White influencers are repackaging BIPOC beauty trends

TikTok beauty trends discredit BIPOC communities and further Eurocentric ideals

Trendy aesthetic choices can become a facet of erasure.

TikTok beauty trends have surged in popularity alongside the social media platform.

The so-called “clean girl aesthetic” and “brownie glazed lip,” for example, have been co-opted by white influencers and their followers, touting a new way to approach one’s look. 

The former consists of slicked-back hair, minimal make-up, and gold jewelry, while the latter refers to using brown lip liner and lip gloss in tandem. These trends have surged in the last year and now have an insane grip on young women.

Unfortunately, the delivery of these trends lacks diversity; the hashtags associated with them are filled with white women exemplifying the looks. Both trends are equally non-revolutionary as they are exclusionary.

Black and brown communities have been donning slicked-back hair, gold jewelry, and brown-lined lips for decades, and are often put down for their aesthetic choices. When these styles are rebranded and used by white women, however, they become palatable for the masses.

When Hailey Bieber made a video showcasing her new favourite lip combo and called it “brownie glazed lips,” the internet went wild, calling it the new trend.

Bieber may not have claimed to invent the brown liner and lip gloss combo, but because she’s a conventionally attractive, white model, it didn’t matter. The make-up combination was hailed as Bieber’s beauty secret despite women of colour in and out of the spotlight sporting it for decades.

In crediting Bieber and various other white influencers for such beauty trends, we discredit and erase women of colour and their impact in beauty and history.

The clean girl aesthetic is deemed beautiful and carries an idea of cleanliness with it—when embodied by white women.

When women of colour sport the same look, they’re seen as the opposite. This emphasizes the need to fulfill a Eurocentric ideal—white, able-bodied, and thin—to be seen as ‘beautiful.’

The idea of effortlessness is paraded by social media, from the uncomfortably nostalgic and perfectly curated “Day in the Life of” vlogs to the “clean girl” lifestyle, which requires exclusion and rests on membership through idealist curation.

The same characteristics that were perceived as weird or smelly—like slicking back hair with oils—now represent the so-called ‘classical beauty’ that has TikTok in a chokehold.

This isn’t to say don’t wear brown eyeliner or slick back your hair if that’s what you like; just remember it’s not your favourite white influencer who invented these beauty secrets.

Giving catchy names to hair and makeup trends makes things fun, there’s no question on that. However, it can become a facet of erasure for their legacies within communities of colour.

The colonization of culture and beauty is ever-present, yet often overlooked; the only people willing to call it out are people of colour themselves. We see time and time again how the looks, languages, and dances of marginalized communities—especially those of Black communities—are adopted in popular media and rebranded to fit Eurocentric ideals and to benefit white people.

People of colour are looked down upon for bearing the same characteristics that are dubbed ‘revolutionary’ when sported by white influencers on TikTok.

These trends shouldn’t be carried on the backs of white women; they should be attributed to women of colour. They’re a part of history that has been colonized.

In seeing these trends online, acknowledging where these looks come from and calling out the repackaging of such designs is essential.

It’s okay to sport fashion looks and trends as white women, but in doing so, you must credit and recognize the women of colour who brought them popularity in the first place.

Hailey Bieber didn’t create the clean girl aesthetic; women of colour did.

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