Some truly thrive when it comes to the hustle and bustle. The mere thought of ‘slowing down’ is so alien to them, that they cannot bear to imagine it. But others find that grind culture is slowly wearing them down and losing its appeal. However, while the majority of millennials draw their work ethic from boomer parents, generation Z has launched a war on hustle culture, eschewing potential burnout for mental health days and digital detoxes. This has paved the way for the ‘soft girl’ aesthetic to become far more than just a style; it is now a lifestyle, characterised by the softness that comes with a slow life, rather than the hard and fast rhythm of the hustle.
“According to Urban Dictionary, ‘soft life’ is ‘where you make decisions that leave you feeling stress-free and vibrating higher’”
Where did the soft girl life come from?
Megan Thee Stallion introduced us to ‘hot girl summer’ in 2019, when our pre-pandemic lifestyles allowed us to live unapologetically, freely, confidently and with empowerment. Then, just one year later, the hot girl life swiftly came to a standstill. With our empowerment all but lost, the pandemic put into perspective that life is simply too short not to do the things we love.
However, once the world opened up once again (albeit in dribs and drabs), it was a struggle to fully re-engage with the hot girl lifestyle that we had once taken for granted. Instead, it was time for a new era – the soft girl era.
What is a soft girl life?
According to Urban Dictionary, ‘soft life’ is “where you make decisions that leave you feeling stress-free and vibrating higher”. Soft life is not synonymous with a luxury life – and it’s important to remember that. While it would be nice to be shaking your “ass on a yacht in Dubai”, as Nella Rose so comically put it, the concept is actually about slowing down, reconnecting with nature and unapologetically putting yourself first. It’s about building habits and creating a life where you can thrive outside of hustle culture. It’s not about trying to curate the perfect aesthetic for your Instagram profile, which seems to be an overarching theme in millennial behaviour.
On the other hand, social media is where the name of this antithesis to workaholism first came from. #SoftGirl videos have accumulated over one billion views on TikTok alone. The topic is clearly trending with the app’s key demographic – people under the age of 25, many of whom are now entering the world of work. But it should be said that, although the name is a typical Gen-Z moniker, the concept itself is nothing new. We’ve seen glimpses of soft girl life in now-vintage pop culture. Think of characters like Toni Childs (from Girlfriends) and Hilary Banks (from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), who adopted this way of living long before hashtags existed. They both lived unabashedly comfortable lives and were known for putting themselves first.
So, we’ve already got all the ingredients and tools needed to live a soft girl life – all that is required is permission from ourselves to push against the all-systems-go culture that we’re so used to, and embrace a gentler lifestyle with open arms.
Elements for the soft touch
Customise your gentle vibe by enhancing your best features without going overboard
How to live a soft girl life
Envision the woman you want to become
Create a mood board to define the type of woman you wish to be, and the life you want to have for yourself. Hang this up somewhere you can see every day. The purpose of this mood board is to encourage and remind you to take action towards becoming the best version of yourself. Don’t know who that woman is yet, or what that life looks like? Here’s an exercise to try. The next time you walk into a room, pretend that you are someone who exudes confidence. For example, ask yourself: how would Rihanna walk into a room? How would she act? Sometimes, in the words of the Lift Me Up singer herself, “you have to fake it till you make it”.
Set boundaries that are important to you and start standing firm in your decisions. In 2023, practice saying ‘no’ to things that don’t make you happy. Remember, you have no responsibility for the happiness of most other people, especially if that means having to jeopardise your own happiness. There is such thing as a ‘good kind of selfish’.
Self-care and more self-care
Don’t be afraid to slow down and cater to yourself. A soft girl life is all about romanticising even the most mundane activities. You don’t have to break the bank and jet off to the Maldives to have a relaxing holiday. Instead, you could be setting time aside to read before you go to bed, or taking yourself out on date.
Get dressed up
Why wait until you have a fancy date to get dressed up? If it makes you feel good to get glammed up for work or even a trip to the shops, don’t inhibit yourself.
Get rid of toxic people
If there are people in your life who bring nothing but negativity, try to distance yourself from them. It can be difficult to cut friends or family off entirely, but weaning yourself off interacting with them can make a positive impact to your mental health. The moment you start surrounding yourself with like-minded people and those who truly support you, you will see a difference in your life.
Lastly, while there might be a certain aesthetic that pairs with the soft girl life (think pastels and feminine clothing, fresh flowers lining vases around the house, and ‘clean girl’ style makeup) this doesn’t reflect the principle meaning of the movement. Focus less on following the aesthetic and more about living authentically and in alignment with the true you.
Featured images c/o Cliché Beachwear