The Toxic Side Of The ‘That Girl’ Aesthetic Taking Over TikTok

By Carly Brechner | February 16, 2022
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“That Girl”: she’s the 6am-waking, 10,000-step-walking, green-juice-drinking embodiment of wellness taking over TikTok. If you haven’t met her on your For You Page yet, you likely soon will. Despite many people’s efforts to be her, no one specific person is “That Girl”. Rather, she is an aesthetic composed of face masks, lemon water, journaling, Olaplex, and Aritzia. Once you remove the mask of “That Girl’s” perfect minimalistic and clean lifestyle, though, you can see her toxic positivity and homogenous view of wellness.

Starting last summer, “That Girl” made its way to TikTok feeds in small numbers. It took off as a trend last fall and had a sharp rise in popularity in late December as people were setting their New Year’s goals and resolutions. The TikTok hashtag #ThatGirl currently has over 2 billion views. Most of the trending videos are along the lines of “my morning routine as ‘That Girl’”, or “this is your sign to become ‘That Girl’”. Plenty of influencers are also posting shopping round-ups about what to buy to achieve this lifestyle including self-help books, yoga mats, or monochromatic workout sets. After diving down the trend’s hashtag, I noticed that one thing almost always present with “That Girl” content is some type of promise to “be the best version of yourself” if you adopt this lifestyle. 

If you are anything like me, learning about this trend—specifically, its “live your best life” messaging—set off blaring alarms in your brain. It’s reminiscent of the themes from dietitians and fitness influencers promising fulfilled potential if you adopt certain habits. The only difference is now this toxicity has just been repackaged as not just a diet, but a full lifestyle. Seriously? Are we really going to believe that someone on TikTok knows what’s going to changes our lives? I thought we moved past this. 

I’ll admit, some of the ideas are there. Don’t you think I want to drink more water, eat more vegetables, and get more than 5 hours of sleep every night? Don’t you think I want to put myself first and be more mindful? I sure do. But by wrapping these messages in the unrealistic, uniform, expensive, aesthetic bow that is “That Girl”, they appear out of reach and their significance is lost. 

There is one common denominator with “That Girl”: she is almost always skinny, she is almost always wealthy, and she is almost always white. She has more time and resources than the average person, giving her the ability to live this idealized lifestyle and make it look so easy. 

Even though being “That Girl” is inaccessible for most, it’s an attractive lifestyle. Sure, I would love to know what my life would be like if I spent every hour of my day working out, reading self-help books, and making intricate smoothie bowls, but for myself and most others, that’s not realistic. This trend is so idealized, though, that there is a sense of shame or disappointment in every normal person that can’t live “That Girl’s” perfect life. I almost feel like she’s staring through the screen as I scroll TikTok in bed at 1am and screaming “Oh, you can’t be me? Well, then you’re not the best version of yourself.”

It might seem like “That Girl” has it all: she has a fridge full of colorful foods, a clean room, clear skin, a wardrobe on-trend, and a healthy, relaxed mind. But she’s missing something. She’s missing balance. Does “That Girl” eat four slices of pizza with her friends after a night out? Does “That Girl” body a Chipotle bowl while lying on the couch in sweats watching Sex and the City? Does “That Girl” even cry? Judging from her constantly smiling videos, no she does not, and boy is she missing out.

So just remember that even though “That Girl” might wake up at 7am, don’t be afraid to sleep until noon. Even though “That Girl” works out daily, take a rest day. Even though “That Girl” wears minimalistic color-coordinated sets, wear your old high school sweatshirt and the same pair of sweatpants you wore two days ago. 

If you have become “That Girl” then… congrats I guess? But for every other normal person on the planet, just remember that being productive and being your best self looks different for everyone. As aesthetically tempting as it may be, stop focusing on skinny, wealthy, white women’s highlight reels, and start living the life that works for you. 

Image: Julia Volk /Stocksy.com

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