To break down what auntiecore is, you have to first look at its keyword, aunt. However, what precisely constitutes an auntie? Despite our familiarity with the dictionary’s explanation, within the context of culture, especially Black culture, an auntie can be a figure in someone’s life irrespective of blood relation. It’s the cool family member (or stranger) that you look up to, great to turn to for advice, and will likely slide you a $20 bill at the family function. The embodiment of an auntie is more of a spiritual practice and lifestyle than a title granted to you by way of family.
“Core” gained traction on social media, namely TikTok, and Instagram. These viral phrases reimagine fundamental aspects of beloved aesthetics. Barbie-core, Aliyah-core, coquette-core, to name a few, are passing fads that Generation Z continuously shares on their social feed. The viral term “trend core” spikes on Google every night, as young individuals seek inspiration to cosplay. However, auntiecore transcends seasonal trends.
The style of an auntie exudes a sense of elegance, subtly lavish, all the while, maintaining a sense of individuality. Aunties are not chasing trends with the aspiration of riding the wave of the latest viral TikTok sensation. Their attire isn’t confined to the current season alone; instead, it reflects a fashion that rises above transient trends, prioritizing a confident comfort rooted in one’s own identity.
There’s a sensibility to their style — an auntie and uncle, especially within the Black community, love a good sandal. Whether it’s the sandal that displays wisdom on the grill, or simply a good flip flop, auntiecore knows no bounds. For some, it’s elevating their look to a pixie cut for a more mature look. In the south, baptist church mothers raised in the Black south don’t leave the house without a pair of pantyhose and a purse that matches both their shoes and hat. It encompasses a realness, with class, and etiquette.
In contrast to trends like Barbiecore, auntiecore boasts a longevity that extends beyond the buzz of a movie premiere. Stemming from our nostalgic recollections, auntiecore captures the essence of the beauty we hold in high regard. Teens dressing up as their African aunties on TikTok is, in part, a joke, but also a token of playful admiration. The viral Aunty Natasha has a stream of content related to the auntiecore aesthetic with 7.2 million likes on TikTok. Gen-Z’s exploration of an aesthetic through clothing, makeup, and attitudes are all essential facets of viral trend core.
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For women, the auntiecore aesthetic is a rite of passage into womanhood, learning to mimic their aunts, mothers, and grandmothers’ lifestyles. From cultural styles to social mannerisms, aunts are a symbol of beauty, wisdom, and influence for their nieces, nephews, and other family members. The predominant depictions within the currently popular auntiecore aesthetic often feature African aunties wearing patterned dresses and adorned with richly pigmented makeup.
Black auntiecore, however, has a more serious take on beauty. Although teased on TikTok for their mannerisms and attitudes, the beauty of Black aunties transcends. Young people want to look like Black aunties, not just for viral TikTok videos, but in real life. From films such as B.A.P.S. (1997) and Hair Show (2004) to the styles of yesteryear, Black auntiecore is the desire for not only their look, but the essence of their being. Unlike other “-core” aesthetics, these symbols of beauty are neither new, nor a temporary trend for Gen-Z to dispose of. The term “auntiecore” is a description of our cultural beauty.
Not only in the Black community, auntiecore is a common theme across all minorities. Indian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern and other depictions of aunts across cultures contribute to the microtrend. The auntiecore aesthetic is a general representation of the mature women we know and are familiar with. Auntiecore is more than just a TikTok aesthetic — it gives visibility to the women in our family and friendship circles that never cease to share their opinion, always smell good, and take pride in their appearance.
While it can be considered an aesthetic, auntiecore pays homage, and serves as a right of passage for the young women who are becoming just that, aunties. The trend serves as a broader portrayal of the women who serve as the pillars of our communities, particularly within communities of color.