting Archetype?

Aesthetic culture centers around beauty and art, featuring popular styles like the infamous VSCO girl, dark academia, indie, and grunge, each with specific clothing and accessories for the desired look. While aesthetic culture enables style exploration, it has drawbacks. The trend tends to oversimplify styles, turning individuals into one-dimensional archetypes, limiting individuality. Pressure to conform to a specific aesthetic may restrict self-expression but also financial considerations play a role in participating in such aesthetics.

Consider the phenomenon of “Cottagecore,” a trend that romanticizes a simple, rural lifestyle. It is more than just an aesthetic; it’s a yearning for a connection to nature, a desire for authenticity away from the digital world. When in actuality, most could not even afford to maintain such a carefree, leisurely lifestyle.

The very nature of aesthetics raises questions about the authenticity of online identities. How much of our curated online personas truly represents who we are?

@brookd7654’s discusses the pitfalls of chasing an aesthetic at the expense of enjoyment: 

“I remember going through a phase where I DESPERATELY wanted to be perceived as this magical cottagecore fairy girl who only listened to folk or classical music, adored the outdoors, and only wore the nicest most put together fairy-esque outfits. I was absolutely miserable. I spent so much time posting about how “aesthetic” I was on social media that I didn’t even enjoy the things everyone thought I loved doing.”

Furthermore, social media has led to the rise of micro-trends, where certain styles gain popularity rapidly but also lose traction quickly. The shorter attention spans and quicker fashion cycles on social media have contributed to overconsumption and the generation of large amounts of waste from single-use outfits.

@milenamaria3352 advocates embracing diverse tastes, rejecting one-dimensional labels. She wrote that she was obsessed in the past with finding a “true aesthetic,” but now embraces pieces of different aesthetics. As an example, she said she enjoys heavy metal without committing to shaving her eyebrows off. 

@exaggeratedswagger7485’s takes it a step further, highlighting that Pinterest comments demanding aesthetic categorization raises an important concern about the pressure to fit into neatly defined boxes. The quest for labels and categorizations can be limiting, reducing the vast spectrum of human expression into narrow, predefined archetypes.

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Cottagecore and VSCO Girl: Self-Expression or Limiting Archetype?