If you've been on TikTok over the past few months, you've probably seen or heard of the "coquette" trend. This aesthetic trend is focused on frilly, girly fashion with lace and bows, as well as other cultural elements like music by Lana Del Rey.
Much of the coquette style is inspired by the Japanese "Lolita" style, which emphasizes girliness and elegance and draws inspiration from Victorian and Rococo fashion.
While on the surface, this looks like most other aesthetic and style trends on the internet, there is a darker side to the coquette aesthetic. One of the more glaring problems is the pictures that are often used as inspiration for coquette looks.
When going through social media sites, like Pinterest, searching for "coquette" reveals many inspiration photos of mostly thin girls. There's nothing wrong with being thin, but for aspiring aesthetic-havers who don't have that body type, this may lead to body image issues or even disordered eating if they feel they have to be smaller to truly be coquette.
The coquette trend has even entered the world of "What I Eat in a Day" videos, making this trend even more potentially dangerous as influencers post videos of "aesthetically pleasing" small portions of food.
Another issue that comes up when discussing the coquette aesthetic is whether it contributes to the infantilization of women. The fact that the aesthetic emphasizes being petite and having an innocent look has led to some criticism, with some questioning whether the coquette aesthetic romanticizes acting obedient and helpless to fit into a subculture.
This romanticization of the innocent and obedient woman may play into toxic gender stereotypes. This is particularly relevant when you consider how the book "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov has become baked into the coquette trend.
The book tells the story of a man who has a disturbing and inappropriate obsession with an underage girl. Encouraging girls to read and romanticize this story or other stories with similar relationship dynamics could lead to a dangerous or toxic understanding of innocence and femininity.
Despite these more controversial opinions, the coquette trend remains exceedingly popular online. There's no shortage of TikTok posts that are tagged "coquette," and searching for coquette on Depop, an app to buy and sell secondhand clothes, yields hundreds of thousands of results. It's even a popular enough trend to inspire satire videos, showing TikTok users turning roaches or slices of bread into the coquette aesthetic by decorating them with bows and frills.
Given the fact that the trend isn't going anywhere, there are ways to participate in the coquette aesthetic without going overboard. It's important to remember that you can like clothes that are considered coquette without making your whole closet revolve around that style.
Or even if you do refresh your wardrobe to be more coquette, you don't have to change your body, personality or the media that you consume to fit into an aesthetic. Trying out a new style should be fun, not stressful or scary, so don't feel like you have to read "Lolita" or eat a certain way just to be coquette.
Starting out by trying a few coquette-style clothing items is a great way to see if the aesthetic is really for you before you dive into the deeper subculture and potentially become overwhelmed. And as long as you're having fun, you could always try adding a ribbon onto your sandwich to make your life more coquette without doing anything dangerous.