Despite the years of peer pressure and FOMO, I have been refusing to download tik tok because 1) I don’t need another social media platform to waste my time on and 2) I thought the platform was problematic in many ways, which I could write a whole another blog about. Making all my years of effort go into waste, Instagram recently adopted a reels section on their explore page, providing with an endless scroll of reposted tik tok videos (and as I expected I am kind of addicted to them now). As a tik tok – or a ‘second hand tik tok’ newcomer, a lot of the trends on the app were quite eye opening. One of them is the #THATgirl trend, which my Instagram explore page is now bombarded with.
Who is THAT girl
So who is THAT girl we are talking about? That girl is a girl who wakes up early, has a full morning routine where she works out, eats green smoothie or avocado toast with non dairy iced latte, plans and journals for the day, wears cute outfits and studies/works hard. Basically a pretty (probably white and rich) girl who has her shit together all the time. That girl is a lifestyle, but also an aesthetic.
Is #THATgirl problematic?
After deciding to write about this trend, I read other blogs writing about the same issue. Just like how the media talks about most social media phenomena, many people were quite critical about this trend. The criticism includes the fact that it only shows one representation of a ‘healthy’ lifestyle (especially because most of the #THATgirl tik tok are repetitive), dismissing any other lifestyles which may be effective for different individuals. Additionally, #THATgirl lifestyle is extremely consumption oriented (being cute clothes, excessive skincare, etc.) and simply unachievable for people who don’t have the privilege to eat avocado toast every morning. Meanwhile, a blog written by Sahar Arshad on Bustle included interviews with tik tok users who creates #THATgirl videos talked about the positive consequences of the trend, as “if you focus on the feelings you get from following this trend, and how engaging in these habits can improve your overall well-being, then it can actually be really helpful and motivating”. Many tik tok users (including THAT girls) started to post videos of expectation vs. reality of that girl lifestyle to address the artificiality of #THATgirl trend.
In my opinion…
#THATgirl can be a misrepresentation of self care and an example of the contemporary obsession with hustle culture and the productivity driven society. Just like anything we see in social media, tik tok videos are also extremely curated and unrealistic in many ways. All of these criticisms are true, but is it really as bad as everyone makes it seem like? #THATgirl has its flaws – yes – but also does everything on the internet. The intentions and motif behind the trend is to better themselves and others by finding a better lifestyle. As Lydia Veen wrote on her blog in The Tab, “the thinking behind the videos appears to be holding themselves accountable and inspiring other women to work towards their “best selves” and focus on themselves”. Including physical and mental exercise (journaling for example) and eating healthy and nutritious breakfast is far from being toxic. If one finds joy in following the #THATgirl aesthetic, and as #THATgirl content creators themselves are addressing the flaws of their contents, is it really that bad?