I have this friend* who, in response to anything she finds extra, vehemently asserts, “girl, do less. Just do less.” Though our friendship is rather nascent—we originally became friends drunkenly bonding over Kanye and grapefruit beer Homecoming weekend, as one does—she has had a sizable effect on both my Weltanschauung and vernacular. Now, whenever I hear an anecdote, live an experience, or witness an event that ranks somewhere on the scale between “nope” and “STFU,” I will exasperatedly sigh to myself and anyone within a five-foot radius that, “He/She/It/They/You/Y’all just need(s) to do less.”

“Do less” has become my mantra; doing less has become my lifestyle. To be clear, lest you think this is just me succumbing to the ennui that is my mid-20s: I am doing less because, to quote the great Brothers Duplass, “[I’m] obsessed with the subtlest form of something that will communicate.” I do less sartorially, cosmetically, linguistically, comedically, textually…basically all of the relevant -ly words you can think of. I winnow out the frippery to distill down to the most true and authentic version of the thing. I’m not lazy—I am effortful in my efforts to be effortless.

As it turns out, pop culture is doing a lot less lately too. I’m no expert on such matters (or am I?), but it certainly seems that, in the last six months or so, mainstream culture has whittled itself down to the bare necessities. Call it back to basics, blame it on #normcore, or get all anthropological on it and say it’s just the ebb and flow of the zeitgeist (to which I say: girl, think less). For the sake of pithiness and SEO, I’m calling it #lessismorecore. What follows is a highly curated list of just some examples in which I think current pop culture is doing less.

Makeup: I Woke Up Like This

For her WSJ column #THIS, Elizabeth Holmes wrote about “the products that help women get the no-makeup ‘I woke up like this’ look.” In the piece, Holmes references the “move towards minimalism” in women’s beauty, and name-drops a number of vaunted brands. However, one lesser-known brand she mentions is at the forefront of the #lessismorecore aesthetic: Glossier.** Launched by CEO/Founder of Into the Gloss and all-around wunderkind Emily Weiss, Glossier only has six products†† in its line. As a devotee myself, I can honestly say Glossier has completely changed my beauty game. Every morning I wake up (not like this) and I use less products to achieve a cleaner, less Man Repeller-y look. Sometimes I feel bad for the horde of unused products in my bathroom, sitting there looking all neglected and dejected and dusty. But then I see my stickered, cheekily-packaged Glossier products and I am reminded: less. It’s more.

Apparel: #normcore

Far be it from me to contribute any more to the already titanic number of think pieces written about #normcore, but as any sartorially-aware human being will tell you (probably while wearing Stan Smiths), fashion has gotten a lot more basic‡‡ lately. Cleaner lines, uniform palettes, androgynous silhouettes, and the inability to distinguish high from low brands (as well as the affinity for mixing them)—these are all things one might see flipping through a fashion magazine or strutting down a runway in four days’ time at #NYFW. By doing less, fashion is more aesthetically and financially accessible than ever before. What I’m really saying is: people, we are living in a time when overalls are cool. Let’s not take this for granted, shall we?

TV/Movies: The Best Art is About Nothing

Not even going to bother writing about this when I could just as easily direct you to Victor’s brilliant piece on #mumblecore and Andy Greenwald’s equally stunning piece on the same matter.

Slanguage: The Ps and Vs RN

Due to the 140-character limit, Twitterati shorten things all the time in order to fit their quips into one tweet. This is the reason weird acronyms like “ICYMI” (in case you missed it) and “IRL” (in real life) arose: because Twitter is, though it’s trying its damnedest not to be, a platform for quick, authentic, of-the-moment observations about the world around you. Recently though, three specific shortcuts have crept their way out of the Twitter blackhole: “p,” “v,” and “rn” which stand for, intuitively, “pretty,” “very,” and “right now.” My text messages are littered with phrases like “p much” and “v important rn.” Bloggers use them in posts on legitimate websites such as this one. I’ve even heard someone use them IRL. Somewhere, there is a v serious dissertation to be written on the cultural relevance behind this bastardization of words, but I just chalk it up to #lessismorecore. You may be typing less by only using the “p” or the “v,” but you are saying more. Which is: I am millennial, hear me roar.

Instagram: It’s Hip to Be Square

Scroll through your IG feed these days and I bet you notice a lot less of the white frames, text embellishment, and twee bokeh sparkles that many were fond of even a few months ago. I had a friend recently text me excitedly that he was officially returning to the square gram format of yore after months of white-framed photos. People seem to be putting the “insta” back into “Instagram;” though still shrewdly selected and filtered, photos are looking more spontaneous and natural.


Believe me, I have a lot more examples where those came from. Like Kanye—he of the sonically lush masterpiece with the absurd, OTT name My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy—and his new, stripped down, organic sound and videos. Or like trends in comedy as influenced by the naturalistic and quotidian metacommentary of Louis CK and Jenny Slate. But instead, I’m just going to listen to myself and do less.

P.S. I was telling my dad how I (originally) had nine footnotes and without even knowing the topic he goes: “Hannah. Less is more.” So now there are six.

*Hi Sungano!
†Speaking of doing less: biennial usage of unnecessary/ostentatious German loanword – ✓
‡From Andy Greenwald’s Grantland podcast interview with Jay and Mark, which fellow Thelma writer and editor Victor accurately described as “a true delight.”
**Rhymes with “dossier.”
†If you’ve ever been in a Sephora or walked past the makeup counters in a department store, please use that as a comparison to truly understand how admirably minimal this is.
‡No, not that kind of basic. I mean actually, literally basic i.e., what Webster says.