Aesthetics Wiki

As the online presence of aesthetics on social media grows, many cultural critics and casual observers have commented on the negative effects of the community in general, specifically in how aesthetics are consumed and how it affects self-identity. There are also economic consequences on the growth of aesthetics, especially in regard to consumerism and the production of new products. Below are the various points critics have made, which includes a summary of the various points made in trending articles and video essays, as well as connections to previous works about beauty and consumerism that existed before internet aesthetics rose in popularity. These sources are also included for a more in-depth look into the arguments made by these people.

Consumerism and Identity[]

One criticism revolves around the commodification of aesthetics, where consumer culture tends to reduce art and beauty to mere products for sale. This commodification can lead to the devaluation of artistic integrity and the prioritization of market appeal over artistic expression. Critics argue that consumerism promotes a superficial understanding of aesthetics, emphasizing instant gratification and novelty rather than deeper engagement with artistic meaning and cultural value.

Another criticism is the homogenizing effect of consumerism on aesthetic standards. Mass production and mass consumption often result in the proliferation of standardized, mainstream aesthetics that cater to the widest possible audience. This can lead to a lack of diversity and originality, as artistic expressions may be diluted to fit market trends and appeal to the broadest consumer base. Consequently, consumerism may stifle artistic innovation and limit the exploration of alternative or unconventional aesthetics.[1]

Consumerism's focus on material acquisition and status symbols can also detract from the intrinsic value of art and beauty. Critics argue that when aesthetics are reduced to status symbols or indicators of wealth, the genuine appreciation of art and beauty becomes secondary. Aesthetic experiences may become superficial and transactional, driven by the desire to possess and display rather than a genuine connection with artistic expression.

Moreover, consumerism can promote a culture of disposability and planned obsolescence, which can have negative consequences for sustainability and the environment. This criticism emphasizes the ethical implications of consumerism on aesthetics, questioning the values and priorities that drive the production and consumption of aesthetically pleasing objects.

Growth of Fast Fashion[]

One of the biggest issues that has come out of trying on and changing aesthetics is how the content made in the aesthetic is unsustainable. Many formats of aesthetic content emphasize hauls and styling videos with items coming from cheap fast fashion and home goods stores such as Shein, Amazon, and AliExpress. In these videos, the creator purchases a large sum of clothes, often making these videos a repeat feature of their channel.

Fast fashion and home goods are destructive to the environment and often employ unethical labor practices in order to keep up with demand and lower prices. Specifically, the consumption of water in cotton, presence of microplastics in polyester, dye runoffs into the environment, and greenhouse gases produced wrecks the environment, with these factories often being placed in poorer countries. Additionally, the material and construction of the garment makes these clothes unusable after a short length of time, and the wearer tosses it away and replaces it with another easily broken garment. This has a large impact on landfill waste, which is also important since polyester is not biodegradable.

The growth of the online aesthetics community encourages fast fashion consumption, in that trying on and disposing of fashion is a way to create content and have fun. The faddish nature of aesthetics is also an issue because a person may decide to try on an aesthetic, purchase a haul of different clothes and things for their room, then move onto the next aesthetic that catches their eye. Hyper-consumption can be a result of trying to copy aesthetics too quickly and without consideration for purchasing wisely.


Self-Surveillance, Performativity, and Lack of Authenticity[]

One issue many people have pointed out is that as the aesthetics community becomes a larger part of a person's media diet, a person would more and more look at their life through the lens of an aesthetic. People in the community would continuously want to "be" an aesthetic and monitor and judge their own actions and change their behaviors accordingly. For example, a fan of Dark Academia might feel bad for wearing a sweatshirt while studying instead of a tweed blazer, even if nobody is around to see them not following that aesthetic. This self-surveillance results in poor mental health.[2]

Many people also point out how aesthetics, especially feminine ones where body image and fashion are important components, reinforce issues of gender. Young women are often the target of "the male gaze," where there is an internal voyeur monitoring how cute, sexy, polished, etc. a girl is, even when there is no one around to perceive her.[3][4] Many feminists discuss how when society imposes beauty onto women, many women live unnatural lives and can develop eating disorders, consumerist behaviors, etc., and many different internet aesthetics have this issue, such as on Pale Grunge, Waif, Morute, etc.

Another issue many have pointed out is how many people take on behaviors such as consuming certain media, having different habits, etc. is not because they genuinely enjoy the behavior, but rather because they want to be perceived as being a certain kind of person that is trendy, cool, mysterious, fashionable, etc.[5] This is especially true for aspirational aesthetics such as Dark Academia and That Girl. In other words, these people are posers, and people who naturally gravitate to and enjoy the media, fashion, hobbies, etc. before the aesthetic has become popular are often miffed at the inauthenticity of the people in it for the trend. Examples of these situations are when a person copies different outfits instead of being original, doesn't take on the real aspects of a subculture,[6] and if their enjoyment of a fictional work is shallower and lacks the same critical analysis of a person who genuinely enjoys the work.[7]



TikTok comments interaction

What aesthetic is this? Walking outside

Many posts on the internet have made fun of people who want to categorize certain images into aesthetics, when these categories do not exist in real life or as a given in social media. Critics dislike how not only images on the internet, but also experiences, people, and outfits are seen as something to dissect and put into a box rather than being enjoyed as what they are and as something varied.

Overcategorization can be seen as a reductionist approach that simplifies the complexity and richness of artistic expressions. Critics argue that rigid categorization may overlook the nuanced and multidimensional aspects of artworks, leading to an oversimplification of their meaning and significance.

Excessive categorization may create rigid boundaries and limitations that confine artistic works within predetermined frameworks. This can restrict artistic exploration and innovation by pressuring artists to conform to predefined categories rather than allowing for fluid and interdisciplinary approaches.

It can contribute to stereotyping and generalization of artistic works and styles. It may perpetuate fixed notions and expectations associated with certain categories, limiting the potential for diverse interpretations and cross-genre influences. This can reinforce hierarchical structures within the arts, where certain categories are deemed more valuable or superior to others. This hierarchical view may undervalue or marginalize unconventional or emerging artistic expressions that defy categorization or challenge established norms.

By dividing artworks into numerous categories, the potential for recognizing connections, influences, and interactions between different artistic forms or movements may be diminished. Overcategorization may hinder the exploration of hybrid or interdisciplinary works that transcend traditional boundaries. Excessive categorization can lead to inflexibility in accommodating new or evolving artistic practices. It may struggle to adapt to emerging forms or cross-disciplinary works that defy established categories, potentially limiting the growth and diversity of the artistic landscape.

Information Bubbles[]

One criticism is that information bubbles can lead to the narrowing of aesthetic horizons. When individuals are exposed only to a limited range of opinions, artistic styles, or cultural expressions, their understanding and appreciation of aesthetics may become confined within those boundaries. This can result in a lack of exposure to diverse artistic traditions and innovative ideas, limiting the richness and breadth of aesthetic experiences.

Furthermore, information bubbles can contribute to the reinforcement of existing biases and preferences, hindering critical engagement with differing viewpoints. Aesthetic judgments are shaped by exposure to a variety of artistic works and the ability to critically evaluate them. However, when individuals are shielded from dissenting opinions or alternative aesthetic perspectives, their judgments may become entrenched and resistant to change. This can impede the growth and development of aesthetic sensibilities.

Another criticism concerns the potential distortion of aesthetic value within information bubbles. The algorithms and filters that govern online platforms often prioritize engagement and personalization, leading to the promotion of popular or familiar aesthetics over more challenging or unconventional forms of artistic expression. This can create a homogenized aesthetic landscape, where certain styles or trends dominate while marginalized or niche aesthetics are marginalized. Consequently, the vibrancy and diversity of artistic expressions may be diminished within information bubbles.

Moreover, the reinforcement of information bubbles can hinder interdisciplinary and cross-cultural dialogues in aesthetics. Aesthetic understanding and appreciation often benefit from interdisciplinary interactions, drawing insights from various fields such as philosophy, art history, sociology, and cultural studies. However, when individuals primarily engage with like-minded communities within information bubbles, the potential for interdisciplinary exchange and cross-pollination of ideas becomes limited. This can impede the richness and depth of aesthetic discourse, hindering the exploration of new perspectives and limiting the development of aesthetic theories and frameworks.


  1. tincanopus (September 12, 2022). in the age of aestheticisation rebellion cannot have an appearance because every ‘look’ is infected by capitalism. Tumblr. Retrieved June 9, 2023. Archived.
  2. 3liza (September 17, 2022). the Young-Girl desires the Young-Girl. Tumblr. Retrieved June 9, 2023. Archived.
  3. seravph (January 12, 2021 13:08). the rise of ‘aesthetics’ as a common way to describe literally every facet of yourself is like the most destructive thing. Tumblr. Retrieved June 9, 2023. Archived.
  4. Berger, John (1972). Way of Seeing.
  5. andreablog2 (August 27). treating your life and personal style like a life time performance visual art project. Tumblr. Retrieved June 9, 2023. Archived.
  6. Many people in subcultures such as Punk, Goth, and Lolita often complain about the influx of people from TikTok who aren't fully invested in the subculture.
  7. See criticisms for Dark Academia, Nymphet, Waif, and Cottagecore.