Light Academia: Dark Academia’s Less Problematic Counterpart?

It is obvious to anyone that uses the internet that the popular aesthetic of Dark Academia has its problems. As the word ‘Dark’ implies, Dark Academia encourages an unhealthy subculture that excludes people. In response to this, fans have created a new and improved version aptly named Light Academia. The ideas and concepts surrounding Light Academia are more positive than Dark Academia, promoting a healthier and more inclusive version of the fan favourite aesthetic. Here are a few of the reasons as to why you should be ditching Dark Academia and instead bringing a little more light to your life.

Dark Academia promotes an unhealthy work-life balance

Compared to the toxic concept of working until exhaustion that Dark Academia promotes, Light Academia encourages the alternative of living a balanced life, filled with both education and hobbies. Light Academia prioritises enjoying life and being happy in what you are doing, rather than trying to consume as much information as humanly possible. Learning because you have a love for it creates a healthier relationship with work. As well as learning languages and reading classic texts, Light Academia promotes a large range of other hobbies that you can choose to indulge in: baking, knitting, various sports that are accessible to any budget, and visiting cafes with friends. Instead of living an extremely secluded life, Light Academia suggests spending time with those you love whilst completing the activities that you love. 

Light Academia promotes diversity

Dark Academia has been strongly influenced by Eurocentric literature and media, with strong links to Greek mythology and the classics. However whilst there are many incredible books and films that centre around diverse characters and have strong links to aspects of Dark Academia, the aesthetic doesn’t seem to list any of these books and films as guides to the aesthetic. Light Academia has a more inclusive approach by recommending a diverse range of media such as the popular movies Hidden Figures (2016) and Howl’s Moving Castle (2004). While many of the activities and interests of Light Academia are influenced by European culture and history, the aesthetic is taking steps to improve upon its predecessor by encouraging followers to educate themselves on a variety of cultures that they may not be familiar with. 

Light Academia is generally more accessible

Many activities that are promoted by Dark Academia are often inaccessible unless you are someone with a lot of money. Elitist university sports and activities are normally extremely expensive and difficult to get into unless you have the money and contacts required to be seen as worthy of having a space on a team or society. Light Academia focuses on the positive aspects of life that are available to all. Old tattered books are romanticised rather than overpriced first editions and simple hobbies like hiking are all a part of the aesthetic. As well as being inclusive of other cultures, Light Academia tries to be less elitist and more welcoming as a community. 

Overall, the Light Academia community is more inclusive and is trying to push aside the problematic aspects of Dark Academia by offering a similar but more positive trend to follow. The focus on self-care and learning for the love of it rather than toxic productivity makes it obtainable and an attractive alternative.

Image courtesy of Thomas Kelley

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