It seems like everyone is a mermaid or a unicorn. The trend for fashion prints of mythological creatures has overtaken into food.

The interest in mythical creature trends started around 2013, gaining more hype via celebrity endorsement in the subsequent years. It started with the pastel toast by Instagram food stylist Adeline Waugh, which was subsequently nicknamed “unicorn toast”. It was colourful, visually pleasing, and appealed to everyone.

I’m not a unicorn or mermaid. I’m not into wearing colours or the beach, but even I was someone who thought how great it was that everyone wanted to be ‘mythical’. It was certainly more refreshing than other trends, and it was harmless and inclusive. Everyone was their own version, you just need glitter and wavy hair. But now the horn has come off, Ariel has grown legs, and I do think it’s time to cool it on the trend. The t-shirts were cute, and the little sassy tote bags made me smile. Now, though, all we see is “unicorn” or “mermaid” slapped onto anything. Recently I saw Unicorn milk. It’s over, let the dead unicorn lie.

I was curious if friends had developed this fatigue too. I spoke with a good friend of mine who loved The Little Mermaid as a child, and was involved in the unicorn and mermaid trend in the early days. She still loved mermaids, but even she was calling it overdone. It has morphed from fashion to culture, to the point of becoming a “are you for or against” unicorns and mermaids. The constant overexposure has grown tiring and taken the shine and joy out of something that started out just being plain fun. You don’t just buy a t-shirt anymore, you can have unicorn hair, or a mermaid colour. People get entire makeovers complete with a horn. Is it now a statement when everyone is saying the same thing?

Searching the tags #unicorn and #mermaid on Instagram have opened a whole new meaning. #Unicorn is inspirational quotes, colourful hair-dye, leggings, cake, sparkle makeup, bath bombs, amongst other things. People identify as a unicorn or mermaid. On the side of the only-slightly-less overexposed #mermaid, it’s colours, swimwear and photos of you at the beach.

Wanting to be objective, I asked a male friend of mine who loves fashion and pop-culture. What was a simple question turned into an interesting psychological and sociological discussion of trends. The unicorn trend is following the culture of the 90s, when My Little Pony rained supreme. As my friend pointed out to me, it’s more than just a fashion hype, it’s the new Emo, or the Grunge skater-boy. Unicorns and mermaids are the reaction that was going to happen in light of the political, social and economic strife. The unicorn could very well be our version of the Vietnam era’s yellow smiley face.

But the real breaking point for my friends, and others on the internet, is the introduction of unicorns and mermaid themed food. Starbucks is only the latest to jump on the back of the bandwagon introducing their Instagram-ready Unicorn Frappes. So far Katy Perry has spat it out and one poor employee has had a meltdown. As my mermaid loving friend pointed out, it’s easy enough to not involve yourself in fashion but when it’s food it becomes universal and unavoidable. It’s obnoxious. Instagram and Pinterest haven’t made it any easier, as more and more unicorns fashions and foods get a spot in the limelight. YouTube has makeup and hair tutorials. The visual is romantic, colourful, and wholesome, and it’s hard not to be impressed when scrolling. The issue with over exposure is that there is no turning back. You don’t get to claim it as “your thing” because now it’s just another fast trend that everyone has gorged on. What was once people enjoying themselves and feeling sweet/goofy, has morphed into a marketing sell out. The trend is burning itself out, and hopefully taking the Frappucino disaster with it.