Can doing taxes be … ‘aesthetic’? An investigation.

TikTok has completely warped the definition of “aesthetic.”

Aesthetic used to be attached to something — think Tumblr or any of the seemingly thousands of “-cores” that took over TikTok in 2021 and 2021. But now “aesthetic” as a standalone word means something. And that something is usually beige.

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The #aesthetic hashtag on TikTok has over 195 billion views and includes Get Ready With Me videos, baking clips, skin care and that keyboard everyone has with the round buttons. The videos are muted and quiet and pretty easy to watch — a lot of them are also tagged #asmr. A lot of aesthetic fans appreciate the neutral look, almost as a form of escapism.

So that raises the question: Could something that physically fits the mold of aesthetic (read: beige) be considered aesthetic no matter what?

TikToker Kaeli Mae, who has over 13 million followers, unintentionally challenged the idea with her “aesthetic taxes” video from Jan. 6. The clip has almost 6 million views and shows Mae making herself an iced coffee before taking her viewers to her desk.

Equipped with — I’m not kidding — what looks like beige highlighters, Mae settles in. She cleans her iPad screen, pulls out multiple leather-bound planners and notebooks, staples receipts together and writes the heading for “tax write-offs.” Then the video ends.

“Taxes terrify me,” Mae wrote in the caption. “Thought this would be interesting for you guys to see tho!!”

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“Girl please tell me how to do taxes lol,” one person commented.

Taxes, for sure, are terrifying. But do they deserve to be romanticized without any real information or tips on how to complete them? Aside from the impressively organized desk and beige pens, what makes taxes aesthetic?

Interestingly, whatever Mae had been trying to do with the video might have worked. One commenter said, “Financial literacy is so important! I hope people see this video and are inspired to do the same!”

Despite Mae not actually compiling her taxes in the video — she mentions in a comment that she has an accountant and that she was just getting things organized — her effortless, easygoing approach to doing one of the most dreaded personal tasks could inspire people to stay more on top of finances.

“I got my first tax paper the other day and I’m terrified,” one user said.

“This would overwhelm me SO much,” another viewer wrote. “Props to you girl!”

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