Every morning, junior Amelia Lagna sits down in front of her mirror, preparing to do her makeup for the day. Before she starts, Lagna contemplates what aesthetic she wants to achieve through her look: soft and sweet, or edgy and grunge.
Through social media apps such as Pinterest and Instagram, teens save photos with a common theme that they feel a connection with and label it as their aesthetic: a perfect way to experiment with the concept of artistic identity and self expression.
“Aesthetics are most definitely a form of art,” Paly art teacher Tracey Atkinson said. “One often considers the elements of art, such as color and shape, and the principles of design, such as balance, unity and pattern when making aesthetic choices.”
Aesthetics often reveal or represent the owner’s personal traits, making each one unique to each individual. Sophomore Saniyah Syed said her aesthetic is mainly grunge and vintage inspired and incorporates darker colors.
“I’ve always been a creative person, so I like to reflect my personality with my aesthetic and style,” Syed said.
Lagna said she doesn’t like to limit herself to one aesthetic, constantly adjusting it based on her mood.
“Normally, my aesthetic is simple and cute, but sometimes I like wearing black and going for an edgier look,” Lagna said.
Paly art teacher Sue La Fetra said sticking to a single aesthetic can restrict one’s artistic expression.
“I think being yourself is important, but trying out different aesthetics can be freeing,” La Fetra said. “Who among us is only one type of person all the time?”
Like many teens, Syed said her aesthetic is a creative outlet where she can freely express herself through fashion, makeup and art.
“I tend to wear a lot of accessories, like big earrings or layers of necklaces,” Syed said. “I also like to wear a lot of colorful tops and oversized jeans.”
According to Syed, her aesthetic gives her the confidence to wear clothes that are more out of her comfort zone and helps her express her individuality.
“Before I started really expressing myself, I cared a lot about what people thought about me,” Syed said. “But when I focused on myself, I became much happier.”
Lagna said exploring different aesthetics has opened up creative doors for her to personalize more aspects of her life.
“Anything that can be artistically inclined, I like making it personal to me,” Lagna said. “I can spend way too much time just trying to find an aesthetically pleasing Spotify playlist cover.”
Lagna said she also often takes inspiration from social media and her friends when choosing her outfit for the day.
“Sometimes, I’ll find something cool on Instagram and I’m like, I’m doing it!” Lagna said.
Additionally, Syed and Lagna said they both add elements of their aesthetic to their own Instagram posts through cut-out images, filters, color blocking and other effects.
“When I post, I don’t really have a specific theme in mind (for my picture),” Lagna said. “I just like having fun and making an edit that I think is cool.”
Lagna said conveying her personality through art and her aesthetic is important to her identity and self-image.
“I think just having that ability to express yourself is so great because I’m naturally an introverted person, so the way I present myself matters a lot to me,” Lagna said. “I want people to be able to look at me and know something about me.”
Syed said she encourages others who are struggling to be an authentic version of themselves to find their artistic style.
“Having an aesthetic is beneficial when discovering who you are: you learn a lot about yourself when you focus on your self-expression,” Syed said.
La Fetra said she thinks an aesthetic can improve someone’s perspective on life and help them see beauty in the mundane.
La Fetra said, “Appreciation for the simple things can make life worth living when everything else is going wrong.”