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Finding Authenticity Beyond Tik Tok 

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Temple chapter.

When I scroll through TikTok on any given day, my feed will undoubtedly be inundated with videos on how to perform the latest fashion trend. Right now it’s the “mob wife” aesthetic, but two months ago, it was “coquette.” A few months before that, it was “Barbiecore” and “coastal cowgirl…” and about a year before that, it was “coastal grandmother.” And, how could we forget about the ever-present, all too problematic, “clean girl”? 

While some of these trends are cutesy and fun, for those of us grasping at straws just to keep up, it can mean never finding our style at all.  

From the time I could dress myself, I’ve struggled with my sense of “style.” In middle and high school, all I wanted to do was keep my head down and fit in, which meant absolutely no unique clothes. My internal dialogue while I got ready for school every day went a little something like this: What are the other girls wearing? Should I be wearing exactly what they wear or should I change it up? How can I change it up but still fit in? Can I even afford to wear what they’re wearing? In my mind, the “right” outfit mimicked what the cool, popular girls at my school were wearing. And what those cool, popular girls at school were wearing was expensive (the word “Lululemon” still sends a shiver down my spine).  

I can feel my brain switching into that same middle school overdrive now; but this time, it’s when I’m scrolling. As soon as I caught up with the neutrals and linens of the coastal aesthetic, the girls on my feed had moved on to the chunky knit sweater vests and boots of eclectic grandpas. I felt like I was on a hamster wheel of trends, constantly running to catch up with my peers, but never quite making it on time.  

On TikTok and other social media, I feel that individuality is punished and conformity is praised. It seems the creators who get pushed to the For You page are the ones who can keep up with the internet’s current obsessions. Your favorite influencer is probably so iconic to you because they’re constantly able to get on top of the trends and post so many incredible outfits- that you wish you had, of course.  

But what would happen if we stopped consuming anything aesthetic-related? No more pink bows, or oversized button-ups, or cowboy hats, or fur coats. Just you and your opinions. If you could wear anything in your closet right now, what would you wear? 

When I asked myself this question a few months ago, the answer was almost nothing. I was using TikTok and everyone around me as my Pinterest board – buying the things they were buying and wearing the things they were wearing all because I didn’t trust my own style.  

So, how do we begin to block out the social media noise and prioritize authenticity while shopping? My favorite idea I’ve come across is the “3 words method.” Essentially, we pick three adjectives that we want to describe our wardrobe. Then, while we shop, we imagine if an item would fit into those three categories. My three words are oversized, effortless, and feminine.  

While this idea gained popularity from creator Allison Bornstein on Tik Tok and YouTube, your favorite fashion brands may have been using 3 words to describe their identity for years. For example, Nike’s three words are performance, authenticity, and innovation.  

Instead of the three words being limiting, I believe they expand our idea of what being authentic to ourself means. My three words truly embody what I want my style to be; and now, when I’m on TikTok, I can quickly scroll past the mob wife aesthetic – it’s just not me! Instead of pretending to express myself in a way that’s not authentic, I can lean into a style that’s uniquely me.  

In the realm of noisy aesthetics and social media influence, it’s easy for us to get lost in what’s “in” at the moment. But amidst that noise, finding solace in authenticity is powerful. Use the 3 words method, follow your favorite trend, or do something completely different- as long as it feels true to you. Cheers to embracing our unique style and confidently stepping into a world where our fashion choices reflect the genuine essence of who we are.  

Grace Jecelin is an opinion writer for the Her Campus Temple chapter. She's a double major in criminal justice and gender, sexuality, and women's studies, and is always more than happy to talk about anything, but truly adores nothing more than a deep talk about the state of the world. Grace is also a staff writer for another women's magazine on Temple's campus called REFINE Magazine, and she's following her passion for transformative social change by completing an internship through Temple's criminal justice program. She also works as an Office Assistant at the library and loves getting to interact with so many students every day! On any given day, you can bet on finding Grace typing at her laptop in a Philly cafe, the library, or in her bed under her favorite pink blanket. She also loves reading (romance, please) and crocheting, and is finally learning to embrace her grandma era. When she’s not being a homebody, she loves hanging out with her friends and trying new restaurants (if there’s pizza on the menu, she’s tried it).