The Problem with Pinterest and its Aesthetics

Writer: Veronica Yung

Editor: Pat Sevikul

Graphic Designer: Anza Bintoro


Over the last year, certain aesthetics have gained popularity, the majority over TikTok and Pinterest. The most popular aesthetics have been the Cottagecore, Dark Academia, E-girl/boy and Y2K. While it is fun to look up these aesthetics or watch people make content showing their lifestyles within them, there are many problems surrounding it.


Some criticise the Eurocentrism when it comes to the Cottagecore and Dark Academia aesthetics, as they focus mainly on Western life and architecture. When it comes to the Cottagecore, some say that it inadvertently celebrates colonialism, as it romanticises settler colonialism through comparing rural life to a perfect past, with its trends surrounding the concept of living in the countryside and dressing in long, flowy dresses and corsets, similar to those worn in the past. It offends some people

mostly due to the fact that it idealises a period of time that harmed many

people, including BIPOC (most notably Black and Indegenous people) and the LGBTQ+ community through murdering them or cultural genocide. While this might be the case, there are many who follow the Cottagecore aesthetic and are BIPOC or part of the LGBTQ+ community. For example, Rachel Fay, @coconutcracked (Masego) and @enchanted_noir (Lauren) are known for the aesthetic on TikTok. So while it’s safe to say many understand that the past is not a perfect place, it is good to keep it in - @enchanted_noir

mind.


The Y2K aesthetic steadily gained popularity in 2020, arguably becoming the most mainstream out of the three. It is interesting to see that trends from the early 2000s are coming back, as people have noticed that trends follow the ‘20 year rule’, in which fashion trends come back into style every 20 years. Think 90s fashion being popular in the 2010s, and ‘That 70s Show’ coming out in the 90s. The main problem with the Y2K trend is the lack of acknowledgement of the influence of Black people on the trends that are coming back. June Ambrose, a stylist and costume designer, was responsible for styling Diddy and Mase’s oversized shiny trousers in their video for ‘Mo Money Mo Problems.’ Wearing tracksuits is also a trend that was started by Black people, seen quite prominently on Missy Elliott, who wore tracksuits to many red carpets. Colorful, gradient sunglasses, seen a lot on Lil’ Kim and Beyoncé, is another trend that seems to be coming back. Monogram prints, popularised by Dapper Dan in the 80s, was seen a lot in the early 2000s, and has slowly been making a comeback on handbags. Sneaker culture, which gained popularity amongst black people in the 90s, has now spread and become popular among many. While not all Y2K trends are necessarily related to black culture, there is a lot of cultural appropriation among them in the fashion industry. Even hair styles such as braids and cornrows, have become a trend, which many try to justify as being ‘just a hairstyle’ when there are centuries of history behind it.


- Missy Elliot


Another large problem within these aesthetics is the lack of representation on the platforms where aesthetics are popular. If you were to look up one of these aesthetics on Pinterest, you are most likely going to find skinny, white women at the forefront, and if you wanted to look for women of colour or plus-sized women, you would have to specifically look it up to find it. It leads to many non-white teenagers to believe that they cannot be a part of these aesthetics, because there is no space for them, which is added on to the lack of representation in other forms of media, such as films or TV. This is especially a problem with the Y2K aesthetic, as Black people have had a large influence over it, and yet get so little credit. It shows that eurocentric beauty standards are still held onto today, and continues to still be the standard to aim for. Many BIPOC women, especially black women, are shamed for having these eurocentric features, as people say that they only gained popularity because of them, but women without these features are also shamed for their differences. The lack of representation is not only a problem on pinterest, as many TikTokers pushed onto the For You Page tend to be white. So, a question for TikTok and Pinterest: why are your algorithms like that and what are you going to do about it?


Along with the lack of representation for WOC, fatphobia has also become a problem. Take Tess Holliday, who wore Lirik Matoshi’s strawberry dress to the Grammy’s in January 2021, and was criticised for it. A few months later, the dress gained popularity on TikTok, seen mostly on thin girls. This has led many to believe that the only reason why Holliday was criticised was because she is fat, subsequently leading to the trend of ‘Is it an outfit, or is she just skinny?’ on Youtube and TikTok.


The lack of representation on Pinterest is a problem. Not only does it take away from what the Black community has done for the many trends that are seen today, it makes it hard for BIPOC creators to grow within ‘aesthetic’ content. The effects of the lack of representation is an issue that has been brought up so many times, and the fact that this issue has spread to popular content recently shows how far back this issue goes. This needs to change, as the media has such a large influence on teenagers, and we do not need another generation of BIPOC children growing up feeling less than their white counterparts.


 

Sources:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zU7bXgSvJpE

https://i-d.vice.com/en_uk/article/ep4egw/is-cottagecore-a-colonialist-fantasy-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4Pk8SI0y80

https://www.elle.com/uk/fashion/a34244867/fashion-inspired-by-black-culture/

https://sincerelyaminee.tumblr.com/post/626113496191565824/the-problem-with-the-y2k-aesthetic

https://honisoit.com/2020/09/cottagecore-colonialism-and-the-far-right/#:~:text=Cottagecore's%20fantasy%20of%20escaping%20to,the%20urban%20and%20the%20rural.&text=Social%20media%20users%20who%20are,colonialism%2C%20many%20without%20realising%20it.


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