I’ll be the first one to admit: I like shopping. There’s something about buying a nice outfit while your life is in shambles that gives you just enough confidence to try to conquer your problems. But lately, I’ve been noticing a lot of “hauls” on my social media pages, wherein social media users show off recent purchases of clothes, makeup, skin care and much more. It was only after I watched a video by the YouTuber Shanspeare on overconsumption that I noticed how much social media has impacted my purchases.

My bathroom sink was filled with skin care products, most of which I’ve used once or twice to fit the intricate skin care routine influencers claimed cleared their skin. My closet had things I’ve worn once because they weren’t trendy anymore. After watching the aforementioned video, I realized I wasn’t exempt from the need to keep up with trends and have a curated identity.

TikTok and social media in general seem to propel this obsession with putting everyone in a boxes using different “aesthetics” — trendy, niche styles with a predetermined set of social rules that can dictate a person’s lifestyle. You could have, for instance, the “old money” aesthetic, a Gossip Girl-esque classic, preppy look that emulates an inheritance of generational wealth, or “cottage core” aesthetic that celebrates idealized rural simplicity. While both of these aesthetics are still prevalent today, they come off as curated idealizations of a limiting, fraudulent persona.

Moksh Bhakta is a sophomore at Mandela International Magnet School. Contact him at moksh.bhakta@mandelainternationalschool.us.

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