Gone are the days when magazines like Vogue, Elle and Cosmopolitan were the sole proprietors of the propaganda that whatever type woman you may be, you are just not enough. Telling women how to think, look and feel is a multi-billion dollar industry and it has been for decades now. Magazines and the fashion industry have been at the top of the food chain since time immemorial. They have, however, recently had to share the monopoly with the relatively new kid on the block, the internet.
Fashion, decor, hair, make-up, lifestyle, relationship advice and all associated imagery freely dished out by the terabyte on the internet is fast-becoming the standard that modern women aspire to. This is most evident in the way we dress as well as how we choose to accessorize ourselves these days.
Just spend 30 minutes on two of the most popular streets in Braamfontein – Juta and De Beer – and you will feel like you are viewing Tumblr images that have come to life. Modern day women in and around urban areas literally look like fashion blogs – and the really narcissistic ones actually do have blogs – or at least an Instagram account that they treat like a fashion blog.
South Africa has its own version of what I like to call “The Blog Mafia.” A group of fashionistas who all run blogs, always attend the same events and only hang out with each other outside of “work.” The likes of Crystal Kasper, Kefilwe Mabote, Melody Motha, Tshepi Vundla, Palesa Mahalaba, Siya Beyile, Jerri Mokgofe, Trevor Stuurman, Thuli Mola, Sarah Langa, Lulama Wolf, Tshegofatso Manche and so forth.
Whatever The Blog Mafia choose to wear trickles down to the masses – through their very influential social media presence – and before you know it, you’re seeing six girls walking down Juta Street in the exact same outfit and with the exact same accessories.
Girls who are fans of The Blog Mafia favour things such as:
- Box braids
- Brightly coloured hair
- Waist-length weaves from exotic locations
- Long cat-claw nails
- High-waisted, skin–tight skinny jeans
- Pigalle heels
- Camel trench coats
- Balenciaga bags
- Crop top and pencil skirt combos (aka: The Kim Kardashian)
- Combat boots (aka Doc Martens)
- Henna and flash tattoos
- Plum and Baby pink lipstick
- Selfie sticks
- Strappy heels
Images of these things are repeatedly shoved down our throats until they become the norm, and before you know it we all end up looking like each other.
It’s quite ironic considering the fact that we have come to celebrate the idea of individuality so much that we have come to adopt other people’s individuality and lose our own in the process. An i-D Magazine article by Greg French explores how subcultures and their previously undesirable identifiers have entered mainstream fashion as well as how they continue to change it. Fabrizia Degli Esposti, adidas Originals Brand Marketing and PR Specialist explains how this has come to be by stating “social media has completely redefined the concepts of self-expression, originality and creativity.” This is due to what she calls “a need for external validation and celebrity worship.”
At the end of the day, the only thing wrong with girl 2.0 is that it gets boring. Repeatedly seeing the same look, looking at the same person – discovering something “new” only to have it become so old, so quickly.
Self-expression, originality and creativity may have been redefined by social media but it’s about time that more of us reclaim our creative courage. The great thing about the internet is that there is room for everyone and every aesthetic and as such, I say that it is time we evolve from the “starter-pack” aesthetic of girl 2.0.
As cheesy as it sounds, there is nothing wrong with being YOUnique. You are not completely made up of bits and pieces borrowed from all the influences of your life. Somewhere beneath it all is you.
Follow me on Twitter @Kay_Tatyana
Illustrations by: Bizani Meyiwa and Kay Selisho