So imagine this. You are in your late teens/early twenties and you have a little bit of time to yourself. You may not know it, but you really do value this time. However you don’t have the energy or motivation to go for a walk, pick up a book or paint. Instead, the easiest thing to do is to pick up your phone. You’re bored of Snapchat, you’re probably aware on how Instagram can have a negative impact on your mental health and you only use Facebook to keep in contact with your grandparents. Instead you choose to scroll through the glitzy, glamorous and still rather new TikTok. You do however wish to improve your life, perhaps be more productive or improve your mental health. And perhaps you have been through quite a bit of crap in the past, giving you a greater desire to reach a happier and healthier mindset. Lucky for you then, there are plenty of these short “self improvement” videos in TikTok. In-fact, it has become so desirable that having this kind of lifestyle has become known as “that girl”. You know that you don’t exactly have the healthiest lifestyle or mindset at this moment, but you really do want to change this.
What Being “That Girl” Means?
This was what I was wondering when I first came across this term. But the term basically refers to a young woman who at least seems to life a highly desirable and healthy lifestyle. While, as you can guess, “that girl” is used in order to motivate people to improve their lifestyles. Usually it involves someone waking up early, sometimes at a ridiculous time; which in my view is any time before 7! Following this, she always works out usually sporting some overly fancy (and expensive) gym wear, either in “a complex home step up or at a fancy gym.” Then before making herself breakfast, usually featuring about 5 different fruits and nothing much else she will often pose in front of the mirror showing off her perfected ab line.
What it is Supposed to Achieve
Ever heard the expression “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”. Unfortunately I have, far too many times, as a younger teenager🙄 But we know that for some reason, most would consider it better to wake up early, then go to bed early rather than the other way round. Is it healthier? Not really sure, however waking up early is certainly associated with a more productive lifestyle. Because after all, these videos clearly promote productivity as well as just health, therefore the earlier one is able to work up, the more productive they can be right? As a consequence, these videos should be able to motivate others to manage to wake up, shower (presumably), work out, eat and turn on their bloody laptop for work or whatever before 7am. Despite the fact some people are night owls, today’s culture of productivity tends to imply that those who wake up early are going to be most productive. Not really sure why! Anyway, back to the quote. So why can’t a woman be wealthy and wise like their male counterparts. Because from a personal view, “that girl” to some degree can be seen as a way to empower females to aspire to the same high end jobs which men probably dominate, while hopefully become as accomplished even if it means having to use about 7 different skin care products a day, and eating less than 1000 calories a day.
So while no one knows how many hours “that girl” works, the videos heavily stress the importance of productivity. And whilst we usually get to only see their morning routine, most of us can make the guess that she spends most of her day either at work, studying or doing whatever else throughout the day that is considered to be productive. This is likely to be a reflection of the extent of toxic productivity , which is a term that describes the state whereby people tend to feel guilty when not being productive, and will always go the extra mile be it at home or at work, even if their calender’s already fully packed.
In spite the rather health focused stance which most of the videos take, if we dig a bit deeper we can see how these videos don’t necessarily promote the most healthy choices. One way is by which many of the videos tend to promote under eating, whereby one source estimated that the average “that girl” would eat fewer than 1200 calories a day, which would be less than what is recommended for a toddler. What’s more, when we are overly busy to the extent where we cannot find sufficient time for ourselves and the things we enjoy doing, we should know that this is anything but healthy!
I could promise you that if you were to head on to TikTok and type in “that girl”, the vast majority of videos would feature thin white girls. Now this is likely to be as a result of different factors, including TikTok’s algorithm and that possibly fewer girls of color are joining in on the trend. This suggests that TikTok still sees thin white girls as the ideal, meanwhile girls of colour often don’t feel confident enough to join in on the trend. This way, it also sends a very specific message to girls, in that if you can only join in with this trend and lead a successful life if you are white, thin and are from a wealthy family. Therefore, similar to the “Girlboss” trend, the inspirational side to “that girl” is very exclusive.
So I imagine that there are many females who sometimes wish they were “that girl”, whether they’d heard about it or whether they have better things to be doing in their free time than aimlessly scrolling through TikTok! However, while on the surface this kind of lifestyle may seem like the ideal, from underneath we can see how this can usually be unrealistic, very exclusive and even damaging. Therefore, next time you regret not having your life together, remember that health looks different on everyone, and while you may wish to lead a productive lifestyle, it is also essential to be able to take time for yourself.