From VSCO girl to e-boy: These are the aesthetics of 2020 (find out which one you are!)
Are you soft or edgy?
You’ve heard of the Myers-Briggs test, psychic horoscopes and heck, even quizzes at the back of a teen magazine to categorise your personality traits. Now, there’s a new (and totally hip) way of finding out your character make-up: aesthetic personalities. Whether it’s the summery VSCO peeps or the trendy e-boys/girls, each aesthetic comes with its own set of character traits that run through (most) individuals that identify with said aesthetic.
Ahead, we’ve curated a ‘starter pack’ of the most popular aesthetics in 2020 for your viewing pleasure (psst, stick around for the quiz at the end of this!). For some, this could feel like you’re staring into a mirror while for others, this might be the “A-ha!” moment you were looking for in your quest for self-discovery (yes, it is that dramatic because having an aesthetic you can stick to can be cathartic for many folks out there).
VSCO filled the T-shaped hole in the Internet-sphere during the Tumblr recession around 2018—and another youth subculture was born. Think “Tumblr girls meet surfer vibe” and you’ve got VSCO girls. Their name comes from a popular photo-editing app, VSCO (commonly pronounced as “visco”) due to the app’s aesthetic: vibrant, saturated filters with a tinge of grain and the like. The quintessential VSCO girl is considered the “It girl” of social media who makes being environmentally conscious cool again amongst Gen Zers while sipping their pastel Starbucks drinks (with a metal straw, of course).
Yes, we all know VSCO girls but VSCO boys are totally a thing—because saving the environment is not just limited to one gender. They are basically the equivalent of their female counterparts except they swap out the typical friendship bracelets for their tried-and-tested beaded bracelets or rubber wristbands (although they wouldn’t mind wearing one you made, of course); and floppy bangs over loose beach waves.
Typically associated with the app that rose above and beyond the lockdown occasion, e-girls and e-boys (more on them later) have quickly gained Internet fame for being the poster children of the TikTok phenomenon. The “E” doesn’t stand for “emo”, much to popular belief, and actually stands for “electronic” due to their cyberpunk aesthetic. It’s not hard to see that it has its roots in Tumblr—remember when grunge was a thing? E-girls are the modern grunge girls who now have sad pop music to dance to in their bedroom.
The same can be said for e-boys: they had their time on Tumblr as the edgy skater boy who dressed in nothing but ripped jeans and beat-up Converse; but this time round, they’ve swapped them out for striped turtlenecks and layered silver accessories. They’re also not afraid to paint their nails black for the added coolness.
Cottagecore is a much more niche aesthetic that hasn’t entirely made it to the mainstream public (yet) but it still has a large following for those who are committed to the look. Cottagecore is “grandma chic” personified: it’s an online movement that celebrates all things folkish, the harmony with nature and a romanticisation of urban life that welcomes traditional forms of craft such as foraging, sewing, pottery and the like. Basically, if your grandparents had an Instagram detailing their day-to-day lives, they could totally tap into this up-and-coming aesthetic.
The soft boi is the modern Internet’s response to toxic masculinity. Unlike past boy bravados who don’t talk about their feelings and grew up in traditional gender norms, soft bois are deeply emotional guys who can appeal to your sensitivity and readily have a bunch of deep movie quotes up their arsenal for when they need it. They are artistically and/or musically-inclined and declare themselves as allies at feminist rallies, advocating for equal pay and sexual liberation. Some fan-favourite soft bois include Tom Holland and Timothée Chalamet.
If 90s kids were to have an aesthetic, it would be this. Vaporwave was born out of the electronica music genre and became a visual art form around the early 2010s. Much like cottagecore, vaporwave is an aesthetic that reminisces on the past— albeit a much more recent one—ranging from the 1980s to the 1990s. Typical vaporwave ephemera include early Internet imagery such as Microsoft Windows web designs, glitchy art, trippy acid-dripped images, gameboys and more.
Plant moms are often described as shy, introverted and creative individuals who love spending time at home with their plants (it may sound sad but it really isn’t). The plant mom is a maternal plant hogger who loves all things nature and doodles in her bullet journal in her spare time. They’re generally very laid back—until they see that you haven’t watered your plants in a week and you’ve used a few plastic bags too many (she always carries totes-within-totes for this very occasion).
So, what are you waiting for? Now that you know which aesthetics are all the rage, take the quiz below to find out which of these aesthetics you are!
PS. Finding out what aesthetic you are is fun and all but it’s worth remembering that an aesthetic isn't going to perfectly summarise your entire personality (we humans are known to be complicated beings, to say the least). Every person is unique in their own way even if they are the quintessential poster child of their aesthetic. It also doesn’t imply that you have to be one thing or another—if you want to be both an e-girl and a 'cottagegirl', there’s no aesthetic handbook stating you can’t. Note to self: let an aesthetic inspire you but don’t let it limit you!