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Davis, California

Sunday, May 26, 2024

The ‘Cottagecore’ aesthetic

What is it and why are we so attracted to it?

Overgrown plants strewn over bricked houses, wispy and whimsical wildflower fields, lace and cotton dresses with wooden baskets filled with food for a picnic—these are all major elements of the cottagecore aesthetic.

“Cottagecore” is used to describe an aesthetic that romanticizes life in the countryside. It’s rustic, it’s cutesy and it takes much of its inspiration from the outdoors and farmlife.

The term was supposedly first coined on Tumblr in 2018, though it can be hard to track the exact time online trends come to fruition it began popping up more on social media throughout the past year in conjunction with the pandemic. In an interview with Vox, Tumblr trend expert Amanda Brennan described how from early March to early April, the cottagecore hashtag jumped 153% and likes on cottagecore posts went up 541%.

Several forms of this aesthetic have sprouted during our year indoors. Artist Taylor Swift’s newest albums “Folklore” and “Evermore” have seemingly adopted the cottagecore look and sound, taking inspiration from Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks. As the song “Dreams” became a TikTok sensation, Nicks herself also resurfaced and became a cultural icon once again with her billowy dresses and whimsical nature. The trend has even shown up on Animal Crossing, because much of the game’s design heavily fits the creative ideals of cottagecore—its coziness and simplicity has been a way for players to give their island the perfect look.

TikTok has also made a large impact on the cottagecore culture, with many TikTokers using their platform to bring this aesthetic to life. Thousands of followers for users like @jesca.her or @rachaelwilsonmusic allow people to see this aesthetic in real life and long for something like that in their own lives as well.

With how strikingly different it is to the reality of how many of our lives, why has it become so popular?

It might just be in the difference itself that people find solace. The whimsical way of life that is so key to the aesthetic—a simplistic rural life in the countryside—seems much more appealing to many than urban or suburban living, especially the Gen Z-ers who have grown up in a technologically advanced society.

In the cottagecore fantasy world, you spend hours creating natural crafts out of moss and mushrooms. You go to the farmer’s market and pick fresh fruit for a new pastry recipe you want to try.

In the real world, you are stuck in a seemingly endless quarantine and are threatened with a life-endangering virus, spending hours a day looking at a screen and mindlessly scrolling. 

It’s important for us to find ways to cope with reality considering how scary it’s been this year, and in this case, people have taken to fantasizing about a fairytale-like world to escape from it. Why suffer at home in quarantine when you can (pretend to) sit in a garden by a cottage with your gnome friends to pass the time instead?

Written by: Mariah Viktoria Candelaria –– arts@theaggie.org


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