The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

NIEZGODA: the Harm of 2014 Nostalgia

Graphic by Erin Schneider

I have been having severe deja vu, as I scroll through TikTok these last few months. Seeing The 1975’s frontman Matty Healy drink nearly four bottles of wine on stage and kiss fans during “Robbers” while on tour has transported me back to a very specific time and place in my life — 2014 Tumblr. 

For those of you who did not have unrestricted access to the internet growing up, Tumblr was a common social media site for users, typically teenagers, to share and reblog textposts, photographs and gifs that were of anything ranging from Nyan Cat to Lana Del Rey lyrics over a grainy photo of a rainy Paris day.

However, 2014 Tumblr refers to a very specific mindset rather than just a social media site. For most teenagers, 2014 Tumblr represented the desired rebellion of smoking cigarettes while reading John Green’s “Looking for Alaska,” listening to the Arctic Monkeys and wearing only American Apparel tennis skirts, Levi denim jackets, flannels around the waist and Doc Martens.

It has been less than ten years since the golden age of Tumblr, yet trends have started to reemerge. As you slowly scroll through the endless clips, the familiar trends under new names bring both good and bad implications with them.

For every great aspect of the grunge, indie lifestyle that Tumblr hallmarked, there were also several other trends during this time that were problematic and should’ve been left in 2014. Unfortunately, those too have shown up on TikTok.

The TikTok coquette aesthetic is the excess of hyper femininity with frills, Chanel makeup and clothing that resembles children’s pajamas.

As harmless as this may seem, it dangerously crosses the line into the nymphet aesthetic that Tumblr pioneered. The women who indulged in the nymphet aesthetic glamorized toxic and typically unconsensual relationships with older men while fetishizing the look of innocence and childhood.  This aesthetic was intentionally named nymphet“,  which is the nickname the pedophile Humbert Humbert gives to the children he finds sexually attractive in Nabokov’s 1955 novel “Lolita.”

Further, many of the women that are pioneering the coquette aesthetic are thin, white, conventionally attractive women which is consistent with the similar 2014 trend of  pro-ana, which is short for “pro-anorexia”. In this, women would post pictures of themselves that are unhealthily thin. In order to obtain this desired body, they would promote meals that would be 200 calories at most and promote other unhealthy behaviors, such as rigorously working out to obtain a thigh gap that is genetically not possible for some or severe fasting as a weight loss method.

Today, “pro-ana” is thinly veiled as thinspo on TikTok, which includes body checking in order to show off a person’s thinness. Further, they have similarly posted food advice that includes chewing on an ice cube to burn extra calories or eating specific spicy foods to boost metabolism, none of which are backed by science. Because of the rise in popularity, TikTok has now banned “thinspo” and directs those who search for it to the National Eating Disorder Helpline.

To quote Mark Twain,  as unfitting as that is, “history never repeats itself, but it often does rhyme,”. TikTok is not a carbon copy of Tumblr, but instead an updated reimagining of old ideals that should’ve stayed in the past.

I understand why the mentality of 2014 Tumblr is coming back. Nostalgia would not allow it to die out. People love remembering a time that has long since passed; it’s comforting as we pretend that we can relieve the past. However, nostalgia is especially apparent when a person is dissatisfied with their present.

With nostalgia like this, I think it is important to remember that nostalgia is a remembrance of a past — though it is not one that necessarily exists.

That somewhere does not exist. Life wasn’t “better” in the past — it is just something that we have already lived and experienced. Returning there is a rejection of the progress we have made for the desire to be comfortable. Relying on the memory of the past to cope with a difficult present causes us to wrongfully remember times that weren’t better and forces us to make history rhyme.

This story was written by Laura Niezgoda. She can be reached at [email protected].

Story continues below advertisement
Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Marquette Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *