Not everyone can be “that girl” and that's alright

Mar 2, 2022 0 comments


A few months ago, my TikTok For You Page was filled with videos about becoming “that girl”. 


The two types of videos were either the “day in my life” kind or the more instructional ones in nature. For the former, users would weave together clips of their day along with whatever sound was currently trending; the closed captions would indicate the time at which they’d be accomplishing these routines.


“6 AM: Have some breakfast,” it would typically go, matched with a well-lit clip of their heaping plate of healthy food options. “8 AM: Exercise.” A video of them in a child’s pose. “5 PM: Unwind.” Scented candles and a bath bomb. Rinse, cycle, repeat.



On the other hand, the instructional kind of “that girl” videos are exactly as you’d think: Users sharing tips and tricks on what to do when working towards becoming “that girl”. Some of the advice is about as basic as it gets (e.g. drinking x liters of water every day, writing things you’re grateful for in a journal), but a majority of the steps are considerably drastic changes. 


One video advised watchers to cut out the people in my life whom they no longer ‘benefitted’ from. Another user swore that signature scents and luxury shower gels were the only way to go. Being “that girl” turned out to be more than just waking up early and living the life of a living, breathing Pinterest board.


I felt like I wasn’t living up to my fullest potential for a while because I wasn’t doing what the girls on my FYP were doing. And so I tried:

  • Dragging myself out of bed at 5 AM.
  • Dusting off my yoga mat.
  • Having oatmeal and fruit for breakfast.

I lasted for a week or two before deciding that the lifestyle was simply not for me. 


Though I initially viewed my withdrawal as a failure, stepping away from the TikTok trend gave me room to critique what being “that girl” really meant. 


There’s much to assess about the stereotype, beginning with how the trend is dominated by “slim, conventionally attractive, usually wealthy, White [women].” As these users translate their privilege and success into self-satisfaction, audiences unconsciously buy into the prerequisites of Euro-centric beauty standards.


Notably, becoming “that girl” is far from cheap. Once you accumulate items from the wellness industry, you might find that it costs a lot to become your “best self” in-between purchases of self-help books and bedside plants.


Being “that girl” also entails a certain level of dramaturgy on social media; acting on an unspoken need to broadcast the curation of one’s pursuit towards self-improvement. Whether it’s in the form of hashtag That Girl TikToks or aesthetically filtered photographs on an Instagram feed, the trend capitalizes on the meticulous organization of one’s online persona to present what followers might brand as ideal. 


The worst part is that this isn’t the first time the Internet has sold the idea of becoming a certain type. How could we forget the “girl boss” movement or the hashtag thinspo era on Tumblr? Over the years, we’ve seen social media sites try to dictate the things we need to do so that we may be perceived as appealing or affluent. These stereotypes continuously infer that there is a better or best “self” to work towards—instead of the idea that your present self is as good as any. 


It is a vicious cycle that can only be broken when you pause, reflect, and realize that becoming the best version of yourself isn’t about living a life that can be showcased on our highlight reels. Self-improvement is derived from a multitude of avenues, and countless instances that will be far from Instagram-worthy. It’s not always about becoming “that girl”, and—you know what?—it’s alright. We never had to become her to prove ourselves, anyway. 


━━ Written By Andrea Mikaela Llanes
━━  Art By Moira (@ariom.psd)

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