The 'vanilla girl' aesthetic is all over TikTok — but there's one big problem

Neutral palettes, barely-there makeup and clean lines are everywhere, but creators are taking issue with this new trend.


We all know and love the “coastal grandmother,” but there’s a new girl on the TikTok block. 

Meet: the "vanilla girl."

She’s minimalist, wearing primarily white and cream shades (hello, "sad beige moms"). But this new aesthetic goes beyond clothing — it’s a whole lifestyle that leans into the joys of comfort and luxury.

From wardrobe essentials in a neutral palette to make up must-haves that achieve a barely-there look to scented candles and cozy bedding, the trend shows vanilla doesn’t always have to be boring. 

While the origin of the TikTok trend is unclear, fashion stylist Liz Teich tells it draws from the “clean girl” aesthetic and “balletcore" that were recently circulating on the social media platform. (Like the name implies, balletcore is all about dressing like a ballerina — no dancing skills required.)

“I think people are looking for something that is just a little bit more natural, but also styled and minimal as well,” she says. “This is still sweet and neutral.”

When executed properly, Teich says the simplistic look can be transformative. She points to the styling in Netflix's “The Watcher," particularly with Naomi Watts' character, Nora Brannock.

Nora Brannock (unintentionally) nailed the vanilla girl aesthetic.Netflix

“It just looks so expensive and elevated and I think that’s why people gravitate towards [the vanilla girl aesthetic] because it’s a really easy way to look elevated," she adds.

In a reel posted to her Instagram account @thenewyorkstylist, Teich shares her take on the trend by mixing in dark shoes and accessories to ground an otherwise all-white look.

But in the same post, Teich points to the controversy surrounding the vanilla girl aesthetic, noting that the name isn't welcoming to everyone.

“I’m all for wearing winter whites (shades of creams) and this really isn’t anything new and can work on anyone, but there’s got to be a more inclusive name on this approachable minimalist trend," she writes.

TikTok users echo these concerns that this romanticized lifestyle may not be for all. Creator @olivialayne6, who captioned her video "the bagel aesthetic" (fitting, no?), asks TikTok users when enough is enough.

“The name and the examples being used for it is suggesting that the aesthetic is about being pretty thin white women," she says.

Not to mention that the vanilla girl aesthetic is basically just another way to describe the "clean girl, the soft girl, the dewy girl, that girl."

"I'm just asking how many different ways are y'all going to come up with to say that you like beige? We got it the first time. We got it the second time," she adds.

Tiktok creator @lauraghiacy also addressed the trend's lack of inclusivity. 

“This trend favors white, blonde women,” she says. “In fact, it seemingly excludes anybody that falls out of this very narrow perception of beauty.”

Likewise, the trend has become tied to thinness. "I'm waiting to see somebody in a larger body have the viral success that their thin counterparts have had," she adds.

Despite its limiting nature, the hashtag #vanillagirl has garnered more than 650 million views on TikTok, cementing its popularity on the social media platform — and, well, society at large.

That is, until the next girl comes to town.