It-Girls, God, and Me
I have fallen down the “wellbeing” rabbit hole numerous times. I stumble upon a singular video about the benefits of green juice—four hours later, I feel as though I have simply blinked, but I have 20 tabs open about breathwork, mindful eating, meditation apps, and expensive oils for hair follicle health. These “wellbeing” trends assure me that they will make my life infinitely more relaxed, productive, and exciting. However, they are also often catered to impressionable women, designed to convince them to shape their bodies to specific molds. While not all ideas about productivity and emotional growth are detrimental, many promote the idea that simply buying new products will help someone achieve the dream life that they hadn’t known they wanted. Pushing these beliefs allows consumerism to deeply taint the benefits of growth by equating purchasing to self-reflection.
Specifically, many of these routines by wellbeing influencers promise to turn me into a so-called “it-girl”. Much like it-girls of the past, the modern it-girl is fashionable, social, and seems to be thriving in every aspect of life. Most importantly, she encourages young women to achieve their maximum potential, most often through a physical change rather than a mental one. Aestheticizing growth while making this lifestyle seem attainable is extremely harmful, because it forces young women to believe that they must purchase items for physical transformation (sometimes called a “glow-up”) in order to mentally grow.
Further, the it-girl in her primary form is often braggadocious and erratically anxious about productivity because of her intense goal-setting. The ritual that it-girls use to achieve these goals is standardized: they wake up early, eat healthy, limit technology use, and keep a journal. While this sounds ideal, the morning routine starting at 6 a.m. that they advocate for is inflexible and unrealistic for women who cannot create their own schedule, such as mothers, students, and most working women. This creates a false standard of living that fuels the inherent competition within the creation of a “dream life.” Even so, being able to stick to a routine is an admirable and productive way to reach personal goals. The problem with the it-girl’s routine only arises when she claims that all issues can be fixed if women conform to the exact same routine.
My ritual, for instance, is much different. When I find myself absorbed in my 20 open tabs, feeling less productive than when I started, I often switch paths by completing a simple routine: I chug water, listen to reggae, and get out of bed. Using a ritual to feel better is built into the lives of many Jews in the form of Shabbat, a weekly day of rest that allows those practicing to reconnect with prayer away from the distractions of daily life. The power of a ritual is the only wellness “trend” that I have consistently found to work, but only because I have created a ritual to fit my personal goals, not what a business believes they should be. If the it-girl were to promote her idea of a productive routine with more adaptability, she might be a better role model for the young women who aspire to emulate the lifestyles of influencers.
The it-girl also promotes a spiritual connection to her own femininity in order to achieve your “best self.” However, in some videos, they will use the facade of “feminine energy” to mask an advertisement for expensive products. I love the occasional shopping trip, and expressing my femininity through my appearance can be fun. However, to me, femininity is much deeper than the products one uses.
I stumbled across the Kabbalah’s (also called Jewish mysticism) version of the divine feminine, called Shekhinah, while researching the Jewish relationship to femininity. I often can not relate to the women in traditional Jewish texts, but even without a strong relationship to biblical women, my femininity is greatly tied to my Judaism. Shekhinah identifies the feminine aspects of God, thinking of Her as a guardian, rather than a judge. I have resonated with the idea of God being a woman since the first time a female rabbi at my synagogue referred to God with female pronouns.
My personal acknowledgement of God as a woman has allowed me to have more honest conversations with Her—and by extension, with myself. I can make a more thorough commitment to personal growth when I can speak to my gal-pal (God), because I am confronting my problems more frankly, as though I were talking to a best friend. My relationship with faith may seem strangely informal to others, but treating God more casually has made me feel more connected to my Judaism. Just as the it-girls promised, working through my issues by connecting to femininity works, even if it is extremely different than what they envisioned.
Because the it-girl is an independent money-making-machine, I have found that another one of her drawbacks is having a social life purely for personal benefit. Instead of reaching out to her community to have a buddy she can achieve her goals with, she takes the independent woman trope a step out of my comfort zone. Because many of the influencers promoting the it-girl life have a young audience, I don’t like the idea of teaching future generations to avoid collaboration. Alternatively, it would be more beneficial to continue spotlighting highly skilled and driven women while encouraging asking for help and teamwork on projects, even if that might not mean reaching our individual maximum productivity levels. In the long run, collaboration, community and maintaining relationships should be considered much more valuable than maximizing profit through constant individual grinding.
While some quasi-influencers may have positive intentions, the constrictive and consumer-based nature of the modern it-girl routines are not applicable to most women. Furthermore, her connection to herself seems contrived, representing femininity as though it is a product that can be bought. It also forces the adoption of the independent-woman archetype as a requirement for success, which is detrimental to the formation of genuine social bonds. These negative aspects of the it-girl have limited my appreciation of her lifestyle, but I can adapt her message to fit my own ideal future. The right to choose how a message should be applied to my own life is within the fundamental nature of feminism. While I hope to never see my twenty tabs again, my more realistic goal is to continue criticizing the fabrication of the rabbit hole by those who want me to buy more without regard for my best interests.
This piece was written as part of JWA’s Rising Voices Fellowship.
How to cite this page
Freedman, Sonia. "It-Girls, God, and Me." 21 April 2023. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on June 3, 2023) <https://jwa.org/blog/risingvoices/it-girls-god-and-me>.