My Love/ Hate Relationship with the Word Aesthetic

Aesthetic is a world that I feel like we’re all becoming a bit obsessed with but before I go into why I both love and hate this phenomenon I’m going to be clear of the type of aesthetic definition that I’m talking about.

adjective: aesthetic; adjective: esthetic
  1. 1.
    concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty.
    “the pictures give great aesthetic pleasure”
    • giving or designed to give pleasure through beauty.
      “the law applies to both functional and aesthetic objects”
noun: aesthetic; plural noun: aesthetics; noun: esthetic; plural noun: esthetics
  1. 1.
    a set of principles underlying the work of a particular artist or artistic movement.
    “the Cubist aesthetic”

So when I’m talking about the idea of aesthetic I’m talking about the concern we have with things that are pleasing to the eye and the way in which we group together things to make a specific “aesthetic” eg. someones personal style might be described as their aesthetic.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole concept recently as I’ve realised that I’m becoming increasingly concerned with defining my own personal aesthetic. People have told me that my aesthetic can be described as cosy. I apparently gravitate towards warm simple colours and soft fabrics and that layers are often part of my look. But not only have people used this word to describe my look and my space, but to describe me. I’m quite warm in my approach to others, I can be very shy and even when I know someone well I’m much more comfortable talking about them than myself. I tend to occupy very little space when I sit and walk and have a tendency to cross my arms or snuggle into my clothing or fold myself into a chair. I thought about this for a while and realised that while it was true, and while it was also a very kind and generous description of who I am and how I look, I was both flattered and frustrated by being defined as one thing. The thought of having one single “aesthetic” that can be used to sum me up was daunting and suddenly I felt reduced and restricted to one thing.

I started to resist buying clothing and other things that I liked simply because it was outside of what I’d begun to consider my aesthetic, identified by the people around me. I started trying to fit into a label. And then I realised the problem with the word aesthetic, or at least how we use it today. It’s just another label. Another way of defining people and things. And don’t get me wrong, sometimes we need that and sometimes that’s what’s great about it. I love the idea that people get a cosy vibe when I’m around and that in some way how I dress and how I decorate reflects who I am. I love that that’s a way people think of defining me and  In many ways I’ve always believed that the goal of fashion is to project who you are on the inside on the out.

The problem then is that no one is just one thing. I am indeed a warm and cosy person, but sometimes I want to feel empowered and bold. Sometimes I like the grungy look and sometimes black and white, seemingly cold colours, are what reach for. I think the important thing to remember is that defining someones aesthetic doesn’t mean restricting them to one concept or idea. Whether their fashion sense be hipster or grungy or alternative or whatever, people are more complicated by a defining word and maybe their defining word is not cosy or alternative but just their name. Maybe their aesthetic can only be described as them, making sense?

I was reluctant to choose the new colours for the blog because I’ve always wanted this space to feel cosy and I realise that black and white don’t always achieve this feeling. I had the same issue when it came to decorating my new room. But then I decided that the part that makes both fit my aesthetic is me. I am the cosy and hopefully warm person and that should come through in any space that I create because that’s who I am. I’m not the cosy aesthetic, you know, the cosy feelings people associate with my look are the Leigh-Ann aesthetic.

I’ve decided recently that I really like having a cosy but clean feel. I like block colours and cushions and fairy lights and stationary galore! But I’m a neat freak and I can’t stand clutter and in the Leigh-Ann aesthetic those things work just fine together.

I’m all for aesthetic. I love beautiful things. I am not however for restriction of creativity and unwanted labels so I’m making it my personal mission to make sure I remember that I can appreciate someone’s aesthetic and my own without thinking anything outside of that is any less beautiful.