Tiptoeing the Line of Toxic

     Hi, my name is Evy Ashburner and I am not that girl.

     I used to spend a lot of time watching ‘morning routine’ youtube videos of these teenage girls cleaning their rooms, making aesthetically pleasing coffees, and working out to try and get myself motivated and productive. Over the years, I turned from Youtube to Instagram, Instagram to Tiktok, and Tiktok to Pinterest. I was searching for motivation to be like these influencer-girls I was seeing on social media, but nothing seemed to really work. 

     Most of the people I followed were  creators like Lexi Hadigo, Olivia Ponton, Alexis Ren, Kate Bartlett and the list goes on. These girls post pictures of their bodies, their symmetrical faces and never ending wardrobes or videos of their ‘model body’ workouts and always healthy meals. New lifestyle trends, like the ‘that girl’ trend, have been a recent phenomenon that have emerged on platforms like Tiktok, Instagram and Youtube. The 60 second videos show clips of young adults routines in their day to day lives, things like morning routines, workout routines, “what I eat in a day” or “my skin care routine.” 

   I’ve made goals and lists of things I can do to be like the ‘that girls’ that I follow, and I sit in my room and I wonder “why isn’t this working? Why can’t I be like them?” The truth is, these lifestyles are only realistic if you’re getting paid to do it. Monetized influencers on​​ Tiktok and Instagram who started the morning routines and lifestyle trends make money from creating videos of their day to day lives. A lot of them have sponsorships so they can show expensive skincare and makeup products, clothing from PR boxes that they receive frequently enough to have a new outfit every day and many even have personal trainers and dietitians to help them stay healthy. Normal teenagers have hundreds of things to balance between extracurriculars, piles of homework, sports and social lives. So for many of us, there is no time to stop and photograph the aesthetically pleasing moments of our lives. What I’ve found is the more time I spend taking pictures of ‘aesthetically pleasing’ moments, the more I want to try and curate these moments just so I can post them on my story.

      I hate to admit it, but I love social media. As a teenger there is nothing more gratifying than looking at my Instagram account and seeing 68 comments and 600+ likes on a post. I hate that I run to my phone when I think I hear it buzzing, hoping that someone slid up on my story saying “wow, you’re so pretty” or “you’re that girl ” . I hate that I’m so consumed in it, but I don’t stop. Because the truth is, it is gratifying when I’m pretending to be like the influencers I follow, I believe that I am. I think it’s great that social media influencers are trying to promote health and wellness. In fact a lot of viewers find lifestyle content inspiring or motivating. I know I’ve found it inspiring at times. Having strong, independent, and healthy females in the public eye is fantastic progress for us as a society. And why wouldn’t you want to be like these girls we’re following? 

So why is this influencer lifestyle so appealing to so many teenage girls? It’s because we all just want to be healthy, stable and on-top of things. But these lifestyle trends that glorify perfection, tip toe a fine line of motivation and toxicity. Like normal people, I go through waves of motivation. Sometimes even making my bed feels like the most impossible task. I would be lying if I said that watching videos of all these girls going about their day with energy is helpful and inspiring. It usually just makes me ask myself “am I not even good enough to make an aesthetically pleasing breakfast?” It’s almost alienating in some ways, and makes you feel like being tired and unmotivated is wrong or not-normal. From time to time I will watch a youtube video called “My That Girl Morning Routine” and have this surge of motivation to fold the laundry on my floor, make a pretty colored smoothie and do all my homework at one time. But it’s temporary. I have spent so much time trying to take videos and pictures of myself being fake productive, hoping that it would inspire me to actually do something, but it never works. The motivation doesn’t last and the next day I’m back, laying in bed scrolling through social media and focusing on unproductive thoughts. I start to think about stupid things like “does she miss eating junk food?” and sad things like “ I wish I was as skinny as her.” 

     When we are bombarded with all these videos and images of girls our age flawlessly checking off their to-do lists, these posts only lead to comparison between our lives, and curated clips of this “perfect lifestyle.” I know that these creators and influencers are real people who have lives and emotions and struggles, but the vacation photos, mirror selfies and shopping sprees are so appealing, I choose to forget they are real people. As a teenage girl, when I see these influencers somehow handling everything so well, there’s this surge of jealousy. This want to be like them.  Even though the goals of these lifestyle trends were to inspire people to take care of themselves, it’s become a sort of ‘aesthetic’ that people want their lives to look like.  The trends allow people to hide behind screens and outfits and have a sort of “fake it ‘till you make it” attitude. If everyone assumes that I’m not struggling and that I’m put together, maybe I will be? 

     The truth is you can’t dictate someone’s struggle through 60 second videos, or outfits and accessories. We neglect to remember that the content these creators chose to put out on the internet is just selected moments. That’s what makes their 24 hour days seem flawless. Who you choose to follow or watch on social media is up to you, but I’ve found that unfollowing the creators that posted unrealistic content has made me so much more secure in who I am. Trying to be like the girls I was following on social media is simply a waste of time because I’m not them.  Everyone (whether they admit it or not) procrastinates and goes through ups and downs of productivity and emotional stability. So who are we to assume a person’s entire life looks as it does on social media? Lifestyle trends will never go away, and there will always be a new version of “that girl” on whatever platforms we will use in the future, we need to make sure that whatever defines the next trend is based on accepting people for their good and bad, their lazy and productive and normalizing perfectly human traits. 

I’m not that girl. And that’s okay.