To Stan or Not to Stan: Astrology

Trends usually fall into two categories. The first type of trend is one that captures the world’s attention for a hot minute before disappearing completely (a horrific example – the 2000s obsession with Uggs in every season). The second, less common type of trend is one that similarly becomes the buzz of the conversation, but it never really fades away. Given that it’s been around since ancient Mesopotamia and is still discussed over dinners and manicures, astrology is definitely a second-type trend.

Nicki Minaj, Marc Jacobs NYFW 2020
Nicki Minaj, a proud Sagittarius. Photo credit: Page Six

Modern astrology has taken over the internet with horoscopes and birth chart readings galore. With apps like Co – Star and Sanctuary, it shows potential to remain timeless in our digital age of personalization. Out of all people, Millennials and Generation Zers (i.e. people born in 1981-96 and 1997-2012 respectively) are the ones consulting these apps, making memes about which Bratz character aligns with which signs, and sharing their birth charts with new friends. We see it here at SMU. A case in point – junior Lexxi Clinton proudly tells me that she “stays on her Co – Star.”

Why does astrology strongly resonate with people of our generation? It’s not that people are buying into the idea that it’s scientific, especially since there is no evidence behind this. In her article in The Atlantic, senior editor Julie Beck offers the idea that astrology helps deal with stress, citing that Millennials and Generation Zers are among the most stressed generations. In addition to stress piled on by current events, the economy, and other societal factors, the notion of uncertainty is stressful in itself. Astrology, with its explanatory frames, provides a comforting feeling against these stressors.

SMU LOOK Art Team member and sophomore Gillian Bressie calls on this sense of comfort while describing astrology posts on social media, stating that it’s “really comforting to be so understood.” Astrology’s precarious balance between holding a person responsible for their destiny and leaving it up to the distant stars is one that gravitates to our generational peers.

When I say that “people of our generation” are all about the stars, I don’t mean every single person. According to a 2018 Pew Research Center study, only 20 percent of men in the U.S. believe in astrology, compared to 30 percent of women. Sites like VICE’s Broadly that cater to women and the LGBTQ+ community report “huge amount of traffic from astrological features and horoscopes”. On the other hand, publication sites catering to men (e.g. GQ, Men’s Health) rarely mention astrology or horoscopes. From this, it seems evident that astrology is well-liked by women and the LGBTQ+ population, but straight men are not just indifferent to astrology – some of them outright hate it. Junior Belle Campbell alludes to this as she tells me that straight men’s hatred of astrology is rooted in “misogyny and [their hatred] of seeing women and gays have fun.” Campbell’s sentiments are echoed in Hannah Ewens’ article in VICE. Ewens uncovers that astrology has been coded as a tool for self-help with its nurturing appeal and open conversations about emotions, which women and queer people gravitate towards under social pressures while straight men are socialized to disregard these qualities in favor of “manning up.” Ewens also proposes that astrology “offers community and refuge” to women and queer people which cis-het men arguably have less of a reason to seek these tenets in a heterosexual patriarchy. In the article, astrologer Randon Rosenbohm sums up the current social view of astrology – “it’s for the girls and gays.”

Co--Star App
Co--Star reads the stars so you don't have to. Photo credit: Teen Vogue

Astrology has proven to have a lot of star power in our society, whether it is well-liked or not. As an astrology lover myself (Aquarius Sun, Cancer Rising), I love talking to people about our birth charts but do I live by it? It depends on the week’s Moon phase.

Mushfequr Rahman

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