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  • Writer's pictureRachael Yahne

Mob Wife Aesthetics & Ever-Morphing Social Identities

When we look for - and follow - social trends online, what we're really looking for is ourselves.

woman looking in mirror

This is not a commentary on cultural appropriation, but instead a loving awareness of the emotions that drives us to define ourselves through social trends in the first place.

The conversation on cultural appropriation is real, and important. I am not partaking in the Mob Wife aesthetic, but instead hope to give a small amount of breathing room, respectfully, to the feelings and internal questions that are drawing throngs of women to this or any trend. This is not to diminish nor insult any offensive appropriation happening, but simply to expand the curiosity around why we choose to follow certain aesthetics, and ever-evolve our personal looks in drastic ways.

As discussed previously, I admit I gently gripped onto Clean Girl out of ambition, which carried an irony in and of itself. It was soothing to imagine a world in which every house hardware carried the same shade of off-white, where the glasses and straws neatly fit into their organizing stations, and the day was made of solid routines, minimalist hairstyles that could always be relied on for a good hair day. The movement further carried the elusiveness of celebrity, wherein we matched the lifestyles of people like Hailey Bieber with our barely existent makeup and lip gloss. Clean Girl gave the illusion of needing very little, but actually required an intense amount of effort and detail-orientation.

In certain ways, Clean Girl felt like a reverting back to a different time, a sort of Stepford-wifery brought into modern day; this time, for ourselves rather than our husbands and neighbors. On certain days, those perfectly polished glass coffee cups with wooden lids felt like proverbial ‘little treats’. They were the simple signifier that I had my life together (finally). That I was able to be tidy, stylish and poised even amidst a demanding job and life. 

On other days, Clean Girl and all it’s accouterments felt damning. The rings they left on the counter proved my ineptitude and inability to manage it all. I couldn’t keep up with even the bathroom drawer; it never remained as organized and pristine as it’s Instagram inspirations. 

As such, I understand the draw toward Mob Wife. She feels like a small but poignant middle finger to such perfectionism. There is a high-fashion element to Mob Wife that makes poetic even somewhat unhinged moments. I see in it women becoming disillusioned by the pressure for a picture-perfect life (quite literally, if it makes it to the gram), and instead choosing to unleash an albeit quiet rage through everyday decadence. What we might call IDGAF attitude. This rebelliousness, as authors Devane and Valentis describe in their book Female Rage, is a worthy and necessary expression, and if kept bottled will sour, spoiling our relationships and ourselves. Mob Wife feels a bit like a nod to this rage, an unveiling of our wild selves. Images of Mob Wife on instagram depict a woman smoking in the kitchen, wearing her best furs for no reason at all. Perhaps to tolerate or even mock her circumstance. A sort of ‘I can do what I want’ liberation with glamor that invited the fun they had kept themselves from while trying to have the perfect home and family.

But today, when marriage isn’t the prevailing factor of a woman’s existence, what does the Mob Wife aesthetic wave its middle finger to? For each woman it might be different: the corporate world. Too-soft potential dating partners frustrating her hunt for a strong family leader, or the ever-popular emotionally-unavailable f*ckboy or situationship. Or it could be her former self; the perfectionistic Clean Girl, aka the ‘good girl’, good daughter or good student she felt the unbearable pressure to be…

Whatever it might be, when I look ahead I see one thing: that inevitably, after we have sufficiently pinged between these seeming opposites, we will again answer the call for our softness and compassion. No, I don’t mean demure innocence, rather a gentler approach to our self concepts and identities. A realism that speaks gracefully and lovingly, but honestly about the hardships of being a woman. A returning to sacred ground, where we are no longer tethered to an exterior aesthetic at all and instead choose to honor the spaces and moments of varying effort. Allowing some mornings to be that we drink our coffee in a mug that matches none of the others, and take our meetings from torn sweatpants in the comfort of our bed. And on other days, we wake up at 5:00am and impress ourselves with looking and feeling our best before anyone else has even logged on. All of it, done with joy and love and acceptance. That in seasons of our life, we may feel more ambitious and tremendous growth can occur, and in others we are in planting phases and our world looks muddier and dirtier while we sow the seeds for a different version of ourselves to thrive.

This ‘middle way’ might be where we truly long to exist, but it is not to discredit the more colorful identities that we also explore. As women we are multifaceted and there is tremendous beauty in the ways we play out our emotions and our different facets so openly. 

Still, whether mob or clean or feral or otherwise, let us celebrate the many ways, and many forms, womanhood has taken to endure the demands of daily life, and honor whatever expression we may be in now. And realize that in looking through our phones, on instagram or in these many social personas and trends, we are really looking for ourselves.


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