Becoming “That Girl”

Who is “That Girl”? For those that don’t know, the “That Girl” aesthetic is a trending concept on social media platforms like TikTok, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram. You’ll see her—usually fit, attractive, and in her 20’s—waking up at 5am and proceeding through her perfectly curated day in her matching activewear set, documenting every ‘gram-able moment.

Her day usually begins with a perfectly made bed. Next, there’s time spent journaling and maybe reading some books on self-improvement (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey seems to be a popular choice). She opens up her skin-care fridge in her bathroom—because, of course she has a skin-care fridge—and takes us through her elaborate skin-care routine, usually involving several serums, a mask, and a jade roller. Finally, she enjoys a matcha latte and a gorgeous smoothie bowl with fresh fruit and chia seeds on top before heading off to the gym. Does she have a job? Is she in school? Does she ever do anything that doesn’t fit into her aesthetic? Nobody knows. But it sure is addicting to watch.

While many people (myself included!) enjoy consuming this kind of content, critics have pointed out that the “That Girl” aesthetic contributes to the toxic, productivity-obsessed, hustle-culture that has become such a huge part of our society. This pressure to always be improving yourself, always on-point, and always positive can wreak havoc on our self-esteem. What we see on social media is a highlight reel—and “That Girl” isn’t any different. I can guarantee that the creators putting out “That Girl” content do not live the life they display in their videos every day. They get sick, cry their eyes out in bed, leave the dishes in the sink, and embarrass themselves in public sometimes just like everyone else.

When it comes to the “That Girl” aesthetic, and to social media in general, I think it is so important to recognize the reality behind creators’ curated feeds. It’s important to always give yourself grace (especially in these difficult times) and remember that self-care can sometimes include sitting on the couch all day eating junk food. I also think there isn’t anything inherently wrong in always aspiring to be a better version of yourself, as long as you’re doing it in a healthy way. Personally, I like watching “That Girl” content to inspire myself. To find ideas of how I can make my life better, easier, or more enjoyable. And yes, sometimes that includes doing something just for the aesthetic.

So maybe waking up at 5am every morning isn’t realistic for you. Maybe you work night shift, or wake up with a baby throughout the night, or maybe, like me, you just need more sleep than that. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But what is realistic for you? I would wager that you have 15 minutes somewhere in your day to sit down and journal. Or maybe you could read a few pages of a book instead of scrolling TikTok for that extra hour before bed. Maybe the idea of becoming “That Girl” motivates you to go to the gym four times this week when you really only felt like going once.

If you ask me, finding the right balance between aesthetic and reality is the secret to becoming “That Girl”.