If Aesthetics Are Malayalicized, This Is What It Would Look Like

Note: We’d like to give a shoutout to these amazing artists without whom we wouldn’t be able to make the mood boards (read further to know) – Anub Ravendran, Caroline Joseph, Devika Remesh, Ron j Davis Niraj Vishnu Nambiar, Shahabas MGayu, Joji Joseph, Elvin Aby

Aesthetic types like dark academia, cottage core, indie core, etc. have made quite a surge on the internet in the past few decades. They have evolved from being a fashion aesthetic to a full-fledged lifestyle in recent years. A quick search on Pinterest or Tumblr is sure to take you to pages with thousands of mood boards and aesthetic types. Yet with all its intricacies and cornucopia of aesthetic pleasures, they remain Eurocentric and white-washed. So, what if we had something different? You know, like a Malayalicized version of aesthetics.

We can all agree to the fact that wearing a thick cardigan over layers of clothing or a European lifestyle akin to the popular profiles of dark academia won’t be a good idea in India’s humid climate. However, as we had mentioned in the first part of this article, with the onset of POC (people of colour) aesthetics, there has been a change in the way we perceive aesthetics. Aesthetics have become more inclusive of different ethnicities and communities. One can easily find Indian versions, Tamilian versions, Gujarati versions, etc. of these aesthetics, making it quite easy for us to relate to. What if these aesthetics are Malayalicized? 

Here is a fun experiment where we imagine some popular aesthetics in a Malayalicized manner. 

Dark academia

Dark academia focuses on romanticising academics and learning. Mystery, secret history, cults and sometimes habits of laziness are the popular images of dark academia. Brown, black, dark green, cream tones denote these aesthetics, in turn bringing out the mystery. And if you thought dark academia is only for literature and history, that’s just a popular misconception. This aesthetic has undergone criticism for being Eurocentric and promoting unhealthy behaviours like consuming more coffee (internal scream), unhealthy sleeping habits, procrastination, etc. What if one day, all these dark academians turned into Malayalis? Let’s peep into what their lifestyle would be then. 

  • They would probably be talking of revoltion in dim lit classrooms with their limited number of peers.
  • For them, happiness is finding the perfect kattanchaaya.
  • During free time, you will find them in some secluded place conjuring a kuttichaathan.
  • It’s a common sight to watch them sneak in madhavikuttys novels and read them during maths period.
  • When in love, they prefer to write premalekhanam on tanned papers for their beloved.
  • A perfect day for them is to listen to Umbayees ghazal songs as they sit on their charukasera.
If Aesthetics Are Malayalicized,
Photo Credits: Anub.r  (1,9), _its_me_caroline (2,5), fablesaladreads (4,6), ron_j_davis (7), nirajthephotographer (3)

Light academia

They are a bunch of optimistic people with special affection for philosophies. As the name suggests, they are the lighter versions of dark academia. The colour palettes are, hence, different and lighter than that of dark academia. White, cream, beige, off whites, etc. are tonal variations you can expect in a light academia mood board. 

Features of a Malayali light academian would be :

  • Always talking about the possibility of ‘nalloru nale’.
  • Experimenting with Kerala saree.
  • Living their life as if its directed by Padmarajan.
  • Happiness for them is to find a cozy, well lit corner in the library.
  • They cant get enough of the sugar in their paal chaaya.
  • Deactivating their social media to enjoy the real world.
  • Reciting “snehamanu akhilasaramoozhiyil” as they bask in the sun with their classmates.
Photo Credits: semi_charmed_life (1,8),  Gayu_inkb (4,6,7,9)


Simple living and harmony with nature, that’s the motto of a cottagecore aesthetic. People who belong to this aesthetic dwell in a constant mood of nostalgia. Images from nature and agricultural practices would be the ideal cottagecore mood board. The long loose-fitting clothes and a colour palette of subtle yellow, white and bright green is a treat to the eyes. We can all agree to the fact that cottagecore is one of those aesthetics that would suit the aesthetics of Kerala. These features listed below would reiterate this fact.

  • Recite Sugathakumari’s kavitha as they walk through their small garden.
  • Spend all their Vishu kaineetam on indoor plants.
  • They are always waiting for Onam.
  • One can find them adorning their hair with all the flowers they can get their hands on in their paramb.
  • Throwing stones into the kulam as they talk to their beloved.
  • Eating sadya in a vazhayila is a big mood!
  • Incase you see them hugging a tree, they are perhaps having an emotional bond with the tree.
  • Walking bare foot through the paadam wearing mundum neriyathum is what they do during their free time.
If Aesthetics Are Malayalicized,
Photo Credits: _its_me_caroline

Grunge aesthetic

If you are looking for something edgy, then grunge aesthetics should be your go-to. Black and red hues, neon lights, and glitch filters popularly represent it. The grunge moodboard usually has expressions of an anti-consumerist philosophy and the hopelessness of the world, which makes it look quite depressing. For the followers of this aesthetic, music is an inevitable part that helps them to cope with cultural depression. 

A Malayalicised version of this aesthetic would probably show these features.

  • They are always immersed in the hopelessness of a capitalistic world.
  • On regular days, you will find them repairing their old radios for the millionth time.
  • They can talk immensely about the existance of paranormal bodies.
  • Going through old vinyl records and vibing to bhairavi raagam is their version of the perfect day.
  • Drawing fashion inspirations from Kalliyankaatu Neeli.
  • Having dreams of theyyam in its magnificient details.
Photo Credits: nirajthephotographer (1,3,5,7,9), Anub.r ( 2,4), semi_charmed_life (6)

Art hoe

Amongst the list of aesthetics given here, Art hoe would be the least popular aesthetic. Nonetheless, this aesthetic was created for the people of colour; thereby making it the initial few aesthetics to be inclusive. While this aesthetic is the least heard of, it is very much common. Most Instagram feeds these days are inspired by this aesthetic that focuses on art, absurdism, aesthetic editing. The visual treat that ensues is sure to keep you hooked to the image and learn more about it. However, the Art hoe aesthetic is not just about images. Beneath its visual pleasures lies the appreciation for art and an artistic lifestyle. 

A Malayali rendering of the aesthetic would look like :

  • You will find them posing like characters from Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings, manifesting their dreams.
  • Drawing inspiration from their mood swings.
  • From “ninakonnum ariyilla, karanam nee kuttiyanu” to “artist baby athrekkum cheap ano” , Malayalam movie references are a go to for them
  • We don’t know whether they belive in soulmates or not but they do believe in healing through art.
  • You will find them chilling at bhavana studios with Maheshettan.
  • Be it that keeriya dress or old dirty walls, they can upcycle anything and everything with their creativity.
If Aesthetics Are Malayalicized,
Photo Credits: Gayu_inkb (1,3,5,6,9), bob_krustykrab (2,4), ron_j_davis (8), elin_aby (7)

Be it a life lived in style or a life lived with one’s own philosophies, aesthetics will, knowingly or unknowingly, be a part of it. We hope that this fun-filled experiment of ‘If Aesthetics Are Malayalicized’ inspires you to find your own aesthetic. In case you relate with those in these lists, do let us know in the comments below. We would like to know if your ideas about Malayalicized Aesthetics.

Arja Dileep
In an attempt to balance between the aesthetics of an aspiring writer and the goofiness of a kid.

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