That Girl wakes up, then meditates on her yoga mat. That Girl makes her bed, blends a kale smoothie to have with her avocado toast for breakfast, and she follows it up with a well-curated journaling session. She drinks four litres of water a day. That Girl is living her best life — she naturally has her sh*t together.
I noticed this new trend on social media while mindlessly scrolling the Tok — in fact, #ThatGirl has over 2 billion views on TikTok alone.
The That Girl trend and That Girl aesthetic
That Girl videos are are typically scripted according to this formula: A wake-up time (always early), a breakfast-making montage (usually plant-based), a workout or journaling session planned for the day (timed perfectly for the sunset glow aesthetic), and some sage advice on how simple it is to live her life. That’s all it takes to become That Girl — provided you document your daily regime on TikTok or Reels.
According to this popular social media trend and from our hours of consuming these viral videos, That Girl:
- Wakes up early
- Drinks lots of water
- Is productive
- Drinks iced coffee
- Works out
- Makes a healthy breakfast
- Says affirmations
- Uses positive self-talk
- Drinks green juice (or lemon water)
- Listens to lo-fi music
- Wears a matching set (or comfortable clothes)
- Loves earth tones and neutral colours
- Reads books
- Has a 10-step skincare routine
The list could go on. You get the idea. Some of these are very specific; others are more general. Healthy living, gratitude and self-care seem to be the base for achieving the That Girl routine.
It doesn’t sound necessarily bad, right, but it has its critics.
Is the That Girl trend toxic?
The That Girl trend may seem like earnest inspiration to become the best versions of ourselves. But the main criticism suggests that instead of empowering women to eat well and stay active, the trend could be doing the opposite.
With the onslaught of social media images and celebrity star-gazing, it’s easy to believe we’re hard-wired to seek improvement in ourselves, regardless of any success we already have in our lives. Zoe Klein, MSW RSW says, “While self-improvement and productivity are good values to have and solid things to pursue, the That Girl trend can make people feel like they need to be pursuing these things at all costs, at all times.” Klein says, “It’s important for women – and everyone – to feel that they have the space to simply enjoy their life, whether it be enjoying a meal with friends or relaxing at home, without feeling like they need to prove that that time was productive. An over fixation on self-improvement and productivity can feel like hustle culture if one isn’t careful.”
Some of the women in the That Girl videos promote strict diets while counting calories, showing that her typical day includes eating an egg-white omelette on toast for breakfast, yogurt and almonds for lunch and a salad for dinner. Experts say we need an average of 2,000 calories daily to stay healthy. With the lack of protein, those meals do not come close to that figure.
“It’s important to be really aware that health is multifaceted, and that a lot of these That Girl videos are people talking about what works for them, to remember this doesn‘t mean this is a lifestyle that will work for you,” says Klein. “If you feel compelled to adopt a diet or lifestyle you see you need to ask yourself why? Do you think that these acts are truly healthy and will improve your life in some way or does this just look like something you should do?”
While this social media trend might not be inherently “bad,” it does raise questions of how people perceive the ideal woman *should* take care of herself. I mean, the word “healthy” means to be free of disease, not restrictive. Even if the intention behind the TikTok videos is meant to be earnest, the problem is the same one we always have with lifestyles portrayed online—the appearance of perfection.
This so-called “perfection” is something many of us aspire to on some level, which is why the TikTok and Reels videos showing these scenes are so appealing. Similar concepts have been seen over the years on Tumblr and Pinterest and perform well for the same reason. Who doesn’t fetishize being a glamorous, productive, perfect version of themselves?
”If you are triggered by this content, mute it.” Klein says, ”Health is something decided between you, your doctor, your therapist, and the important people in your life – not a nicely curated video.”
Ultimately, the issue is how people perceive things. It’s OK to take inspiration from bits of a trend, but you don’t have to become the whole thing.
And besides, who wants to be That Girl, when you can be your own person.