2017 has seen the peak of millennial ludicrousness. First, it saw the unicorn trend. It had been quietly building a cult following in clothing, accessories, and cosmetics before seizing the public through the release of the Unicorn Frappuccino.
Layers of sweet and sour, colored syrup, and “fairy powder” grabbed America by its 13-year-old-girl imagination and plagued every Starbucks and Instagram account for ages - #unicorn #starbs #basic. Thankfully, the drink’s popularity is on the decline – in part due to the frustration of the Starbucks’ employees forced to make it – but the obsession with mythical creatures is far from gone.
The mermaid is the new unicorn, but instead of just wanting to wear/eat/drink one, we’ve taken it one step further: we want to be one. T-shirts sport our latest desire with declarations like “Mermaids have more fun,” “Mermaid hair, don’t care,” and “I’d rather be a mermaid.”
We want mermaid makeup – think faux scales, blue hues, and lots and lots of glitter – and mermaid hair – which is way cooler than mundane human hair, of course. It seems our childhood love for Ariel has morphed into a disturbing adult franchise.
Unicorns. Mermaids. What next? We’ve known millennials have been fascinated with the mythical for a while now, but it seems the youngsters who grew up on Twilight and Harry Potter are trying to carry the fantasy into their 20s and beyond.
So, what's with this desire to play pretend? Well, that’s exactly it.
We’ve already been criticized as a generation for our supposed disconnect from reality. Our lives are on our phones, on our social media accounts, in our carefully curated online existence. We’re a generation of dreamers, believers, and wannabe achievers. But this desire to escape from reality isn’t because we really are disconnected – it’s because we aren’t.
As millennials, we are hyper-aware of our position in the world and how vulnerable it is. We’re tuned in 24/7 (thanks to said online existence) to every bad thing that happens, and simultaneously we feel the weight of the blame and criticism previous generations place on our shoulders. We’ve seen the Middle East ravaged by war, families screwed over by the economy, and a bigot elected as president.
Unicorns and mermaids? Dying our hair, slathering glitter on our faces, and sipping obnoxiously colored drinks? We're a generation participating in the highest form of escapism.
For as long as the world remains a sh**ty place, so will the desire to escape it live on; we just have to prepare for the day we have to put down the glitter eye shadow and purple hair dye and face reality.