You’ll never be “that girl”: here’s why
Clemence Smith explores why the “that girl” phenomenon is impossible to achieve.
Social media puts certain types of people on a pedestal and encourages others to admire them. The “that girl” phenomenon, for example, glorifies a life that is both perfectly put together and aesthetically pleasing. People jokingly claim that students can’t maintain a good sleep schedule, a vibrant social life, and good academic results; “that girl”, however, does so effortlessly. This person has a rigorous fitness routine, eats healthy food, keeps on top of work, wakes up early, meditates and so on. They do things that, in short, contribute towards “productivity” and mindfulness.
Instagram Reels, TikToks, and other types of short-form content promote this idealised life. Social media has been repeatedly condemned for promoting unrealistic beauty standards. Surprisingly, instead of revolving around physical appearance, the visual appeal of “that girl” stems from their actions. It is not for this reason, however, that the trend is beneficial to its followers.
Life is seldom as easy and straightforward as what “that girl” portrays.
“That girl” is, essentially, a mythical being that is perpetually beyond our reach. This person has no fixed identity; one could even argue that internet users are being led on a wild goose chase. The outsider’s gaze is what ultimately constructs “that girl’s” identity. It is somewhat ironic, then, that “that girl” exalts in her independence and freedom from society’s conventions.
A TikTok only captures a fraction of someone’s day; furthermore, editing can remove any resemblance to normal life. Portraying snapshots of a “perfect life” places the creator in an ambiguous position: they turn themselves into objects of envy, while also embarking on the futile pilgrimage towards perfection.
Social media swings between two opposing narratives. On the one hand, people are encouraged to “romanticise their life” and make the most of mundane pleasures. On the other hand, however, users are urged to prioritise productivity and constantly work towards increasingly important goals. Interestingly, the former was more prevalent during the lockdowns, as we lived at a slower pace. Since some sense of “normality” has resumed, however, things have accelerated as if people are trying to make up for lost time.
The things that really make us happy, such as nurturing friendships, cannot be captured on social media.
Unfortunately, life is seldom as easy and straightforward as what “that girl” portrays. Although this style of content might act as an initial source of motivation for some, it will probably not lead to long-term success. Maintaining a rigid routine while coping with the unpredictability of life is impossible, almost certainly leading to burnout for those brave enough to try.
Becoming “that girl” seems deceptively simple. The trend makes us wonder: well, if they can do it, why can’t I? Social media can be unhealthy because it fosters the need for constant comparison. Seeking to “fix your life” by imitating influencers does more harm than good. The things that really make us happy, such as nurturing friendships, cannot be captured on social media. So, next time a flickering screen triggers feelings of envy, consider this: just because something is viral, doesn’t mean that it should be imitated. If anything, the most balanced and healthy lifestyles are probably those not involved in internet trends at all.