Is “that girl” the new “it girl”?

Reading Time: 2 minutes The “it girl” icon started in Hollywood and continues today with the“that girl” trend on TikTok and Instagram. These two trends are not very different; they focus on ideals that lead to dissatisfaction.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

In a world full of social media trends, many revolving around new lifestyle decisions, a very popular trend has emerged—“that girl.” Opinions on how to become “that girl” vary online. Pictures and videos that share the journey of becoming “that girl” often have a younger blonde woman who loves to work out, has clear skin, has nicely done nails, and is cleaning her already clean house. 

But who is “that girl,” truly? There are various influencers and celebrities that fit the bill of being “that girl,” or at least get close. They have their life together on the surface, with healthy food and a clean, calm life. But upon closer inspection, no one fits the bill of “that girl,” nor the “it girls” that have been around since the 1920s. 

There have been notable “it girls” throughout the ages. The first “it girl” was Clara Bow. Her and future “it girls” were known for flaunting designer brands and were often Hollywood sex symbols. Some “it girls,” especially in the 80s and 90s, were models. They helped the designers sell the looks, like sponsorships for influencers today. 

Media production and the women who are being idolized benefit from people buying into the product they are selling or seen wearing. Clara was popularized due to media, and with a new age of media in the 21st century, it makes sense that a new version of the “it girl” has appeared.   

Certain celebrities and influencers may initially appear as the “it girl” or “that girl,” but each girl falls short of the unrealistic expectations set by these trends. “It girls” often had messy personal lives, even while maintaining a fabulous-looking public face. Social media consistently presents ideals that do not exist. The “it girl” and “that girl” trends are ideals; “that girl” does not exist. 

The goal of becoming “that girl” can lead to intense burnout and disappointment. Individuals may find that they do not have the money for an apartment with nice natural lighting and expensive skincare. Perfect health and clear skin are not always achievable. Brands can use the ideals of “that girl” to get viewers to buy products in hopes that they are one step closer to becoming this ideal woman.  

The “it girl” trend was based more on sex appeal and movie-stardom, while the ideals of “that girl” may have begun because people were interested in self-improvement instead. While self-improvement is not inherently bad, this new “it girl” might be just as bad as the original if it leads to dissatisfaction, consumerism, and burnout.