The Original Clean Girl Aesthetic
Photographed by Kylah Newell of
By Maddi Hill
TikTok has introduced many micro-trends and aesthetics. For a month or two, we have been intrigued by these trends, but they disappear as quickly as they appear. Micro-trends remained this way until the clean girl aesthetic took over.
There is something about the clean girl aesthetic, with its slicked back hair, glossy lips and glistening gold jewelry. This look is all the rage, but it is not anything new.
The trend centers on thin, young and wealthy white women. The look is often credited to white celebrities like Hailey Bieber and Bella Hadid. Although they get credit, they are not the creators of the look.
Black and Brown women are the original clean girls.
The idea of the clean girl look has existed in Black and Brown communities for decades. Slicked back hair, glossy lined lips and gold jewelry are all a part of Black and Brown culture. Yet, it was only popularized once white women started wearing it.
Many Women of color have pointed out the double standard in the aesthetic. Throughout childhood, and even now, the look was deemed “ghetto” and “Trashy” on Women of Color. But white women receive unending compliments for the style.
Slicked back buns were a simple way for Black and Brown women to do their hair. But, as children, they were often bullied for the hairstyle. They were told their hair looked “dirty” and “greasy.”
Black and Brown women have expressed there is nothing wrong with wearing this style. The problem is making it a trend and not giving credit where it is due. White women have treated this look as a new aesthetic created by them.
Hailey Bieber’s “brownie glazed lips” is a perfect example of this. Bieber posted a video to her Instagram showing off her new favorite lip combination. In the video, Bieber gives a tutorial on how to recreate the look. She shows herself lining her lips with brown lip liner and covering it in lip gloss. After she called it her “brownie glazed lips.” The problem? This lip combination has been a staple in Black and Brown culture.
The clean girl aesthetic is not the only trend originated from black and brown culture that white people have made their own.
Skin slugging is an example of this. Slugging is the act of sealing moisture into your skin after cleansing. It was labeled the next big thing in skincare. Yet, people in Black and Brown communities have been doing it forever. They just never received credit.
Remember sticky bangs? This was when a white TikTok creator took gel, put it on her baby hair, and called them sticky bangs.
The creator claimed this was something new. However, black women have been laying their “edges” for decades.
How about Bo Derek Braids? These were Fulani Braids renamed.
Boxer Braids? Cornrows renamed.
It is an ongoing practice in white pop culture to take elements from Black and Brown people and use it as their own. Elements are stripped from their origins and repackaged for white consumption.