Written and photographed by Dea Davita Krisanda
Modeled by Wei Wei Faith Chan, Tommy Katio, and Elodie Geltzer
It’s surprising how anything can be considered mainstream nowadays — literally anything sells. What’s even more shocking is trying to differentiate mainstream culture from what isn’t, as the two practically blend together. Even the conversation of whether to be mainstream or not has turned into a debate about conforming versus standing out. The act of consuming culture has become an obsession for people, but it shouldn’t have to be this way.
So, a note to ourselves: stop being hypocrites. The lines have been blurred, definitions have been altered and the only thing left to do is to choose: either? neither? both? Who cares, it’s your choice.
I have always been familiar with pop culture — a majority of my childhood was spent being “mainstream.” It wasn’t until my teenage years (thanks to the internet) that I discovered the options available to me, and actually started being selective about what I consumed. Yet, for some reason, the more knowledge I gained, the more I obnoxiously I felt I needed to flaunt it. Although I’m glad I now know what I’m into, I regret being so outspoken about how corny mainstream things are. Ironically, the things I used to hate are now what I enjoy most; for instance, my obsession with Grey’s Anatomy or my love of K-pop phenoms.
It was hard for me to accept the ugly truth: I actually liked mainstream things. I struggled so much trying to differentiate myself from others that I lost touch with what I actually loved.
Now that I’ve broken my own cycle, it became more obvious to me that the fear of being mainstream is recurring among my friends — especially women. In fact, the reason why I was so critical about showing people what I consume is because of the people around me in the first place. Why are we as women so sensitive to the idea of being basic? Why do we have to constantly change ourselves to stand out? Why can’t we just be?
Women tend to be scrutinized by people based on what they see. If we fit in, we are basic and if we stand out, we are just seeking attention. Nothing seems to ever be right. This is also why women tend to feel more pressure in consuming mainstream culture: unfortunately, we are still mostly assessed by our look and how we represent ourselves. Don’t get me wrong though, the same thing goes for men.
The more I consume different types of culture and media, the more I realize that there really is no difference between the popular and what not. Anything that sells will eventually become mainstream, and there should be no shame in selling or consuming it; might as well be proud of it. No one should be judged for liking something that they genuinely love. Most importantly, just saying you prefer one pop culture thing or another doesn’t instantly make you prettier, more open-minded, or better in general. Whoever you are, men or women, mainstream or not: stop lying to people and more importantly, stop lying to yourself. For once, let guilty pleasure just be pleasure.