Six years ago when I first started writing these posts, there was vampires.
Plants were fighting zombies, Twilight was hot, Game of Thrones was new, and winter was coming.
I wrote a post called Vampires and Skulls in the Age of Anxiety. The observation was that the post-financial-crisis world was keenly aware of its mortality. The examination of life’s dark underbelly was a reminder to celebrate life, as the Mexicans do on the Day of the Dead.
Now, everywhere I look, there are unicorns. There are more unicorn makeup tutorials on Facebook than I could watch in a lifetime; Tarte recently sold out of its unicorn-inspired Magic Wands brush set; Coachella was a rainbow-hued sea of unicorn hair.
The aesthetic is, of course, very social media-friendly, which has fueled the trend. Instagram feeds are flooded with unicorn-themed everything, from iPhone cases to sushi rolls, dripping in glitter and sweet pastel colors.
Back in my life, robot unicorns are attacking fairies on my phone, rainbows and all things Lisa Frank have time-traveled from the 90s with a vengeance, and – if the recent launch of Starbuck’s Mermaid Frappuccino is any bellwether – mermaids are coming.
My 9-year-old daughter’s two favorite unicorn products unite unicorns with that other currently ubiquitous delight: slime. The two trends come together in quixotic and wonderful ways as a glittery lip gloss called Unicorn Snot and a keychain in the shape of a purple unicorn that poops rainbow glitter slime. (Yes, it exits from and retracts back into the unicorn’s anus.)
According to Laurie Pressman, the VP of the Pantone Color Institute, we’re craving rainbows right now because “bright shades are happy – they make us smile… they bring us back to a time when things were simpler and playfully innocent.”
Pooping unicorn, then, as antidote to tweeting president. Okay, I get that.
Social entrepreneur Jess Weiner, CEO of Talk To Jess, concurs. “We’re craving brightness and happiness during a dark time, so the bright, bubbly, social media-created unicorn frenzy helps offset how we’re all feeling as a culture right now – versus the ominous werewolves and vampires and zombies that were popular when times were more hopeful. Unicorns are our chance to escape and have some fun.”