Skip to main content

Unpacking ‘That Girl’

by Susan Moore


She wakes up early, eats a smoothie bowl, indulges in some morning yoga, dresses in a fashionable blazer, goes to work, and gets stuff done. She is ritualistic, composed, and organized. She makes the most out of every day and goes to bed early so she can do it all again. Chances are you have heard of her. She is That Girl.


As a new school year begins, it is appealing to want to seek out this level of pose and put togetherness. Indeed, from the Instagram posts and TikTok videos that capture the lifestyle, it seems like a wonderful way to strive for productivity. While there are countless resources on the pros and cons of this lifestyle (it sets unrealistic expectations, etc), there is still a lot to be said in the way of where this appeal even comes from. In other words, yes we know That Girl is popular, but why?


The first clue as to why That Girl is so popular can be found in the name. She is not just anyone, she is That Girl. A big part of the aesthetic is productivity and professionalism, specifically living as a working woman. While women have long since been a part of the workplace, they are still relatively underrepresented in media. That Girl is not only an aesthetic that portrays the lifestyles of working women but in a way that is seen through the female gaze.


In most cases, women are expected to adapt to a man’s world. However, the That Girl aesthetic champions femininity and beauty in the day-to-day. For this reason, it is more accessible than the “rise and grind” and the “girl boss” mentalities. It is not demanding constant devotion to work, rather it promotes time for oneself and relaxation when possible. It encourages things like having a skin routine, reading, and spending time on oneself.


The That Girl Aesthetic has found popularity because women are not generally encouraged to do things for themselves unless it serves a greater purpose. However, the activities that fit into the mindset also happen to be simultaneously productive and businesslike. Yoga done in fancy workout clothes is good for the body, a nice-smelling facemask is good for the skin, and fancy planners help give life a sense of organization. Even the dress code; the gold earrings, neutral colors, and neatly slicked back bun are practical, work appropriate, and unassuming. Furthermore, it is the romanticization of the most palatable lifestyle.


However, while there is nothing inherently wrong with productivity and making the most out of the hours in a day, especially pursuing such things in a way that resonates with one’s aesthetic sensibilities, it is worth asking whether it is improving a system that needs to be abolished. Capitalism and the culture surrounding it are, admittedly, overwhelmingly present. The workforce has been dominated by men for many years, but is diversifying the solution?


At the end of the day, the That Girl aesthetic is contingent on work culture. While it presents a more healthy work-life balance, it still promotes the idea that a day is only as good as it is productive. It reinforces the mindset of finding self-worth in what is brought to the table and minimizing things done purely for pleasure. This unfortunately is also part of the reason people find it so easy to buy into. Because it is simply adding to a mindset that dominates western culture, the mindset of being a cog in the machine. 


Additionally, it demands no radical self-advocacy, no allowing oneself to take up space. It simply takes old ideals and dresses them up in a way that sits better with the modern woman.


While there is nothing backward or evil about wanting to be efficient with one’s time, sometimes this way of thinking can be a trap. We are, after all, so much more than what we produce. We are allowed to eat things just because they make us happy, to wear things that do not fit into the narrow scope of “professional”. We are allowed to do things unconventionally, to find self-worth in things besides how much we can do in a day. In short, there is nothing wrong with being That Girl, but she’s not the only person you are allowed to be.

 

Most Popular

‘Make Tattooing Safe Again’: Sheffield Based Tattoo Artist Exposed for Indecent Behaviour

 by Emily Fletcher TW: SA, Animal Abuse, Transphobia Photo Credit: @ meiko_akiz uki Recently, an  Instagram account  has been created to provide a  ‘space to safely give a voice to those who want to speak out about the behaviour of one, Sheffield based tattoo artist’. A  total of 40+ posts have been made by the above social media account regarding  one of Sheffield's most popular tattoo artists .  Thankfully, all posts are prefaced with a Content Warning prior to sharing screenshots of the messages that have been sent anonymously to the page. The majority of Content Warnings refer to sexual behaviour, abuse, and sexual assault. It is clear that there is a reoccurring theme within each submission, as many clients appear to have had the same experiences with the tattoo artist. Women, mostly, are being made to feel uncomfortable while being tattooed. One of the most vulnerable positions anyone can be in, tattoo artists should make their clients feel comfortable and safe during the pro

Now What? The Aftermath of the 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl'

by Susan Moore Here is a bit about me: I am an open, excitable, creative AFAB who is also moderately attractive. I have a unique sense of personal style and a personality that on the surface can only be described as “bubbly” and “quirky”. For this reason, dating is a nightmare. To be sure, I do not have a hard time finding dates or potential suitors. The problems arise when said dates spend some time with me and decide that I am a rare specimen, and the connection they feel with me is “unlike anything they have felt before”. Then, things go one of two ways.  Either a) they decide I am too high maintenance and no longer palatable, or  b) they choose to never look further than the surface and are content to date the idea of me rather than the real me. There is something rather interesting, perhaps funny, about my situation. It is in no way unique. I have met so many people who constantly dealt with the same problem. Even funnier still, is the fact that there is a trope that simultaneousl

Eurydice’s Last Words

by Kate Bradley I do not want to return To sit in the stalls, Of an empty black box Strewn with petals Leave the ghost light on, Let it shine like a call home, But I will not come back To turn it off alone. I learn this as we walk Our ever so solemn path Our thudding funeral march, You think we’re going back. As I trace my old steps, I fear of the day When the symphony swells, And I land my gaze On you, yet you will be Enraptured by the sound, If you did twist To turn around, You would not see me. So I am not sorry, I speak out into the empty air And I am not sorry. “Turn Around.” You do, you look You think  I fall But I run on, Arms wide open To fall in love With it all “Perhaps she was the one who said, ‘Turn around.” On the X45 bus, back from the Tyneside Cinema, I wrote a poem entitled “Eurydice’s Final Words”, after having seen “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”.  That poem was terrible, so I wrote a new one, as my response to the beautifully poignant film.  In one scene, Héloïse, an 18