“That Girl” trend perpetuates unrealistic lifestyles

“Wake up at 5 a.m., go on your morning jog, make yourself some all-natural, peanut butter oatmeal pancakes, drink an antioxidant berry smoothie, complete a full skincare routine and listen to a podcast for 30 minutes before going to work.” Such is the enlightening advice offered by the “That Girl” trend, primarily seen on TikTok and Pinterest. “That Girl” targets women with often unrealistic suggestions on how their routines should look. With many posts and videos reaching thousands of views, the “That Girl” trend promotes consumerism and deceitfully holds women to unrealistic standards of beauty and performance.

One of the most glaring issues with the trend is that it is propaganda for consumerism. The “That Girl” aesthetic orbits around becoming the “ideal girl” through the purchase of material goods. Multiple videos from the trend lionize designer brands and makeup, suggesting that to become the girl of anyone’s dreams, one must buy her way into it.

Although it is subtle at times, this message is always sprinkled into every “That Girl” post. The trend goes so far as to encourage the purchase of specific cups and mugs for fruit smoothies and espressos, respectively. From pens to batteries and calculators, a plastic container to organize each piece of productivity paraphernalia is a must. While not a harmful suggestion, the obsessive organization implies that women need to have all facets of their lives compartmentalized. The normalization of this mindset discounts the vast majority of people who do not have their lives as perfectly structured and under control as the dishonest examples on social media.

In her “it will be ok” YouTube video, Emma Chamberlain, an influencer, said, “I think the ups and downs of your mental state are a lot more frequent than people want to talk about.” This quote that starts her self-help video shows that self-improvement can be messy, unlike the idealized versions the “That Girl” aesthetic portrays. Chamberlain’s video brings awareness to the fact that regaining control over one’s life is not always aesthetic and is not a change made instantly by waking up earlier, like “That Girl” may suggest; it is a slow and uncomfortable process.

Another way the trend spreads unrealistic advice is through the assertion that everyone has to, without fail, follow through on set routines. For example, several content creators posting “That Girl” content upload a series of short videos tracking their daily routines. These creators’ main priorities for their videos is to look good; they tell their audience that every single day of their lives goes as planned. However, humans inevitably make mistakes. “That Girl” content ignores this truth and promotes the harmful narrative that one must never stray from their perfect routine to become their ideal self.

Yet some argue that the trend does more good than bad for viewers. A large portion of the “That Girl” aesthetic promotes clean diets, regular exercise and positive habits – all tenets of a healthier lifestyle and self-care. Despite its seemingly innocent intentions, however, the trend still presents this lifestyle in an idealized and incomplete way. According to the Child Mind Institute, self-esteem in teenage girls is lowered by social media when they compare themselves to the perfectly curated content on social media. Viewers are discouraged when they fail to meet the standards of “That Girl.”

Social media is both a blessing and a curse. It can be used to spread positivity and constructive advice or to cultivate insecurities in impressionable teenagers. While it may offer surface-level advice, “That Girl” ultimately perpetuates harmful consumerism and perfectionism, contributing to the toxicity on social media today.

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