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In this video, one woman dissects the #ThatGirl trend on TikTok, why it's bad for us, and why she stopped buying into it. This video is adapted from a piece in our weekly newsletter — click here to subscribe!

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Video by Grace Lee

Written by Skylar Hunyadi

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[PAPERS TURNING] I have a complicated relationship with a "that girl" trend that has subtly manifested across the internet.

My feeds are saturated with seamless, simple routines that promise ultimate life balance and aesthetic perfection. I am easily drawn to romanticized clips of oat milk lattes, journaling, fitness sets, and step-by-step skincare routines.

At my best, I can draw a healthy inspiration from this type of content, choosing to reopen my dusty journal, do a yoga with Adrienne video in the morning, and maybe even take a hot girl walk when I get home from work. But at my worst, I engage in should scrolling, telling myself that I should buy clothes from expensive brands and that I should make matcha lattes more often. Consuming so much flawless content distorts my sense of reality and pits me against myself in a nasty comparison game.

I won't go as far as to demonize this type of content, because at the root of the "that girl" trend is a desire to be the best version of oneself. The self who gets up early, moves gracefully through a morning routine, checks off all her boxes for the day, and remembers to do her skincare at night. Like, who wouldn't want to be that?

But here's the kicker. The best version of ourselves is not something that is externally validated. There is no one size fits all routine or lifestyle that is uniformly the best.

Being the best version of ourselves begins with listening to and expressing our needs, practicing loving self-talk, and accepting when something just isn't for you. I will never, ever love getting up at 5 AM. I am in no way immune to the dark side of "that girl" content, so as we continue to consume the aesthetics and tenets of this lifestyle, here are some strategies to stay on the healthy end of this trend.

Number 1, reflect before you scroll. In short, check your mindset before deep diving into a self-sabotaging scroll sesh. Unlocking our phones feels innocuous, but the content we subject ourselves to can seriously affect our mood.

A good litmus test is to rate your current sensitivity level on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the least sensitive. And choose at which number you will steer clear of social media. Number 2, consider it research.

Emotional scrolling is no joke, so try to use your rational brain when engaging with "that girl" content. The rational brain sets goals, solves problems, and healthily manages emotions. The emotional brain is based on impulse and feelings.

Approach "that girl" content as if you are doing research, remaining as objective as possible as you search for practical ways to elevate your lifestyle. For example, if you want to find creative ways to drink more water throughout the day, use your rational brain to learn tips and strategies for increasing water intake versus harshly comparing yourself to that girl, an emotional brain response. Number 3, watch for cognitive traps.

I value the importance of understanding cognitive distortions. Everyone has unhelpful thoughts, and you can gain control over them once you recognize what they are. Some common examples of cognitive distortions are polarized thinking.

I am so lazy for not working out this morning. Should statements. I should practice self-care every day.

Emotional reasoning, I feel like a failure, so I must be one. There is no cure to get rid of cognitive traps, but if these types of thoughts arise as you watch flawless daily vlogs, try asking yourself, what would I say to a friend right now? Number 4, make a feel good list.

A feel good list, also known as an SOS, I mentally feel like shit about my life list, is a preventative measure for when you become hyper focused on the unrealistic elements of being that girl. In the depths of my notes app, I have a list of things that make me happy, like watermelon, Lord of the Rings, classical music, and the color purple. These small reminders coax me away from self-criticism.

Number 5, scroll with care. Unlike the effortless TikTok transitions from bed to the Peloton to Starbucks, a realistic lifestyle has a healthy amount of flexibility to accommodate basic humanness, like getting a crappy night's sleep and just needing to lounge in bed for an extra half hour. It's good to remind ourselves that just like all trends, being "that girl" is usually unsustainable and accompanied by several forms of privilege, such as being able to afford the costs that come with being "that girl".

Frankly, I resent "that girl", but at the same time, I want to be just like her which speaks to our susceptibility as women to wellness and comparison culture. And that's not to blame the consumer. Self-improvement bombards us daily.

Because success and wellness look different for everyone, it's a waste of time to reach for a refined and ultimately unrealistic version of self. If we are to glean any positive messages from the "that girl" trend, let it be to prioritize ourselves. Enjoy the process rather than the goal, and create routines that feel right for us.