Life&Style writer Mia Lynam discusses TikTok’s newest ‘That Girl’ trend and why she believes that it is damaging for impressionable viewers
Baked oats, journaling, sunrises, and minimalism: if I don’t subscribe to these non-negotiable routines, can I ever be ‘That Girl’?
According to Aesthetics Wiki, “In this aesthetic, women, typically from college-aged to early thirties, show images and videos of being productive and engaging in self-care and self-betterment.” When I searched ‘that girl aesthetic’ on my own Pinterest account, I was shown photos of vegetable aisles, books, coffee in bed, face masks, and (so, so many) green juices. There was a photo of someone reading A Little Life, which I don’t really believe to be conducive to self-care and good mental well-being (if you would like to read this book I recommend looking at the trigger warnings). These were all very ‘clean’ photos; very minimalistic, and had maybe one splash of colour. An easy going colour palette for a lifestyle that, in reality, is nearly impossible to maintain.
Being ‘that girl’ is staggeringly similar to the ‘clean girl’ aesthetic, one that took TikTok by storm earlier this year. Both include overtly productive routines, 100% healthy lifestyles, and minimalist videos on TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram Reels. However, is it damaging for young girls to see this on their social media? This is essentially a repackaged version of a girl boss, encouraging women to fill up all of their day with errands, work, cleaning, and working out.
After rigorous TikTok scrolling that may have given me carpal tunnel, I’ve found the most typical ‘that girl’ routine: wake up at 5 am, journal, work out, eat a green or oat-based breakfast, clean the house, go to work, come back, cook dinner, work out again, run errands, journal, sleep, repeat. As you can see by the extensive amount of commas, there’s not really much room for anything else.
Emily Torres puts it succinctly in The Good Trade, “becoming that girl looks like it’s about feeling content, but it’s actually about making content.” For influencers, maybe they feel more productive when they have evidence of it. Maybe they need to prove to their however-many followers that they’re accomplishing things, even if it is just a perfect morning routine.
That’s the harm in it though, it’s never perfect. Nothing is ever one hundred percent perfect, and deluding thousands of people into thinking your life is creates more harm than good. Thousands of impressionable pre-teen girls opening a social media account for the first time and being shown that they’re not doing enough is bound to cause distress. That’s not to say it isn’t awful for teenagers and young adults too. Imagine being so stressed from University (as I’m sure many of us are), barely able to juggle that, and having a social life without future planning and part-time jobs into the mix. Or working an office 9-5, and “those girls” can handle it so much better than you can. For anyone, scrolling through videos that prove you’re not “doing life right”, or doing it better, can be harmful and demoralising.
On a more minute scale, I have a small ‘that girl’ feeling whilst I’m writing this, simply because I’m being productive, I’m managing to tick off my to-do list. I sent my family a message telling them that I’ve done my assignment, and they said they’re proud of me. I’m being productive, I’m being that girl. But is that the trend at its core? To show what you’ve done and want to be proud of it? That seems to be the underlying intention for it, but as seen with multitudes of other trends, social media twists everything into a productivity competition, encouraging you to do too much when you’re pouring from an empty cup.
My advice instead, is to find balance. Yes, she does more in one day than I accomplish in a week. Yes, I don’t balance my food as well as she does. And yes, I cannot contort my body into that yoga pose. But that’s okay! Everyone moves at different paces, and you can do a yoga routine today and then run an errand tomorrow, and still have time to recharge with something absolutely “unproductive” that you love; because if it helps you, it’s still productive. You are always “that girl”.
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