1. Home
  2. Careers
  3. news
  4. Say goodbye to the girlboss: The 'snail girl era' is here, encouraging young women to live a slower, more relaxed lifestyle

Say goodbye to the girlboss: The 'snail girl era' is here, encouraging young women to live a slower, more relaxed lifestyle

Sawdah Bhaimiya   

Say goodbye to the girlboss: The 'snail girl era' is here, encouraging young women to live a slower, more relaxed lifestyle
  • Gen Z are abandoning the girlboss lifestyle to enter the new "snail girl era" taking off on TikTok.
  • The "snail girl" refers to women who prioritize self care and happiness above overworking.

The days when the girlboss was hailed a feminist icon are over and now Gen Z are ushering in the era of the "snail girl" — a trend that sees women prioritize a slower life of happiness and self-care over hustle culture and overwork.

The term "snail girl" was coined by Sienna Ludbey in an article for Fashion Journal in September titled "'Snail girl era': Why I'm slowing down and choosing to be happy rather than busy." Ludbey is a designer and founder of a shop called Hello Sisi where she sells handcrafted bags and accessories.

"'Hot take for the week, my inner girlboss is dead and my 'snail girl' era has begun,'" Ludbey wrote.

She explained that as a "girlboss" she felt constant pressure "to be perceived as successful" and appear booked and busy. However, after the pandemic, she started to realize that a purposeful life isn't always linked to success.

Ludbey wrote: "A snail girl takes her time and creates to create. The speed at which everything is put out into the world is just getting faster, but she doesn't care. She's running her own race, and maybe that race isn't going anywhere but home and back to bed."

The girlboss identity has faced a reckoning in recent years as young people increasingly experience burnout at work, and question whether dedicating their lives to workplace success is a meaningful pursuit.

Michelle P. King, Netflix's former director of diversity and inclusion, award-winning academic, and author of "How Work Works" told Insider in an email that the girlboss is similar to Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In" concept as "both are built on the idea that women need to change or fix themselves to align and compete with men at work."

King said: "These ideas are inherently misogynistic because by telling women they need to do more or be more to advance at work, we are in fact telling them that they are not good enough to start with."

Gen Z are rejecting these ideas and turning to other solutions to find meaning. One example is the "lazy girl jobs" trend on TikTok, which advises women to find joy in their lives outside work by taking on low effort jobs with good pay.

The snail girl era, like the lazy girl jobs, is now taking off on TikTok after Fashion Journal shared Ludbey's article on the platform in a video that racked up over 32,000 views. Its features editor Maggie Zhou said in the video: "the girlboss is rolling over in her grave, welcome to the snail girl era."

TikTokers inspired by the video are creating their own aesthetic snail girl videos where they share their relaxing morning routines or aesthetic images of their lifestyle including walks in nature, cups of tea, and their skincare routines.

"The snail girl trend is another example of employees wanting to push back on hustle culture or toxic workplace cultures that encourage working long hours, always being on and putting up with poor managers," King said.

However, Suzy Welch, a professor at New York University's Stern School of Business, told Insider in an email that one root cause of the snail girl trend is "Gen Z's pervasive aversion to anxiety."

Welch said that older generations understood that anxiety is part and parcel of life at work.

"With Gen Z, anxiety is at the center of almost every decision, and there is, I have observed, a strong desire to design lives that don't face head into it, but take the way around it," she said.

As a result Gen Z have become disenchanted with the idea of being a girlboss because it's harder than it looks.

"Being a boss of any gender is the opposite of the glamorous 'girlboss' life portrayed on social media. Sure, there are fabulous moments when everything is clicking, but mainly being a boss is a grind. You have to make payroll. You have to plead with a client not to jump ship. Your rent goes up. You have a great performer who's a jerk to other employees. Your ad campaign flopped.

"This is the reality of leading, which was not exactly a fit with the girlboss schtick of 'Watch me rule the world in my Manolos!'"

Although choosing the snail girl lifestyle may be more gratifying, it could result in financial or other consequences further down the road.

"The jury is out," Welch said. "We can be pretty sure that it will not be a career accelerator for those who choose it, but I think most of them know that. That will, of course, have financial consequences, and we may see in five years that a whole group of self-chosen 'snails' decide to become 'roadracers' when they find their trade-offs need to be calibrated."

Popular Right Now