Trends can be good. They can be a vehicle for new ideas we haven't thought of before that spark creativity and make our lives easier. For example, there has been a trend in the minimalist fashion movement to only wear neutrals. I hadn't really thought of doing that before but now my wardrobe consists of mainly black. I've paired down to all-black pieces because it simplifies my life and conserves my mental energy and time. Everything matches, I feel good in black and I think it presents a more polished image to compliment my often crazy hair and personality. I also find that black things tend to be more timeless and therefore I keep my pieces longer and can find used pieces that aren't super dated. Both these things are beneficial to my wallet as I save money on clothes and to the planet as I use less of the Earth's resources on new products.
How Following Trends Can Be Destructive
Following trends is not necessarily negative if we've thought about why they're trending, why we want to follow them and how it will affect our health and the health of the world if we follow them. What can be destructive is if we don't think about these motives and implications and instead simply follow what the media and important voices tell us we should be doing. We often do this out of a variety of different fears.
The Fears that Pressure us into Trends
These fears usually have something to do with not fitting in or not being accepted by a group that we respect or even the whole world. This is a valid fear because community and togetherness are basic human needs for our emotional and mental well-being. It is also valid because there are people who will judge and exclude us based on how "put-together" we are. If we have the current haircut, the trendiest outfit for an occasion, or even the "right" kind of job. We all have this capability and maybe tendency to quickly judge and exclude people from our lives based on surface-level qualities. This brings me to my next realization that:
Reformation starts inside of ourselves
The reason why we can judge and look down upon others who are less up-to-date is because we worry about ourselves. We worry about our own image being tainted by someone who isn't current, in-style or well-respected. On the flip side, observing those people can also make us question why we have spent so much time, money and energy following trends – and that's scary and frustrating. But we need to go there. We need to ask those questions and realize that our own value does not depend on how similar our lives look to the most trendy and well-respected people in our circles. The truth is, they are also struggling with fears and questions of self-worth, being accepted and being valuable.
Do what works best for you
Once we can be confident in our worth as people no matter how our hair, wardrobe or job compares to others we can then begin to explore who we really are. We can ask ourselves what we truly like, are interested in, are passionate about and like the look of. We can also celebrate our particular circumstances, our bodies and decide what we like best for our selves. When we take the time to recognize these things, accept them and celebrate them we can begin to live more freely and fully.
Doing what works best for you, is the best thing you can do for the world
In his book, Let Your Life Speak, Parker J. Palmer suggests "the movements that transform us, our relations, and our world, emerge from the lives of people who decide to care for their authentic selfhood." When we start to live freely, listening to ourselves, what we are best at and what we enjoy, it also allows us to celebrate and respect other peoples differences. When we respect and celebrate their differences, they begin to feel the same freedom to live true to themselves.
Give Freedom by Living Freely
By example, we can also inspire others to love themselves, their quirks, their weaknesses and their strengths. This is when our desire for togetherness and trends can work for good again. Instead of wanting to look like a certain person or tribe in order to obtain togetherness, we can yearn for a kind of togetherness that celebrates diversity and the unique qualities, skills and style that everyone possesses. I believe that when these values are adopted it creates a more balanced and better functioning society, community, and family.
Following our Own Trends
Once we've figured out our own personal style, or the "trends" in our own personal aesthetic, the things we've always been drawn to, we start to live more sustainable lives. We don't need the newest products anymore that have been cheaply made and are meant to only be used for a couple seasons. We can buy quality products that will last for many years and that we will enjoy wearing for many years because they express our own unique selves and what we're about.
These are only my current reflections and ideas I'm working on implementing in my own life. I hope they are helpful to you in some way. I also highly recommend reading Let Your Life Speak by Parker J. Palmer if you are still in the process of figuring and accepting who you are as an individual like I am.