The Problem With “That Girl” Culture
You’re laying in bed past 9 am scrolling mindlessly on social media and you come across an Instagram Reel with a petite woman getting out of bed at 7 am and rolling back her white linen whilst she’s drinking a green juice, getting ready for a workout and kissing her hunky partner, before heading to her incredibly neat kitchen to blend up cacao for a smoothie bowl. The Reel is captioned “I am That Girl”.
Instantly, you feel guilty.
You feel guilty for laying in bed, for not having the physique she has, for not drinking (or eating) anything green the moment you woke up, for not having perfect white sheets, for not loading your dishwasher the night before, for not having a relationship to show to the world, for not really knowing what cacao is, and for not hitting the gym on a daily basis.
You didn’t feel guilty before watching this Reel, but now you do. Why is that?
In this article, we’re answering that very question: we’re going to take a deep dive into the world of “That Girl” culture and understand exactly why this new trend for young women is so utterly detrimental.
Who, Or Rather What, Is “That Girl”?
“That Girl” burst onto the scene after the pandemic began to calm down, with women coming onto various forms of social media, creating images and videos that show them living a life filled with “self-care”.
Whilst “That Girl” might actually not exist (because after all, we all know that what we show on social media definitely isn’t an accurate description of who we are and what we do in real life!), the concept of “That Girl” is someone who is thin, clean, wealthy, uber-productive, and most disturbingly, incredibly into “wellness”.
From wholefood shops and perfectly curled hair to ab workouts and show-home worthy rooms, “That Girl” comes across as someone who not only has their life together, but who is absolutely thriving in the most beautiful, wholesome, and rigid way.
So, What’s Wrong With Being “That Girl”?
Don’t get me wrong, if you are super into only eating the healthiest of foods, getting up at the crack of dawn, donning the cutest workout set, heading to the gym, having an aesthetically pleasing home, and being a generally very productive human being, then that is great!
More power to you - you’ve found what makes you happy, you’re killing it in your own way, and I’m proud!
However, the issue with the “That Girl” culture is that it promotes the idea that there’s only one definition of living a successful or “well” life: you should look a certain way, you should only eat certain things, you should move your body a certain way, you should have a certain type of home, you should feel a certain way, and you should constantly live in this way without any balance.
The entire concept of “That Girl” is completely limiting, out of reach, and more often than not, completely false. It’s also incredibly concerning because it suggests that if you’re not living like this, you’re not doing life right!
I’ve actually seen social media posts with tips on becoming “That Girl” on a budget, how to take photos like “That Girl”, and how to workout like “That Girl”.
Is this conducive to a society that embraces everyone, doesn’t make people feel as if they need to aspire to be something they truly don’t want to be, or accepts different markers of success and wellness? No. It’s not.
Women of all ages (but especially younger women) are constantly being promoted to live a certain type of lifestyle in the name of “wellness” via social media and it’s detrimental.
It goes further than the guilt we feel when we see one of these Reels - we’re setting expectations for ourselves that are not real and then when we don’t live up to them, we feel disappointed, we compare ourselves, and we struggle with confidence and self-esteem.
Deja Vu: We’ve Seen Trends Like This Before, But Why Does This Feel Different?
Concerningly, there have been other “That Girl” trends but they’ve simply been called different things. Whether it’s the Tumblr thinspo era or the heavily marketed skinny tea epidemic, we’ve seen these kinds of damaging trends all before and people are still dealing with the mental and physical effects of those. So, why are we all seemingly less concerned by this one?
As mentioned briefly above, the “That Girl” trend exists in the name of “wellness”.
This is a huge problem! Wellness is not a standardized concept - wellness is unique and we all have different practices, lifestyles, and abilities that alter the way that we support our wellbeing.
However, this trend has pushed us into believing that there’s only one way to support our wellbeing - acting like the women we see in these videos and posts online. Since this trend is promoted within the “wellness” space, it’s infiltrated our minds, leading us to believe it’s a positive trend that encourages us to live a better life.
Just imagine it: someone starts searching for wellness content on social media and “That Girl” content is what they find - they will believe that this is what wellness truly means. That’s the concern. That’s where the issue is. This toxic trend is piggybacking on the wellness industry…
It Goes Against Everything We’ve Been Working Towards As A Collective In The Wellness Industry
The wellness industry as a whole may have had its ups and downs over the years and been linked to some odd trends, but this one has to be the most concerning because it goes against absolutely everything that we have all worked towards, both within the industry and as a greater collective.
We need to say goodbye to toxic comparison and hello to accepting that everyone is doing what supports their wellbeing in their own way.
It’s important to both advocate for, share, and truly understand that health and wellness look different for everyone - there is no one size fits all.
Additionally, it’s time to shut down the “That Girl” concept that promotes a state of perfectionism and serenity at all times - the truth is, focusing on your wellbeing doesn’t always look aesthetically pleasing, it might not (or more likely probably won’t) be a linear journey, and it’s much more than cute workout sets and fluffy pillows on your bed.
It’s about balance: no one is productive all the time, no one’s home looks sparkling 24/7, no one feels one emotion constantly, no one exists in one continuous state of living: we are human.
The majority of us thrive on living a balanced life: experiencing both positive and negative emotions, eating all types of food, enjoying partying and meditating, wearing our favourite clothes and our comfies, revelling in a clean home and realising we need to tidy up.
The Cure? Self-Compassion, Authenticity, and Selective Following!
So, how do we get rid of “That Girl” culture? Or, at least make sure that we don’t succumb to the toxic positivity that’s promoted and shared by the trend? Well, the cure has three parts: self-compassion, authenticity, and unfollowing!
First: self-compassion! Self-compassion is the act of showing compassion to yourself, as the name suggests! Showing compassion to yourself means not only being kind to yourself when you feel at your highest points, but when you’re not feeling your best too! It’s about being patient with yourself, treating yourself as if you would a friend, and not judging yourself.
When you show yourself compassion, you’re less likely to compare yourself to others, and you’re much more likely to show yourself kindness and embrace what feeling good means to you.
Second: authenticity! Authenticity is about being true to yourself and living life in a way that is aligned with your values. We can combat the “That Girl” trend by not only living our most authentic lives guilt-free, but showing up authentically online and in real life. We can stop the perpetuation of these kinds of trends by showing up as we are, unapologetically and without any type of filter.
Thirdly: selective following! That’s right - one of the best, easiest, and simplest ways to disconnect from this trend is by not only unfollowing all of the people on social media that post “That Girl” content, but following people that show up authentically online and share genuine content. If it doesn’t spark genuine joy on the feed, it has to go!
Bye “That Girl”, I’m Off To Be This Girl!
Let’s say bye to “That Girl” culture together and stand up and say - “I’m going to be this girl, the one that maybe doesn’t wake up every day before 7am, the one that likes to go out for drinks with my friends, the one that enjoys meals with carbs, and the one that moves her body in a way that truly brings her joy!”.
Let’s be exactly who we are, together, in our own individual ways!