By Nishtha Bhalla
She's got a green juice wherever she goes. She wakes up at 5 AM to fill out her gratitude journal. She works out a couple of hours before heading onto her 9-to-5. Oh wait, no — she's an entrepreneur, and has a whole course on how to be one too. She's got a picture-perfect life, with the carefully-edited Instagram-filtered Reels to show for it. And she remembers to eat her greens and do her skincare routine, too.
We all know 'that girl', we've all tried being 'that girl.' Chances are, we've come up short when it comes to being 'that girl.' But what is it about the wellness-archetype of that girl, that's essentially caused a cultural phenomenon, especially in a time where people haven't exactly been their best selves?
For starters, the ‘that girl’ TikTok and IG Reels trope is all about toeing the line between aspirational and inspirational. It’s not about getting wasted on the weekends, it’s not about fitness (necessarily); heck, it’s not even about being a girl boss (which, thank god!). Being ‘that girl’ started off as a trend where women would inspire other people to be the best versions of themselves, by bettering themselves emotionally, mentally, and physically. On the face of it, there’s actually nothing wrong with wanting to be, or being ‘that girl.’ However, as with most things, most ‘that girls’ have a very one-dimensional view of what being ‘that girl’ constitutes of.
‘That girl' manages to set unrealistic standards for how lives should look like. It perpetuates the idea of a level of perfection that becomes hard to attain, no matter how hard you strive for it, while convincing you that this is the only way to be. Let's not pretend like this is a shocker; Instagram is famously well-known for promoting unrealistic standards for people – whether it’s for their body, or their lifestyle. When it comes to being ‘that girl’, it’s all about the Instagram-picture-perfect-filtered lens of the aesthetic of an avo-on-toast eating, sunrise-journaling, matcha-drinking girl. Even if you hate avocados, journaling, and all things matcha. Striving to be ‘that girl’ may end up making you more miserable than you think. One, you'll feel like you're coming up short, since you're projecting onto an ideal self you can't even relate to, and two, you'll be miserable because you don't like those things.
Additionally, that level of perfection, like most things on the internet, isn’t real. Sure, it may look great on paper or on a phone-screen, but there's a lot that being ‘that girl’ doesn't show you. You don't see the behind the scenes where she may be running behind, the secret cheeseburger, the missed yoga classes, the random work f*** ups. You don’t see the days she’s messing up, the days she isn’t on point, the days she misses her skincare routine, and the days she just… isn’t ‘that girl.’ We only get a one-sided, shiny and polished perspective into her life, which can skew our own perceptions and make us miserable when we can’t project the illusion of perfection.
Also, let's not forget that we're bang in the middle of a pandemic, a time where everyone's mental health hasn't been the best. Setting unrealistic standards by comparing yourself to someone who's clearly showcasing only the good bits, not the bad or the ugly of their daily life, and convincing yourself that you need a sunset lamp, a green juice, and an elaborate bullet journal to be happy, won't actually make you happy.
I'm not here to play into the 'I'm not like other girls' trope either; by all means, be 'that girl'! But before you do, remember that being 'that girl’ can mean different things for different people. For you, it could be crossing off everything on your to-do list. Or making it to a meeting on time. It could mean reading a chapter of a book, or just getting out of bed.
For me, it's switching out a bag of Cheetos with fruits every now and then, replacing my second coffee for the day with a lemonade, finding out twenty minutes to work out while I watch Netflix, and writing for myself. All of these things make me feel fulfilled in ways that no green juice or yoga class could, which brings me to my final point.
Don't let someone else's ideals of what your life should look like dictate what your life looks like; playing 'catch-up' with something that doesn't fulfil you will leave you unhappy, unsatisfied, and needless to say, unfulfilled. Figure out things that serve you and you enjoy doing, rather than taking whatever the wellness industry shoves down your throat at face value. Question things that you're led to believe you're 'supposed' to do, the Marie Kondo way; 'Does it spark joy?' You'll be surprised at what you come up with, and hey, who knows? You might become 'that girl' too. On your own terms.
With or without the green juice.