The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

Flawless facade

The clean girl aesthetic implies cultural appropriation

When I was in elementary school, my mom used baby oil to slick my hair into a ponytail every day.

I loved how it looked, so I wore my hair like that everyday.

Though most people around me wore their hair down, I still preferred to wear mine up.

Some of my friends also wore their hair in a similar manner, so I never felt like my hair was different from others.

Slicking back hair has been a staple in many cultures for centuries. The hairstyle has especially been popular among Black women, Latinas and South Asians. As a Punjabi young woman, I grew up slicking my hair back in a tight ponytail. Although I don’t do it as much now, it once was one of my favorite ways to do my hair. I didn’t think much of my hair until people started to say mean things about it. I often got comments like, “your hair looks disgusting” or “you should try wearing it down.” I was very shocked when I heard these remarks. I didn’t know that people could have such rude things to say about a hairstyle.

Although these comments never stopped me from wearing my hair the way I did, they did show me how judgmental and hypocritical some people can be. So it was no surprise when I found out about the clean girl aesthetic and how it was centered around white women.

The clean girl aesthetic is a lifestyle that includes natural make-up, glossy lips and minimalistic clothes. According to Lexington Line, other components of the clean girl aesthetic are “gold hoops, slicked back hair with smoothed down edges and dark brown lip liner.”

This specific look is often associated with celebrities like Hailey Bieber and Sofia Richie. Many say that they invented the “aesthetic,” but they don’t realize that this isn’t necessarily something new.

Slicking back hair to strengthen it, applying dark brown lip liner and wearing gold hoops are all things that women of color have been doing for a long time.

South Asians, Latinas, Black women and women of other ethnicities and cultures have been doing these things for centuries, and they have gotten bullied for it. However, when a celebrity that looks like Hailey Bieber does something like this, then it’s “cute” and “trendy.”

At this point, this aesthetic has become culturally appropriated. Many don’t know about the culture and rich history that comes with some of the components of the style.A lot of people associate this aesthetic with celebrities without seeing it for what it actually stands for.

I believe that anyone should be allowed to slick their hair back or wear dark lip liner, but I also believe that you should appreciate some of the components of this aesthetic.

Yes, Hailey Bieber, Sofia Richie and other celebrities do a great job of rocking this aesthetic, but they didn’t necessarily create it. We need to accept and appreciate the rich history behind this trend.

For example, in my culture, slicking hair back with oil is a way to bring health to your hair, and women have been doing it for years to bring strength to their hair.

That doesn’t mean learning everything about the aesthetic’s history but understanding that it comes from a culture, and to someone else, it represents something more significant.

We need to learn to appreciate it so we don’t appropriate it.



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About the Contributor
Simran Baidwan, Culture Reporter
Hi! My name is Simran Baidwan, and I am a sophomore this year at SHS. This is my first year on The Journal, and I am a writer for Culture. I took the full-year Journalism course my freshman year, and I decided that joining The Journal would be a great fit for me. Some things to know about me are that I am Punjabi. Quick side note: My parents were born in a northern state in India called Punjab, so I am Punjabi, and the religion I practice is Sikhism. Other things about me are that I love to travel. So far, I have traveled to Canada, India, and England. I have also been to various places in the U.S. Over the last year, I have developed a love for reading. My favorite genres include fiction and true crime. If I’m not reading, then you can probably find me watching TV. One of my all-time favorite shows is “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”  I also love music. It is part of my everyday life from playing the violin, learning to play the piano or just listening to music. I’m so excited to be on staff, and I can’t wait to see what The Journal brings this year!

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