In Defense of the Internet Aesthetic: How They Help Us Express Multifacted Identities

We live in the age of the internet aesthetic. Whether we’re being told to “romanticize” the more banal aspects of our day or adopt “main character energy,” we’ve found ourselves in a time when it’s commonplace, maybe even encouraged, to step outside of our lives and look through the lens of a different perspective. Let’s say, for example, I’m going to the grocery store. If Instagram and TikTok have taught me anything, I’m not just going to the grocery store. I’m meandering the aisles of my local shop, listening to music fit for a rom-com, and searching for the perfect ingredients to make a “girl dinner.” Or, let’s say I’m spending a Saturday at home. I’m not just spending a Saturday at home; I’m living my best “cottagecore” life, sipping herbal tea, reading a book, and embracing a cozy lifestyle.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to express these moods and perspectives is through beauty. Change your look, change your life, right? On the one hand, I think this is a noble pursuit. To me, it’s essentially a practice in novelty and gratitude—cultivating excitement and contentment in the otherwise insignificant areas of life. On the other hand, I can see the downsides. Constantly adopting a character of sorts, or playing a role, could grow wearisome. What’s more, there are so many different possibilities and perspectives that it almost gives me decision fatigue.