Aesthetics: Community and Style

Though aesthetic communities are often centered around a visual style, they are so much more than pretty pictures.


When surveyed, EBHS students overwhelmingly chose the academia and cottagecore aesthetics, though their reasoning differed.

Annaliese Simons, Bear Hub Staff

For decades, people with similar styles and mindsets have come together in groups. And although subcultures like punk and emo existed long before the Internet, social media has provided an increasingly large space for these communities to develop. Widely known as aesthetics online, these groups of like-minded people often enjoy similar activities, fashion, visual styles, music, and philosophies.

Though they may seem shallow at first, aesthetics are not just about dressing a certain way or listening to the same kind of music. Some, like the nature-focused cottagecore aesthetic, are based around living in a certain place. Academia aesthetics center around a love of learning. Others, like vaporwave and punk, mix a visual theme with a political stance. There’s no end to the many kinds of aesthetics out there, and some get incredibly niche to reflect differences in ideology or style.

A recent survey of 61 EBHS students conducted by Bear Hub shows that students who identify with an aesthetic do so for many different reasons. Emily Ta, 11, identifies with the dark academia aesthetic, which was the most popular option. She feels that academia “embodies the ambiguous sense of sophistication that comes from devoting yourself to a subject: it’s smart, mysterious, elegant.” Though she does love the visuals found within the community, she adds that “the only real established component of this aesthetic is a love of learning. Anything can be academia–you can be as eclectic as you want, but in the end the community comes from that shared devotion.”

Some students do prefer certain aesthetics for stylistic reasons. Barenya Das, 11, likes the academia aesthetic as well. She says, “I really like wearing simple clothes – to elaborate, clothes with little to no rips, sparkles, prints, etc. I also think the colors associated with this aesthetic are very calming, which fits the presence I try to exude.” Kapila Mane, 11, prefers the cottagecore aesthetic, calling it “soft, comfy, and homely.”

There’s no wrong way to enjoy or identify with an aesthetic. Some choose to dress or act a certain way to fit their community, while others simply enjoy looking at clothes or moodboards online. Some run accounts devoted to an aesthetic. But in the end, no matter the specifics, it’s ultimately the shared sense of community that brings people together.