I wake up in mismatching bed sheets that I should probably wash more often than I do. I pick up a jumper with several stains on it off the floor and throw it on over my old definitely-not-matching pyjamas. I reach for an espresso cup for my coffee and manage to ignore the mess that’s accumulated around my coffee machine. I perch that coffee on my cluttered bedside table next to yesterday’s mug and probably the day before’s as well.
I take some Kmart underwear off of my Kmart drying rack, the contents of which probably should’ve been folded and put away days ago, and choose an outfit that’s probably got cat hair on it. I sit on my couch that’s 9 years old, second hand and shredded to shit by the aforementioned cat, and flick on my TV perched atop an unremarkable Ikea TV unit.
Later, I walk to my 18 year old car, momentarily notice and promptly ignore the dust on the dashboard, and plug my iPhone into a radio cable. Oh how I dream of Apple CarPlay.
Intellectually I know this is a very normal existence, one many others live. The fact I have a roof over my head, a coffee machine to leave messy, and a TV to put on an Ikea unit is a privilege in itself. But after a few too many hours watching videos of people polishing the steering wheels of their Range Rovers, stocking their fridges with ritzy bottled water, rolling out LuluLemon yoga mats and fluffing matching pillows that rest on their plump, probably-often-washed duvet covers, I can’t help but feel somehow ashamed of my unaesthetic life.
Staring at the week-old coleslaw in my fridge, I’ve found myself wondering if there’s any version of reality where I’m on the other side of the ‘day in the life’ video that looks like it was filmed in a showroom.
Having a presence on social media means I partake in the complex world of content creation. Complex in a smoke and mirrors, algorithm battling kind of way, of course. Not in the heart surgery, saving the world kind of way. Whenever I film or photograph any aspect of my life for social media content, I always find myself left feeling somehow inadequate.
Whether it’s a simple mirror selfie of an outfit I’m wearing or a video containing educational personal finance content – I’m always left stumped at how to make it look as nice as everyone else seems to. Is everyone else nudging a pile of dirty laundry out of shot? Why does everyone seem to have aesthetic hardwood floors instead of decade-old beige carpet that’s in desperate need of replacing?! How the hell could they be bothered to hang that artwork with such meticulous placement? And outside of the home, how does everyone get such nice photos of themselves everywhere?! If I ask my partner to take a photo of me with a nice view, I invariably look like a sweaty potato. I just don’t have the patience to get the angles right.
I’m starting to wonder whether the editorialisation of our lives through social media has erased any sense of normalcy of our lives behind closed doors. It was one thing to thumb through glossy magazines or watch heavily edited TV shows that showed glamorous lives of celebrities. But now it feels like the photo-ready lives belong to those among us.
Even when we’re lounging around at home watching reality TV and ordering takeaway, it’s easy to feel like we need to be doing it in a matching loungewear set, on a white boucle couch, next to a mid-century modern coffee table (with coasters???), with an immaculately clean marble island bench just behind us. Even when we’re out for dinner there needs to be a curated top-down photo for a later ‘August dump’ post.
Of course, money needs to enter the chat at some point. It’s not lost on me that many people’s aesthetic lives are driven by the fact they’re wealthy influencers who can afford to renovate a home to their exact taste. Or rent a modern apartment in a great location. Or have a cleaner that means there isn’t a splodge of last night’s dinner on their cooktop 90% of the time. Or buy a cream corner couch of my dreams – actually wash the cushion covers.
But not only do I see non-wealthy people living these aesthetic lives, I just feel that there’s something innately non-aesthetic about me that even a juicy paycheck couldn’t change. And I think that’s where it gets really personal. It’s hard to distance myself simply by socioeconomic status or income, because that’s not the only thing that separates me from this life.
I take terrible photos, even of aesthetic things. I can never get a casual pose right, and I don’t care to take 100 photos trying. I have 64 chins. I leave my washing in a pile. I can live in blissful ignorance of a coffee bean spill. I regularly pop to the supermarket in socks and Crocs with a curry stain on my jumper. I still haven’t mastered how to actually keep up with laundry like a functioning adult. I am completely interior design illiterate – any and all attempts to style my home are utterly futile.
Even if I lived in a fancy penthouse, I’d still do all those things! I’m still my non-aesthetic self. And I’m starting to accept that. Breaking out of my elder millennial comfort zone and embarking on my monthly visit to TikTok, I’m comforted by the #nonaesthetichome hashtag that reflects a lived-in existence that I’m far more familiar with. As cathartic as I find it watching people fill their fridges with stuff from Whole Foods or pepper their Range Rover with endless white Amazon gadgets that create an ASMR soundtrack of clicking, rustling and swooshing, I need to remind myself that my non-aesthetic life is good enough as it is.
If you too are proudly non-aesthetic, welcome to the club. Where scratched sofas, piles of laundry and week-old coleslaw are always just out of shot.