The pandemic sucked me into a Gen-Z “aesthetic”

I want to live in a cottage now.

This article contains a lot of imagery saved from online sources. I’ll be more than glad to credit the artists/authors. If you know who they happen to be, please, let me know.

I get it, 2020 put the world in shambles. We are all exhausted and scared, trends are barely a thing when you can’t even leave the house, it’s all about the sweatpants and online impulse buys.

But I’m an adult on TikTok, and I just can't keep it to myself.

Although this is being published in 2021, so who knows, it might be “dead” in a couple of weeks.

But hear me out: people have been stressed since 2016.

Regardless of your political position or where you live, nobody knows what is going to happen next. We may have a vague idea, but overall, our sense of stability has been lost. It’s like John Mulaney once said: “there’s a horse loose in the hospital”, except the world is the hospital and the horse is everything else that is going on, everywhere.

While it may have radicalized some people into political one specter or another, it might as well have caused the opposite effect in others: suddenly, you’re just done and want to leave the city, and move to a cottage in the woods.

Photo by Mary Pokatova on Unsplash

That’s exactly how I feel.

After so many years debating, listening to the news, and extensive fact-checking I… suddenly don’t care anymore. I don’t wanna hear about who’s in charge of which country, I don’t wanna know about Apple’s latest release, I don’t wanna hear about Cyberpunk graphics in videogame consoles, and no, please, God no, do NOT tell me about the newest Netflix show, I don’t care that it got you “hooked up” on chess.

But society has not fallen completely, and I cannot afford to make this radical change… yet. I am an urban adult with adult responsibilities who cannot phantom waking up at 5 in the morning to tend to the cottage… yet. However, I can always romanticize it to cope with the state of the world we live in, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I want to dream about living far far away in the mountains, collecting home-grown strawberries, picking flowers in fairy-ish dresses, and if a serial killer on the run happens to find me, I’ll die a happy woman.

Even if I’m still living in a big city, in an apartment, nothing is stopping me from carrying on with my business as if I was an ethereal cottage lady.

WARNING: This article contains a lot of imagery saved from online sources. I’ll be more than glad to credit the artists/authors. If you know who they happen to be, please, let me know.

Realistic representation of what my life in the woods would look like (Source: Pinterest)

I’m probably not the only one, because TikTok must’ve seen this coming, and thus the cottagecore aesthetic was born.

“What is an aesthetic and how one makes it real?”

As a millennial, I’ll try my best to put in words without cringing but think songs, album covers, pictures, landscapes, architecture, interior design, fashion, makeup… Curate all of it into a cottage theme, and you have the cottagecore aesthetic.

The (cottagecore) aesthetic glamorizes old-fashioned, girly things — like lace, flowers, light colors, lush fields and do-it-yourself projects. It’s light and airy, (…) is a place where “quarantine is romantic instead of terrifying.” You’ll find cottagecore in Taylor Swift’s Folklore album and even on Animal Crossing.

I have a specific theory in my mind that thinks Taylor made Folklore based on the cottagecore trend, but I digress.

The magic about cottagecore is that you can bring elements of that dream life to real-life and maybe, just maybe, make things feel a little bit nicer, which is a huge part of why it sucked me in so hard, especially during 2020.

I wanted to feel some sort of peace and free. And the keyword here is free.

For cottagecore you can dress up and stay simple: think flowery dresses that feel light on the skin (so you can feel pretty while harvesting imaginary home-grown strawberries in your imaginary garden).

Source: Pinterest

Or screw it, be a princess, it’s the 2020's, what’s stopping you?

Source: Pinterest

And it doesn’t stop there, not everything has to be so cut and dry. If you feel like it, you can put on makeup and hairstyles that either evoke the aesthetics of an idyllic life or straight up mimic it.

No rules, just let your imagination flow.

Source: Pinterest
Source: Pinterest

And of course, let’s not forget the plethora of decoration ideas there are out there, so your studio apartment can feel like a cozy cottage in the woods. If you’re invested, you can either do a total budget-friendly, small space-friendly, makeover or sprinkle a few pieces here and there.

In the end, what hooked me up the most was the thought of a life for myself, most of all. No expectations, no comparison, no information, no need to stay ahead in the rat race, catching up with everyone and everything, trying to figure out what the world’s thinking.

And, honestly, I feel like social norms were dropped back in March, and I can’t see them coming back any soon. So I might well just dress like a cottage fairy.

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