Is “That Girl” Toxic? Here’s What to Know About This Social Media Trend
Who’s “That Girl”? If you’re on TikTok and Instagram, you have likely seen some iteration of the trendy aesthetic, but if you’re not familiar, you should know that “That Girl” is no one person, but the embodiment of an aspirational social media trend and lifestyle aesthetic.
Traits of That Girl include a clean and sober lifestyle that involves waking up at 5 or 6AM to get in a workout, meditate, journal, and consume a green juice, and plenty of beautifully-curated productivity vlogs with social media footage of all of the above. (Other versions drink hot water with lemon every morning, smoothie in hand and clay face mask on.) Of course, at Fitbit, we’re the first to point out that there’s nothing inherently wrong with having a morning routine like this if it works for you. It’s incredibly motivating for many.
What can make this seemingly wholesome trend problematic is that it most often promotes this kind of lifestyle with no room for straying from the routine. Health and wellness today are about so much more than checking off actions like these, by rote, from your to-do list.
And if you’re eating healthy foods, getting enough Zzz’s, and working out regularly, who’s to say that any one aspect of your routine—like the ability to abide by an early morning wakeup call—is entirely indicative of your state of personal well-being, anyway?
Plus, That Girl is often portrayed by a person of a certain race, class, and body type. She’s white, wealthy, and slender, what is still considered “conventionally attractive” in most wellness circles—for example, in your weekly yoga class. It’s not very inclusive when you consider all the different types of people who pursue health and wellness—and who deserve to feel welcome in said yoga class.
In our monthly content series on the Fitbit blog, Meet the Trailblazers, we strive to put a spotlight on the work of POC wellness and fitness creators who don’t fit the conventional mold, and who are making waves in their communities in order to point out that we shouldn’t have to fit in to said mold in order to pursue our own sense of well-being in today’s world.
When asked if there’s a certain wellness trend she’d put behind her, Les Alfred of Balanced Black Girl shared that she’d do away with “the idea that wellness has a singular look or aesthetic. The journey to being well can look and feel so many different ways, and tying a singular aesthetic to what it means to pursue wellness is exclusionary and limiting.”
So how can you avoid the pitfalls of this trend?
Remember that wellness is subjective. The wellness industry of today’s world is full of unrealistic standards, and the That Girl aesthetic is another offshoot of that.
That said, the trend is appealing for a reason. (The TikTok hashtag alone currently has a whopping 7 billion views.) Many do indeed see That Girl’s lifestyle as aspirational and motivating. If you’ve changed your own lifestyle to incorporate healthier habits—whether it’s in a physical sense, your mental health, or across the board—or you merely want to, that’s undeniably inspiring. It makes it hard to deny the siren call of becoming That Girl, and the mindset that you’ll be leading a happier and more fulfilling life because of it.
But is it real? Is it an everyday practice? Or is “she” posting it as part of a productivity vlog series for a few weeks, and then returning to her normal routine, whatever that may entail? Social media is not real life, so we can’t always know what’s behind the screen. But what we can remind ourselves is this: What works for one person may not work for others, and vice versa. If it works for you, that matters. But if it doesn’t, that’s OK too.
Either way, it’s important to remember that reaching your “full potential” when it comes to wellness will mean something different for everyone. There’s no hard and fast rule that you need to become That Girl, and that if any one aspect of her routine isn’t met, your own potential for wellness won’t be, either.
Rest is key. Self-care also means something different to everyone, but most of us can agree that rest is an essential part of it. Physician, researcher, and author Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith shared in a famous 2019 TEDx Talk that there are 7 different types of rest we need: physical, mental, sensory, creative, emotional, social, and spiritual.
When it comes to physical rest, if you’re familiar with Fitbit’s Daily Readiness Score you already know it can help break down why on some days, you wake up ready for a challenging workout—and on others, you need more time for recovery. You may not find That Girl’s 5AM alarm as motivating on a rest day.
It’s one thing to push through sensations of tiredness every so often, but another if we’re constantly pushing ourselves to achieve without getting an adequate amount of rest, both in the physical sense and across the remaining pillars.
Doing so regularly is when the risk of burnout becomes a reality, and most of us are already familiar with just how high levels of stress and burnout have extended today.
Progress, not perfectionism. Again, the journey of self-improvement is really an admirable one, but not only that—for many people it’s a lifelong pursuit. With that in mind, it’s important to remember that it’s not, or at least shouldn’t be, about perfectionism. We can get so caught up in competition with ourselves, in trying to make ourselves better than we were yesterday, that we forget to celebrate our wins.
The idea here is that it’s about progress, not perfection—you are enough as you are, even while pursuing who you want to be. And that stands, whether you feel motivated to become “That Girl” or not.
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