Becoming ‘That Girl’: Motivating, Or Just Unhealthy and Toxic?
A real teenager’s view on the trend that’s making a splash across popular social media apps such as Tiktok and Instagram
Wake up with the sun. Make your bed, then head to the gym for an hour for a fulfilling workout. Journal all the things you’re grateful for that day before heading to the kitchen to make breakfast — preferably something with kale, spinach or avocado.
Watching something like this is like watching a well-curated Pinterest board.
The ‘that girl’ trend on Tiktok has been all the rage for the last year. We all know her, if not want to be her. If you click on the hashtag, endless videos emerge of girls who romanticise the hell out of their lives — from morning to evening — keeping everything tidy and minimalistic, perfect work-personal-social balance and keeping their physical and mental state exceptionally healthy.
However, as with all trends, it’s become increasingly polarized, with many saying it’s good motivation for our generation, while others claim that it promotes a toxic lifestyle, where perfection and aesthetic is put before all else.
So naturally, I’m here to put in my own input. Is the ‘that girl’ trend motivating, or is it just feeding into the toxic productivity mindsets we already have going for us, while promoting an unhealthy diet culture as well.
My own morning routine looks a little something like this:
- Wake up and check my socials for a couple of minutes.
- Lug myself to the bathroom to get ready for the day
- Make an extra strong cup of coffee just to get through school
- Make some breakfast IF I have the time for it (spoiler: I never do)
As you can imagine, every TikTok or Instagram reel with the ‘that girl’ hashtag on it has me feeling all sorts of ways sometimes — guilty, determined, a little bit jealous — the list can go on and on.
So, have I done anything about it?
Yeah. A little. Incorporated a few more vegetables into my meals. Spent more time reading a book than scrolling on Instagram. But I wasn’t really inspired to completely flip my life around to ‘become the best version of myself.’ I didn’t throw out my whole wardrobe in favour of a capsule one, I didn’t find my signature scent — hell, a journal someone gifted me months ago lies forgotten in the deep, dark depths of my still very messy drawers.
And I’m still doing great at life, thank you very much. My grades are pretty good, I have a decent social life and I eat healthily enough to keep my immune system happy.
It goes to show that you really don’t need to have a fancy journal or eat the rainbow everyday to be happy and have a good life. But does it mean it’s wrong for people to enjoy being that girl and inspire others?
The world we live in today presses us to graduate top of the class in high school and university find a 9–5 and work till you drop dead on your feet. at the end of the day, finding the balance between everything that’s going on can quickly become overwhelming and cause you more stress on top of that.
Pulling all-nighters to study, only to buy a coffee in the morning to be able to do it all again was so normalised and even encouraged at some point. Taking time for yourself until the pandemic hit was really unheard of.
It was all — “study this.” “complete this report by next week.” “The test is tomorrow and I only want to see As.”
While the ‘that girl’ trend seems to be all about the green smoothies and fancy journals, in essence, the whole trend is really about taking care of YOU.
It can be really easy to fall into the trap of giving too much of yourself away. Saying yes to everything, studying for an important exam… the only time you have some quality ‘me time’ really is when you finally collapse into bed for a much needed snooze. This trend encourages you to slow down and be kinder to yourself. Whether that be by taking a day off, and baking, taking a walk, or binging that TV show you’ve been meaning to watch for months.
Self-help books have risen exponentially in popularity over the last few years. A lot of them have one key message. Balance is key. For everything.
Whether it be around food, exercise, work — everything requires you to take a step back sometimes and decide that enough is enough. Same with the ‘that girl’ trend, or for any matter, any trend anywhere. Forcibly fitting the lifestyle depicted in these 15–30 second videos, into your living, breathing, waking hours is when this whole trend starts bordering on toxicity. Wait no… it’s when it did a whole hop skip jump over the line between healthy and toxic.
Your life is never going to be the same as someone else’s; you may have different commitments, different hobbies, different responsibilities. Following what someone else is doing completely will never really work. Self-awareness is really what it comes down to. You should know what is possible and not so possible to do when it comes down to your life.
The motivating part of this trend is that it shows the small things you can do to live a better life that’s not so dictated by the modern economy and society. Implement small little bits and pieces from those videos; take a moment to think about all the things you’re grateful for, get in a consistent amount of exercise per day, even if it’s just a walk up a couple of flights of stairs. As for food, no one really eats smoothie bowls and kale salads everyday. What you see in a 30 second video is probably the products of many takes, over many days. Incorporate more fruits and veggies into your diet and drink just one more glass of of water per day.
So, to answer the question — is the ‘that girl’ trend motivational, or just unhealthy and toxic? As a teenager who is just bombarded with videos with the hashtag on a daily basis, it’s definitely a wholesome trend to me, that motivates more than it harms. It’s just really important, and I can’t stress this enough, so important to not compare your life to what you see on social media.