wellness

'"That girl" is everywhere right now. Here's why I find her toxic.'

'That girl' wakes up at 5am. Even on weekends. 

'That girl' works out twice a day, once before 7am, and once donned in an expensive matching activewear set. Usually doing yoga, of course.

'That girl' has clear skin, her body is slim and tan, and she ~journals~. 

But that's not all. 

She's professionally successful. She probably works overtime in a corporate job fuelled by protein smoothies and goal-setting.

Not so overtime though, that she doesn't have a moment spare to dive into a self-help book before bed.

Watch: The 5 Types of morning people. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia

If you're a woman who's been on TikTok in the past few months, chances are you've come across 'that girl'. 

No, she's no one person. 

In fact, she's nothing more than a vague concept, stemming from an elusive representation of health and wellness.

Maybe you were drawn in by its calling.

"This is your sign to become that girl," videos are captioned; referencing TikTok's algorithm that places seemingly random posts on your feed. 

A 15-second montage shows fresh fruit, sunrises, gym equipment and bullet journalling in quick succession. 

It's really that easy, they imply. You can start now.

We've seen it in many, many iterations before, from Pinterest fitspo to Instagram's unrelenting 'girl boss' hustle culture.

But there's something a little more personal about 'that girl'. 

While society has, for the most part, moved on from idealising overt "thinspo" content, 'that girl' frames regimented eating, exercise and wellness as 'self-care' and daily routine. 

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At best, it serves as inspiration to young women looking to get healthier. 

At worst, it breeds orthorexia (an obsession with living a 'healthy' lifestyle) and an unattainable state of 'wellness' where women are set up to fail.

Take Tiktok creator, Kaylie Stewart, who has raked in over six million likes by sharing content where she invites other women to become 'that girl'. 

"[I] was so unhappy, then I turned into [that] girl," she wrote in a video that showed an image of her crying replaced by videos of early mornings, smoothies and apple watch calorie counts.

@kaylieestewart

this is your sign to focus on you 💚 ##motivation ##thatgirl ##healthylifestyle ##healthylifestylechange ##fyp

♬ original sound - mikaylakinler

She's among countless others who share the sentiment across the platform: I was sad, then I changed my lifestyle to be one inspired by social media, now I am happy.

What that fails to acknowledge, though, is the sheer complexity of mental health, and self-care rituals that lack aesthetic presentation.

'That girl' morning routines neglect to include a morning dose of anti-depressants, routine dental appointments or skin checks.

Instead, it turns 'striving for better health' into a game of comparison and appearances. It targets young and often impressionable women, telling them, as we have been told for decades: "you are not doing enough."

Only individual health should not be a topic fit for comparison.

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For many, waking up at 5am won't cure feelings of sadness. Nor will a green smoothie and morning run. As one commenter wrote on a post: "babe I'm like this and still sad as f**k."

At its core, 'that girl' is a concept that encourages women to be their best selves.

That might mean ordering in burgers after a particularly loaded work day, or going for a morning run if that suits your fancy. 

Though there is an essential distinction to make. When health and a social media presence intersect, it's important we remind ourselves of what is authentic. 

There is nuance in 'healthy living'. Influencers exist outside of a 15-second, glossy window.

And being 'that girl' may not be the cure-all lifestyle it's painted out to be.

For more from Emma, you can follow her on Instagram @emma.gillman.

For help and support for eating disorders, contact the Butterfly Foundation‘s National Support line and online service on 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673) or email [email protected] 

You can also visit their website, here.

Feature Image: TikTok / @kaylieestewart @amydubeau

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