The Toxicity of Being "That Girl"
Writer: Veronica Yung
Editor: Adelyne Koe
Graphic Designer & Artist: Maulina Gheananta
A trending concept on TikTok, being ‘that girl’ means that you are improving yourself. ‘That girl’ wakes up early, usually around 5-6 AM, to work out. She drinks green juice. She has an aesthetic journal you can find on pinterest, which she writes in for self-fulfilment. She has every hour of her day planned out on an aesthetically-pleasing Notion account. ‘That girl’ has her life together.
Oftentimes, ‘that girl’ content on TikTok (which the algorithm pushes onto the ‘for you’ pages of teen girls) involves quick, snappy vlogs showcasing the video creator’s productivity and aesthetic lifestyle in a nice apartment. While it is most commonly seen on TikTok, hundreds and thousands of videos of teen girls transforming themselves into ‘that girl’ can also be found on YouTube.
"That girl" on TikTok
Despite its popularity, the trend can be very toxic. One of the most noticeable things about the trend is how many people pushed to the forefront are thin, white women. This is not unusual for the TikTok algorithm, but it continues to show how many lifestyle influencers are often white (as seen with the rise of vloggers, with its most popular influencers being people like Emma Chamberlain, Hannah Meloche and other white, conventionally-attractive girls).
The idea of transforming oneself into ‘that girl’ also increases the toxicity, as while it promotes healthy eating and a good lifestyle, it can also promote changing yourself into being something you aren’t. This might cause the target audience of the trend to associate healthy eating with becoming thinner instead of living a healthy lifestyle. Some have also said that the trend promotes eating disorders--more specifically, orthorexia, which, according to Beat Eating Disorders UK, is ‘an unhealthy obsession with eating “pure” food.’
Searches of "That Girl" on Pinterest
Being ‘that girl’ also promotes capitalism in many ways. ‘That girl’ promotes waking up early to work out, journal and make an aesthetic breakfast, which is a form of toxic productivity. Through this, influencers perpetuate the idea that success is productivity, which is a heavily capitalist idea often promoted by CEOs of big corporations, further fueling the idea that people are only useful if they have value to the economy. This causes many people to feel guilty for being unproductive, regardless of whether or not they have the time and energy to do so. This content is aimed at teenagers, as well as those in their twenties, who are often already working. This form of productivity is impossible for these people as most jobs have working hours that start at 8:30 - 9:00 A.M. and end late, and people often have other duties outside of work hours. What is most prominent is how the ‘that girl’ lifestyle is a watered-down version of the lifestyle CEOs of big corporations promote, which includes waking up early, working out, and planning out your day (including the planning of breaks).
The trend is also unattainable for other reasons. It promotes an expensive lifestyle that many people cannot afford, as influencers are usually wearing expensive workout outfits from Lululemon, and eating organic foods. Many of them are also privileged enough as they are not working minimum wage, and therefore have the time and energy to wake up early. This is because many influencers have a relatively good financial background, whether it is familial or a result of big sponsorships. It also promotes consumerism. The trend, which showcases aesthetically-pleasing products, such as workout outfits, plants and LED lights, allows big corporations to market their products through sponsorships. This encourages the consuming of items that are unnecessary to improve life in the way that being ‘that girl’ promotes it.
While most of this is unintentional, it does not erase the fact that it is toxic for many reasons. However, as this is the lifestyle that is currently most marketable, it is unlikely to fade in the near future. This means we need to realise that an over-productive lifestyle is unhealthy, unattainable and is often just a glamorized version of an influencer’s life.