Phone sitting on a white table with the TikTok app open on the home screen.

Denying TikTok’s “That Girl” Standards

Denying TikTok’s “That Girl” Standards

As the new year resolutions begin, Tik Tok has been taken over by the “That Girl” trend, where women showcase their healthy lifestyles that promote mental and physical wellbeing. “That Girl” is everything you desperately want to be. “That Girl” wakes up at 6:00 am, journals about the day’s goals, meditates, drinks lemon water and green juice, does yoga, practices a 6 step skincare routine, and ends world hunger- all in the same day. 

As someone who has been attempting to live a more healthy lifestyle, I’ve been inspired by the “That Girl” trend on TikTok. But as I've tried to incorporate the idealized version of “That Girl,” I’ve been left feeling defeated when I fail to uphold this lifestyle. 

Although the trend may have inspirational intentions, it’s creating an unrealistic and unsustainable standard of a healthy lifestyle, leaving many women questioning their work ethic and self-worth.  

The TikTok algorithm must have caught onto my aspirations to live a more healthy lifestyle because nearly every time I open the app, I see “That Girl.” But TikTok’s algorithm hasn’t only affected me – the hashtag #thatgirl on TikTok has over 800 million views. 

The aesthetically pleasing videos likely include a woman showcasing “How to Become That Girl,” with shots of 6 am workouts in matching workout sets, green smoothies, self-reflective journal entries, and other self-care rituals that allude to enhanced mental and physical wellbeing. 

After seeing numerous “That Girl” TikTok’s, I felt compelled to start 2022 off by implementing the routine that seemed effortless on TikTok. I made it a goal to workout, meditate, journal, and practice skincare every day, believing that my mental and physical health would improve. However, the results were the opposite, and my life didn’t look like the 30-second videos of “That Girl” as I had hoped; I felt inadequate and unaccomplished. 

Even if I took time during my day to accomplish one aspect of the “That Girl” routine, I felt that I wasn’t doing enough. I questioned my work ethic and compared myself to0 “That Girl.” What was I doing wrong? Why can’t I become “That Girl?”

As my intrusive thoughts took over, I navigated to the #thatgirl on TikTok to figure out what I was doing wrong. But as I scrolled through the videos, I realized how similar they all looked. 

Most of the women were white, thin, able-bodied individuals who likely had sources of income that allowed them to purchase quality skincare, foods, and other products owned by “That Girl.” Moreover, the trend represents no diversity. 

“That Girl” was merely just an idea, but the idea was highly underrepresented and standardized. This standardization fails to recognize societal and economic barriers, and the lack of diversity conveys a message that “That Girl” looks and acts a specific way. 

Not only does the TikTok trend harmfully standardize the type of woman that “That Girl” is, but it also fails to recognize the daily realities of women, especially college students. The 30-second videos create an idea that the “That Girl” routine is easily attainable. But this daily routine isn’t relatable to a college student’s day of juggling class, work, extracurricular activities, and other stress-inducing tasks. The trend promotes a romanticized daily routine of self-care and wellness activities, but ignores the stressful daily lives of college women who don’t have time to implement a multi-step routine of self-care. 

Many women attempt to incorporate the idealized yet unattainable version of “That Girl” into their lives but feel inadequate when they realize it's unrealistic.

“That Girl” standardizes an idea of what health should look like and ignores the complexities and difficulties that college women face daily. “That Girl” is inspiring, but she isn’t real. 

Despite the toxicity that the standardized idea of “That Girl” creates, the trend does create impactful feelings of inspiration for women. It promotes a self-growth mindset, encouraging women to participate in valuable self-care and wellness practices. These habits are essential , but understanding how to effectively incorporate them into your daily routine, can help them become more sustainable and realistic. 

Studies from the European Journal of Social Psychology show that it takes an average of 66 days for a new habit to become automatic. It’s unrealistic to believe that you can change your daily routine instantly. Give yourself grace if you fail to meet expectations, and remind yourself that real growth is not linear. 

Your whole life can’t be changed at once and shouldn’t. It’s healthy to have many different goals, but consistency won’t occur if you focus on too many changes at once. To make lifestyle changes, start small. If you find “That Girl” inspiring, try  incorporating one new activity into your schedule instead of multiple at once. This gradual incorporation can help avoid burnout and stress created when your daily routine doesn’t look like “That Girl.”