Blueberry milk nails are TikTok’s latest beauty trend to sweep the app.
But rather than buy into the hype this time, Gen Z is using this trend as a vehicle to question why contemporary culture has left us so desperate for a sense of self that we’re supposed to be excited about…blue nail polish.
The discourse about blueberry milk nails and Gen Z’s reaction to this trend was started by a creator named Caitlyn, who posts content that inspires critical thinking about capitalism, philosophy, and culture.
Caitlyn noticed that this particular trend was sparking outrage among Gen Z as it so clearly feels like a marketing ploy.
If it’s not obvious, ‘blueberry milk nails’ are just light blue nails re-packaged to appeal to Gen Z’s obsession with labels and aesthetics. Thousands of TikTok users have posted videos and comments criticising how transparent this is.
In a TikTok video, which has over 2.9 million views at the time of writing, Caitlyn uses blueberry milk nails as an example of how “identity is shaped by capitalism”.
She compares blueberry milk nails to ‘starter pack’ memes, noting that a large portion of our sense of self under capitalism is constructed by things we consume and how those things fit within certain identity boxes because most people don’t have the time or resources to explore who they actually are.
“Capitalism only offers us the perception of choice. But these starter packs that people are posting about themselves are basically manufactured by focus groups about an ideal client base for a particular product,” she says. “These products and our relationship to them is becoming a kind of proxy for a sense of person.”
Caitlyn suggests that under capitalism, self-discovery is “reserved largely for those who can afford it”, so corporations manufacture “cheap substitutes” for us to shape our identity around. These substitutes help us express who we want to be.
Several creators have stitched Cailtyn’s video, like @gabzilla_rawr who suggests that our obsession with going viral has contributed to the rise of these manufactured identity “trends.”
Unlike for previous generations, she says there is now a known formula on how to go viral on TikTok, which includes how you look and what your life looks like on the app. The rise of TikTok has made it increasingly common for young people to adopt a manufactured identity, given that we’re rewarded for it by going viral or building a following. Basically, Gen Z’s identity is lost in trying to beat the algorithm and become TikTok famous.
While this all might sound quite grim, the discourse around blueberry milk nails is a good sign that Gen Z is thinking critically about the forces that inform contemporary culture, as well as what shapes their own personal identities, both on and offline.