I’m not exaggerating when I say the unicorn trend is the worst thing to happen to modern society
OK maybe I’m exaggerating a tiny bit
Look, I’m not above a yearly fad. This isn’t just a hit piece on ‘things-which-are-popular-because-they-suck-and-I’m-bitter’. Last year’s mermaid trend for instance, while it was undoubtedly extra and in your face, was easy enough to get on board with. Who doesn’t like shell bras and shiny wave designs? Even the admittedly more basic rose gold explosion trend wasn’t that bad if you like marbled iPhone covers and Marc Jacobs watches.
But there is nothing redeemable about this year’s fad: the unicorn extravaganza we’re currently struggling through.
The final straw for many people – especially if you’re an underpaid, overworked barista – was the unicorn Frappuccino, a caloric, high sugar mix – a Venti contains 76g of your 25g recommended daily intake – of indiscriminate syrups that’s driving people nuts. Braden Burson, a Colorado based barista, even ranted in a viral video about how much its ruining the lives of everyone who works at Starbucks. “I have to tell you, please don’t get it,” he says.
“I have never made so many Frappuccinos in my entire life. My hands are completely sticky. I have unicorn crap all in my hair and on my nose. I have never been so stressed out in my entire life. It has been insane. If you love us as baristas, don’t order it.”
I have a pretty specific Starbucks order, and I cringe and tip and regret it every time I go in there, so you have to be a real special kind of dickhead to order a drink that will not only clog your arteries, empty your pockets and taste fucking vile, but also ruins the day of someone just trying to make it until close, all for an average 17 likes on Instagram on your hashtag unicorn frapp. At least there’s one silver lining in that Braden isn’t getting sacked – because even Starbucks are sick of the trend and want to hear his exasperated feedback.
And the unicorn frappe is just one horrible example. The unicorn trend has truly given birth to some of the most extra, pointless and truly ugly fantasia themed products the world has ever seen. Including, but not limited to: unicorn macarons, unicorn make up brushes (just the £45 for these), unicorn candles, unicorn toast, unicorn bongs:
A lipstick make of “unicorn tears”:
And even, the worst of the worst, a unicorn dildo:
The fact that a market exists for sex toys which remind you of your childhood My Little Pony’s is frankly, a bit unnerving, but the whole unicorn trend in general is sinister and infantilizing. Writing for Metro, Miranda Larbi points out: “The unicorn has become our mascot. It’s the ultimate symbol of a generation struggling to grow up and start ‘adulting’.
“While millennials come in for a pretty rough time generally from older generations, the point still stands that we’re infantalising ourselves by adhering to such a ridiculous trend.”
There’s nothing wrong with escapism, or embracing girlishness, but it’s not unreasonable to say that the huge mainstream appeal of the unicorn trend has led some people to go just a little bit too far. A VICE documentary even found a “unicorn movement” in London, a polyamorous cult full of glitter and stick on forehead horns.
And it’s true that it looks tempting, to have “one hoof in the corporate world and one hoof in the unicorn world”. They’re not hurting anyone, and if you were truly ‘live and let live’ you can admit that compared to lacklustre unicorn frappes and marbled toast, a polyamorous unicorn cult looks pretty fabulous. In reality London’s a fairly grey place most of the time, and letting your once a year Burning Man persona bleed into your day to day life spices it up a little. In a way it’s the least offensive of all aspects of the unicorn craze. At least they have commitment.
But that doesn’t change the fact that if you don’t commit to the full unicorn aesthetic, it can look a bit budget. And it also doesn’t change the fact that constant escapism is in reality less of a paradise than you expect. One of VICE’s unicorns admits halfway through the documentary: “I’m a hardcore drug addict. I like to escape”, before explains that some of the unicorns can’t come to his birthday party because they’re “in recovery” or “really ill, mentally”. By the end he says he didn’t want to be a unicorn, that it’s nearly killed him, that it’s “fucking lonely”. So despite the aesthetic, their London kind of remains the same.
As someone whose wardrobe is 75 per cent black it’s not the kind of dayglo hedonism I’d go for. When our children look at us accusingly in 20 years, grimacing at the terrible decisions we made in early adulthood it won’t be a housing or financial crisis they’ll sneer at. It won’t be how we ruined the environment and failed to protect endangered species. It won’t even be the fact we oversaw a Trump-era nuclear war. It will be the unicorn trend.
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