What Is The 'Slow Living' Trend That's Taking Over TikTok?

Since the early 2000s, partaking in some form of wellness has become mainstream. Whether that means being a gym rat, a Pilates princess, or someone who only eats and uses products with clean ingredients, incorporating wellness into your life is quite common. With social media's popularity, health, and wellness trends have dominated the internet, particularly on platforms that focus on aesthetics, such as TikTok and Instagram. In a not-so-ironic turn of events, the very thing that encourages mindless scrolling promotes bettering our life.

Although often well meaning, it's no surprise that methods created to boost one's mental and physical health turn into another way for companies and the people they hire to promote them to get more money. The deinfluencing fad, for example, turned from TikTokers telling the truth about which cult products are overhyped to other users recommending other products for people to buy instead. The idea of minimalism, which is well-loved in the wellness community, has been critiqued for its classist viewpoint. Stephanie Land of The New York Times calls it "a virtue only when it's a choice."

Despite the inconsistencies found within wellness trends online, the industry still has many fans, with the hashtag garnering 9.4 billion views and counting on TikTok. With a (still ongoing) pandemic revealing the flaws of capitalism, the turn to wellness – and the tendency to capitalize on it — isn't leaving anytime soon.

What is 'slow living'?

Like most "trends" on TikTok, slow living isn't new. According to Slow Living London, the movement started in Italy during the '80s as a way to uphold regional food traditions. From there, it reached other factors of life like fitness, gardening, and interiors. Seemingly anti-capitalist, slow living is characterized by finding fulfillment in life by being more present with your community, taking your time with the pleasures of life, and strengthening your connection with nature via eco-friendly living.

On its website, Slow Living LDN lays out the principles of slow living, categorized into four sections. Shaping and applying your slow living mindset is all about finding your own personal values that define how you see the world and living by them. That can consist of changing things in your home to fit into your new lifestyle or removing unneeded distractions from your life and space.

Once you've incorporated your values, find a "toolkit" of habits and hobbies that encourage you to decelerate. This usually consists of reading, journaling, or meditation. Creativity that pulls you away from screens and hectic life and centers you is the goal of these practices. The last step consists of applying the slow living method to other aspects of your life, such as incorporating slow living interiors into your home, avoiding fast fashion, cooking from scratch, and growing and eating foods seasonally. Rather than focusing on a fast-paced life, slow living encourages you to enjoy your surroundings over the rush of the corporate grind.

The inaccessibility of a slow lifestyle

At its core, not everyone can incorporate every tenet of slow living into their life. Fast fashion exists for people who can't afford anything else. Thrift stores are a great option, but they're an issue for plus-sized people who can't find their size in stock.

Although slow living is characterized by ideals rather than design principles, the practice is aestheticized on TikTok. With 535 million views, the hashtag is filled with clips of typically white women with identical shots of their slow living lives on expansive farms and quaint cottages. Many of them seem to have a cottagecore aesthetic, which has been criticized for its white escapist fantasy that ignores the colonial history that allows them to "escape" to the country and obtain an abundance of land.

Aside from the problems within the aesthetic itself, the choice of countless slow living influencers to brand themselves analogously creates an idea that without certain items, the viewer cannot live the slow lifestyle, too. Outside of the internet's desire to clone others' images, this stems from the lifestyle's guide on curating the interiors, shown on Slow Living LDN's Instagram, a collection of minimal, neutral, "tasteful" homes. The upkeep of slow living is expensive; the population that dwells in food deserts has no disposable income or land to grow items that can't fit into the aesthetic of slow living. However, focusing on community and personal growth, whenever possible, should be adopted by everyone.