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You're not a fan of It Girls, you love their PRs

How the latest TikTok nano trends sparked a controversy in the beauty industry

You're not a fan of It Girls, you love their PRs  How the latest TikTok nano trends sparked a controversy in the beauty industry

Faced with trends like Blueberry Milk Nails, Strawberry Makeup, and Cinnamon Cookie Butter Hair, it is hard not to wonder how we got ourselves into this situation. Users such as and baklavababie, who have criticised the phenomenon on TikTok and shed light on the absurdity of new trends in the beauty world, have asked this question to their followers. Initially created as a nickname to define the light blue hue of Sophia Richie Grange's new nails, #BlueberryMilkNails (which now has 45 million views on TikTok) is nothing more than the result of PR agencies and journalists rebranding a simple blue nail polish to justify the publication of a new front page article on the It Girl. It is a seemingly innocuous process from which both sides benefit - the agency publicises its client, the journalists make record clicks - but one that reinforces the criticism pushed against the beauty industry. Because if you thought that make-up and the New York stock exchange had little in common with each other, you were wrong. Just as Jordan Belfort, in the final scene of Wolf of Wall Street, teaches his job to stock market newcomers by asking them to sell him a pen, so the beauty industry exploits nicknames to motivate consumers to buy new products. The key, Belfort explains, is to create a need.

One can recognise the fashion of a decade by looking at the most beloved faces of that period, from Marilyn Monroe to Edie Sedwick and Twiggy, from Stevie Nicks to Grace Jones and Iman. Up until the y2k era, the It Girls - a term created in 1927 thanks to the film It starring Clara Bow - emerged naturally, with a girl being chosen by pop culture enthusiasts based on her style, personality and entourage, all stylistic codes that back then were enough to sustain a long-lasting success. While Jennifer Aniston's hairstyle and Paris Hilton's fuchsia followed one another over the years, today we are witnessing It Girls' increasingly rapid changes in style, all of them being forced to rewrite their image daily, in order to remain relevant in the social entertainment landscape. The ever-increasing insistence of beauty trends is the unintended but predictable result of the tendency on the part of the stars' PRs to push the image of their clients in every possible way, even if it is not known whether the chicken or the egg was born first. Behind the trail of articles we see every day about Sophia Richie Grange's new nail shape or Hailey Bieber's new hair colour, there are PR agencies writing press releases about their client's latest sneeze, journalists approving the news, and us consumers feeding the new releases with clicks and purchases. In the beginning, watching every trend be born and die in the space of a week had become almost amusing, between Tomato Girl Summer and Brownie Glazed Lips, but now users have reached the limit.

@kimmymichellee I mean what's left to say that hasn't already been said…. #lattemakeup #blueberrynails #brownielips #strawberrymakeup #tomatomakeup #haileybeiberhair #glazeddonutskin #greenscreen original sound - Kimberly Beauty & Fashion

Contemporary society's obsession with aesthetics, triggered by the new cult of image born on social media since the entry of the selfie camera, has brought advertisers, marketers and pr people in the beauty industry to the brink, victims and executioners of a system that preaches the rebranding of everything and everyone. The interesting aspect of this new controversy is that, although we are all evidently aware of the problem, we keep buying new nail polishes. On the one hand we have deinfluencing, the compilations invented by some online creators to convince their followers not to buy any more items, and on the other the common knowledge that the consumerist society we have grown up in will never leave us alone. The only way to escape it, if only for a moment, are memes.

Just like selling is all about creating a need, beauty marketing doesn't invent Blueberry Milk Nails in an equivocal way, but by appealing to the need for approval that lives inside of us, by packaging a hint of community in a bottle. Buying the blue nail polish that Sophia Richie Grange put on won't get you her level of wealth and success, but it will make you feel part of an international army of attractive and popular girls for the duration of a brush stroke. And while some are rebelling, revealing on social media the problematic machinery behind Bieber's new chocolate-tinged-caramel-salted-brown hair, the beauty industry, apprehensive mother of the It Girls of 2023, is looking the other way, picking up a new packaging, and asking the stars' pr, «sell me this mascara.»