What does it mean to be “That Girl?”
Urban Dictionary defines the social media craze as “a girl (or any gender) that gets up at five a.m., meditates, drinks smoothies, has showers every day, journaling, eating only healthy food, goes to the gym every day and is successful in many ways.”
It’s a lot to take in, but the sentiment behind it isn’t all bad. Compared to other lifestyle trends, this one seems relatively tame. Though the trend has been around for almost a year now, its most recent spike in popularity is likely due to the start of a new year. Prioritizing our physical and mental health is always a good resolution, and who doesn’t want to be successful? Still, after doing some digging on social media I have found that there is very much a particular way to become “That Girl” — even though influencers will tell you the opposite.
Scrolling through Instagram gives you a very stereotypical idea of “That Girl”: matching workout sets, green juices and inspirational quotes. But this view of the trend isn’t limited to just Instagram. YouTube is full of videos proclaiming to be the “ultimate guide to becoming That Girl” — the best version of yourself. The two most popular videos have a combined total of almost five million likes. Canadian lifestyle blogger Vanessa Tiiu believes the “That Girl” trend represents productivity and positive growth. Much of what’s covered in her video meets UD’s definition: Tiiu wakes up a little before six a.m., writes in a gratitude journal, works out, eats healthy meals, believes green juices are an “integral” part to the lifestyle, reads for enjoyment and gets her workday started — all before noon. Similarly, influencer Fernanda Ramirez describes the trend as “aesthetic meals, peak fitness, reading for pleasure, perfect self-care routine.” In a typical day as “That Girl,” Ramirez wakes up at 7 a.m., works out, runs errands, meal preps, does face masks, journals, reads for pleasure and checks in on her friends.
I don’t mean to bash either of these girls for having their lives together, but it is important to keep in mind that they are still influencers. They’re beautiful, skinny and have access to more resources than the average person, most notably the time and money to not only effectively accomplish all of this in one day, but to also film the entire process and post it on the internet. They make it look so easy. This information contrasts the disclaimers they both make throughout their videos. Tiiu tries different habits of the trend even though much of the lifestyle is already part of her daily routine. She often reiterates that being “That Girl” can look however you want it to, yet her idea matches the stereotype almost perfectly. Ramirez’s video is also full of disclaimers that you shouldn’t base your worth on how other people on social media look, but they are bookended with sponsorship plugs and how to take the perfect “That Girl” selfies for your Instagram feed. The trend as a whole has been met with criticism for being toxic, specifically for being too much of a highlight reel rather than a significant lifestyle change. So even if influencers like Tiiu and Ramirez say they aren’t trying to perpetuate the idea of “That Girl” looking a certain way, they still contribute to this perception.
Thankfully, the comment sections on every piece of #thatgirl content are there to keep us in check. One user under Tiiu’s video says, “I used to be ‘That Girl’ and then I got burnt out. Please remind yourself that you are worthy despite your failures.” Hundreds of other comments are users detailing how being “That Girl” looks for them — and not surprisingly, each one looks different. TikTok user rachelsandford posted a video titled “POV: you’re becoming ‘that girl’ (just not very aesthetic).” In it, she works out, reads for pleasure, drinks a lot of water, washes her face and does laundry. That last step certainly doesn’t fit into the average influencer’s content reel, but Sanford is still accomplishing a goal she’s set for herself. As one commenter put it, “the aesthetic is not necessary because the work you’re doing on yourself matters more.”
As a college student who is very attracted to the idea of being “That Girl,” I see myself trying to find the perfect balance between the perception on social media and what works for me. Since I commute, I don’t feel like I can use the University’s fitness facilities, but all the walking I do around campus makes me feel good. Drinking a smoothie every day isn’t that feasible for me, but I’d love to start doing it more often. I’ve journaled before and, while I’m terrible at writing in mine consistently, I think it works wonders for my mental health. And all of this is okay, because the trend is meant to be subjective: If the desired end goal is to become the best version of yourself, then of course that’s going to look different for each person. It might not be easy in the beginning, but you don’t have to make drastic changes right off the bat.
Being “That Girl” is more than fitting an aesthetic — it’s about figuring out the small things you can do to help you grow into your best self. When thinking about it this way, it becomes easier to become her.
Daily Arts Writer Hannah Carapellotti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.