'That Girl' As A Fat Girl: How The Viral TikTok Trend Has Fuelled Fatphobia
We all know that girl who has her life together, seems to never miss a workout and is constantly productive. When seemingly perfect lifestyles become trends it affects those of us outside of that category whether positively or negatively and inclusivity is important to have more positive impacts.
The ‘that girl’ trend has been popularised on TikTok and is characterised by waking up early, drinking green juice, working out and journaling. The trend in itself is generally motivating as it promotes healthy habits, both mentally and physically. However, some may feel pressured by the seemingly perfect nature of the trend and the image it presents.
The persona and image of the trend is generally white and skinny, in this article I will take on the latter. When you search ‘that girl’ on TikTok, all of the girls are skinny and videos include “I was fat and ugly so I made myself that girl”, implying that you cannot be that girl if you aren’t thin. The nature of the ‘that girl’ trend is self-improvement and therefore everyone must start somewhere. If people’s self-improvement goals are to lose weight, it is typically because they start their journey looking bigger than their goal weight. Taking on those healthy habits for healthy reasons, I believe you become "that girl".
After TikTok, the trend migrated to YouTube, and since then it has become massively focussed on body image. Most of the thumbnails are girls showing off their toned bodies rather than taking a focus on the healthy habits which the trend promotes. Of course, it is always positive to promote healthy habits and there are benefits to doing so. I myself tend to watch these videos for inspiration and motivation. However, younger and more impressionable girls may not see themselves represented as there only seems to be one body type shown, and this can be hugely damaging.
Credit photo: The Tab
Problems with ‘that girl’
As a teenager, I was exposed to the trend of Tumblr and Pinterest girls and I had body image problems. Though undiagnosed (likely as I was overweight) I believe that I had disordered eating patterns. These trends, which tend to promote perfection, can be incredibly dangerous to young people who don’t always think beyond what they see in a video - as they see that as the person's real life.
Fatphobia has been a problem in society for years. The idea that bigger means less healthy and less worthy has not yet been broken. As stated earlier, it is important to understand that even if you are bigger and unhealthy, you will always begin in that body. You can be fat and healthy, because you have to begin somewhere. The idea that to be ‘that girl’ you have to be skinny is completely unfounded because anybody in any body can be on a self-improvement journey, and we cannot continue to invalidate the journeys of others solely based on the way that they look.
Is the trend useful?
So is the ‘that girl’ trend a force for good? I believe that yes, the trend can be a force for good but should be seen as an aesthetic rather than a lifestyle. Nobody can be expected to be perfect everyday and if we start to see this as a lifestyle, it has the risk of feeling too far out of reach.
The aesthetic nature of the trend is also linked to the products which appear again and again in videos and montages promoting the lifestyle. The need to own things perpetuated by the trend fuels the cycle of capitalism and sponsorships embedded within social media. Owning certain items does not make you ‘that girl’, only following healthy habits can.
It is important to practice the habits which are presented by this trend for both our mental and physical health. However, it is important not to become obsessed with doing all of these things completely perfectly, because sometimes we don’t have time to make everything aesthetically pleasing everyday and it’s more important to practice these habits than practice them in a completely perfect way.
Written by Katherine Seymour