The Clean Girl Aesthetic is Part of a Bigger Erasure Problem

When beauty and racism combine

Whitney Alese
Momentum
Published in
4 min readAug 18, 2022

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For weeks, beauty sites and pages have been promoting the “clean girl” aesthetic, a look that is essentially a maturation of the “model off duty” look with minimal makeup, glowing skin, full natural brows, pulled back hair (bonus points if you are using a claw clip) a glossy lip, and bold gold jewelry, usually big hoop earrings.

So what is the problem with this look?

Well, there is the low hanging implication of cleanness.

The first implication is if using minimalist make up makes you “clean” then the opposing view of wear makeup somehow implies that you are dirty. The next implication is that if you have acne, hyperpigmentation, or any texture to your skin that you are “dirty”.

There is also a centering of thin, young, wealthy, White, able bodied women, which leaves a LOT of people outside of this “trend”.

There is also the name “clean girl”. Clean implies pure, unsullied, untainted. Combined with the aforementioned group that is historically centered in every beauty trend as the standard of beauty a problems instantly arise. White womanhood has been epitomized as the standard of womanhood. Their femininity in association with purity dates back to the Victorian…

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Whitney Alese
Momentum

Whitney Alese is an award winning writer & creator featured in WIRED Magazine, I-D Magazine, NBC, & Chalkboard Magazine.