Social media has been used as a form of self-expression for many people, especially on newer platforms like TikTok. Has the line between self-expression and mocking online been crossed?
By Alia Mcdonald.
TikTok is an app where you can upload your own videos as well as interacting with other people’s videos – this is done on the ‘for you’ page. This page is where various videos appear, depending on what videos you like or interact with (i.e., commenting or reposting); TikTok is tailored to you as a user. So, for example, if you like skateboarding and Tyler the Creator, you’ll see more of them.
Depending on what ‘side’ of TikTok you’re on, you might’ve heard of the hashtag, #ukblackgirlaesthetic which is where Black British girls express themselves through their outfits, uploading photos on the platform. The hashtag has amounted to 5.1 million views alone on TikTok.
The origin of the ‘Black girl aesthetic’ came from Instagram influencers, particularly Jayda Wayda.
Jayda Cheaves, also known as Jayda Wayda, is an Instagram influencer, CEO, author, and actress, who became popular for her fashionable flare on the social media platform, showcasing her outfits.
Influencer Jayda Wayda. Credit: @jaydacheaves
As well as Instagram influencers, brands like Fashion Nova, help contribute to the image of the ‘black girl aesthetic’. They have a current theme with their clothes which involves form fitting outfits, such as bodycon dresses, leggings, and tracksuit sets; these pieces come under the popular tag ‘BBL (Brazilian Butt Lift) fashion’. This is because the models that are used to show these fashion items have hourglass figures (or have bodies similar to a BBL).
It is important to reiterate that black people, especially black girls, and women, are not a monolith. We are all unique individuals that share one similarity: our skin colours.
Fashion is an outlet and it shouldn’t resort for people to go on TikTok Live and slander each other because one influencer suspects that the another influencer is ‘copying’ their style.
Afterall, an aesthetic that has been popularised on social media is bound to be duplicated by other people.
"Colourism has been an evident problem in the Black diaspora, especially in the fashion world. Dark skin Black women are either pushed to the back burner, discredited or mocked for their skin tone".
There’s so much division in the Black community and Black girls and women face these issues daily, such as colourism and misogynoir; so why tear each other apart over the mudane concept of who wore it first?
Another thing I have noticed is the negative reaction towards Black girls who dress alternatively, particularly dark skin Black girls.
A woman that comes to mind is Aliyah, also known as @aliyahsinterlude on Instagram and TikTok, is Sierra-Leonian American model reigning from New York City. She has been trending for the newly coined term ‘Aliyahcore’ that she came up with. In essence, ‘Aliyahcore’ is a combination of garments from different subcultures.
Aliyah. Credit: @aliyahsinterlude.
It’s different and refreshing. We’ve not seen the a pair of Moon Boots paired with a shorts, ear muffs and tshirts – this is because the Moon Boots are associated with winter and people wouldn’t typically wear them in the warmer months. Of course this would raise eyebrows - but this does not mean she should face unwarranted hate for simply expressing herself.
Many people have stood behind Aliyah, giving her support for #aliyahcore online.
She has even spoken up about it herself in a tweet: “y’all definitely give lighter skin women the freedom to dress differently / alternatively but let it be someone darker than a paper bag”.
Colourism has been an evident problem in the Black diaspora, especially in the fashion world. Darkskin Black women are either pushed to the back burner, discredited or in this case, mocked for their skin tone. While this happens, a lightskin Black women could have ‘copied’ Aliyahcore to the T but would have received better responses from people. Colourism works in mysterious and absurd ways.
Whether you follow the UK black girl aesthetic, dress alternatively, wear the same colour every day or just throw on anything from your wardrobe, people will have something to say, positive or negative. The important thing for young women and girls to remember when using social media, is you are beautiful whatever your shade and fashion style. Our clothes can be an expression of who we are, or how we feel, and we are all entitled to create our own personal expression without fear of online mockery and abuse. Just do you.