The Old Money Obsession

A new aesthetic trend is emerging on social media. It began on TikTok late last year, and has been slowly spreading to other platforms such as Youtube and Instagram. This trend is known as the “old money aesthetic.” Similar to many TikTok aesthetics, it focuses on achieving a certain look in both personal style and home decor.

Some common images associated with this aesthetic are people wearing blazers and prep school outfits, going sailing in white leisure outfits, playing tennis or polo, lunching at country clubs, and lounging around their stunning historic homes. The idea is to appear discreetly wealthy, elegant, and put-together. The old money aesthetic, according to Hillary Hoffower of Business Insider, is “an aesthetic that romanticizes the aristocratic upper-crust lifestyle, and a certain form of privilege untouchable for many.”

By Pixabay on Pexels

The “old money” trend is not new. In the 2000s, it was known as the “preppy” style – which was historically associated with American prep schools – but Gen Z has given it a new name. However, this new version of the trend isn’t only about aesthetics. It’s also creating discussions about old money in general, and how people of that social class live and operate in society. And trends and aesthetics often point to something that is happening in our society as well, particularly among young people. So what could be happening here?

According to Business Insider, Gen Z is rejecting the “new money” trends of the 2010s (think the Kardashians and the conspicuous consumption favoured by many wealthy people in Los Angeles) in favour of something different. While this may certainly be true, I think there is also something deeper at play. With many young people struggling with crushing student debt, poor job prospects, and unlikely dreams of home ownership, many of us want an escape from reality. Many of us dream of luxuries that we are not able to attain. The world of old money could seem like a beautiful, stress-free fantasy to escape into, if only for a little while.

There are some positives to this aesthetic. For example, dressing in the style associated with this aesthetic often gives a professional look that could be useful for job interviews, business dinners, and the like. Also, the focus tends to be on purchasing quality clothing and accessories. This can help us avoid fast-fashion purchases that wear out quickly and need to be constantly replaced, which feeds the fast-fashion cycle of cheap, often unethical labour practices and overconsumption.

However, the old money trend is not without its issues. Achieving this style requires a certain amount of money that may make the trend cost-prohibitive for many, especially if you are looking to buy high-quality pieces. Aesthetics such as old money and its sister aesthetic, “dark academia” (which romanticizes studying at elite universities such as Oxford and Cambridge), are also often rooted in a level of wealth and privilege that many people cannot attain. In a sense, the old money aesthetic glamourizes wealth. Idolizing the wealth of the upper classes can be dangerous, especially when that generational wealth has, in many cases, been historically based on exploiting others (such as underpaid workers or relying on slave labour). These types of aesthetics also tend to promote an exclusive beauty standard that can make many people feel like they don’t belong. The standard, in many of the images associated with these aesthetics, generally tends to be people who are Caucasian, thin, and deemed attractive by Western standards.

Thankfully, Gen Z seems to be aware of some of these issues. What sets this new version of the preppy/old money trend apart from its predecessors, according to Rebecca Jennings of Vox, is that there are also people who are providing context about the darker history of prep style and generational wealth on the online platforms where the old money trend is gaining popularity. Some people on TikTok, for example, are pointing out the often racist, classist, and conservative history of old money. Others show examples of “old money style” while providing tongue-in-cheek commentary along the way.

Personally, I think that when new aesthetics emerge, it’s important to understand where they come from. This is not to say that we can’t find aesthetics beautiful! However, some styles have unfortunately been associated with people or societies that historically mistreated or degraded others. When investigating a new style, we must be conscious of these historic views and perspectives. As the vintage fashion community likes to say – the focus should always be on vintage style, not vintage values.

What do you think about the “old money” aesthetic? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Authentic Travel vs Tourism – Is Authentic Travel Really Better?

For this first blog post, I will be diving into the topic of traditional tourism vs the growing trend of “authentic” travel. As someone who enjoys discussing trends we are seeing in society and analyzing their pros and cons, I thought this would be a good place to start!

So first of all, what is “traditional” tourism? This is something that many of us are likely familiar with. It tends to involve either going to facilities that are designed to attract people, such as Disney World, or going to famous places that are known as tourist destinations, for example, Paris, Rome, Venice, or the Caribbean. Typically at these destinations, there are a number of tourist “must-dos” or popular attractions such as visiting the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum, or taking a gondola ride in Venice. These attractions often involve crowds, long lines, overpriced meals, and an itinerary that is probably almost identical to everyone else’s. The tourist’s experience of the place will likely be very different to how locals in the area actually live. Although not always necessarily bad, it can sometimes become problematic. When a place becomes too romanticized or manufactured, it can be described as “Disneyfication.” Adam Dennett and Hanquon Song of The Conversation define Disneyfication as “when a place becomes contrived in order to sell itself to consumers, and can expose local people and cultures to manipulation and exploitation.”

Photo by Craig Adderley from Pexels

In comparison, “authentic travel” is a movement that focuses on living like a local and rejecting typical tourist experiences in pursuit of something that is perceived as more real and less manufactured. But what does this look like? Authenticity in terms of travel is hard to define. Perceived authenticity also varies from person to person, since what one person views as an authentic experience may not be viewed the same way by someone else. According to The Conversation, “authentic travel” can encompass all kinds of experiences, from more rural or nature-focused experiences to visiting slums in large cities.

Although traditional tourism has often been criticized, “authentic tourism” may not be ideal either. For example, visiting slums to view the people living there is dehumanizing for those people. And when everyone wants to go “off the beaten track” to find authentic experiences, places that were not intended to accommodate large amounts of people may be overrun and suffer as a consequence. In addition, tourism is a huge industry that employs many people. If no one wants to go to tourist attractions, these people’s livelihoods will suffer.

CNN published an article in defense of traditional tourism, where they describe how the term “tourist” has almost become a dirty word that makes someone appear tacky and out of touch. They explain how large tourist attractions are often big attractions for a reason, and the fact that they are popular shouldn’t take away from their appeal.

I personally agree with this sentiment – if you’re in Paris, why not visit the Eiffel tower or the Louvre? If you’re in London, why not visit Buckingham Palace? Travel is still a luxury for many, and people may not be able to afford to travel often enough to see every local experience. Viewing certain travellers as better than others speaks to a certain level of privilege.

So I say – see what you want to see! Don’t feel guilty for going to “tourist traps” if those are the experiences you want to have and places you want to see. Everyone should be able to have the experiences they want. And if you hate seeing the big attractions or going on typical tours and would rather do something different, that’s fine too!

How do you feel about authentic travel vs traditional tourism? What kinds of experiences do you like to have when you travel? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Countering Unrealistic Standards on Social Media

We all know that what is presented on social media isn’t real life. The highlight reels only show what people want you to see. Filters, Photoshop, and Facetune are everywhere. Gorgeous homes, lifestyles, faces, and bodies that look perfect on social media might not actually be so perfect in real life. We all know this, and yet so often we still compare ourselves and our lives to the unrealistic standards we see. This can be so damaging, to people of all ages, but especially to young people who are more vulnerable to these images.

The question is, how can we stop comparing ourselves? I believe that transparency is key. When people show the world what they really look like, and what their lives really look like, we realize that we are not so different. That we are all humans with human flaws, and that everyone’s lives are often just as messy as our own.

What do I mean by transparency? From influencers being transparent about luxury items or trips they’ve been gifted by brands, to models and beauty gurus being honest about cosmetic work they’ve had done, there are many forms that transparency can take. Without transparency, we can feel not good enough or like we don’t have enough. These feelings can be experienced by anyone, but for women in particular, it can seem like we are constantly bombarded with images of perfection that are impossible to attain. And it isn’t just about looks, either – from having a perfectly clean and beautiful home, to the best diet and perfectly-behaved children, the comparisons are endless.

So, what do we need to see? We need to see influencers being honest about their lifestyles and the sponsored or PR items they receive. We need to see people admit that their home or life doesn’t always look so perfect. We need to see beauty gurus and celebrities being honest about their looks and how they were able to achieve them, whether that is with cosmetic work, expensive personal trainers and aestheticians, or Photoshop. We need to see people of different shapes and sizes, different backgrounds, different ages, people with acne, people with different hair types, all portrayed as being normal and beautiful, just as they are.

Photo by Anna Shvets at Pexels

There are some positive movements gaining momentum. Some of these are by companies, such as Dove, which has run many campaigns highlighting the beauty of all kinds of women. Others are social media movements such as body positivity, acne positivity, and sharing unfiltered no-makeup posts. Some social media influencers are also using their platforms to discuss the unrealistic standards that women often see. These are all steps in the right direction.

How do you feel about the unrealistic standards on social media? Do you ever compare yourself or your life to what you see on social media? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Facebook: We all know social media isn’t real life, and yet we still compare ourselves to the unrealistic images and standards we see. How can we stop doing this, and learn to accept ourselves and our lives? Join the discussion here.

Twitter: We all know social media isn’t real life, and yet we still compare ourselves to the unrealistic standards we see. How can we fix this? Join the discussion.

#RealBeauty #NoFilter #InstagramVsReality #BodyPositivity #BodyNeutrality #SkinPositivity #AcnePositivity

The Toxic Side of Hustle Culture

Even if you’ve never heard the term “hustle culture” before, you’re likely familiar with what it describes. The Finery Report defines hustle culture as “a fast-paced environment that feeds off long working hours and a restless sense of striving for some type of goal,” while The New York Times describes it as “performative workaholism.” My favourite definition is from Celinne Da Costa of Forbes, who defines hustle culture as “the collective urge we currently seem to feel as a society to work harder, stronger, faster. To grind and exert ourselves at our maximum capacity, every day, and accomplish our goals and dreams at a lightning speed that matches the digital world we’ve built around ourselves.”

Photo by Garrhet Sampson at Unsplash

Whatever your exact definition, hustle culture generally promotes going after what you want, whether it’s a career, a promotion, a fit body, or a lifestyle, and pursuing it relentlessly, often with few breaks and little sleep. It takes on many forms, from having a 5 a.m. morning routine, to turning every hobby into a side hustle, to planning and scheduling every moment of your day in order to maximize productivity. Hustle culture is extremely focused on the idea of success – primarily financial success – and the appearance of “having it all together.”

There are so many people promoting this mindset. From social media’s so-called “productivity influencers” to online business gurus, lifestyle gurus, and self-help personalities, this movement is seemingly everywhere. Simply searching the word “productive” on Youtube results in hundreds of videos about boosting productivity and productive daily routines. However, this movement doesn’t only focus on work. Whether it’s your workout routine or your eating habits, everything can be optimized.

This productivity and self-improvement mindset is seeping into not just our work culture, but all aspects of our lives. Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve your life. However, when we become obsessed with achieving success and creating a perfect life, it gets dangerous. It’s dangerous when every aspect of our lives becomes something to be curated, improved, optimized, and perfected.

When we become obsessed with productivity and success, we can also feel guilty about doing things that may not necessarily be “productive.” But it’s okay to do things that aren’t on any checklist. Things like having a quiet Sunday just enjoying your hobbies, without feeling the need to monetize them. Or reading a book, or watching a show just for fun. We don’t have to be productive all the time! Taking breaks has many benefits, and ironically, can actually help us be more productive. When we don’t take breaks and allow ourselves to de-stress, we can end up feeling worn down and burnt out.

Burnout is a real thing that should be taken seriously. It’s also an unfortunate side effect of hustle culture. We need to remember that we have value apart from our outward successes and accomplishments! We matter, just as we are. We don’t always need to be looking for the next thing to optimize or improve. That’s why we must prioritize our health over the hustle. This could mean taking mental health breaks, taking vacation days when you need them, getting more sleep, or just looking after yourself better.

So if you are feeling the pressure of hustle culture, maybe it’s time to stop listening to that productivity influencer, or to unfollow that person who constantly posts about their “rise and grind” lifestyle. There is a difference between content that inspires you to improve your life in a positive way, and content that promotes a toxic mentality and lifestyle. As a general rule, just unfollow anyone who makes you feel like you aren’t good enough or aren’t achieving enough. We are not perfect, no one’s life is perfect, and that’s perfectly okay!

How do you feel about hustle culture? Have you experienced it? What are your thoughts on the productivity and self-improvement mindset in our society? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Facebook: Hustle culture. It pushes us to do more, be more, achieve more, and ultimately lead us – hopefully – to success. But does it actually improve our lives? Check out this article and join the discussion.

Twitter: Hustle culture pushes us to do more, be more, achieve more, and constantly work toward our goals. But does it help us or hinder us? Join the discussion here.

Social Media as a Mental Health Tool?

Social Media as a Mental Health Tool?

As I’ve discussed on this blog before, there are many reasons why social media can be bad for us. The effects it can have on our mental health are one of the most significant. As Forbes describes, social media can be addictive, lead to less happiness and life satisfaction, cause feelings of isolation and jealousy, and ironically, actually make us less social.

These effects are particularly worrying among young adults. According to Pew Research Center’s 2018 study, 95% of the teens surveyed had access to a smartphone, and 45% stated that they were online “almost constantly.” This can lead to FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” which causes feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and inadequacy. Some teens become so attached to social media that they develop what is now known as social media anxiety disorder, where they experience severe anxiety when they are unable to check their social media accounts. Although not yet classified as a clinical disorder, it can still be debilitating and affect a person’s quality of life. The symptoms are similar to many other mental health disorders such as severe stress and anxiety, loss of interest in other activities, distraction at work or school, and withdrawal from friends and family.

Photo by Anthony Tran at Unsplash

So how can we fix this? The problem itself may reveal a solution. With so many people already using social media, why not use social media to our advantage? Some companies are already doing this. BetterHelp, a company that provides professional online therapy sessions, has starting using influencers to promote their services. The influencer, in addition to promoting BetterHelp, will typically include a discussion surrounding mental health in their content. This makes mental health feel less stigmatized and more relatable, as it is coming from someone the viewer or follower trusts.

Whether you agree with influencer sponsorships or not, to me, the most important thing is that these partnerships start a mental health conversation. These conversations show that going through ups and downs in your mental health journey are normal parts of the human experience. This can go a long way in helping people struggling with their mental health feel less alone.

We are also seeing more therapists and mental health professionals offering free advice on social media platforms like Youtube, TikTok, and Instagram. TikTok in particular has seen therapy content soar in popularity, especially among young people. This is fantastic for several reasons. It removes some of the fear surrounding therapy as followers can see what it’s really like, and they can find a mental health professional they relate to quickly and easily. It also makes mental health support accessible regardless of your finances or where you live, and it creates inclusive communities of individuals who can support each other on their mental health journeys. And whether it is a virtual connection or an in-person one, knowing that you have support can make a world of difference, no matter your age or what stage you are at in your life.

How do you feel about the effects of social media on mental health? Do you follow mental health-related content on social media? How do you think we can tackle the issues surrounding mental health in our social media-driven society?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Facebook Post: Social media can be bad for our mental health. But can it also be the solution to some of the widespread mental health problems we see in our society today? Check out this article and join the discussion!

Twitter Post: Social media is a problem for our mental health. But can it also be the solution? Join the discussion here.

#SocialMedia #MentalHealth #FOMO #FacebookDepression #Therapy

Note: If you are an Ontario resident interested in receiving free mental health support, MindBeacon is now offering free personalized support programs thanks to funding from the Government of Ontario.

The Issue with Social Media

The Issue with Social Media

It’s no secret that social media is bad for us. From the recent news exposing that Facebook prioritizes profits over user safety, the rampant spread of political and Covid-19-related misinformation that has led to societal unrest and critical public heath crises, and the mental health struggles it can cause, it’s clear that social media can be a dangerous place. And with approximately 7 in 10 Americans using social media according to Pew Research Center, these issues are widespread.

But how did we get to this point? Lack of regulation plays a key role. Without regulation, harmful information and content can spread unchecked. Some social media companies, such as Twitter, now add labels on certain posts to warn users against misinformation. This is an important step, but adding content warnings or misinformation labels isn’t always enough. People have differing views on what they consider to be misinformation, and may resent interference by social media companies on what they perceive as “free speech.” According to an independent study conducted by the non-profit organization PAI, many of the study participants either felt that the social media company had no right to monitor the accuracy of what users posted on their platform, or believed that adding such warnings displayed a bias by the social media company itself.

So how do we tackle this issue? Perhaps this is where governments can step in. Although government regulation of online content is a contentious issue, some kind of regulation is needed to protect users from harm – especially those from vulnerable populations, such as minors. The Canadian government is currently working on a new bill intended to help curb online hate, and hold social media companies responsible for the content that is posted on their platforms. According to iPolitics, the new bill would require social media companies to remove harmful content within 24 hours of it being flagged. Some are already calling this proposed bill into question. Yuan Stevens of The Conversation believes the 24-hour time limit for blocking harmful content does not provide enough time for companies to investigate the nuances or legal grey areas of posted content, and could result in over-censorship of online content. Many journalists agree with Stevens’ point of view, and have been highly critical of the government’s proposal. In addition, some content is obviously more harmful than others (such as terrorism or child pornography), and there appears to be no difference in how various types of harmful content will be addressed, according to a recent article from the CBC. All of this leads us to the question, how far do we go? And how far is too far?

However, despite the many issues surrounding social media and its regulation, there are still benefits to using social media. Many people feel that social media is an important part of their lives. They have favourite blogs and influencers whose content they enjoy, and they use social media to connect with friends and loved ones. Social media also allows like-minded people to form online communities where they feel seen and understood. I have seen the benefits of social media firsthand, especially during the pandemic, when many of us have been using it to feel connected with each other and with the world despite our isolation.

I still believe in the positive potential of social media. But there are questions that we as a society need to explore. For me, the questions are – how do we make social media a better place, and how do we use it for good?

How do you use social media? How has it affected you? Do you believe that social media has the power for good? What steps do you think that we as a society should take to make social media less harmful? Let me know in the comments below!

Facebook Post:

It’s no secret that social media is bad for us. From prioritizing profits over safety, spreading misinformation that has led to political and public health crises, and generally being bad for our mental health, it’s clear that social media isn’t always our friend. But how can we make social media work for us? Check out this article and join the discussion!

Twitter Post:

It’s no secret that social media is bad for us. The question is, how can we make it better? Join the discussion here.

#SocialMedia #FacebookDepression #FakeNews #BillC36

Images provided free from Unsplash.