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Is Girl Math Funny or Anti-Feminist?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. Andrews chapter.

What exactly is the infamous TikTok trend “girl math”? Contrary to its name, it is nearly void of math in its entirety. Rather, girl math is a process of rationalization, primarily used to justify spending habits. 

It is easiest to depict through example; for instance, if I returned a £40 sweater, and went on to buy £20 concealer, I’d have made money, rather than lost it.

The “girl math” justification for this logic is as follows – the money that enters my account after the return is technically new money, ergo, my purchase of the £20 concealer actually made me another £20 pounds.

Beyond the sweater example, more mundane and relatable acts of purchase justification can fall under this category. Have you ever paid in cash, rather than by card, and felt as though the purchase wasn’t real, as no money left your account? It seems you’ve used “girl math” as well!

Have you ever had money in your Starbucks app, making your morning latte “free”? 

Again – “girl math”!

“Girl math” is everywhere. We’ve likely all rationalized purchases with it before. And who can blame us? It’s undoubtedly an alluring ideology, and a prolific one as well. 

It gained its name and traction on TikTok, and has been trending for months. Take this video for instance, with almost 2 million likes on the app.

It certainly adds an element of fun into spending. Women have begun to use “girl math” as a challenge, attempting to use it to vindicate bigger, and bigger purchases.

But more than a justification process, the notion of “girl math” is, plainly, funny. In its silliness and relatability, “girl math” has united the women who partake in the trend.

Yet beyond the harmless jokes it carries, “girl math” has accidentally opened a deeper conversation regarding the anti-feminist elements the trend encompasses.

For a trend that’s premise revolves around disregarding math and encouraging irresponsible spending habits, why has the elected adjective to describe it been “girl”? 

The negative connotations of this are evident; girl, in this context, amounts to immaturity, naivety, irresponsibility, and incompetence.

In a society where teenage girls must fight to be taken seriously, does this ‘affectionate’ name not feel obnoxiously backwards?

Whilst the trend began as women sharing their experiences using girl math, it has advanced to women sharing with their boyfriends or their father their spending rationalizations, to which these male figures chastise their stupidity.

Take this TikTok for instance.

These videos, whilst seemingly harmless in their intention, establish a concerning power dynamic in which men are painted as the more intelligent, authoritative financial figures, and women as their frivolous and financially feeble counterparts.

And though the trend is all in good fun, and it is highly improbable that its participants believe women to be financially inferior, its repercussions, once visible, are hard to ignore.

When we contextualize the “girl math” trend, it feels more sour than silly. Though the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, allowing women to open credit cards in their own name, was only passed in 1974. In the span of history, women’s financial freedom is infinitesimal. 

So ultimately, in spite of the fun female camaraderie the trend engenders, we must be mindful of the impact of our rhetoric. Being a girl is not synonymous with immaturity or financial ineptitude, and we cannot allow that notion to perpetuate. 

Rhiannon Peacock

St. Andrews '25

Rhiannon is a second year from Boston MA studying English & International Relations