Holly Mitchell critically assesses the authenticity of the “girl boss” lifestyle by treating it as capitalist propaganda rather than inspiring, energising content, and turns to the new trend of “deinfluencing” as an alternative. But is deinfluencing just a rebranded girlboss?
An ideal morning for me features an uninterrupted sleep-in, a non-rushed breakfast out on the balcony, and a simple skincare and makeup routine. It’s a pretty generic start to the day, but it seems to be one that social media emphasises as something to feel embarrassed by.
Less than five scrolls into my For You Page, and I’m seeing a “spend a day studying with me” vlog where a female student my age with my capability wakes up at six in the morning, goes to the gym, has a healthy mealprepped breakfast, does a luxury skincare and makeup routine, and then proceeds to study for the remainder of the day. She’s the typical “it girl,” or the “girl boss” that we all wish we were a little more like. I’m left wondering how she finds the time, if she has a job, or if she just has fantastic mental health. A smaller part of me wonders why it seems to be only the girl bosses who worry about maintaining this kind of lifestyle, and why the guy bosses (who, by the way, are never referred to as a guy boss) don’t need to. Regardless, it always leaves me feeling disappointed in myself, which leads me to making a mental note to be a little more productive.
Despite that feeling, I have to believe I’m good at acknowledging when elements of self-care are a bit too much, to the point where it gets redundant and unnecessary. It even starts to become goofy when you really consider some of the logistics. Anytime you watch a morning routine video that begins with a person “waking up,” are they really only just waking up? Or did they wake up, polish their appearance a little bit, set up their phone and camera self-timer, hop back into their sheets, and only then show the glamour and serenity of their morning routine. Do we as an audience soullessly staring back at our phones see the burnt attempt of toast, coated in Vegemite to try cover up the obvious charcoal, or do we see the well-crafted avocado and feta on sourdough with a saturated filter slapped on? Do we see how truly weird it is to fabricate an ideal morning routine just to give people another thing to feel bad about themselves for?
Though it seems unlikely, the once untouchable figurehead that is the “girl boss” has kind of gone out of fashion. Less girls are aspiring to fulfil their unnecessary expenses and luxurious demands and are content with living the life of a regular girl. A regular, boring girl that might not always wake up at the crack of dawn, who might not always opt for the gym, and who might even miss out on spending a little bit of time taking care of herself.
Who takes charge of these regular girls now if they are no longer listening to the girl boss? Enter “deinfluencing”: a fairly recent trend that has started to circulate on TikTok. Deinfluencing is exactly what it sounds like, where influencers (girl bosses and otherwise) share their opinions on various random self-care items that are unnecessary or too expensive. For example, if you head to the Mecca website, you will see that their trendiest, best-selling moisturisers are in the $60-$150 price range; the deinfluencers explain that a moisturiser with the same ingredients and benefits can be found at Chemist Warehouse for $20 maximum. Or if you’re worried about your pyjamas that look like they were plucked from Adam Sandler’s wardrobe, deinfluencers would see this as a great alternative to the girl boss’s expensive set from Peter Alexander. After all, you’re going to be far more comfortable in your boxy boyfriend tee. I recently moved into a new apartment, and the number of random trinkets that I have hoarded over the years has made me really resonate with the concept of deinfluencing. The encouragement to critically think about certain purchases and to constantly ask myself, “Do I need this?” reminds me of Marie Kondo’s method of decluttering, where you should only keep items that “spark joy.” Frankly, I did not feel any sparks of joy when moving the number of boxes to my new place that I had to, and it has made me conscious of every item I now buy. It’s not ideal to keep excessive self-care items in the drawers collecting dust, especially if they were only ever purchased to keep up with a TikTok microtrend.
TikTok microtrends are the influencer’s gold mine; unfortunately, these influencers often end up on the feeds of young teenage girls who feel they need to spend excessive amounts of money to get the glowy, just-woke-up “natural” look. As someone who struggled with acne for a miserable 10 years, I was one of those teenage girls. I would use pay cheques from my after-school job to fund product after product found in Vogue’s “Beauty Secret” videos in hopes of looking like Bella Hadid. Unfortunately, the acne remained. It felt like just another twisted way for skincare companies to profit from the insecurities of regular people like my 15-year-old self.
Of course, not all these influencers-turned-overnight-deinfluencers have fairy godmother-like intentions of looking out for us regular folks. It is likely that some “deinfluencers” with a large following are being paid to advertise alternative or affordable products under the guise of steering us away from big corporations and useless microtrend products. These alternative products are sometimes called a “dupe” of a more expensive product. It is especially true in this current economic state that influencers are able to exploit the vulnerability of regular people by borrowing a trend that praises affordability, while still making a buck for themselves. Essentially, their message is “spend your money on this instead of this, because I think it’s better. But make sure you are still spending your money!”
From recommending us stuff to not recommending us stuff, the deinfluencers (despite their intentions) remind us of a good lesson to be thinking twice about what we’re consuming. After all, as university students it is never a bad thing to be thinking about saving money. As far as basing your worth upon productivity goes, just don’t. Being the regular non-girl boss that I am, I am willing to believe that if you’re being healthy to yourself and to others, you’re doing just beautifully.