North Texas Daily

Following social media trends discourages individuality

Following social media trends discourages individuality

Following social media trends discourages individuality
January 27
11:00 2023

Visual social media apps like TikTok and Instagram gave people unprecedented access to each other worldwide. For the first time, we’re able to see each other – that is, carefully curated images and videos handpicked by users to showcase their creativity and innermost socially acceptable ideas.

Trends thrive and spread through social media, and with enough exposure and approval, they manifest in real life. The way internet users interact with trends is discouraging creative expression and advocates for conformity. 

A-list celebrities and famous social media influencers may not always be the source of a trend, but they popularize it. If they do something new or different, tabloids plaster it wherever they can.

It starts a polarized conversation, but over time, if the trend garners a more positive reaction, people will begin to hop on the bandwagon. What starts as a notable change becomes a trend before transitioning into a cultural norm until it dies out or is replaced.

Humans are social creatures, and social media trends, hashtags and aesthetics have become a user’s hive. Trends flush out faster than ever because they’ve become easier to spread and access.

In the 2010s, millennial pink, flower crowns and skinny jeans were trendy. A decade later, comfy clothes, baggy jeans and ‘90s throwbacks became more popular. Millennials and Generation Z traditionally pride themselves in individuality and standing out, but even our creative expression is packed into neat little boxes.

We subscribe to mainstream aesthetics like religions indie, “cottagecore,” “fairycore,” “clean girl” and more. Popular social media users do something slightly different and turn it into something to market as a hashtag to get more followers. 

When popular TikTok users stray from the most socially acceptable aesthetics, internet viewers bash and ridicule them. Fashion TikTok influencer Aliyah Bah (@AliyahsInterlude) posted a picture of herself in a bikini and Moon Boots at a beach in Jamaica in November. Twitter erupted in disapproval, with tweets saying the outfit was “crazy,” impractical and unfashionable. Sure, boots are not traditionally worn at the beach, but fashion at its core is about self-expression. 

Overanalyzing the fashion choices of strangers on the internet shows a lack of understanding of subjectivity. We don’t always have to like how people dress, but that doesn’t mean we’re entitled to post negative comments on the internet.

Social media users overestimate the value of their opinion because many content creators are starting to revolve their work around what garners more attention. As a result, viewers may commodify and dehumanize social media stars and celebrities, and forget they exist outside their screens. Social media users need to decentralize themselves from artists’ works in the spirit of nurturing creativity. 

Since younger generations value diversity so much, one would think our media activity would reflect that. Compared to a few decades ago, when everyone famous for their looks had the same, thin body shape, we have made much more progress. We’ve pressured fashion companies like Victoria’s Secret to include more plus-sized models in their shows and content.

Although thinner models tend to have a higher follower count than their plus-sized counterparts, they all have similar average likes and comments per post, according to a study by Boston University. 

Despite the progress we’ve made as a society regarding body positivity, the types of body shapes portrayed and celebrated are still minimal. So long as body shapes and types are considered trends, no drastic progress will be made. Typically, models have a waist-to-hip ratio between .69 and .74, regardless of body type, according to the Boston University study.

In the 2010s, hourglass-shaped bodies were the beauty standard, a complete shift from the thin frames idolized during the 2000s. However, the glamorized hourglass figure increasingly became unattainable because of unrealistic proportions and plastic surgery. In time, celebrities like Cardi B and the Kardashians began sporting Brazilian Butt Lifts, and the masses followed suit.

As BBLs became accessible to people, they lost any sense of uniqueness. Influential celebrities like Kim and Khloé Kardashian are undoing their procedures in exchange for thinner bodies.  The body trends that exist right now are so strict, there’s little variation in what gets presented in the media.

Only five percent of Americans have the specific frame overly represented in fashion institutions and the media, according to The persistence of beauty standard trends enforces the warped view that to be beautiful everyone must aspire to look like five percent of the population. 

Humans inherently want to follow a crowd, and there’s nothing wrong with that. When trends become viral, they’re plastered everywhere and become a norm.

Still, that doesn’t mean the most dominant trend is law. To foster a world that welcomes creativity and individuality, we have to stop policing each other’s bodies and self-expression. 

Featured Illustration by Jazmine Garcia

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Hana Musa

Hana Musa

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