Women and girls have been competing with unrealistic beauty standards their whole lives. Throughout my 18 years of life, I’ve seen many trends rise, fall, then slowly disappear.
This year, many women aim to achieve “the clean girl aesthetic.” The clean girl aesthetic is meant to highlight your natural beauty with minimal makeup. Other things go along with this aesthetic like slicked back hair, basic clothing and minimalistic accessories. This aesthetic doesn’t seem to be an issue when just looking at the surface level facts but, in reality, it's unrealistic to many.
The clean girl look doesn’t necessarily work for those with acne-prone skin, freckles and people without disposable income to throw away products. The look of a “clean girl” is pricy, even though it's supposed to enhance your natural self. If the point of it is to highlight your natural beauty with makeup, why not just keep it all-natural to truly emphasize one's beauty?
Many of the brands used and clothes worn by those achieving this aesthetic are quite expensive. Brands like UGG and Dior are often prevalent. This isn’t to say you can’t achieve the look if you’re purchasing off-brand clothes or cheaper makeup, but social media influencers touting themselves as “clean girls” often opt for the pricier option — and encourage their thousands of followers to do the same.
I’ve tried many times to achieve the “clean girl” look, but it just does not work for me. I don’t look great with slicked back hair and the clothes and makeup are out of my price range. No matter how hard I try to achieve the look, I’m always unsuccessful.
Even the name of this aesthetic being “clean girl” doesn’t sit right. If you don’t fit the look of the aesthetic does that automatically make you dirty? There is no way someone can achieve this look at all times.
Those that fit the beauty standard aren’t the ones creating it. It’s the beauty industry and the media creating this standard so they can earn more money. These companies don’t care about us, they care about the money we give to them. They create this unachievable standard because they know people are going to do anything in their power to achieve it, even if it costs exorbitant amounts of money.
The sad reality is that many beauty standards we see aren’t meant for everyone. Often, they’re meant for those that are young, blonde, thin and white. Why is it that so many beauty standards are only meant for such a small portion of women?
Everyone is beautiful in their own way, regardless of if they fit the standard set by society. The “clean girl” aesthetic is just one of many standards that need to be put to an end. It’s pointless and accomplishes nothing for women's mental health and identity.
Faith Badgley (she/her) is a freshman studying media advertising.