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The Girl-ificiation of Women 

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 USFSP chapter.

Bows, babygirl’d men, girl dinner, hot girl walks, and hyper-femininity seemed to reign supreme in the past year. In 2023, we saw a celebration of girlhood that has continued into this year. In the ever-changing landscape of social media, girl internet has taken root. Adult women have a growing affinity for “just being girls.” From fashion trends to social media niches, we are simultaneously seeing the rise of “20-something year old teenage girls” and “Sephora tweens.” The dichotomy of young adults, specifically women, chasing this sense of girlhood and youth, while little girls chase maturity. These ideals of femininity have manifested themselves throughout different mediums, but on social media it has spread like wildfire.  

Young girls are seemingly acting older at a younger age. These children are presented with representations of what a woman should be and are chasing that. Lately there has been a rise of younger girls buying make up and skin care, dressing more maturely, and participating in trends to make them feel and appear older. Tweens are starting to reach an age where they are becoming conscious of how they are being perceived by others and may want to reflect what they see in the media. The line between girlhood and adulthood is seemingly blurred. Young girls seem to be growing up faster these days. This can be because of a variety of things from access to social media to personal dynamics. Kids are gaining access to technology and the expansive sea of information that comes with it. They’re entering the unfiltered feeds of social media at around 12 years old and are navigating an online world with unrealistic expectations and false lives. Here they can be pressured to act older than they actually are, whether it’s to fit in with peers or to reflect what they see on TikTok and Instagram. 

On the other hand, adult women are pursuing elements of girlhood. These adults are grasping at the innocence and carefree nature that comes with being young while facing the growing pains of adulthood. Historically, things that are feminine are typically associated with being weak. But these women are seemingly reclaiming what it is to be feminine and spinning it in a positive light. Girlhood is being embraced, pink is being worn, inherently girly things are popular! When confronted with the horrors of the real world, women are leaning into nostalgia and the romanticization of femininity.  

Fashion as of late has taken on this more feminine approach. Bows are seemingly everywhere; the coquette aesthetic has a chokehold on the internet. For years, girls have been told that for them to be taken seriously, they need to strip themselves of feminine qualities for the sake of maturity. That does not seem to be the case anymore. Women are wearing ribbons in their hair, lacy tops, delicate flower-printed clothes, and adopting aesthetics such as ballet-core and vanilla girl. These trends are a physical representation of women reclaiming what it means to be a girl and applying it to their lives, even as mature adults. These trends can also allow adults to enjoy things that they may not have when they were younger because it was either inaccessible or they were not able to appreciate them, thus making girlhood a fleeting experience.   

With Barbie and The Eras Tour movie being some of the biggest films of 2023, women look towards media for a sense of girlhood. Women can check out media to reconnect with what it’s like to be a girl, especially coming-of-age movies. They’re the go-to for giving women a taste of those fleeting feelings that come with being a girl, even if they’ve moved past that stage in life. These can include media like Gilmore Girls, Lady Bird, Booksmart, and so many others that authentically depict the struggles of coming to terms with adulthood while challenging the various complexities that come with identity and social expectations. They serve as comfort movies for the nostalgia of the simplicity of youth. By promoting themes like positive self-image, authentic relationships, and the rediscovery of joy, media plays a pivotal role in shaping perspectives and encouraging women to incorporate the vibrant and empowering aspects of girlhood into their everyday lives.  

Girlhood is about the little things that can make life more enjoyable. This can include trinkets, sweet treats, “enrichment time in my enclosure,” and other things that can make us feel just a little bit better in our everyday lives. Trinkets are small items that have very little monetary value, but to these individuals these trinkets represent the small joys of everyday life. They can range from silly magnets, blind box toys, and otherwise little dudes. While to some it may seem like these are tiny pointless things to spend money on, these trinkets brighten the days of so many people.  

Although girlhood is being celebrated in many parts of the internet, there are some people who are hating on these girly trends. Following the influx of girl-dinners, a slew of Pinterest board girls, and bows on inanimate objects, some people were saying it was enough of the girl trends. Some felt as though it was infantilizing to women, degrading adults to just girls, and potentially reinforcing some harmful stereotypes. A few went as far as calling the trends a “tyranny” and products of capitalism. In reality, many women are using these things to make the best out of their circumstances. They are indulging in things that would make their inner children happy and that allow them to reclaim some agency in their lives. Women are doing hyper-feminine things, not because the patriarchy tells them to, but because they genuinely want to.  

It seems that women and girls yearn for things that are furthest away from them. Young women, already in the maze of adulthood, might catch themselves wishing to go back in time to when they were girls and life felt simpler. Young girls seem to be accelerating themselves into a world beyond their years, longing for that sense of independence or recognition that may come with being an adult. This paradox underscores a universal human tendency to romanticize what lies beyond our current grasp. This yearning mixed with desires, nostalgia, societal expectations, and our search for fulfillment creates an ebb and flow between what we have, what we could have been, and what we still could be. So, let women enjoy things. Let women add ribbons to everything, collect Calico Critters, wear the charm jewelry, make the friendship bracelets, and revel in the magic of girlhood.  

I am a Sustainability Studies Major with a minor in Biology, currently doing my third year here at USF. I enjoy writing articles about the things that consume my thoughts. In my free time I typically can be found paddleboarding or hanging out with my dog.