C/O Patrick Malleret, Unsplash

TikTok and Instagram’s image of “that girl” is not the only way to live a fulfilling life

TikTok has slowly developed an unhealthy obsession with a recent phenomenon termed “that girl.” For those unfamiliar with this trend, “that girl” refers to an individual (not necessarily a girl) who seemingly is well-put and has their life together.  

“That girl” has a perfect routine that has made her fit, mentally healthy and motivated. Instagram and TikTok creators have been posting their daily routines in the promise of helping their followers also become “that girl.”  

However, I strongly take issue with this newly risen phenomenon. 

One of the less serious issues I have with these countless “routine videos” is the repetitiveness of it. In other words, every single influencer is telling you to do the exact same set of activities in order to achieve greatness. They only slightly change their wording and use varying camera shots and angles to differentiate themselves from other bloggers.  

According to almost all of them, the pathway of success has four simple steps.  

Firstly, you must wake unreasonably early between the hours of 5:00-6:00 am. Secondly, you are obliged to exercise and meditate immediately after you have woken up. Thirdly, you need to eat incredibly healthy and have a daily consumption of lemon water, avocado toast and berry smoothies. Finally, the last requirement is to replace all forms of technology with journaling.  

And so forth, your phone addiction will slowly wear off and you will have a healthy obsession with journaling instead. I don't believe that these routines are inherently wrong, but rather disagree with the repetitiveness of them.  

As I mentioned, almost all content creators are promoting the exact same and unvaried set of steps. This makes the audience question whether these four steps are truly the only route to success. One might ask themselves if they will ever achieve their goals if they don’t wake up early, exercise and eat healthy.  

Unless it isn’t clear, no, the only way of achieving success is not through these four steps. To start, studies have shown that high productivity is not always linked to waking up early. Countless research articles have exhibited how some individuals are biologically more attentive and fresh in the morning, while others are more alert at night.  

Furthermore, research has shown again that there is no objectively ideal time for exercising. Studies have shown how working out in the morning, afternoon and evening have respective advantages.  

The same logic follows with replacing technology with journaling. Although it might be helpful to some, it’s not the objectively right method of accomplishing your goals. 

"The same logic follows with replacing technology with journaling. Although it might be helpful to some, it's not the objectively right method of accomplishing your goals."

Kimia Tahaei, Opinions Staff Writer

To clarify, I don’t think that these routines are intentionally promoting the idea that these activities are objectively correct. However, social media can be incredibly toxic at times and swallow us in a tornado of insecurity, doubt and anxiety.  

When we constantly see these routines, more often than not we doubt ourselves and our abilities. We question whether we’re behind in the “race of success” since we’re not following their advised typical four steps.  

"We question whether we're behind in the 'race of success' since we're not following their advised typical four steps."

Kimia Tahaei, Opinions Staff Writer

In these situations, we often have to take a step back, understand our individual situation and then proceed to make a decision on whether these routines are the best choice for us. If so, then great!  

However, if not, we need to understand how it’s not a favourable routine for our lifestyle to immobilize the feelings of inadequacy and insecurity early on.  

Nima Nahiddi
Student Health Education Centre

The moment I realized that there was a problem with the idea of “fitspiration” was when I stumbled onto the amusing Buzzfeed article “13 Epic Moments of Drinkspiration”. Fitspiration, a combination of the words fit and inspiration, is a term used on Internet blogs and social media to create a community in which one strives for a fit lifestyle. It is theoretically supposed to be a healthier alternative to the idea of ‘thinspiration’ – working out to become thinner – as it embraces images of toned and bulked up men and women.

Although I had heard about the hashtag fitspiration - or ‘fitspo’ - I never recognized the harm it could do to one’s idea of a healthy body image. The Buzzfeed article, initially hilarious, started to slowly freak me out. It combines quotes often attributed to ‘fitspiration’ images with pictures of binge drinking. And the hybrid pictures eerily make complete sense. For example, “obsessed is a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated” could relate as much to alcoholism as it could to a person running that extra mile. The most shocking for me was “CRAWLING is acceptable. PUKING is acceptable. TEARS are acceptable. PAIN is acceptable. QUITTING is UNACCEPTABLE”.  Personally, if I saw someone with any one of these symptoms at the Pulse I would take them straight to the Student Wellness Centre.

Although the idea behind fitspo can sound inspirational, it continues to perpetuate unhealthy philosophies related to one’s health and fitness. According to the National Eating Disorder Information Centre, 27 percent of Ontario girls 12-18 years old were reported as being engaged in severely problematic food and weight behaviour. Moreover, Health Canada found that almost 50 percent of girls and almost 20 percent of boys in grade 10 either were on a diet or wanted to lose weight. These images, which are supposed to inspire us, only aggravate the unrealistic body image that is portrayed in the media and which we have come to think of as the norm for beauty. Moreover, by promoting the idea that “quitting is unacceptable,” these images reinforce the idea that anything should be done to achieve this type of toned body. Going to such extremes is often characteristic of many eating disorders and fitness addicts, where your mind is telling you that you must be committed, and that taking drastic measures is acceptable.

The idea of “fitspiration” is further problematic as many of the individuals in these posters are not only muscular but also thin. It is incredibly difficult for anyone, especially women, to bulk up or become toned without putting on additional weight. Our bodies need more calories, protein, and fat in order to actually build muscle. Furthermore, striving to have such a body is often extremely unrealistic.

The media, especially so-called “Health” magazines, perpetuates the idea that these types of goals are attainable. If you’ve ever seen the cover of Men’s Health Magazine, you’ll know that you could apparently have a set of 12-pack abs in no time at all. What they leave out when they include the “Henry Cavill Superman Workout” is that the actor was paid for several months to solely workout in preparation for his role. The studios gave him their own special food, a personal trainer to workout with twice a day, and a nutritionist. And even with all that support, Henry Cavill said it was a horrible routine, and that he was glad to be rid of the experience.

I am not bothered with the idea of being inspired in life to be fit and healthy. The problem is that these images misuse and thus create a new, unhealthy definition of fit. Having a toned, muscular or thin body does not necessarily indicate health. You could actually be overworking your body and causing serious damage to yourself. Pain is the body’s way of telling you something is wrong, not its way of encouraging perseverance. “Puking” is never acceptable when working out. I think it’s time for society to redefine the way we see healthy. We should stop creating unhealthy and unrealistic connotations for words like fit, thin, toned and muscular.

 

Miranda Babbitt
Assistant LifeStyle Editor

There are a handful of people I know who could just barely fit all of their underwear into two, maybe three drawers. To me, this appeared clinically insane. How on earth did any one person have so many bras and underwear that they could hypothetically go for two months without ever doing their laundry? What’s more, how could someone choose six pairs of undies over a charming little dress, or a cardigan so soft it feels like a kitten perpetually hugging you? And last but not least, why would I choose a rib-constricting garment that artificially endows me with a chest that appears freakishly larger than it did a minute before?

But I know the secret these people were harboring now: wearing beautiful underwear can be the stealthiest confidence boost you can ever experience.

Maybe that sentence carries more weight than intended. There are plenty of ways to inject some pep into that step. For some, it’s dabbing on red lipstick, or slipping into a dress reserved for happy occasions, or even stowing away your favourite chocolate bar in your purse for later. Regardless, the business of beautiful undergarments will never again be underestimated.

There’s an intrinsic sense of liberty that comes with wearing something for you alone. For example, it may look like you’re wearing a grey sweat suit with a spaghetti stain or two, but secretly, you’re wearing a dainty pair of polka dot undies. Who knew? Just you. And that’s sometimes all that matters.

Our outward perception of who we are affects how we feel. If you’re crumpled up in a ball, you’ll feel helpless. If you’re standing tall with your hands on your hips, you’ll feel powerful. If you’re wearing sexy underwear, you can feel sexy.

It took me a while to recognize that the word “sexy” isn’t limited to the runways of Victoria’s Secret. When I feel sexy, I’m in a place of self-confidence. So no wonder we associate sexiness with the angels walking down the runways. The way they prance down that glittered stretch of a platform above a star struck audience is almost in-your-face with confidence. But imagine if they were tiptoeing down the runway and looking down at their feet with unease. Chances are even the adoring fans in the audience wouldn’t consider them sexy, no matter how impossibly sculpted their bodies are.

If confidence comes from a pair of undies detailed in lavender lace or red lipstick or even just a slip of paper stowed in your purse with a few reminders of how great you are, then know that about yourself. You will feel so much more than just sexy with confidence.

 

Ana Quarri
Staff Reporter

I care about what people think. Throughout high school and university, the way people perceived me in social situations has impacted who I am now in a variety of ways.

I think it’s fair to say that, to some degree, this is the case for most people. Most of us want to be well-liked. We want our friends to think we’re decent people and fun to hang out with. In different ways, we all seek some sort of external validation for our actions and decisions.

For me, this became much more evident once I entered the world of romantic relationships. I found myself wondering if my friends would approve. I began to think that people in my life had to know about the relationship for it to be considered “legitimate.”

When I started to realize that I was doing this, I thought it was all me – a self-imposed need for approval. Recently, however, I’ve noticed that this need is a by-product of the sort of conversations that surround romantic relationships.

The main problem seems to be the notion that there is only one right way to be in a relationship. I’ve seen friends open up about their relationships only to receive questioning looks and thoughtless comments.

Most people subscribe to the physically and emotionally monogamous kind of relationship, and find it difficult to understand anything located elsewhere on the spectrum. I’ve been guilty of this, too. As a ‘monogamist’, it’s taken me time to comprehend that the way I discuss relationships can unintentionally invalidate the feelings and experiences of others. Implying that your relationship preferences are superior can be extremely harmful to those who have taken time to come to terms with what they want from romantic involvements.

In addition to judging the type of relationship, the way people act in relationships is also a frequent topic of discussion. If you don’t do –insert action here-, then you’re probably not into each other. Looking at these claims critically reveals just how logically unsound they are, but in conversations these pass off as completely valid observations.

We have to remember that romance and love mean different things to different people. Some couples want to see each other all the time and others don’t. Some like to be affectionate in public and others not so much.

By dictating ways that people act in relationships (within the bounds of ethical behaviour) as either “right” or “wrong” we put relationships in a box, and limit romantic interactions between people to what we think is normal.

More importantly, we involve ourselves and our opinion in matters that should be in the hands of the people in the relationship. Unless someone is complaining and asking for advice regarding their relationship, there’s no reason for us to give our unsolicited opinions.

And if you’re like me and have found yourself looking for approval outside of you and your partner(s), take some time to figure out why.

We enter relationships to make ourselves happy, not others, and the language we use when discussing relationships should reflect that.

 

J.J. Bardoel
Silhouette Intern

The teacher puts the paper on my desk. I have a pen in one hand and the other is clenched because I can’t remember anything I studied.  The same pessimistic mantra repeated over and over in my head as my eyes flicker through the questions, “I can’t do this, I can’t do this.” This is the most common scenario I’ve experienced during my time as a student. I have always had self-doubt; if I could do anything well, it was criticize myself. No matter what it is I do, the idea that the paper I just handed in is unreadable, or the job interview I gave wasn’t sufficient enough, negativity is something that constantly lingers with me. I’ve not only worried about others’ critiques, but often my own.

I am my own biggest critic, and although some call it being a perfectionist, it borders on insanity. I’ve never had a problem telling someone else how there paper was, in fact I feel obligated to compliment other people. However, no matter what my fingers pound on the keyboard it doesn’t suffice. It is only in the last couple of months, as I take the steps closer to my impending graduation, that I’ve realized how big of a problem it’s been. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do it, it’s that I wouldn’t let myself do it. Why is it that I tear myself apart like I do?

For much of what I do my inner thoughts are negative, and it took a long time to realize why. I’ve never been one for self-analysis, mainly because I wasn’t sure what I would find (or if I wanted to know).  I needed to understand why I kept putting myself in this cynical bubble and got deflated when I didn’t do as well as I wanted to.

My self-doubt wasn’t because I was as useless as I thought I was (thank god), or I wasn’t capable of being successful, but because I was so busy comparing myself to others. I was making a false image of what I was supposed to be, and when I didn’t match up, I didn’t feel the need to try. It didn’t matter how much studying I did, I was doomed to fail before the pen hit the paper.

It’s completely normal to make expectations for ourselves. It gives us a goal to reach for. But before you start that assignment or cram your last bit of studying before exams, don’t tell yourself what you can’t do, because you may believe it. If you think about the reason you’re studying and apply a little positive reassurance to that knowledge, you may be that much closer to achieving that goal.

Self-doubt is a big problem for some. Don’t doubt your abilities. Next time you find yourself struggling, analyze the problem, and don’t critique it. Self-improvement is always important, not self-deprecation.

You can do it.

Nour Afara

 

Ladies and gentlemen, prepare to leave all of your personal insecurities behind. Cast away those morning shudders when gazing at yourself in the mirror because the answer to all your problems is here.

Forget practicing your confident face (or your duck face), plastic perfection is what has been making the news for years now. I’m not here to rant about old news - I’d like to think of myself as a little more fresh, and hip, if I might add. Instead, I’m looking at something more specific within this topic — plastic surgery and young adults.

Is it ethical? Is there an age that can be deemed too young to make such a decision? Are young people ready to make physical alterations to themselves? The questions could go on but I must make it clear that my article is not directed towards those who undergo plastic surgery for medical reasons, but those who do it for aesthetic purposes.

I think that plastic surgery is a great development and that young people should definitely take advantage of it. Although everything that is done in excess is, well, excessive, plastic surgery is no exception. I believe that the only valid reason for having plastic surgery at a young age is for the purpose of being happy or happier. That’s where it all ends. It can be said that you must learn to love yourself as you are — if you can’t accept yourself, then who will? However, I will strongly argue against all of those idealists who assume that loving yourself is the easiest option.

I thought it would be interesting to get the input of some students on campus about this topic. Jessica Grendzienski, a second-year English and history student also thinks that everyone “should be happy with their bodies and not try to change certain parts about [themselves] since that’s what makes [them] unique from others.”

Although this may be the ideal mindset, being unhappy with your body is a huge obstacle to overcome. This isn’t obesity where the weight can potentially be lost or ugly glasses that can be replaced with contact lenses — this is your physical structure, your skin and bones. The only way to change that is to go under the knife.

So all that’s left now is to determine if you’re ready to undergo surgery for the sake of your happiness. How frustrated are you with your imperfection? How sure are you that this surgery will make you happy with yourself? These are questions you must answer for yourself but my goal here is to educate others that there is no shame in going to great lengths to make yourself happy. I feel that the topic of plastic surgery is overly glamorized in the sense that there is this assumption that “no one I know has had plastic surgery.”

This assumption is false. I think that those who have undergone procedures tend to hide it from others, fearing judgmental opinions and prejudice. The most vital thing to remember is to make your decisions based off of your own emotions and your own thoughts.

Natasha DalliCardillo, a second-year English major agrees with this mindset and said she has “never had any surgery done but that does not mean [she] would stand in the way of someone else’s happiness. [She thinks] everyone is beautiful just as they are.

“However, if it will truly make them happy, then they should go for it, by all means.” And that’s exactly what I did. Although I will not go into extensive detail, I will confess that I have undergone plastic surgery. My reason?

Because for the majority of my mature life I absolutely hated a certain feature of mine. Finally, I decided to “fix” my problem and I can confidently say that I am much happier with myself now than ever before.

Plastic surgery among young people should not be embarrassing or something to hide from. It is an opportunity to feel fantastic when you otherwise do not. As long as you have come to this decision on your own and are ready to start glowing with happiness, go for it.

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