March 4, 2024

“I have no interest in being #ThatGirl. The summer of the wild girl is here. I am not going to get up at 5 am to drink a multivitamin juice and be super organized. I’m going to be on internet forums until 4 am, I’m going to have Diet Coke for breakfast, I’m going to eat a plate of pasta like snack, I am going to go 3 weeks without responding to messages and then, one day, respond with twelve pages of text. This statement of intent is signed by TikTok user @horrible.glitter and perfectly sums up the spirit of the summer times that the women of Generation Z have decided to embrace this season: Feral Girl Summer or Wild Summer Girl. Chaotic, free, ready for everything. Party, alcohol, festivals, sex. Out of routines. The Wild Summer Girl personality invites you to talk in bars with unknown people, not to be too obsessed with appearance, not to respond to messages out of obligation and to live in a more carefree way without thinking about what others think.

The tendency Feral Girl Summer it is a response to the expectations of perfection to which many women are subjected, to having life perfectly planned and organized and to being in a constant process of optimization. As the journalist Jia Tolentino points out in her collection of essays False Mirror: Reflections on self-deception (Today’s Topics, 2019) in a chapter entitled, precisely, Never stop optimizing: “The ideal woman has always been a generic concept”, she writes, later reflecting on what the concept of the ideal woman would be today, “she seems to come out of Instagram, which is like saying that she is an ordinary woman reproducing the lessons learned From the market. The process requires maximum obedience on the part of the woman in question, but also genuine enthusiasm.” According to Tolentino, she is someone who seeks constant improvement because she is never considered enough: she must look good, appear younger than she is, be attractive, and achieve this result through diets, shakes detoxcreams and beauty treatments, exercise and, of course, journaling or meditation because, in 2022, the body and mind are equally important. That woman that Tolentino describes is #EsaChica, or #ThatGirlwhich TikTok user @horrible.glitter was writing about.

#ThatGirl either #EsaChica also became a trend on TikTok at the beginning of June 2022: one of the videos that best explains this philosophy of life has almost a million views and is starred by a user named Kaylie Stewart, wellness and lifestyle guru and star on the Generation Z social network, with 709,600 followers and 16.5 million “likes”. In the video, she explains her daily routine: “How to become #ThatGirl in 2022 ″, she captions Stewart, dressed in a smart tracksuit and toasting the camera with a green juice. “Get up before 8 am,” she advises. “Thirty minutes without looking at the phone in the morning,” she continues as we watch a video in which she makes herself a coffee and writes her thoughts in a journal. “Exercise 4 or 5 times a week,” she explains as we watch a video of her working out. “Follow a healthy diet”, we read while watching juices and low-calorie dishes. “Do the weekly shop”, she writes as she shows a basket full of vegetables. Like this one, there are videos on TikTok under the hashtag #ThatGirl that reach more than four million reproductions in which many users invite others to become #EsaChica: that is, someone who exercises, who writes in her diary, who follows a good beauty routine and who follows a diet based mainly on juices and salads before starting the workday.

“The search for optimization it is something intrinsic to social networks because it provides the person who uploads that content with a story,” Janira Planes, a journalist specializing in technology, memes, explains to EL PAÍS and internet culture. “The classic TikTok that succeeds has an initial hook to get our attention, a middle and an end. This idea taken to the macro creates a whole narrative arc that allows connecting the person who makes the videos with the person who is watching them”. Planes takes as an example a profile of the #EsaChica type: a woman who begins to count the small changes she is making in her life with the aim of feeling better, from getting up early to meditate or exercise, taking more time to prepare meals or start a diary. “In the same way that you follow a series to discover what happens to the characters, you get hooked on the evolution of those profiles on TikTok,” explains Planes. Videos that can also serve as motivation to initiate changes in the life of whom she observes.

As explained in an article by fortune where the trend was analyzed #ThatGirl, these standards of productivity and perfection that videos promote distort the ideals of success and could even damage the ability of some people to do certain things: “While many people may find this content useful, self-improvement presents itself as an ongoing pursuit that it requires constant devotion. There will be many people who feel that these videos put pressure on them to conform to unrealistic standards.” Some of them are those who have adhered to the philosophy Feral Girl Summer: against the organization, chaos. Faced with routine, organizational anarchy. In front of a looks always perfect, put on an old sweatshirt and short jean shorts. in front of the milkshake detox, vodka. And as opposed to getting up early, anything that can keep a person awake late at night, whether it’s reading Twitter feeds or dancing in a disco.

The funny thing is that, every season (and, in the world of networks, the concept of season can be reduced to weeks or days), women on the internet seem to change into a new personality: a #ThatGirl and Feral Girl Summer you have to add the Hot Girl Summer of 2019 (a concept that came from a Megan Thee Stallion song, similar to the one of the wild girl, but more focused on women feeling confident in their body, sexy and attractive), the Side Character Summer o Secondary Character of Summer (a trend created by the TikTok user @lolaokola, who invited to live the summer as an adorable and fun secondary character of a novel or movie, in the absence of the conflicts of the protagonists and without a search for personal growth ) and up to Healing Girl Summer o Summer of Healing (a proposal that was defined by turning off noise and toxicity, focusing on oneself and seeking emotional healing, whether through self-help books, walks on the beach or therapy).

“These trends arise mainly on TikTok”, explains Janira Planes, “and in a very polarized way because they generate a strong feeling of community: you enter TikTok and you immediately have to position yourself, if you are #ThatGirl, videos of your interest will appear. That is, videos about morning routines, organization of the home or the work table, or healthy food recipes. “Or you’re going to be on the other side, on the side of the wild girls, and those kinds of videos will appear that will make you comment ‘yes I am’ or tag your friends with whom you share that archetype.” As Planes explains, Generation Z is more predisposed to identify with a type of attitude or include themselves within a specific definition: “In the end, it offers them a certain sense of control in the face of a world in which they have no control over anything” . The TikTok algorithm will ensure that these young women find similar profiles that provide them with a common sense and narrative.

Perhaps the wild girl is one of the trends that allows for more freedom and less confinement: it doesn’t demand anything in particular or, as TikTok user @yourhypegirlsmag explained, it’s really nothing: “Wild means normal. That is the irony. Because social media has created this illusion of constant perfection that makes the rest of us look crazy. No, we are not crazy. I’m so tired of looking at pictures of perfect girls and trying to look like them.” The Summer of the Wild Girl is, therefore, a plea for authenticity and normality.

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