The Cool Girl Phenomenon
By Bella Coco, Staff Writer
If there is one thing we can count on from society, it is our obsession with trends. The newest trend to rock your TikTok #foryoupage? The Cool Girl. The Cool Girl is a trend, an image, a hope, and a dream. At least according to your local anonymous fashion account on social media.
The current version of ‘The Cool Girl’ is slightly different from what it was a few years back.
Cool girl used to describe a woman who is in constant competition with other women, might consider herself ‘one of the guys’ and is quick to say that she gets along with men better because ‘women are dramatic.’ Cool girl as defined a few years ago is very reminiscent of today’s ‘pick-me-girl.’
TikTok’s ‘Cool Girl’ phenomenon is marketed as a positive, though. Everyone wants to be her. And everyone can. And I agree, if you fit a certain beauty standard and have a big enough wallet, that is.
The thing with The Cool Girl is that she is only an appearance. One could only imagine how The Cool Girl would act, because very few have put in their two cents on her poise or energy. What we know of her is her appearance—she is skinny, tan, and more often than not, white.
Some accounts have proclaimed that The Cool Girl is genuine, witty, and mindful of her social media presence. While these are all good qualities, one could argue that it is a bit ironic that while The Cool Girl supposedly stays off social media, her image was born from it.
However, the thing that social media shines the spotlight on the most is The Cool Girl and her relation to shopping and consumerism.
To start, we do know that The Cool Girl has more than a few dollars to spend to maintain her status. According to the creators with accounts solely dedicated to The Cool Girl, we do know she has a fabulous eye for fashion.
After spending more minutes than I should have scrolling on TikTok, (for research, I swear!) I found a few consistent products that cool girls just have to own.
For example, ribbon phone cases by The Dairy. They’re dainty, colorful, playful, and $72. Multiple accounts, including the one and only @COOLGIRL on TikTok have slapped the cool label on The Dairy.
Next, clothing basics with a spark. The Cool Girl has your classic closet basics, plain fitted t-shirts in neutral colours such as black, white, and grey. She sports blue jeans, clean button ups and basic tank tops and camisoles.
Then comes the spark.
Uniquely coloured sneakers (typically Adidas or New Balance), stacked gold jewelry, hair ribbons, and/or statement sunglasses tend to complete the look. Occasionally a bold coloured t-shirt or a delicate pair of kitten heels will be thrown in to level up the appearance.
While The Cool Girl phenomenon may seem like a positive, because of the seemingly redeeming qualities associated with women who are classified into this category, it really is not. The Cool Girl phenomenon is yet another way of tying women’s worth to their physical appearance. Not only are women who do not fit certain beauty standards disallowed from being ‘The Cool Girl,’ even those who are deemed worthy must own certain products, must follow a certain style that is simple yet elevated—elegant, not extra.
I much prefer the ‘de-influencing’ trend—where content creators convince you out of popular, expensive products that other influencers might convince you to buy to ‘up your look.’ These content creators, who de-influence, will convince you that you do not need a $60 lip gloss, nor do you need an $80 water bottle.
When looking at social media trends, we might want to consider the deeper message they send. In some cases, trends exist to tell us that we must buy into beauty ideals and consumerism—or we risk not being successful or ‘cool.’
The difference between The Cool Girl and other appearance-related trends is that The Cool Girl seems to adapt to all of the other trends. She can wear 90s-esque eyeliner or rock a slick back bun to match a “clean girl” aesthetic. The Cool Girl, unlike most trends on social media, has the ability to evolve.
One could argue that perhaps one day it could hopefully evolve to something more eco-friendly and inclusive.