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“That Girl” Phenomenon - TikTok’s Biggest Lie

Why has this trend become so popular, and is it really as positive and healthy as it claims to be?

For the past two years, a new phenomenon has begun to spread in many of the world’s biggest social media apps: the “That Girl” lifestyle trend. Yet, who is ‘that girl’? She wakes up at 5 am, meditates for 10 minutes every morning, drinks a matcha or a smoothie, goes to the gym, showers, does her 10-step skincare routine, journals, and even meal preps. In essence, she is successful in many aspects of her life. The most important thing is that she is the best version of herself, or at least is what each ‘that girl’ video on TikTok tries to sell. In the past year, this phenomenon has spiked in popularity, with videos circulating with titles such as “The Ultimate Guide to Being ‘THAT Girl’”, and “Healthy girl habits that changed my life”, garnering millions of views across social media.

To preface, the trend is not completely bad, mostly because it inspires people to want to be physically and mentally healthy and to turn into a better version of themselves. But in several videos, the trend seems to demonstrate that there is a very specific, strict method to becoming ‘that girl’. On Instagram, “that girl” wears matching workout sets, drinks green juices, and always has a motivational message up on her stories. Instagram depicts a highly curated and perfect version of the trend, and as a fellow viewer, it feels impossible to reach such levels of perfection. The girls on the app who post that kind of content unintentionally send the message that in order to be that girl there is a certain body type, financial status, and general lifestyle that’s a requirement. Many people, especially young girls, who follow those types of influencers may subconsciously internalize these stereotypes and attempt to live off them, generating insecurities instead of positive encouragement like the trend sets as a general motto.

If we look to other platforms, on YouTube, there are countless tutorials on how to become ‘that girl’ and many young women vlogging their attempts to become that version of themselves. Two influencers who have specifically gained astounding recognition from showcasing how they live their ‘that girl’ lives, are Vanessa Tiiu and Fernanda Ramirez. Both Tiiu and Ramirez share long, and very complete morning routines with a multitude of activities being accomplished all before the start of their work day, with many activities intended to give them a positive start to their day. In Vanessa’s case, she believes that the trend is a representation of productivity and positive growth. Ramirez’s take on the trend is that it represents aesthetic meals, reading for pleasure, peak fitness, and a perfect self-care routine.

Both influencers place several disclaimers on their videos, which is a pattern to many of the content creators who make this style of vlogs, such as Tiiu who says that ‘that girl’ can look different for everyone, and Ramirez that says that no one should define their worth based on how people look online. It is interesting that Vanessa’s definition of ‘that girl’ is a near perfect fit into the stereotype, and Fernanda has several sponsorships and tips that promise to teach you how to take the perfect insta selfie to look like that girl. So it is curious that despite all the disclaimers that the influencers add to their videos, they still showcase a lifestyle that for the average working person, or student even, is completely unattainable. However, content creators frame this trend as the standard to being the healthiest, most positive version of yourself, and that is not true. Psychiatrists, like Dr. Elia Abi-Jaoude, have stated that “when you’re constantly looking at the most carefully curated videos, you may think ‘If that’s what everyone else is doing, I should be doing the same”, as seen in an article by CBC news.

The ‘that girl’ vloggers are thin, beautiful girls, with plenty of money and time to execute these long and perfect morning routines, in addition to the endorsement to record it all. Even though these girls are not blatantly trying to fuel stereotypes, their videos do that unintentionally. Many people online forget that the videos posted only show glimpses of each person’s life, and that they are edited, on most occasions only showing the best parts of their day. The content shows an ideal version of the perfect girl, but in real life she doesn’t exist. This trend isn’t an accurate reflection of reality, not in the slightest, because it transmits this idea that waking up before sunrise, writing in a journal, and drinking green juices, will solve all your problems, when becoming the best version of yourself is much more about internal work than external appearances.

On a final note, the trend should not be interpreted literally, it should be taken more subjectively because each person has a different ideal version of themselves that can’t possibly fit into a 15 second TikTok video. The trend should serve as motivation to practice positive habits like gratitude and self-reflection, but it should never be an attempt to mimic these girls’ routines. It’ll not make anybody’s life perfect, and will more likely just lead to a lot of frustration. ‘That girl’, is not the same and shouldn’t be sold as the same for everybody, because there isn’t a one size fits all for being a healthier person. If ‘that girl’ means getting out of bed, brushing your teeth, and reading 1 page from a book then that is perfectly fine, as we should never try to base our lives off of edited pictures on the internet.

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