Several sites and creators call the ‘that girl’ trend the ‘wellness hot girl summer’
Every generation had its ‘it girl’; from the early y2k era when every girl coveted something labelled with Von Dutch and Juicy Couture, to the 2010s when every bedroom was decked out in neon and animal print. But, the 2020s are different somehow. With the advent of COVID-19, the world’s priorities changed immensely, and the objective was no longer to wear the latest trends because where was there to go? Instead, the world turned its gaze to productivity and at-home life.
For the most part, people are used to the unrealistic standards portrayed on social media: with everything from impossibly curvy fashion nova models to 20 something-year-olds popping champagne on a yacht in the Mediterranean. Compared, the seemingly innocent trend of being ‘that girl’ has weaselled its way into the mix.
So, who is ‘that girl’, you may ask? The aesthetic gained popularity on TikTok, and the concept is pretty simple. ‘That girl’ is the girl who wakes up at 5:30am, exercises and meditates in her matching LuluLemon or GymShark apparel and proceeds to make herself a healthy and light breakfast comprised of avo and toast, an acai bowl or oatmeal with almond milk. She then tidies up her near-pristine apartment of neutral colours and goes to school or work, all of which is done on the latest MacBook pro. Every minute in her day is accounted for, and she looks flawless while doing it.
In essence, ‘that girl’ and the ‘it girl’ are not all that different. However, the ‘it girl’ is highlighted by the incessant need for a glamorous appearance and ‘that girl’ promotes drive, purpose and fulfilment. But, much like the ‘it girl’ of the 2000s, these girls lead a near-perfect and curated lifestyle.
As a society, we have started to gravitate to lifestyles that promote wellness, peace and overall health. And, it’s this aspiration that has led us to the ‘that girl’ trend. But, the people driving this tread shouldn’t be exempt from criticism and scrutiny. Like any community or internet trend, there are underlying issues within the community. The lifestyle bloggers that promote becoming ‘that girl’ are often considered narrow-minded, perpetuating one idea of health and productivity. Namely, people accuse the trend of having an exclusionary nature. For example, the lifestyle seems compatible only with those who have the freedom to spend an hour preparing themselves for the day: whereas many people work long gruelling hours from morning to night and don’t have time for intricate yoga and mindfulness exercises.
Most people don’t have the time for 3-hour morning routines or the funds to buy organic food (which is often expensive). And this is just the beginning of some of the issues that surface when trying to attain the perfect ‘that girl’ lifestyle.
While TikTok is free for everyone to use, many suspect the algorithm favours certain groups. Various creators of colour and activists claim the algorithm pushes more content from white creators onto the for you page. This is no different within the ‘that girl’ community. Most girls who perpetuate this trend are white, skinny and conventionally attractive. And while the girls can’t help their outward appearance, the associated look of the ‘that girl’ is unrealistic for many women.
This trend, like so many, also boils down to economic standing. Whether it’s intentional or not, the life of the ideal ‘that girl’ is expensive – top of the line computers, iPads, iPhones and organic avocados aren’t cheap. In essence, the ‘that girl’ aesthetic is a more palatable but costly version of the controversial ‘hustle culture’ trend. However, instead of “grind hard all day”, the perpetrated motto is “account for your time”. The motivational concept behind the trend may seem innocent on the surface, but sometimes it’s ok to be unproductive. Due to conditions like ADHD and depression, for many, maintaining a routine like this is impossible. And, these trends can perpetuate feelings of guilt or inadequacy. For the most part, the hyper fixation on productivity and living near-to-perfect lives is unhealthy and unattainable. Some even compare the lifestyle to the productivity pressure machine content genre dominated by creators such as Gary Vee and Matt D’avella.
So, what do we think of the ‘that girl’ trend? There’s nothing wrong with waking up before work to do your favourite fitness class, drinking kale smoothies or having all the latest gadgets (if you can afford it). But, there is something wrong with the pressure young people feel to pursue the lifestyle. So, remember, the best kind of lifestyle is the one that makes you happy.