We can’t all be ‘that girl’

The TikTok lifestyle aesthetic is an unrealistic fantasy

Image by: Amna Rafiq
Life is not romantic or perfect all the time.

We’ve all seen “that girl”: the flawless, easy, and aesthetically pleasing person on Instagram or TikTok.

With those smooth transitions and gorgeous camera work, her editing skills make her everday life look so romantic. She’s a university student, an intern, and a small business owner all at once. She moves from place to place while giving us shots of the most pristine shoes you’ve ever seen—and they match her outfit, of course.

“That girl” is an aesthetic that’s been spreading around the internet for a while now. It represents a normal lifestyle manipulated to look perfect. It’s another symptom of social media—people taking the most mundane aspects of their lives and editing them down to look as clean, attainable, and pretty as possible.

What’s the problem? It’s an illusion.

Yes, social media is the place to share the best of your life and preserve happy memories. However, these aesthetic TikTok-ers and Instagram-ers take this to another level, romanticizing the parts of life we see as boring, like walking to work, getting dressed in the morning, and getting coffee quickly before class.

Aesthetics have taken over practicality. “That girl” shows the youngest and most impressionable social media viewers that life is supposed to be free of flaws, simple, and aesthetically pleasing.

Even for us university students emerging into adulthood, falling into this trap of believing our lives can and should look good can cause us to second guess our achievements and lifestyle when they don’t meet the aesthetically pleasing benchmark.

I’m not talking about trying to get likes and online validation; I’m talking about pointing the camera towards yourself, observing your life through the lens of the observer, and being disappointed when you—the actor—mess up your lines.

Here’s the truth: real life isn’t curated. It isn’t cut, pasted, and edited like “that girl” TikToks.

We’re all acutely aware of this, especially as university students. The assignments and readings always pile up at the end of the year, and we scramble to get ourselves together. Our relationships are messy and so are our rooms.

It’s important not to get caught up in impossible aesthetics, because our outfits can never truly be picture-perfect, and our schedules can never be perfectly seamless. “That girl” isn’t real—”that girl” was up until 4 a.m. editing her videos with acne patches on, stressed out about work.

Aesthetics are only a surface-level representation of who you are. With fashion, what you wear projects who you are; it projects the image you want to represent yourself as. That’s important. Your clothing choices speak to your personality and who you are

But it’s also important to embrace the messiness—the days when your hair isn’t combed, and you walk around in a green, three-year-old hoodie with pink sweatpants because you couldn’t be bothered. You shouldn’t feel like you have to uphold a perfect image all the time.

Having flaws and imperfections is what makes us human. Life is messy. Life is hard. That’s just the reality. We need the bad to appreciate the good. Remember: a million cloudy days make one sunny day seem sweeter.

So, don’t upset yourself trying to achieve “that girl,” because “that girl” doesn’t exist. It’s okay if your shoes don’t always match your outfit.


Aesthetic, Flaw, Imperfection, ThatGirl, TikTok, Unmaintainable, Unrealistic

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