The Monochrome Lives of an Instagram Generation

As a blogger I spend so much time on social media – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Over the years and months of having a life showcased online I have watched other families growing through the pages of social media and I have seen trends coming and going.

There’s one trend that keeps popping up, mainly on social media but in life too, not just within bloggers but everywhere. Monochrome is a bit of a lifestyle trend, a fashion statement and for some – a way of life.

I love the monochrome trend – the black and white, sometimes grey. The statement prints and the bold designs. When things are purely black and white you can focus on them and take them in without being distracted by bright colours or patterns. But recently I have thought that this monochrome phase has gone a little too far.

There are now Instagram feeds full of children’s lives, their clothes, their bedrooms and even their Birthday parties that are full of nothing but black and white. I’m not naive enough to think the Instagram is a true representation of people’s lives but I’m sure that even the most strict of Instagram users wouldn’t remove all colour from their home purely for the sake of one photo.

So I watched these children grow on Instagram, have seen their wardrobes gradually lose all colour and their bedrooms have makeovers to match. They have white walls, black and white carpets and accessories that lack all colour.

They eat using white plates and black cutlery, drink from a black and white cup and go to sleep tucked up in black and white bedding – hugging a black and white cuddly toy. When they’re not at school they wear black and white outfits, play with black and white toys and I am sure, given a chance, they would also watch black and white TV.

Years ago the older generations had pretty much monochrome lives without even realising it. They didn’t have bold, bright dyes to make colourful clothes and looking back through the oldest of photographs you see that the colours they did have were drab and dull. Over time we have been given the gift of colour and children are some of the first to embrace that. I know that since our children came into our lives we have been surrounded by colourful toys, bold prints and so many different colours.

I also know that very young babies can’t make out colour. They love monochrome as they can see the difference between black and white and so they love having black and white prints to focus on. But that stage ends quickly and before long they can focus on bold colours and most children will quickly have a favourite colour – our daughter loves pink even though we have never been the pinkest of families.

So I find myself scrolling through Instagram and wondering whether the lives of these monochrome children are the way they would like to live if given the choice? Do they love being surrounded by black and white or would they rather have a bedroom filled with colour? Is it the child’s personal taste and their own request or is it the parent’s own lifestyle choices impacting on the way the children live? Is it that in seeking the perfect Instagram feed the parents have removed all colour from their children’s lives without even realising it?

It may be that I am over thinking this. That really behind the camera there are piles of colourful toys, bright room accessories and a whole rainbow of clothes that are worn often – just off camera. Or it may be that no, once at home these children of the modern day Instagram era really do live a white washed world full of black and white accessories. Any splash of colour feeling like an outsider in a world where it doesn’t belong.

When our children are young we have a huge impact on the way they live – the food they eat, the time they get up and go to bed, the activities they have to occupy them and the clothes that they wear. Sometimes it’s easy to pass our own tastes across to the children without really letting them explore their own likes and dislikes fully, letting them make informed decisions and guiding them along the way.

Do you just feed the children food you like and get them to watch TV shows that you like? I would think that really you give them food you know they’ll love and you put their favourite cartoons on because you know it will make them happy. And yet, sometimes, we force children to live surrounded by a life that the parents love – a monochrome wonderland fit for a magazine shoot.

Shouldn’t children be allowed to embrace colour? To have colours in their clothes and in the bedrooms? Saving the monochrome reality for the rest of the house. Are we not depriving the children of such a huge part of childhood by erasing all colour from their everyday landscape?

Monochrome wasn’t a ‘thing’ a couple of years ago but it feels like it is snowballing almost out of control. More and more people are removing colour from their lives – but also the lives of their children and I worry that as that colour disappears a bit of their childhood does too.

62 thoughts on “The Monochrome Lives of an Instagram Generation

  1. I can see why people love the monochrome trend and it’s one which is literally all over Instagram isn’t it? I think there are some accounts which are crazy, mainly Swedish or ones from other countries, where their houses are literally just completely black and white down to their floorboards even. I enjoy looking at these accounts but I could never do it. My house and family are awash with colour, and that’s just the way I like it. I definitely think children should be full of colour. But that’s just my opinion and it doesn’t stop me enjoying these kind of accounts. You are right though, I am sure behind the photos they have lots of Colourful toys. ❤️????????????.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly Donna, monochrome looks very stylish and all that, but I do wonder who is making the choices. Because I know that black and white are about the last colours my kids would pick. I have a big boy obsessed with blue, a big girl who loves yellow, and a baby who I like to dress in every colour of the rainbow. And I can’t imagine a life devoid of colour. Colour is fun and exciting. Colours reflects personalities and emotions. I actually find too much black and white a tad depressing, but that’s just me. I can appreciate the prettiness of a monochrome Instagram account, but I certainly won’t be turning into one! x
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  3. I completely agree… We all like our home to lol a certain way but once we have children it kind of goes out the window. My thing is having an all white house (walls and wooden furniture) and whilst I can do that in Boo’s room what I’d never do is let my taste dictate what toys she has, I think people forget that toys aren’t a fashion statement, they’re toys – to be loved and played with.

  4. It’s not something I’ve ever considered before reading this, but I do find it very sad. For us, blogging is a positive thing that gives us opportunities and experiences we wouldn’t otherwise have. I hate the idea of it becoming negative just for the sake of giving the impression of being ‘on trend’.
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  5. Oh I completely agree with you here Donna! It’s all so forced, we love colour here and I just couldn’t imagine being surrounded by monochrome, even for the perfect IG feed and the followers it may bring! I would rather live a colourful life! X

  6. I haven’t been on instragram all that long, I only ‘got it’ when I started blogging but I have noticed this trend. I have never liked my children wearing black, (not criticising anyone that does but I think of it as a funeral colour.), and we are all about colour. My Instagram feed is like an explosion in a rainbow factory….and that’s the way it’s going to stay!! 🙂

  7. Well I’m the queen of pastels, so I’d be utterly rubbish at the black and white trend (she says, while wearing a black and white top! 😉 ) I can see how it produces lovely photos, but I’m all for a little colour in our lives. Especially in these grey days of Winter! Really thought provoking post Donna xx
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  8. The only monochrome we have is a black and white Instagram filter! Hats off to those parents who can keep the white actually white – anything my kids have white always goes grubby or gets stained – look st P1s grey panda…poor thing
    We have tacky toys, bright colours and Charlie has decided he wants various football teams in his bedroom which I’ll admit I wasn’t a fan of but its his bedroom so he can have it to his own taste as its his space & I like that he gets to express himself
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  9. I like the look of it but love me a bit of colour, don’t think I will ever be trendy. My daughter would kick up a fuss if she didn’t have her pink plate! Thing is in 6 months time trends will change again. It will be the next fad colour I suppose. My mum would never let us wear black or tell me off if I brought the kids black. Strange lady.

  10. I love this Donna! Whilst I do love the monochrome trend I don’t think I could ever let it take over more than one room. If that. And my kids…well for a start my kids wearing white is a huge recipe for disaster and I don’t like too much black! I used to always wear black and I snapped myself out of it when I stopped working and now have hardly any black in my wardrobe. I’m all for a life of colour. And my boys will have colourful clothes, colourful toys and colourful bedrooms for as long as they wish. Xx

  11. I couldn’t agree with this anymore! I’ve always said i dislike the monochrome trend, and that’s really what it is – I feel sorry for those who have gone into it so much, as it’ll be gone as quickly as it appeared. My children love colour and so do we 🙂 xx
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  12. Ah, this is interesting. We have a monochrome bedroom because I really like escaping into it and falling asleep in the peacefulness of black and white, but the rest of the house is full of colour. My daughter’s room is bright pink and my son’s is dinosaur green because those are the colours they themselves asked for. Perhaps some children ask for white rooms – I’m sure some do. I think my son has his eye on a plainer design for the next time we decorate. Generally, I figure it’s their rooms so they can have whatever look they like. They get a say on how the rest of the house looks too as we all have to live in it. People don’t really have top to bottom black and white houses with barely a pencil out of place, do they? I really think it’s likely to be just the bits we see on Insta with, as you say, piles of random toys in random colours hidden just out of shot. If anyone really is keeping a house full of kids flawlessly monochrome in all corners at all times, I’d be pretty amazed – that would be a fulltime job in itself!
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  13. Found you via the ‘Kip Hakes’ chat on Twitter. Personally I think it’s a fabulously written post and I think you have an entirely valid point. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the black and white tend, always have since being a teenager, and I do plan on making my home s little more ‘white’ but only so that I can easily freshen it up every couple o months with wonderful bright pops of colour. Like my living room is grey with lovely yellow. And it makes me smile. I also see you point about fashion too. I know of certain mums who dress their children in some of the most ridiculous items – all so that they can blog about them. There’s no way I’d get away with that with my two, they’d have tantrums galore – which I think is fab as it shows free thinking and individuality! A brilliant blog post. Steph xxx
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  14. Love this post. I think there’s plenty of time for kids to follow trends and be stylish as they grow. Childhood is a time for bright and fun colours, not worrying about how things look or whether they clash. I say embrace the colour xx

  15. I’m reading this sitting in my kitchen with bright yellow walls and sitting on a lime green chair – there isn’t anything monochrome in our lives. Even before kids I love colour it really lifts my mood. I find if I’m wearing black it makes me feel like I have less energy. The only time I post picture on Instagram in black and white is if I’m looking very tired or pasty – there is something about a black and white photo that is quite forgiving!

  16. I love this, as I was having this discussion with someone not long ago. It looks lovely in photos, but I think a bit of colour is much nicer. Our home couldn’t be further from monochrome if it tried – the kids have a bright red wall in their spiderman bedroom, and the only white clothes they have are pants, vests and school tshirts! I guess it is a case of each to their own, but I think in a few years time when they and their kids look back at photos, they’ll feel a little bit sad.

  17. I can understand people following this trend for the main living areas of their homes, but it’s not something I would choose and especially not for my kiddies, unless they specifically asked for it.

    I find the whole black/white/grey scheme to be very depressing and claustrophobic, not relaxing at all, and I don’t want my kiddies to experience that feeling. I want them to experience the joy and wonder that can be found in full on amazing technicolour! Xxx
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  18. I hear ya! Black & White looks absolutely lovely in the right place – its not for us in our home though. I want our home to be an expression of us – totally bold and bright (and often loud!). Little Miss T has a rainbow theme which I really need to add more to and we are currently renovating our lounge with tons of orange accessories. Love it! x
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  19. This is very interesting Donna, I think you have a good point! I do love a bit of monochrome, but everything in moderation! When the girls choose what they want to wear, it is invariably colourful, and I’m totally on board with that! And Ava in particular likes to wear a load of clashing colours and patterns, and she totally gets away with it! I say let them run riot with colour before they start to become self conscious about it! xx
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  20. I get the whole monochrome thing for, say, a bathroom or kitchen maybe, but not as a lifestyle choice. I do feel a bit sorry for those kids in the black and white houses, with the black and white clothes and the black and white toys – but then maybe there is a cupboard full of colourful toys behind the camera. I suppose everyone has the right to live and dress how they want to but I think a completely monochrome life is taking it one step too far.
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  21. I really enjoyed reading this Donna, and I completely agree. Whilst it does make for lovely pictures, personally I have a really strong dislike for children in black clothes. My son has two items of black in his wardrobe, one is a vest and the other is his thermal layer for rugby. O loves colour and I’m not even sure I could convince him to be in just black and white! And I know for certain I could never keep it clean, I have a white car and it is filthy!! x
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  22. I’m with you and like a few others, for some reason I just don’t like kids in black. My son has two items of black clothing, both of which were only bought because he needed them for a school show last year! I imagine that the kids do have cupboards full of colourful tat like every other child but it’s difficult to imagine them with colourful clothes and getting changed every time their parents want to take a photo! A monochrome nursery/child’s bedroom looks nice and soothing but I couldn’t do it personally. Like with everything, each to their own!
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  23. What an interesting post and seems lots of people agree with you considering how many comments you’ve got!

    I’m not a fan of black and white schemes – sorry all you monochrome lovers! I think as a trend it is a bit passé and far too safe an option. Although, I have to admit that my own home has a lot of grey scale decoration going on…

    I do find the fully monochrome IG accounts slightly peculiar. They look nice, and of course you should go with whatever you like in life, colour or black and white, but I do suspect that behind those black and white cupboard doors there are plenty of colourful toys and clothes – they just never make it to public pictures 🙂 it’s just a visual style statement, not necessarily a way of life 🙂
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  24. Interesting post. As you know I do like monochrome, however I would never force the kids into playing with just black and white toys and wearing black and white clothes. Our house is full of colour and 100s of coloured toys but I am a clean freak and hate mess so hardly ever show them in photos. Harrys wardrobe is 20% black and white and the rest is colour, Amelias favourite colour is pink and her bedroom is completely colour with lots of pastels so as much as i love monochrome i’d never be able to have a whole monochrome house because of that reason. I do love all the Swedish accounts on Instagram and can sit browsing them for hours wishing it was my house haha! I guess we only post what we want people to see on Instagram, and I’ll admit I don’t want to post photos of my untidy house with coloured toys everywhere x
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  25. I totally agree. As nice as the monochrome look is, it does look cold and sterile, I couldn’t put up with it for long. I know of one social media mama who refused to buy her daughter a Frozen duvet as it wouldn’t go with the monochrome look, which I found so sad.
    Each to their own, but I do call BS on those who insist their toddlers prefer black and white over colour.

  26. Oh Donna this is exactly what I think! I do love the minimalist looks that people portray on Instagram but it could never be how we personally live. My Instagram is bright and colourful as is our home! I might do a take on a monochrome theme here and there but a very muted version with blacks and greys and cream. I find it so much cosier. I couldn’t imagine cosying up in a monochrome room! But they are nice to look at for some reason! !

  27. Oh, I do love your opinion posts.

    I’ve complained about this before so you know I feel the same! I just feel like it is unfair to impose too much of your own style on young children, even if you are super stylish – let your kids explore for themselves, and decide what they like and hate. Taking colour away to the degree that some parents seem to is really alien to me – kids are generally so colourful.

    For us, Lydia loves pink even though we tried to limit the pinkification of our life – but she loves what she loves and we let her choose her clothes and things. She wears completely different clothes to the types of thing Georgie did at her age.
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  28. Love this post Donna! I love bright colours so can’t understand the whole monochrome thing but I know that even if I was into it I wouldn’t expect my kids to be for a number of reasons, firstly like you said I don’t know any child who would choose to wear black and white or pick those colours for toys etc, secondly washing everything must be a nightmare. Mixed black and white things would surely just end up grey?! And I don’t buy or dress anyone in our family in anything white as it doesn’t stay that colour any longer than one wash. It definitely seems like one of those trends that has turned into a lifestyle choice and the kids need to fit into that for it to work, especially on Instagram. It’s a bit like the themed clothing, I know a lot of parents say they would never let their kids wear it and admittedly it doesn’t look as nice as some of the more fashionable clothes but the happiness I see in my kids when they get to wear something with their favourite character on makes me equally happy! x
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  29. I agree with everything about this post. I love the monochrome look…well I prefer greys and whites, but to have your whole home, toys and clothes those colours I think is a bit much. We’re changing our home up at the moment and are having lots of greys and white, but with pops of colour. Colour is so important for children. To be in a bright, cheery room automatically perks you up, does it not? I think children should have choice too. We always let Evie choose out of a few outfits everyday and also she gets to choose what toys she wants to play with. I do love the look of monochrome, it looks clean, and it stands out, but I could not live with it and I do think it goes a bit too far sometimes. xx

  30. I can’t stand all the black and white, the monochrome trend on IG is one that I just don’t get. I love colours and want my boys to wear as many colours as they like throughout their lives (even pink if they want, shock, horror!). It does seem to be a trend, so hopefully it will disappear soon and we can all get back to our rainbows of colour. X
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  31. Being an 80’s throwback my entire 20’s was a mecca to all things monochrome, so I would feel if I was still living there if the house was like that now. To me, its a singles/young couple kind of theme, I can’t imagine ever living in monochrome with kids around. They exude colour – loud and bright and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Me, watch what I want to watch on TV? Nope, not done that in 6 years!!
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  32. I kind of agree. I think a whole house full of monochrome and a monochrome wardrobe would be very boring. I’m just redecorating the dining room and love looking through all of the monochrome home interior posts and getting ideas for our room makeover. It will look great from what I have planned in my head, lol! However, one room is enough and there will be a splash of colour added too. I also would like to think there is lots of colourful toys and accessories pushed out of the way for the perfect Intagram picture. My house isn’t as clutter free as my Instagram pictures make it out to be!!!

  33. I feel that a monochrome life is a sad a dull life. Or it certainly is in my eyes. I hate it when i see pictures of children living in black and white. All their toys are bkack and white. Children a playful and learning and should have bright colours around them, not so much in the bedroom but toys should be bright and full of coliurs and colourful lights. I know i wont follow this trend.

  34. I love what you’re saying here. I only hope those with monochrome accounts don’t feel the need to justify. Children’s lives are full of colour even if they live in a black and white home, they will be at nursery where everything will be a mish mash and bright, they also soon know their own minds. I’m sure most of these people couldn’t stop their children expressing themselves without it becoming quite strange and controlling. I have to trust that isn’t the case. I definitely agree with what you’re saying, children need colour, but I also think the world is full of it and the extremes monochrome lovers cannot hide it from their children forever xxx ❤️????????????????
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  35. Monochrome seems to have the label as “Instagram friendly”. I’ve seen people on Instagram caption their children’s black and white birthday toys as ” the Instagram friendly toys”. There is also a soft play that has recently opened in London – All black and white and most definitely termed by users as “Instagram friendly”. I don’t mind monochrome, it’s not my personal taste, and children in black will always be a bit weird to me, but I can see why others like it. What I don’t like is the implication that anything that doesn’t fit this “Instagram friendly” aesthetic doesn’t fit it on Instagram, which I find absolutely bonkers. I love viewing colorful feeds and get bored by endless monochrome ones.

  36. I completely get what you’re saying here Donna and as lovely as the photographs look, things are becoming very boring and bland, don’t you think? I often look at my photographs by comparison and think they are incredibly messy and non-uniform but they’re real life. I do hope that the snippets we see on social media of these monochrome lives are just that – snippets. Hopefully behind the scenes are messy bedrooms and pants hanging off the door handles! x
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  37. I obviously follow a lot of different people because I’ve not seen much black and white, but lots of pale whites/creams only. Our house is mostly magnolia (because it was that when I moved in, I don’t do DIY and the OH’s really boring and thinks magnolia is the only option – but then it’s never really been properly decorated other than when the house was built). We do have 2 (faded) orange walls in the living room which make it so cosy though.

    I love greys and would love that with teal in the bedroom, but I’d never expect N to have that in his room. At the moment his is undecorated too – really must declutter and sort that out!

    But I agree. Kids need colour, and that’s what they’re drawn too. I hate seeing kids wearing black – N’s just got some new overalls for the farm which are black and while they’re practical I did feel my heart sink when I saw them. His old green ones were so much nicer.

    On IG – yes stylised and neutral is attractive to the eye and easy to view, but it’s so dull when you seem photos after photos of it.

  38. I do agree and have been thinking about this for a while. I imagine that most of these children have other outside influences such as nursery where they will be experiencing colour! It could be quite calming having a monochrome palate at home. I couldn’t try it myself as I love colour as bright as it comes!

  39. I know exactly where you’re coming from. I love black and white, I think it’s simple and stylish but I couldn’t handle everything being monochrome. My childs toys are the full range of eye sore colours, and his wardrobe has a good mix of things (although I have found black great for hiding dirt!). I do think they need to be able to enjoy colour as well as what mum and dad like. It’s a way of learning and exploring. x
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  40. I love, love, love black and white (which may be down to me being a massive Newcastle United fan!), and I’m about to redo rate my living room with a monochrome feel. Saying that, I do think childhood should be colourful and my kids rooms and clothes reflect that. I do look through Instagram accounts and think some have taken the trend too far! I also wonder how people keep things clean when everything is black and white, my kids are so lucky most of the time!
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  41. Great post hon! Oh gosh i can’t say I have actually realised this happening. I love a good monochrome as much as the next person, but when you start to replace children’s clothes or toys with it you know you’ve gone to far. I know I occasionally take monochrome pictures or use the filter on Instagram but I could never go so far as what you are describing. Xx

  42. I totally agree , I see some monochrome things on Instagram and they do look so stylish but I do prefer bright colours. My children would pick something brightly coloured over black and white any day. I hope they have lots of colourful toys out of view as otherwise it would be a bit sad. I often wonder how they keep everything so clean and clutter free with children. Xx
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  43. Been meaning to comment on this for AGES Donna, so sorry! I totally agree with you, and even as someone who ‘does’ interiors/styling etc, I believe that when it comes to our kids, that you NEED to let them have a say and develop their creativity, it’s so important. S wanted a purple bedroom when it came to doing her new one up last summer, so purple wallpaper I found! Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty tasteful, but I thought it was vital to let her have a say in it, and really feel like it was hers. We can steer them in a vague direction, but let the creative process be theirs! I can do what the hell I like with the rest of the house. Great post x

  44. How did I miss this post? I love it!
    As much as I like the monochrome look and agree that it looks very instramable I just can’t do it. I love colour, bright and happy colour.
    I love buying pink clothes for Aria, I don’t want her dressed in black and can’t face the stains that I would have to deal with if I dressed her in white all the time.
    I love buying brightly coloured stimulating toys for her, not dull black and white things that look good!
    Don’t get me wrong, I do tend to have a lot of white in the house, but there is always a nice splash of colour to go along with it.
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