"That Girl" always has her life together. She wakes up early in the morning to enjoy the sunrises in Malibu, complete an hour of pilates, and smile at her breakfast of matcha and avocado toast. Rarely is she sitting down to scroll endlessly through TikTok; instead, she’s either browsing the farmers’ market, meditating on her cushion pouf, or listening to upbeat pop music. She's a boss, she’s beautiful—and everyone's dying to become her.
This sort of aspirational lifestyle is embodied by popular YouTube content creators who, as their keywords suggest, churn out video after video of their polished lives. From Emily Mariko, the TikTok-viral influencer whose videos focus on healthy eating and cute outfits, to Ava Jules, who lives in Hawaii and posts about running errands, drinking matcha, and playing with her dog, to Linh Truong, a study vlogger with a productivity core and rose-tinted video style, the wholesome, pure contentment of these content creators runs across media channels and aesthetics.
While they may all be at different stages of their lives, there is one common thread between these women: they’re That Girl. All of their channels contain day-in-the-life vlogs filled to the brim with perfection. There’s a near-robotic routine to the lives they construct on the internet, a discipline and cleanliness that are nearly impossible to achieve in real life. There’s a sense of peace and intention in their early morning journaling, a sense of gratitude and unfettered happiness in their daily drive to their favorite local coffee shop. Nowhere in their content is there any hint of struggle or conflict.
Sure, not every moment is as glamorous as social media makes it seem, but as viewers, we can’t help but fantasize about what our own lives might look like if only we had Her motivation. What would it be like if we could wake up at 6 A.M. every day to enjoy an extensive morning routine? What would it be like if we could take walks while the sun is still rising and the dew is still fresh on the pavement? What would it be like if we could get expensive coffee from indie cafes, if we could glide around town all day checking tasks off our to-do lists?
While I’ve always prided myself on my excellent time-management skills and productivity, I still have days when it’s hard to roll out of bed. I go to school full-time, participate in a copious amount of extracurriculars, and work 20 hours a week. With business and exhaustion settling into my bones every day, life is not always sunshine and rainbows. And at times, I’ve despised myself for how hard it is to just get things done. It should be easy, in theory. You just have to go through the motions: get out of bed, leave the house, and be a functioning human being. But it’s not.
Maybe you work a 9-5, or you work the graveyard shift. Maybe you’re still in high school and are spending all your spare moments filling out lengthy college applications. Time is something we use up so fast—and it seems like we can’t ever get enough of it. Those moments when we’re at our lowest are the absolute worst. Because it’s at these times when we see these aspirational influencers act like checking 150 tasks off their to-do list is normal—while we can’t even fathom the idea of checking off even one.
How are we supposed to squeeze in meditation, yoga, and journaling every morning when we’re constantly running late to our 8 A.M. classes and can’t wake up any earlier than 7 because we stay up late finishing our homework? When we realize that we can’t really accomplish as much as these aspirational influencers seem to, it can lead to a feeling of incompetency. This can, in turn, lead us down dangerous roads of self-hatred and destroy our mental-well being.
And yet, these aspirational videos are still endlessly addicting to consume.
It’s just so satisfying to see someone else living their best life. I feel like I’m participating in these new adventures with them, whether it be some menial task like vacuuming or something exciting like going out to pick up a new book. I find that when I’m in the right mindset, watching these videos gives me a boost of motivation, rather than a slew of self-hatred. I watched Ava Jules’ “a typical day in my life at home alone” vlog last week, and after seeing how she was able to enjoy her own company and do chores, I felt motivated to pick up my neglected vacuum and clean up my space a bit. This imitative process seems elementary, but it can really work like magic.
I think the real issue here isn’t that That Girl is problematic. It’s that we need to stop seeing these lifestyles as attainable and start calling them what they actually are: aspirational. From there, we realize that “That Girl” is not always happy and productive and motivated, but she sure as hell gives every day her best shot. Then, it’s all downhill running, because if you’ve been taking care of yourself and still giving every day your 100% (whatever that might look like), you’ll realize maybe you really were “That Girl” all along.