TikTok Vs Authenticity: what prevails at hami?

AMPA junior Kayla Pincus, SAS junior Merah, and SAS senior Gia Maldonados outfits.
AMPA junior Kayla Pincus, SAS junior Merah, and SAS senior Gia Maldonado’s outfits.
Kayse Garcia
In an era of self expression and individuality, apps such as TikTok share an abundance of everchanging styles and trends. Since the pandemic, people have praised TikTok for challenging ideas and encouraging authenticity. However, recently people have began to claim it has lost its purpose. 

Being different has become less about expressing yourself and more about fitting yourself into a category of which type of “different” you want to be. Basic styles are frowned upon, creating a false superiority amongst everyone who shifts themselves to fit growing aesthetics. 

Cottagecore. Alternative. Coquette. Old money. Clean girl. The list goes on. There are thousands of styles floating around TikTok, some even giving labels to things as small as liking to wear red lipstick. 

AMPA junior Kayla Pincus, SAS junior Merah, and SAS senior Gia Maldonado show off their outfits.

Of course, this is not inherently harmful. Daye Tripp, a junior in CAA, emphasized more of the pros than the cons as she said, “I think TikTok encourages self expression because It gives people a place to be free and express themselves through dance or music”

SAS junior Arielle Jackson, however, voiced a different opinion. “I think TikTok kills self expression,” she said. ¨A lot of people nowadays just wear what's trending on TikTok. Even at the mall, every store is selling basically the same thing in a different color.”

Despite impacts to self expression and authenticity, the increasing amount of subtrends and subgroups (“vanilla girl,” for example) also come with a sense of community and unity - especially in feminine circles where sharing aesthetics is something to bond over. Yet at the same time, it creates new beauty standards to compare to in a society where beauty standards are our worst enemy. 

For example, the “clean girl” aesthetic excludes most people of color or those deemed to not look “clean,” fit, or natural. This aesthetic defines clean as those with slicked hair, flawless and clear skin, toned bodies, and minimal makeup. Anything not fitting this category, including common things such as blemished skin, is inherently inferred to be dirty and undesirable. Kintaro Larry, a Junior in AMPA, voiced his disapproval of the trend, “There’s no problem wearing makeup and if you dog on other women for wearing makeup, especially if you’re a girl, that’s weird to me,” he said.

Considering the common fragility of teen self confidence, the changing definitions and standards of beauty on social media can be detrimental to teens’ mental health. With the constant shift of what appearance is deemed desirable, a neverending cycle of trying to fit the standard occurs, usually at the benefit of the influencers who make a living off of promoting trends.

A Student checks out trends on a TikTok influencer’s profile (Arisa)

¨I think that social media influencers are just trying to sell us something. And I´d rather not look like a random kid from Michigan just because he has a lot of followers.”

— Arielle Jackson

The plethora of labels floating around social media has additionally began to raise the question of “Who should I be?” in teenagers globally. Many do not devote only their fashion to fitting an aesthetic; it is common for people to shift their personalities, interests, music tastes, and more as well. Alone, this is not bad. However, as putting on a fake persona to feel a sense of belonging becomes more and more common, authentic self-expression is killed.  Fortunately, at Hamilton, this is not so much the case. Tiktok certainly plays a role in Hami culture.  Terms used, styles seen, and student life all seem to be inspired by popular TikTok trends. You will often see people on the quad doing TikTok dances. Sometimes you will even see these TikTok moves in the dance and cheer team’s performances. Chrisann Blalark, a freshman in AMPA, even claims TikTok’s influence reaches staff. “I think TikTok takes a big role in Hami’s culture and students or even teacher’s style,” she said. Generally, TikTok’s influence is enjoyed by students. AMPA junior Emily Trujillo claims to be one of these students, stating “I see a lot of trends on people at school. I think it’s cute and you always see new things coming out.”  TikTok’s influence has not limited students’ self expression. Unlike how style is portrayed on the media, Many Hamilton students expressed ranging between multiple aesthetics daily. “I’m a new [style] everyday: emo, skater...” said Emily. 
AMPA Junior Emily Trujillo poses for a picture. (Emily Trujillo)
Other students' claim to not define their style at all, especially not using social media trends. “I think I just like what I like. I don´t like to box myself into a certain subculture,” Arielle explained. “If anything, I´d say social media showed me what I don´t want to wear or look like.”

Belonging or participating in a trend is not at all bad, and finding something you like on Tiktok can be a joy to anyone fiending for a change. However, it is important to differentiate between feeling comfortable in a style and feeling forced into a style. Styles are a reflection of yourself - and people are always changing. 

“If we live the same lives for generations and generations, nothing would happen,” said AMPA Junior Frida Anderson. “Nothing new would be created.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Federalist Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *