Imagine your Instagram wall covered in pastel colors, wreaths of flowers, and selfies of relaxing women accompanied by hashtags like metime or enjoyeverymoment . In a digital age fueled by rush culture, the soft-girl trend acts as a soothing balm. It’s like a sweet whisper of soft femininity amidst the cries of superwoman and man empowerment.
The soft girl trend is the antithesis of all the hustle and the desire for perfection, it relies on mental health and self-care, and bucks all traditional ideas about success. But is this new approach really a cure for the anxieties of younger generations of women, or is it just another label that women strive for and that is often unattainable for them?
Live life slowly
Two years ago, Mia Jones felt stuck. She had barely started her career and was already feeling burnt out. “I worked from nine to five. On paper, it looked like my career was moving along a prescribed societal trajectory, the path I was told I ‘should’ be on,” says the now 24-year-old woman. “But with each passing day, I felt like I was drifting away from my true self and my creative ambitions.”
Jones decided to express her feelings the way many young women do today: in a TikTok video that soon went viral. “I don’t want to be a successful man, I don’t want to chase myself. I want to live my life slowly, lying in bed with my lover, reading books, creating art and loving the people around me,” she stated.
I think when you work a lot, you start to appreciate other things. I value my peace, my silence a lot now. And as soon as my thinking changed, so did my activities and the way to protect the peace I found.
And Jones is certainly not alone in her dreams. For the increasing number of women from Generation Z who have entered the workforce in recent years, the biggest dream is to be able to do nothing. At least by traditional capitalist standards.
An inhospitable land of men
Welcome to the world of “gentle girls”, a lifestyle that many young women today envision as their ideal. Such a woman does not value hard work or wants to assert herself. Her days are filled with self-care, from preparing a great morning smoothie to skin care and sports training to trips to nature and coffee with friends. In the long run, such a woman does not dream of fame, success or desire to start her own company. She is in touch with her feminine energy, hormonal cycle and moods.
In short, these women reject the fast-paced culture, which, according to them, contradicts the feminine set-up in principle. “Our culture was designed for the 24-hour male cycle, but not the 28-day female rhythm. That’s why we feel so burnt out and exhausted,” explains one of the followers of this lifestyle, adding that women should realize that there’s nothing wrong with failing in a world that wasn’t created with their needs in mind.
I don’t want to be a successful man, I don’t want to chase. I want to live my life slowly, lying in bed with my lover, reading books, creating art and loving the people around me.
In the soft-girl world, detaching yourself from the work process and focusing on your own well-being is considered a bastion of success. Women who leave the corporate world and devote themselves to things like travel, gardening or housework are role models here.
Lessons learned from the past
You are probably now thinking of a fundamental question: Who will pay for such women with their lives? And if we assume it’s a man, why does rejecting the eternal pursuit of something have to mean that women should also give up their financial independence?
Like any other trend, there are a number of ways to join it. You can go the pure comfort route and literally never work, but of course many women can’t and probably don’t want to. For those who are still forced to toil for a wage, then this lifestyle serves as an ideal to strive for rather than a recipe for life. And then there are women who are still learning to balance somewhere between these two extremes and adjust their lives as they see fit.
Thirty-year-old Britney Campbell also belongs to this category. She told Glamor magazine that her views on performance were significantly influenced by her childhood. “I grew up in a Jamaican household where all the adults had two jobs,” she says. “So for a long time I thought it was expected of me. Then when I moved to Los Angeles to pursue art, it was easy to get swept up in the hustle culture. I had three or more jobs at different times. In the end, I feel like the soft girl trend chose me. I think when you work a lot, you start to appreciate other things. I value my peace, my silence a lot now. And as soon as my thinking changed, so did my activities and the way to protect the peace I found.”
Our culture was designed for the 24-hour male cycle, but not the 28-day female rhythm. That’s why we feel so burnt out and exhausted.
Niki Pulsová, who calls herself a “slow-living CEO” on TikTok, often writes about how she left the corporate world once she had children. They say she has never been happier and more content. “I always thought of myself as superwoman until I had kids and realized that this approach can be toxic and lead to burnout. The soft girl lifestyle is so much more sustainable!” she told Glamour.
Find the middle ground
Yes, being a superwoman can be very challenging. We encounter burnout every day, and a performance-oriented culture is completely toxic. So in many ways, it seems quite reasonable to at least partially embrace the soft girl ethos, break out of the rat race and stop chasing something forever.
However, although the mentioned trend may seem pleasant, it is still an attempt to pigeonhole women and tell them what is suitable for them and what is not. And honestly, why trade one stereotype for another when true freedom lies in creating your own story? Sure, being a “gentle girl” can be liberating for some, but let’s not pretend that there isn’t something else and better. True freedom comes from the ability to choose your own path, free from labels and social expectations.
So it’s high time to stop prescribing, and instead start describing the multifaceted, ever-evolving and incredibly unique experiences of today’s women. Or as many wise commentators have said, “What if we women just did what we want and what’s best for us personally?” That’s certainly a trend we can support.
photo: Shutterstock, source: Glamour.com