The Clean Girl Aesthetic is Part of a Bigger Erasure Problem
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 era and has wound its way into Western perceptions of beauty since then. The look is exclusive, is based on certain assumptions, and anyone else who does not fit that aesthetic is deemed “subpar”.
Those are some surface problems.
There is a deeper problem: That is that this look has been worn by Black and Brown women and femmes for decades. Literal decades. At least going back to the 1980’s decades. Yet the look is popularized when white, able bodied, typically thin, young women deem it so. This aesthetic had been called out since its popularization for this very reason.