‘What’s your sign?’: The latest ice-breaker question among millennials


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Photos and story by Allison Borrell / Contributing Writer

If you’re a millennial, you’ve probably been asked the question, “What’s your sign?” a few times. And if you’re a millennial who is into astrology, that might be one of the questions you ask someone when first meeting them.

This is the case for MTSU student and Gemini Kara Aguilar, who uses astrology, the study of the movements and positions of celestial bodies and their effects on human life and events, to get to know people and better understand them.

“It helps me navigate who I’m talking to and how I’m going to interact with somebody,” Aguilar said.

Despite astrology only recently becoming a trendy subject among millennials, with 29 percent of adults believing in astrology according to a 2017 survey from Pew Research Center, Aguilar’s interest in it was sparked during childhood.

“I started liking astrology when I was probably 6,” said Aguilar. “I got the Lisa Frank magazines, and I liked the drawings of the Gemini. Every month, I would read my horoscope. That was my first taste of it.”

As she got older, she began taking the subject more seriously, researching astrology online and buying books to learn more about it. This was where Aguilar’s casual interest in astrology turned into more of a passion.

“I started doing research on signs and how we connect on more than just a conscious level,” said Aguilar. “We’re also affected by our surrounding elements, and I thought that was interesting.”

While astrology may be new to the mainstream, its origins are ancient. According to Mallory Key, an Aquarius and Nashville-based professional astrologer accredited by the American Federation of Astrologers, knowledge and understanding of astrology was commonplace centuries ago.

“This was so common … to understand astrology long ago,” Key said. “They (used it to understand) the workings of personality and people’s perspectives.”

To Key, astrology is a tool people can use to better understand themselves and those around them, as well as achieve self-awareness. She says understanding the different signs of the zodiac and the way they differ from each other has helped her to appreciate the uniqueness of people around her.

With astrology being on the rise, Key has noticed more people coming to her for readings and attending astrology classes she teaches at Cosmic Connections in Nashville, and she attributes much of this to the city itself.

“Nashville has been known to be the Athens of the South,” Key said. “I think there’s a lot of knowledge (here). This is a special place, and I think I’m in a good spot to help people who want to learn about it.”

Millennials have become notorious for exploring different philosophies and ideas to apply to their lives, and Key sees this as a huge contributor to them seeking out astrology to answer questions they have about the world.

“This new group of young people … they’re open to this,” Key said. “There’s just different things popping up that I think we need with the energies that are happening. The Earth is changing … and we need things to help us cope and raise our vibrations.”

However, just because astrology has become more popular doesn’t mean that everyone with an interest in it commits to exploring the vastness of the subject. For many millennials, astrology is more of a fun and casual hobby, and the U.S. has managed to capitalize on it.

The main way astrology has found its way into the mainstream is through major retailers whose target audience is typically millennials by creating astrology-related products. Companies like Urban Outfitters and Hot Topic carry a variety of merchandise inspired by astrology and zodiac signs, including clothing, jewelry, wall art and home decor.

Perhaps the industry that has incorporated astrology into their marketing the most has been the beauty industry. A variety of brands have launched products, ranging from lipsticks to eyeshadow palettes, touting zodiac signs as shade names and enticing consumers with the idea that these products are personalized to match their sign.

Many beauty brands have come out with entire zodiac collections, investing time and money into exclusive packaging and social media promotions. BH Cosmetics, a brand sold at Ulta, was one of the first to spark this trend of zodiac-inspired make up with the 2017 launch of the Zodiac Palette, an eyeshadow palette with shades named after each of the astrological signs. Since then, the brand has expanded this line with a Zodiac Love Signs eyeshadow palette and a collection of mini zodiac palettes that launch at the beginning of each sign’s season. Other popular brands with full zodiac collections include Colourpop Cosmetics, Wet n Wild and Canadian brand Bite Beauty.

While astrology is more of a serious endeavor rather than just a fun hobby for Key, she says seeing astrology entering the mainstream in this way is a great thing.

“If you want to wear the jewelry or whatever that goes with your sign, I think that’s cool,” Key said. “Just know there’s a lot more to it than just your zodiac sign.”

“It may bring people to think that it’s not something so weird or taboo … That might open the doorway for more conversation,” she added.

Aguilar shares some of the same sentiments as Key when it comes to her opinion on how astrology has become more popular, but she does have some qualms with people who don’t dig deeper than the surface level of astrology.

“I like it, and I hate it,” Aguilar said. “I like it because it gives the general public more access to information that previously was looked down upon … but for the rest of the fact that it’s cool and trendy now, people aren’t really studying the subject. They’re only studying the surface amount … I think that’s not fair to people who go really in depth and use it to navigate their lives.”

Astrology, while it has become much more accepted through its trend status, still isn’t free from controversy, with words like “pseudoscience” and “debunked” constantly looming over it.

According to MTSU astronomy professor Eric Klumpe, astrology is more of a spiritual belief than a rigorous scientific study, and he says it should be regarded as such. To Klumpe, it isn’t the place of the science community to pass judgment on spirituality.

“Astrology doesn’t seem to be as rigorous as science. It’s not testable in the same way,” Klumpe said. “But I’m not one of those scientists who thinks all the important and interesting questions of life can only be answered by science … I recognize that science is limited to the types of questions it can answer.”

“I think if you’re going to live a full, whole life, you can have a science side and a non-science side,” Klumpe added.

Whether people choose to buy into astrology or not, it seems to be here to stay, according to Key.

“I think astrology is up-and-coming, and I think it’s a good thing if it helps people with their daily routine and life,” Key said.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Mamie Lomax, email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com.

For more updates, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter at @Sidelines_Life. 

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