What are aesthetics and why do we love them so much?
What are aesthetics?
By definition, it is a set of principles concerning beauty, harmony, light, and symbolism. Aesthetics was created or invented by a German philosopher named Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten, he was also the first person to apply aesthetics to art. The earliest aesthetic to date is the Medieval Aesthetics which is basically characterized by medieval times from 300 AD to 1400 AD. It is mainly influenced by its synthesis of Classical and Christian conceptions of beauty and the writing of St Augustine and Pseudo-Dionysius. Until recently the term aesthetics have changed quite a bit.
To us, GenZ’s are the different personifications of fashion and style. It is a level/standard of beauty that is expected of everyone, and everyone has their own expectations and ideas for others. These stereotypes of different aesthetics are normally based on appearance, make-up, hair, hobbies, expressions, etc.
To look at a few modern aesthetics, one of the most popular aesthetics that recently had a huge spike in interest, VSCO. This stereotype is usually directed to girls hence the term ‘VSCO girl’. A VSCO girl is someone whose aesthetic is influenced by the VSCO phone-editing app and Californian fashion. They are normally thought to be your basic school girl and very quirky.
Aesthetics make us happy and help us relate to one another. On an emotional level, they elicit feelings of happiness and calm. They connect us to our ability to reflect on ourselves and others and appreciate the world around us which in turn gives us feelings of contentment and hope.
Contrasting to the positives of aesthetics, they are also negatives to look at. For example, the stereotype Emo and Goth. Both of these aesthetics are similar, the key difference being Emo is associated with being emotional, sensitive, shy, introverted, or angry. It is also associated with depression, self-injury, and suicide. Goths are associated with dressing all in black, being introverts, and preferring to be secluded.
Often this drives an inner desire for people to want to seclude themselves or to have mental health issues, not because that's what they prefer, it’s to fit in. Aesthetics indirectly enforces a society where ideally everyone should fit into a stereotype, which on many occasions makes it harder for people to be themselves.
Another big and important issue, bullying. 55% of just young people have been bullied about the way they look, ⅖ of those facing bullying every week. Aesthetics has a big hand in it because the idea of aesthetics pushes people to think that everyone should appear in a certain way. This later turns into picking on people who have a difference in opinion about the way they choose to dress.
The original meaning of aesthetics ‘meant’ the set principles of art. Through the years different aesthetics have been classed to specific standards and subsequently the amount of respect and dignity a person receives for their appearance.
Writer - Anisa Ibrahim
Graphic Designer - Akshaya Shankarganesh
Illustrator - Lily