Instagram, launched just as the decade of the 2000s was beginning, has its own aesthetic language: the ideal image is always the one that instantly pops on a screen. The aesthetic is also marked by a familiar human aspiration, previously best documented in wedding photography, toward a generic sameness. Accounts such as Insta Repeat illustrate the platform’s monotony by posting grids of indistinguishable photos by different users – a person in a yellow raincoat standing at the base of a waterfall, or a hand holding a bright fall leaf. Some things just perform well.
TikTok on the other hand used to portray Instagrams counterpart in a way. The app has long been preached as a raw and uncut version of their predecessor, thanks to the natural and close feeling the viewer could establish to the creator – but these days it doesn’t feel like that anymore. TikTok has often been criticised for promoting fast fashion. The combination of fast-changing trends, recommendations from online stores like Shein, and a young, impressionable user base all contribute to an environmental nightmare. Unfortunately, the problem of fast fashion has only spread to other ‘trendy’ products, leading to even greater levels of over-consumption. In addition to fashion, TikTok is now persuading people to buy romance novels, bottled water and hair products. True to the motto “TikTok made me buy it” – Trends on TikTok move faster than anywhere else. In a matter of days, videos (and the clothes and products worn in them) can explode into viral phenomena.
And the app’s rapid-fire nature has now brought us the next trend for summer 2023: Blueberry Milk Nails. In the relentless race for fleeting fame and popularity, we witnessed yet another cookie-cutter trend born from the superficial depths of social media. Early June saw Dua Lipa flaunting a light blue manicure, and like clockwork, Sabrina Carpenter and Sofia Richie Grainge followed suit. Thus, the monotonous wave of “Blueberry Milk Nails” was set in motion – a term concocted by TikTok, disguising the mundane reality of a plain old baby blue nail manicure with a touch of saccharine sweetness.
Quickly originality and authenticity are sacrificed at the altar of online popularity. What was once hailed as groundbreaking and exciting has now been reduced to a mundane and unremarkable affair. But alas, TikTok’s creativity is anything but original; it’s merely a melting pot of recycled ideas and diluted concepts, repackaged as the next big thing. The superficial allure of “Blueberry Milk Nails” may have caught the attention of countless minds, but beneath the surface, we find nothing more than a stale and unimaginative trend that lacks the substance to truly captivate or inspire.
Regrettably, this fast-paced nature of TikTok trends fosters a culture where authenticity and creativity take a backseat to fleeting moments of viral fame. Instead of celebrating true innovation, we find ourselves drowning in an ocean of carbon copy content, where individuality and uniqueness are lost in the crowd. In the end, “Blueberry Milk Nails” are nothing more than a sad representation of the shallowness that pervades modern social media.But Blueberry Milk Manicure isn’t the first on the list. TikTok has a knack for repackaging run-of-the-mill manicures with catchy, cutesy names. Think: “Vanilla French Nails,” a French manicure with off-white tips; “Glazed Donut Nails,” a nude nail with shimmery top coat; and “Naked Nails,” which entails forgoing a manicure all together.
But the problem behind these “trends” isn’t unoriginality or laziness, it’s rather that the popularity doesn’t occur naturally anymore but manufactured and set up as a marketing scheme. These days contemporary culture has made us believe that a large portion of our sense of self and our sense of personal identity is constructed by the things we consume, the way we relate to them and what these things we consume can signal about the kind of person we want to be or hope other people recognize us as.
Think about “That Girl Aesthetic” or “Clean Girl Aesthetic” that has been popular a few weeks ago on TikTok – aka a very clean and minimalist look that is the embodiment of the perfect girl with flawless skin and hair that is always in place. These starterpacks give a certain clientele a sense of belonging which they can only fully achieve by purchasing certain products – let it be the lululemons leggings, the matcha set or the fancy face mask.
These products are being predetermined by marketing teams and yet these products and our relationship to them is becoming a kind of proxy for a sense of personality.
In conclusion, TikTok’s rapid rise as a platform for trends raises concerns about the loss of authenticity and individuality. While initially portrayed as raw and uncut, TikTok now promotes fast fashion and other trendy products, sacrificing substance for quick popularity. The recent “Blueberry Milk Nails” trend exemplifies this superficiality, repackaging ordinary manicures with catchy names to create artificial excitement. Contemporary culture has led us to believe that our identity is defined by the products we consume, turning trends into proxies for personality. To preserve true innovation and expression, it’s essential for both creators and consumers to question the impact of these manufactured trends and embrace authentic individuality beyond fleeting fame in the realm of social media.