De-Influencing Yourself


A rack of repurposed clothes hanging. (PHOTO: MADDY MONROY)

By: Maddy Monroy

From VSCO scrunchies to Coquette bows…


It is easy to feel like you cannot keep up with trends. There always seems to be a new aesthetic that fills up your entire For You page. Suddenly, everyone has the same clothes, room decor and music taste, leaving you feeling stuck two months in the past. 


How does this happen?


Social Media, as a whole, allows us to watch and interact with personal content that is not accessible through traditional forms of media like movies and magazines. From hours of scrolling through endless content on TikTok, we create parasocial relationships with content creators and influencers that we enjoy watching, or even look up to.


Through these parasocial relationships, audiences give influencers a level of trust and credibility in their head. These parasocial relationships are key to motivating us to participate in trends.


TikTok has fueled our desire for constant novelty, making our consumption habits more rapid than ever before, especially in fashion cycles.


With the rise of microtrends, Tiktok has added more fuel to the fire of the fashion industry’s contributions to high consumerism. Popular affordable clothing brands like Shein or H&M are often poorly and cheaply made, which allows consumers to participate in microtrends on a large scale. 


Because micro-trend items are typically low quality and inexpensive, consumers feel more at ease disposing of them when a new aesthetic gets popular. The rapid turnover of clothing production and disposal has detrimental effects on our environment and wallets. A study from Earth.Org showed that we waste about $500 billion every year from throwing out clothes pre-maturely. 


Kristin Rowe, an assistant professor of American Studies at Cal State Fullerton, explained that TikTok trends are very persuasive in giving us something to desire. TikTok trends often announce which aesthetics are “in” and provide links to adopt said aesthetic into your life. 


With TikTok influencers’ ability to make trends go viral rapidly, items often sell out, adding a sense of urgency to participate in trends. Fear-mongering captions on influencer’s videos like “Run, don’t walk” and “Please don’t sell this out,” contribute to this sense of urgency. These trends thrive off of making you feel like your life depends on whether or not you can get your hands on the next big trend.


Here are some tips from Rowe on how to become a more mindful consumer:


1. Create Space

Social Media makes purchasing extremely convenient, especially now with functions like TikTok Shop. Instead of impulsively buying something, create space between the time you see the item and the time you purchase it.

“Some people do a week, some people do a month, even 2 days can make a difference,” Rowe said.    

By creating space, impulse buys are non-existent, and you will often forget about what you wanted in the first place.


2. Make a Wish List

Making wish lists can also help with impulse purchases. It follows the same concept of creating space, but instead you save the item you want for later! By keeping a wishlist, you will have a curated list of things you have been wanting for a birthday, holiday or even just as an excuse to treat yourself occasionally.


3. Buy Intentionally

When browsing new clothes you want to purchase, ask yourself questions about how you plan to use it. You want your clothes to be used to their fullest potential. Some intentional questions include:

    • Do I have an occasion where I would use or wear this?

    • Will I use this in a month from now? A year? Five years?

    • Do I currently own something that serves the same function? 

By asking yourself these questions, you can become a more responsible consumer for both your wallet and the environment.


4. Be Honest with Yourself

Being in tune with your personal preferences makes it easier to decide what to buy and what to skip.

“It is very easy to be influenced when you do not know who you are. And that is true for most things in life,” Rowe said. 

Try to stay true to yourself when making new purchases by asking these questions:

    • Do I actually like this? Or do I like it on somebody else?

    • Does it match my lifestyle?

    • Does it match my personal style?


5. Try Thrifting & Upcycling

Being a responsible consumer does not mean you are banned from exploring new styles and hobbies. There are many responsible ways to explore fashion. When wanting to try out new styles, check out a thrift store first. By experimenting with new styles at a thrift store, buying new clothes becomes less of a financial risk while simultaneously counteracting fast fashion. If you have the ability, you could even try to upcycle your own clothes. Exploring your style is great, but high consumerism is not.

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