A Picture Perfect Existence: Why the “That Girl” Trend Promotes a Nearly Unobtainable Lifestyle

By Catherine Lomond, Head Print Section Editor

// Social media users curate their online identities and choose the themes, aesthetics, and trends they want other people to perceive them as. Users can embody someone else online and create the dream “you.” Our social media presence is the one aspect of our lives that gives us 100 percent control, so why wouldn’t we want to create a perfect life online? 

   On popular social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube, users are bound to see the “that girl” trend, the trend that portrays the process of young women becoming their best selves. In short videos, women will montage aesthetically pleasing pictures synced with popular music to share their daily routines, healthy and colorful foods, pretty coffee drinks, and houseplants. 

   This trend is synonymous with an ideal healthy lifestyle: waking up at 5 a.m. to go to yoga classes, meditating, working for ten hours at a desk with an excessive number of highlighters and notebooks, cooking healthy and vegan meals. The list goes on, and while this trend isn’t unhealthy itself, its portrayal is.  

   In becoming “that girl,” women have to be the one thing almost everyone covets: perfection. The trend is flawed because perfection is unattainable, but since social media only showcases the highlights of our lives, the trend leads people down a path with no end.

   It’s an unrealistic lifestyle that appears effortless due to social media sharing the best sides of our lives. Watching these posts fills users with a sense of inadequacy for not being overly productive. The trend reduces the concept of productivity to how much work people do and money they make as if they’re a machine. In reality, we are indeed humans and not machines; life isn’t linear, and we are bound to need breaks or have bad days. 

   This puts impossible expectations on teenage girls or young women in college. 

By Emma Uffelman

   I actually believe that this lifestyle is great and admirable, and as nice as it would be to live like this, I know I can’t and I don’t. I am a high school senior taking accelerated courses, and I’m applying to college. I simply don’t have the time to wake up early and exercise before I go to school, work eight-hour shifts after school, and only eat healthy foods just to feel accomplished.

   The people posting these videos are likely social media influencers, people whose incomes come from paid advertising and brand promotion. Most of these influencers have flexible work schedules because they are self-employed and have the freedom and mobility to sustain this strict lifestyle. For people who work or attend school, it’s hard to implement the lifestyle into their everyday lives without inducing more stress or burnout. 

   The performative nature of social media fuels the disingenuous parts of this trend. Now that people can make a profit from their online presence, there’s more incentive for creators to produce content that everyone else desires and feeds into. Creators don’t even live the healthy lifestyle they promote and just jump on the bandwagon knowing it will bring them success and money. 

   Life is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Although the “that girl” trend promotes a healthy lifestyle, there are other, less extreme ways to be healthy that people can implement in their lives more easily. People can have both a healthy meal and a dessert. They can belong to a gym without working out every day. They can still be dedicated to their job or goals while being mindful of when they need a break. 

   There is always more than what meets the eye on social media. Even if social media doesn’t show it, everyone’s life has highs and lows. If we reduce ourselves to one-dimensional trends, we miss out on all the greatness in the real world and in ourselves.

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