Social media has this knack of creating trends for us to follow. Whether it’s a harmless (and somewhat embarrassing) trend like sweeping your leg over milk crates or dangerous fads like the Tide Pod challenge, Instagram and TikTok inspire us to try new things, whether for better or for worse. One of the more recent, long-term trends is known as “that girl.”
What exactly is the “that girl” trend? Watch any TikTok video or Instagram reel with a “#thatgirl,” and you’ll see something like this: a girl, typically in her late teens or early twenties, wakes up at 5am and makes her bed pretty enough for Hampton Inn approval. She journals, then “manifests” the things she wants in life as she stares at her mood board. She eats a poached egg with toast and a green smoothie for breakfast, wears matching workout clothes that fit just right, and typically does a weighted workout while her Mac displays the time. Finally, she gets her hair and makeup looking flawless, and then moves onto her very productive and busy life.
This, TikTok tells us, is the latest standard of “perfection.”
Since its origin, Christian influencers have attempted to make the trend more God-centered. One Instagram influencer posted a video where she says that she’s “ready for our culture to go from trying to be, “‘that girl’ to being a HOLY girl.”
But are we really better off when we try to follow the “That Girl” trend, even when squeezing God into it?
I don’t think so.
We’re Creating Idols
It’s no secret that humans have a bit of a hard time with our priorities. From the beginning of time, we have had no trouble finding someone or something else to worship besides the One we should be seeking after, God.
Paul and John warn us against idolatry: “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14), and “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).
When we indulge in the “That Girl” trend, we are indulging in worshiping one of the worst idols out there—ourselves. We are idolizing a perfect image of ourselves that, quite frankly, doesn’t exist.
Habakkuk asks, “What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies?” (Habakkuk 2:18).
We are not better off spiritually by pining after an unattainable image of ourselves; an image that diverts our gaze away from God. When we focus our attention on fixing ourselves, by ourselves, and not letting God and His Word lead us and shape us, we are in danger of forgetting to seek after the One who fashioned us.
Jealousy Runs Rampant
Envy and jealousy are not new emotions to us girls. Sadly, they often come second nature to us. When we see another girl pulling off ripped skinny jeans or wearing her hair down and it doesn’t frizz (which is practically a work of magic here in the South), we have to fight the urge to squirm and fuss about it. “Why can’t I do that?” We grumble as we pick at our (not skinny) jeans and twirl our frizzy hair between our fingers.
The Bible has many warnings against envy: “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot” (Proverbs 14:30), “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another…” (Galatians 5:26), and “So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander” (1 Peter 2:1).
The “That Girl” trend has not created a lot of productive women, it has stirred up envy towards the seemingly “perfect” ones in the hearts of countless young women.
Unattainable Outer Beauty
Once we’ve gotten over our initial feelings of jealousy, we girls go down our little rabbit hole of self-pity and self-hatred. “I can never get that skinny. She’s got a perfect physique! I’m so ugly because I don’t look like her.”
Women all over the country, Christian and otherwise, have shared their concerns about how fast the “That Girl” trend has taken over TikTok. “I definitely don’t want anyone to feel pressured by this trend,” one TikTok influencer says. Yet she has acknowledged the pressure she feels as one who uploads videos to the popular platform every day. Another says, “It’s one thing to see one girl who really takes her time with plating her avocado toast, waking up at 5am and going on a jog in matching Lululemon’s but when 500 other girls on your For You Page are trying to achieve the exact same thing, it becomes more of an expectation for how you should be living rather than just a particular way of doing things.”
No one can keep up with this latest standard of outer beauty without spending thousands of dollars on groceries, skincare, and clothing. No one can pay the price of “perfect” outer beauty.
And as Christians, that’s not what we should be concerned about anyway. God tells us that He doesn’t look at our physical appearance; He looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
So Where Do We Go from Here?
So, how do we as Christian girls respond to the “That Girl” movement? Do we follow the trend tweaking it slightly to become “#holygirls”? After all, we should all strive to be holy (Hebrews 12:14).
Or maybe we shouldn’t subscribe to yet another social media trend.
If we were to take into account the negative emotions and decisions that have occurred from the “That Girl” trend—and its Christianized counterpart—I think we’d find that the cons far outweigh the pros.
While there’s something to be said for creating a consistent routine of Bible reading, spiritual formation, and healthy living, I don’t think we need to maintain it through the lens of a social media fad.
Rather, we should intentionally construct our quiet time and lifestyle choices around God’s Word, seeking to conform to the image of Christ Jesus rather than the image of “That Girl” we see on our smartphone screens.
After all, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8).