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How TikTok’s “Clean Girl” vs. “Feral Girl” Aesthetic Promotes Authenticity & Self-Love

“Clean girl”- stereotypical or encouraging?

Clean girl aesthetic, Feral girl aesthetic, TikTok trends, TikTok
Credit: Erce/Shutterstock, Tada Images/Shutterstock, Lyubov Levitskaya/Shutterstock

Every TikTok user’s For You Page consists of small, witty trends, but do they have a deeper meaning behind them? Likewise, the “feral girl” aesthetic is now challenging the “clean girl” aesthetic for the better.  

TikTok has been a source for audiences to find new trends, for better and worse. The latest and most ongoing trend is the “clean girl” aesthetic. The “clean girl” aesthetic teaches idealized beauty through slicked-back buns, glass skin, unrealistic diets, and minimal makeup. On the contrary, the “feral girl” aesthetic focuses on being our natural, weird, everyday selves.

What is the “clean girl” aesthetic?

Have you ever walked into a grocery store, looked at a girl, and thought, “She looks like she just came back from the gym, yet she smells and looks amazing.” Simultaneously, have you also thought, “How can someone put minimal effort into their look yet look gorgeous?” Well, you’re not alone since that is the basic aesthetic of this viral trend!

The whole aesthetic looks like you put no effort into your appearance from an outsider’s perspective when it took two hours to complete. “Clean girl” includes the “no makeup makeup look,” glass skin, monochromatic outfits, vanilla perfume, the “ideal” body, and an unstoppable workout schedule.

Audio talking about what the “clean girl” aesthetic is
Credit: @alliemcguffin

What is the issue with the “clean girl” aesthetic?

At first, the clean girl aesthetic started as uplifting, using a more romanticized version of living your life. However, it became unwelcome in the TikTok community for promoting the wrong ideas. This perspective cuts into body image, self-love, and self-acceptance. Many other TikTok trends also start as something ‘encouraging’ but soon create unhealthy habits and lower the user’s self-esteem. For example, “what I eat in a day” videos tried to encourage viewers to eat healthier. When the trend peaked, many content creators published videos with eating restrictions, small portions, or barely eating. 

Some videos promoting the TikTok trend may seem lighthearted, but the audio or overall idea could be better. The issue with the “clean girl” aesthetic is the pressure, stereotypes, and ideology behind it. The main aesthetic of the trend is stereotypical portrayals of what idealized women look like; white, rich, clean, and skinny. Because of this, the opposers of this trend clapped back with the humorous yet meaningful “feral girl” aesthetic.

What is the “feral girl” aesthetic?

The feral girl aesthetic is normalizing not having a completely perfect lifestyle. Using the term feral expresses how loving yourself and having realistic expectations is okay. The whole aesthetic focuses on crushing the stereotypes women face from society every single day. Women face the stereotypes of looking put together and complying with feminine societal standards no matter where they go. The feral girl aesthetic also acknowledges that it is okay to want to be that clean girl but not to put pressure on yourself with unrealistic expectations.

TikTok explaining the “feral girl” aesthetic
Credit: @theconsistencycoach

This “feral” aesthetic encourages women to be comfortable in their skin, dirty Converse, and four-day-old hair. It is a reminder to go to that party, sleep in until noon, drink that coffee, and sleep in that makeup without any self-guilt. Authenticity starts when you know what you want, not what society says is acceptable. Being authentic can even mean living according to the clean girl style, as long as it is your choice.

“I think “feral” comes with such a literal meaning that most people can’t see it for what it really is- it’s being free. It’s having the ability to choose a week without hair washing and the same sweatpants or spending $500 on a dress for one night out. Being a feral girl means feeling 100% confident in every decision you chose. Sometimes it’s clean, sometimes it’s not. But, it’s always unforgivably real, and I love it.”

Mags, @theconsistencycoah on TikTok

What could audiences take from this?

Many TikTok trends have become controversial over their time. It is safe to say that there are deeper meanings within them. These trends revolve around societal beauty standards and stereotypes, negatively affecting viewers. These barriers show the importance of remembering that we are all individuals. As individuals, we have our own basic needs and wants. The “clean girl” and “feral girl” trends are just reminders that every lifestyle is personal. It would be best if you never compared your own to others. Most importantly, we should only take shallow TikTok trends with a grain of salt!

Written By

Hello! My name is Emma McElligott. I have always loved to write and now I'm interested in making it my career! I am studying communications and media studies with a minor in psychology at Niagara University. Outside of school, my life consists of coffee, books, and music! 

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