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What does the rise of Mob Wife aesthetics reveal about the perception of women?

Redefining feminine power in the era of new beauty and style trends

What does the rise of Mob Wife aesthetics reveal about the perception of women? Redefining feminine power in the era of new beauty and style trends

For the past few years, the reigning beauty and fashion trend has been the “clean girl” aesthetic. Think Djerf Avenue, slicked-back buns, trench coats with hoodies, and an effortlessly “clean” look pairing little makeup with sleek style. The clean girl aesthetic was all about self-care, cleaning yourself up, and creating a sort of low-maintenance appearance to an otherwise high-maintenance lifestyle. The “clean girl” was someone who never forgot her skincare routine, went to the gym every morning, loved a green smoothie, and didn’t party much. She was the perfect girl — and boy, was she unattainable.

The unattainable beauty trends

@iroslyakova before Bundchen, there were h3roin chics. #dolcegabbana s/s 1998 | #fashion #model #highfashion #90s #viral Doll Parts - Hole

But this isn’t the first time we’ve seen the rise of completely unattainable and slightly problematic beauty trends. Remember Heroin chic? The nod to 90’s model fashion, complete with the idolization of their eating disorders. Heroin chic promoted the beauty of the twig-like body, attained through the delightful diet of cigarettes and coffee and general malnourishment, and flaunted through fashion trends that only look good on those with that specific body type — for example, very low-rise jeans.

The beauty trends "attainable"

@missfirment You might be a rat girl if…. #ratgirl #rataesthetic #notcleangirlaesthetic #cleangirlaesthetic #notthatgirl #wannabeinfluencer #glassjarsareawesome #rugtok #organizedchaos Yacht Club - MusicBox

In retaliation to these unattainable beauty trends, we saw the rise of the “rat girl,” the concept of “rotting,” and the refreshing pastime of going “goblin mode.” All of these trends were in opposition to the idealized perfect lifestyle and body in favor of a more authentic view of femininity. However, none of these trends really embedded themselves into fashion and beauty like the clean girl aesthetic did.

The Rise of the Mob Wife

@askkait Where are the cool TikTok girlies, I need to know about Mob Wife. #mobwifewinter #cleangirlaesthetic #foryoupage original sound - askkait
@paigelorentzen Thank you @kayla trivieri for giving us the #mobwifesra Whats your favorite part about this aesthetic? #2024fashiontrends #mobwife #mobwifeera #fashiontrends #mobwifeaesthetic Surround Sound - JID

That is, until the very recent rise of the “mob wife” aesthetic. With a potentially offensive name, the mob wife aesthetic channels the energy of 90’s iconic mob wives such as Elvira Hancock in Scarface and Adriana La Cerva in The Sopranos. Think square-cut nails, animal-print everything, and a general attitude of “I know what I want, and I’m going to get it.” The “mob wife” is everything the clean girl is not. She parties, she smokes, she drinks, she pals around with the seedy crowd, and she does whatever she likes regardless of whether it’s the “right thing to do” or not. Where the clean girl is Grease’s Sandy, the “mob wife” is Rizzo.

The problem of beauty trends

While the mob wife is the next big trend (grab your red lipstick and leopard print, ladies), it falls into the same trap that the clean girl aesthetic did — it still puts women into a box. Our box might be different in that now, instead of idolizing waking up at 4 am to go to the gym, we’ll be idolizing staying up until 4 am, drinking with our buddies, but we’re still in a box all the same.

With the mob wife aesthetic, imperfection is a trend

@mikaylatoninato I was honestly made for this #mobwife #mobwifeaesthetic #cleangirl #cleangirlaesthetic #mobwifewinter #style #styletips original sound - mikayla

With the introduction of the mob wife aesthetic, we’re moving away from having to portray ourselves as perfect and instead embracing a form of femininity that was historically seen as flawed. Women weren’t supposed to align with criminal wives. We were supposed to be the good girls who took care of ourselves and everyone else around us. In some ways, the embrace of the mob wife is like a floodgate opening to an additional expression of femininity that is neither perfect nor simple — it’s complex, messy, and marred.

While there are sure to be more beauty and fashion trends that spike over the next year, starting 2024 off with the mob wife aesthetic feels not only fitting as we continue to push the concept of womanhood and femininity forward but comforting. It’s encouraging to know that as time moves forward and society progresses, so does our concept of femininity.