2023 has been the year of the girl- this we mean in no sarcasm. Girls and women are indeed winning over each progressive turn of the calendar, there’s no doubt in that. But beyond this fore of the real celebrations brought of course through realer efforts exists also another dimension where the cling of the girl name just does not seem to subside. At least in this particular year of living for the world, returning and reverting to the supposed girl way of doing things has taken social media by storm.
TikTok of course is our first point of reference upon which has emerged everything from lazy girl jobs and girl maths to girl dinners in very certain emphasis on this version of the female identity. Elsewhere it also has been curations of popular culture- Barbie in all glaring pink evidence for sure- that has ensured that the girl charm is not lost on anyone. And then there’s the lucky girl syndrome which once again is a trend fanned on TikTok. More real and preexistent though would be the GirlBoss narrative that has managed to hold itself in all integrity of what it stands for.
So what’s this more recent fetish for terming pretty much everything that has come to be such that invariably, definitely, even proactively bears the girl hashtag? No wonder such abundant spurs and spinoffs upon the girly base today is a phenomenon commanding exclusive identity as girlification. Girlifying everything strikes today as an obsession that the world simply cannot let go off yet, and which therefore much like any other addiction ultimately inches towards unleashing the lopsided power tussle of the extremes.
Sure we might sound like one nagging soul who simply can’t help but find fault in everything happening around them. What’s wrong with this representation of the girl power, you ask? At first glance or even a couple more, the horizon indeed is all pink and rose tinted as the girly connotation essentially alludes to. But what if behind all these pretty pinks and rosy beauties lurks instead the most terrifying shades of red ever? It might sound a bit like overreading the situation for what it can be instead of taking pleasure in the experience of what it is. Pore however a bit deeper into the dynamics of what it all can mean and the revelation should dawn as sufficiently hard hitting.
To be frank though, this poring deeper should be an unnecessary exercise really. Because even in the surface of what’s apparent is an ingrained something that harkens back once again to the very roots of what has been perpetrating throughout the ages. In each of these ‘representations’ of the girl identity, the narrative does not seem to move ahead of a certain consideration. And that perhaps is also the reason why it is not the adult woman but a more infant like girl jargon that finds expression here. The tone is one of immaturish, even flimsy flamboyance- one that seems to be driven by the general belief that the nature of the greater female existence is essentially girlish.
In each of these trends of what we mentioned, there is definitely a general condescendence wafting in their airs. Even when it isn’t something always as obvious as the lazy adjective describing a category of girl jobs, the notion still plays through as harbouring that universal ‘truth’ of girls having it easy in every aspect of life. In girl dinner for instance, the idea supposedly furthered is one of personal indulgence- no matter how extravagant or otherwise the meal of that qualification might be. In hindsight though, it is everything from aesthetics- necessarily cute and colorful and therefore girly- to the consideration that girls enjoy what can be assumed as a gendered privilege in getting to do as elaborate and fancy or as minimal and relaxed routines anytime they wish for.
But while girl dinners might still seem to make an effort in warping this aspect of their underlying character, the ‘lazy girl jobs’ nomenclature does not care that it is laying itself all bare. That in itself might however be ‘appreciated’ in regard of its realness but come to think of the primary strand upon which it hinges as a given that girls can choose to be lazy at their work and still hold jobs and one cannot help but be disgusted by the sheer audacity of what is suggested.
Similar is the case with the movie Barbie that had seen crowds turned up in all pink to witness this very girly dishing of cinema. Call it a marketing madness or sheer coincidence but the fact that its release coincided with that of Oppenheimer did much to underline the pink traits of the Barbie character. The idea permeating all these constructs of a part real, part fictional identity converges upon a singular point- that the girlification of things is a way to infuse innocent fun AND then ridicule it on this very ‘fun’ basis as well.
The problem should be even more problematic when one encounters it as part of the girl math ‘awareness’. That girls are the only worldly folks who make non essential purchases only to simply brush them aside as an illogical exposition of maths should have been more than enough reason for at least a portion of the population to take offense. Surprisingly though, that does not seem to be the case and this ridiculous justification of some of the most outrageous instances of girlification continue to be expected to be taken in all good humour.
The issue however is more deep rooted indeed than what these even more superficial snippets suggest. Take for instance the Girl Boss image- that of a strong- headed and no- nonsense, independent, confident lady ruling over the corporate world as an exception rather than the norm. This kind of ‘adulated representation’ might have made real sense upon first ideation but over the years this whole adage of women who mean business has been outstretched. That more and more women are consistently working their way up the workforce should have established the case in normalcy. But no, ingrained as it is in our psychology of girls being beauties first and brains later- or even not at all- and one would be expected to take pride in such praise that follows them for doing something as humanly possible for them as for any other.
The newer strain of this girlification is but an extension of this very ‘consensus’ ruling the world. No matter how stereotypically old age that might sound, the fact of the matter is that perhaps the world is still stuck on these unfortunately real ‘representations’ now carried over to the modern realm of social media. Call it infantising of a gendered identity or the trivialisation of an entire identity in existence, either way this girly attribution of doings is not just partisan in its expression but also misleading.