At Tumblr’s peak, I was not old enough to fully understand and appreciate the cultural impact it had, and therefore cannot experience the comeback of the website and its’ individual subculures. Reaching its peak during the mid-2010s, everyone who is anyone knows what tumblr is and who the clientele were. Winged eyeliner, dirty black Converse, fishnet tights, faded band tees, Lana Del Rey, and a general air of depression and insanity. The modern fixation with beautiful, tragic, insane women is nothing new, it stems from the age of notes and general depravity. But tumblr was a platform where girls themselves began to embrace the sadness, the angst, the insanity, the heartbreak, the suicidal thoughts and post it for the world to see.
The return of Tumblr is solely attributed to the rapid pace at which TikTok churns out new aesthetics at the speed of light (see more on the microtrend monster). But instead of raking our claws across the corset section at a local vintage store, we have seen the prominent shift from Y2K of 2020, which I mourn dearly, to the late 2000s and now the early 2010s. Who knows? We could even be looking at a VSCO comeback in 2023. Adolescent aesthetics of millennials dominate TikTok and aim to capture and recreate the intense nostalgia for their viewers. Because of this relatively new medium where fashion is created and fixated upon at such a rapid pace, it’s much more about the presentation of the outfits, where nostalgia always wins.
Tumblr not only influenced the fashion sector, but moving back to the “sad girl” phenomenon, it normalized the presence of unhappiness and mental illness in girls by allowing them to vent to complete strangers who would all build off of each other. While such a cycle normalized depression and anxiety, since girls were openly talking and being validated in their feelings, one has to wonder if such a community would also perpetuate it. As soon as someone has a great day, feels understood or seen by a person in their life, they are no longer part of this tightly knit online circle. Additionally, if someone’s followers have come to expect vastly oversharing negative experiences, the author has the need to continue producing that content for them, as their audience provides them with validation and satisfaction. Such behavior could lead these girls into an unwillingness to accept help, or improve their life circumstances. After all, misery loves company. And the prime muse for the tumblr girlies was Miss Lana Del Rey.
Lana Del Rey, a hallmark of the tumblr girl aesthetic, lifestyle, and community has been criticized on many accounts for her glamorization of violence and depression, with lyrics such as “he hit me and it felt like a kiss,” from Ultraviolence. Lana Del Rey sings about pain and sadness as if she enjoys it, something which resonated with a lot of girls, as it takes negative destabilizing emotions and gives them a new and motivating purpose.
While this may seem to be a scathing review of a platform you’ve never personally set foot on, don’t be afraid. Personally, I’m looking forward to tumblr’s increasing revival. Along with the influences of fairycore and coquette, I think that tumblr could be the step in the right direction of reversing the disgusting hold that TikTok has on the fashion industry. If there is anything I have learned through frequenting the website myself or by word of mouth, it is that tumblr is the social media of permanence. Tumblr is meant to stay. It has flown under the radar for too long and now, you’re all going to be sorry.
If you’re interested in learning more about tumblr’s comeback: