Welcome back to HotToks, where we explain 'the why' behind each viral TikTok trend, tap into key cultural moments, cover app updates, and share how to plan your TikTok marketing strategy. This time around we cover the evolution of "that girl" and the 5-9 trend, the questionable sustainability of haul culture, and a snub to minimalism manifested as cluttercore.
Here we gooo!
The Evolution of “That Girl”: The 5-9 Trend
Wake up, babes. Girlboss got a new makeover (again?). We’ve seen “girlboss,” we’ve seen “that girl,” and we’ve even seen “big sister.” Lately, TikTok’s “girlboss” or “that girl,” the aspirational figure who woke up at 5 AM to do a slew of ab exercises before drinking a post-workout smoothie, came under fire for being “unrealistic.”
Now that the “that girl” trend has died away a bit due to some backlash, we’re clearly feeling… empty. But is she making a dreaded comeback with the TikTok ‘5-To-9’ trend?
I first discovered this trend via a viral Boston-based TikToker, Matthew Campos. He shows his 5-to-9 routine by cooking, going grocery shopping, showering, vacuuming, and relaxing with a nightcap. His “Emily-Mariko” style videos, with very little talking, are aesthetic, aspirational, and minimal. The “5-9 Trend” on TikTok is practically a glorified productive night-after-work routine, often showing a lineup of expensive personal care products and featuring some sort of cooking and cleaning.
When we talk about the “5-9”, it’s important to acknowledge that it came from a lineage of other productivity trends and gives a not-so-subtle emphasis on self-improvement and hustle culture. And the viral videos, unfortunately, feature mostly thin, white, non-disabled, and wealthy creators. People are calling out the “5-9” trend for showing how unforgiving and toxic the wellness industry can be. These videos depict what your evening routine should look like rather than what it actually looks like. As Caitlyn has put it, “we have developed aesthetics and trends around producing that productivity.” I see a world where this can be seen as a romanticization of life, but where’s the line?
In the same vein of productivity and the toxic side of wellness culture is the notorious “hot girl walk,” or the HGW. HGWs are “five-hour excursions around your neighborhood, paired with cute accessories and a matching outfit for passersby to see.” While it’s great that we are growing to normalize walking as a valid form of exercise, the HGW was ultimately born from viral videos of people saying they lost weight by walking, forming implicit associations with diet culture. With 38M+ views on #5to9 and 457.8M+ views on #hotgirlwalk, it seems like this slew of “clean girl” aesthetic trends isn’t going away anytime soon, they’ll just continue to morph.
Haul Culture: How Sustainable Can it Be?
Hauls have been popular since (seemingly) the dawn of social media—especially on YouTube. OG content creators Bethany Mota, Alisha Marie, Blaire Fowler, and Michelle Phan (most have grown into the “lifestyle” category) introduced me to the world of hauls, and I’ve never known a haul-less world since. Every Black Friday would be like an internet holiday in and of itself.
Gone are the days when YouTube was the only outlet to share the newest beauty finds or the best deals. Now, you can turn to TikTok for a swift, three-minute lowdown on where to find the best jeans for tall legs, which mascara is cry-proof, and so much more (some advice even unsolicited, TBH). It has become a mecca for consumerism, luring people to buy things they weren’t even in the market for. It makes sense why #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt has a whopping 21.6B+ views on the platform.
With haul culture in full swing (just shifting to a different platform), it’s hard not to consider the environmental side effects that our consumerism-first society has propelled. Brands now understand how beneficial it could be to incorporate sponsored hauls into their social media strategies. These haul videos are all the rage because There’s really nothing more authentic than Remi Bader, creator and curve model, showing how clothes realistically fit her body vs. what they look like online in her series, “#remisrealistichauls.” And she’s making a difference: after she claimed Revolve lacked size inclusivity, Revolve took note and approached her for a collab, which launched with sizes XXS to 4X.
As much as TikTok has perpetuated the culture of overconsumption, there’s the same amount of people on the other side, encouraging slow fashion (#slowfashion with 650.5M views), thrifting, and conscious consumption. Though it’s going to take a lot of effort to turn the tides and change history, we are seeing bit-by-bit evidence of a new and reformed “haul culture.”
Nevertheless, thanks to haul culture on social media, bodies of all shapes and sizes are being celebrated, and there is a wealth of access to information on how things fit, what is and isn’t worth the hype, and more. Tons of TikTok micro-communities are coming together to crack the code on the fashion world, making TikTok-fueled consumption truly a double-edged sword.
Welcome to TikTok, Cluttercore
Say TTYL to that minimalist aesthetic that has blown up on TikTok, and embrace the world of maximalism with this new TikTok decor trend. It’s every minimalist’s worst nightmare, being knee-deep in nicknacks all over your room—it’s not messy, it’s “cluttercore.”
Cluttercore is a reaction against the wildly popular “clean girl aesthetic,”celebrating sunkissed, glowy skin, matcha lattes, well-made beds, healthy diets, and minimalism at its peak. It’s kind of refreshing to see a trend like cluttercore take center stage amidst all of the backlash that the “clean girl aesthetic” has been faced with. Lack of inclusivity, absence of diversity, and conformity to rigid beauty standards are just some of the things it’s been called out for.
So what exactly is the difference between mess and cluttercore? Cluttercore’s refined. She’s an “organized mess,” if you will. With 67.8M+ views for #cluttercore, there’s beauty among all of the chaos, and it’s the chaotic self-reflection we’ve clearly been craving.
One pro-cluttercore creator, Marisa, says, “it’s very relaxing to have a room that feels as though it’s entirely made for you, me and everything in my room has a relationship.” Admittedly, watching her room tour did feel cozy and like a nostalgic dream. Cluttercore “doesn’t take itself too seriously,” and there’s so much fun in that. On the outside, it may seem like a hoarder’s dream, but on the inside, everything has a place, it’s well-thought-out, and most importantly, it’s intentional. Cluttercore celebrates individuality; when done right, it can feel like a toasty hot chocolate on a winter’s day, and I am not mad at that.