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The Rundown

“That Girl,” you’ve probably seen her on TikTok or found tutorials on embodying her essence all over the internet. She’s effortless, sleek, and in control of her life. She doesn’t just have the secret to perfection; she’s mastered it at no more than 25 years old. “That Girl” wakes up before 6 am, meditates, and journals before completing her 15 step skincare morning ritual. She spends her mornings floating about her pastel, earth-toned Pinterest-worthy living space with purpose. She drinks her green juice or eats a smoothie bowl, then completes her morning workout routine – all in a matching workout set. Her life is characterized by its productivity and how good she looks while doing it. She has the trendy clothes, style, the body, and career. “That Girl” has the life. A life worth coveting that you, too, according to the internet, can achieve through discipline and hard work. Yet she’s so much more than that.

“That Girl.” Who is she really?

We Live In A Society

The “That Girl” aesthetic finds its roots in consumerism. “That Girl” subliminally expresses that one needs “x” products to gain fulfillment by appearing seemingly “productive” and put together. No one actually needs to drink their green smoothie from a $30+ glass bottle – the old cup from the college you never went to is fine. Nor will your fitness watch not track your workout if you’re not wearing an over $150 matching workout set. Those who adhere to “That Girl” ‘s mantra, mainly content creators and influencers who produce content that detail steps on becoming “That Girl,” are selling a lifestyle as productivity. Overall the trend remains a symptom of the hyper capitalistic hellscape we all reside within meshed with the beauty & lifestyle business machine (also fueled by hyper capitalism) that preys on women’s insecurities to fuel the overarching profitable concept of “self-betterment.” “That Girl” aestheticizes work and over productivity. Her perspective remains myopic; she’s effectively blind when conceptualizing wellness and routine divorced economic means. Many influencers who promote the trend are white or appear of more significant financial means than the average person. The “That Girl” poster influencers monetize their content which further fuels their “That Girl” lifestyle, thus providing access to the time and money necessary to craft an aesthetically pleasing lifestyle with all the bells and whistles. And everyone knows good and well, that most of “That Girl” ‘s target audience doesn’t have any of that influencer money.

“That Girl”‘s connection to the cult of self-improvement gives her strength and weakness. When implemented in moderation, components of her routine can serve as great activities to engage in, such as daily hygiene and skin maintenance (one probably shouldn’t need a trend to tell them not to be musty and ashy at their big age), journaling, or exercise. Yet compulsively engaging in daily activities that serve no purpose or significance to the person completing them divorced from the idea of what they believe as the only standard is not good. Not at all. Self-improvement can morph into self-sabotage by reducing oneself to a simple commodity – something meant for the consummation of others, be it through in real life or (primarily) online. Consequently, “That Girl” is more akin to a performance than a lifestyle. Although her meticulously regimented lifestyle accented with the perfect amount of work and luxury play and beautiful settings that accompany it may seem beneficial to the self – which it very well can be for some, it isn’t. There’s a reason a majority of the “That Girls” are influencers.

“That Girl” remains a construction. An enamoring one propped as a projection of our collective peak 2020’s capitalistic desires coupled with female beauty standards and the cult of self-improvement. For that reason, the only true “That Girl” can only exist in her entirety as an idea, an inauthentic synthesized identity best suited for Instagram and TikTok feeds. She’s out of reach for most, but they continue to sell her anyway.
God, it really is brutal out here.

TLDR; We live in a society.

Humans Aren’t Projects

Wanting change due to the desire for a better self is normal. However, it’s important to practice kindness and patience with oneself. Humans are not projects. The promise of having it all together even though stringent discipline remains unrealistic. Circumstances and events thwart meticulous planning easily. Yet crafting a meaningful, productive, and healthy life takes trial and error. One’s personal wellness and lifestyle should not be reduced to an aesthetic or trend.

Rather than strictly adhering to the ever cyclical health and lifestyle trends or associated aesthetics, it is essential to create a routine tailored to individual needs and tastes. Striving for consistency rather than perfection when making lifestyle changes increases the likelihood of long-term success.

The most successful, well-adjusted people in life are organized and prioritize their health, well-being, and relationships regardless of how that may look on or off the screen.

So maybe “That Girl” can exist…just not in the way the internet says she does.

Hi! I'm Cheyenne a second year student at the University of Virginia. I look forward to writing about all the exciting university hot topics from academics to relationships. Stay tuned for more!
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