It seems every time I open TikTok, a new influencer is going viral or some niche aesthetic with “-core” attached to the end is all the rage. But by the next month, or in extreme cases the next week, they’ve faded to obscurity and we have all collectively moved on to our next obsession. For example, right now Alix Earle has taken the internet by storm. Preceded by Matilda Djerf and her gorgeous hair. Then, there’s the trend of wanting to be “that girl” or an “it girl” or a pilates princess, clean girl, vanilla girl, coastal grandmother, barbiecore, soft goth, or even the effortlessly gorgeous and simple, “her.”
It seems that these trends are driven by a want for self-improvement. To be prettier, healthier, more social, to make more money, ultimately –– to be something we aren’t. TikTok influencers, through no fault of their own, make sudden life changes seem like easily achievable feats. It seems like out of nowhere, normal people have been able to accumulate mass amounts of popularity and wealth just from being in shape and having perfect skin, bouncy long hair and good style. While you’re scrolling through TikTok, this lifestyle is indirectly — or sometimes directly — sold to you: all you need to do is do the same workouts and buy the same skincare, makeup, hair products and clothes. Naturally, all of these products are linked on their Amazon storefront.
However, within their effortless appeal lies the problem with TikTok “it girls.” The results that seemed to happen overnight for them don’t happen for us. By the time we’ve discovered the “it girl,” they’ve already been doing their routine for months. For us, the audience, the “it girl” is a look, a quick routine, a workout we try once and toss when it gets too hard. But for the girls themselves, it’s a lifestyle, a process that has taken months of carefully cultivating their regiment and their social media presence. By the time the one-minute snippet of content reaches the masses, months of work have already gone into creating an “it girl.”
I’m not proposing that it’s anyone’s fault, “it girl” or otherwise, that we expect quick results from quick videos. In a world where everything is at our fingertips and accessible within seconds, we crave instant results in all areas. We know on some level that it is implausible to expect one skincare routine to get rid of our acne or dark spots, one haircare product to get rid of our split ends or make our hair longer, one workout to make you skinnier or give you abs. Yet, we still watch these videos, buy these products, and when we don’t see results fast enough, we move on to a new “it girl” to tell us how to achieve her status and look.
So what do we do about “it girls”? How do we escape the never ending cycle of trends and bouncing from influencer to influencer — which surely can’t be healthy for us or them? Well, if I had the answer to that, maybe I would be an influencer myself. Or, at least, write a self-help book or something.
What I can say is that we have to learn how to lead individual lives and consume our content with the understanding that what works for them may not work for us. But this is a hard understanding to grapple with when we have the constant, innate fear of becoming the societal “other” or of falling short of the expectations we believe those around us hold. From the one-minute media we’re being presented with, the “it girl” seems like she would never have this fear. The “it girl” has it all. She would never be considered ugly, she could never go somewhere where she doesn’t fit in, and millions love her just because she’s herself. And isn’t that what we all want? To be accepted by those around us and secure in ourselves.