You may be familiar with ‘That Girl’. She’s a trend that’s proliferated on TikTok recently; youthfully beautiful, sample-sized, healthy, a stickler for an early-morning wellness ritual and a seven-step holistic skincare regime, an avid yogi, an absolute success in her chosen vocation and a pioneer of self-actualisation. She never has an ‘off’ day. She’s never stressed out. She’s excruciatingly enviable. But she’s also a fantasy. Literally nobody on the planet is that perfect, and who would want to be? The pressure to live up to those standards is enough to give most people a mental breakdown.
So now, as we settle into our new normal, whatever that looks like, why are we holding ourselves to unachievable standards of beauty, happiness and tranquility? Life can be tough day to day. Sometimes the simplest things can be the straw that broke the camel’s back. And that’s OK. That’s normal! So let’s stop advocating for perfection and, instead, start embracing our normalness—let it hang out a little. That Girl’s nemeses Goblin Mode and Villain Era are a pleasing tongue-in-cheek antidote to all that go-getting.
We caught up with some friends of Peachaus to talk about the some of the things that stress us regular folks out and to tap into their tips for tiny, achievable, gems that can help keep them in check. Importantly, we want to stress—pardon the pun—that it’s OK and it’s healthy to feel a bit iffy sometimes. So, pay no more mind to That Girl and her toxic perfectionism.
Before we get into it, a helpful note on stress. Stress is part of our biological being, and we need those hormones to kick in from time to time so that we can respond to our environment and social stimuli. In fact, multiple studies have shown that short bursts of stress prime the brain to be sharper and more agile—they even help to build new neural connections. So, no need to beat yourself up next time you have a mini meltdown. It’s biologically impossible and maybe even quite dangerous to walk the earth in a warm haze.
After studying art, her interest in textiles grew and, later, while at university in Nottingham, she moved into lingerie. While most fashion students complete a year in industry as part of their training, Jayne had nobody she could stay with in London, where the vast majority of UK fashion houses are based. Instead, she did a summer placement at lingerie giant Triumph between semesters. “I found it really frustrating at the time because all my peers could do all these great unpaid internships in London, staying at home or with relatives. For everyone else, you either get into debt so you can live in London, or you can’t do the internships.”
When she left uni, Jayne got a job with a catwalk designer, then a fashion supplier on Brick Lane, where she worked with high street brands like Topshop. She was hired as a fashion admin assistant and then promoted to designer. “At the time, leather and suede were really on trend”, she says. “That was really exciting because Topshop was at its peak.”
She went on to work for Marks & Spencer as an assistant lingerie designer, “which was brilliant”, she says. But it was before M&S, while working for a small business doing trade shows around Europe, that Jayne decided she wanted to start her own company. “I could see it was really hard work, she says. “But I just loved the idea of having my own product.”
She left M&S and relocated to Bristol, where she now lives with her two children. And her work has continued to go from strength to strength. After studying for a Masters degree in embroidery, she went to Paris’s Première Vision expo to sell her work under the name Jayne Goulding Design for the first time. “During the Masters, I chose to focus on embroidery with the aim of launching my own studio, not knowing how it would be received and whether it would be a viable business”, she says. “When I showed my work at the trade show, I was blown away by the positive reaction it received. I sold to designers and brands from all over the world. It affirmed to me that it could work, and it was the start of building my client base. It was such a thrill to see the responses and meet the buyers. I knew that I’d done the right thing and that, with a lot of hard work, I could grow and continue my practice.
Here’s Mi’Ele, Jimena and Alex to help normalise life’s snagging points and tell us what helps draw them back out of the funk.
What do you stress about day to day?
I tend to fill a lot of my hours doing something, so if my schedule is full that means burnout is around the corner.
Too much, not enough—wasted. From getting enough sleep to having to endure a commute and wondering if I have time to eat and shower. I struggle with everything that I have to do because I’m paid to, then, trying to accommodate everything I have to fit in to just survive. Thinking about all of the wants that go unfulfilled [because of lack of time] is a cause of stress that ultimately makes all tasks feel that much harder.
I always feel guilty when I take time off for myself. I run my own business, work for other companies, and have side hustles too. All of this sounds exciting, and it is, but it is also exhausting and stressful. Being able to switch off and take time to do some self-care is a necessity in today's hectic life.
And what gives you a little lift?
Journalling eases me mentally and emotionally. I’ve spent time in my journals unpacking things and coming up with solutions that were sometimes almost too obvious to see. Another thing is taking things off my schedule. Prioritising my time and saying ‘no’ to things makes me feel good because I’m making my peace a priority at the same time. I need to do that more often.
It depends on where I am. If I’m at work, my coworker and I have taken to doing a low energy, originally ironic, dance to an oldies radio station. But it has become a real mood booster and totally unironic. When I’m at home, I just lie down for a while. Personally, overstimulation is a big problem when I’m stressed, and sometimes I just need to practice sensory deprivation for a minute. I set a 10 to 20-minute timer, put on my sleep mask and lie down. Just exist.
When I feel under pressure, I disconnect, take a deep breath and remind myself that everything happens for a reason. After that, I make some tea, think of all the reasons why I do what I do, and I just keep going. Oh, and Pilates makes me feel amazing.
What would you say to a best friend who’s feeling frazzled?
Do a brain dump in a journal. Write down everything that’s going on until, eventually, the pen helps you to realise what has been increasing your stress levels. From there, come up with realistic solutions to ease the problem. Write, and ideas for what to do next will pour out of your to make life a little better. Even if that idea is to write to release.
It’s the most irritating advice to receive because it sounds so overly simplistic. Take a few deep breaths somewhere quiet. It’s science. I like to go to the bathroom, sit in a cubicle and breathe. It’s quiet, not cluttered or busy and I can just reset. Find the space where you can nip out and take a breather.
The advice I always give my friends when they are in a situation that is stressing them out is the same one I give myself. If it's not within your hands to change the situation, don't worry about it. If it is, go do something about it. Always follow your gut, and remember that, in the end, everything will work out as it is supposed to!
We’re not machines (yet). We're entitled to an off day, especially given the two years we’ve just had, and we’re allowed to feel our emotions. Our world is ever-evolving, full of complexities, and generally a bit OTT. So, let this be a reminder that we are all multifaceted and, regardless of the pressure perpetuated by social media, we’re under no obligation to have our sh*t together all the time. Let it out. Sometimes, a walk to the shop or sitting in the toilet cubicle at work to take a few deep breaths is all that’s required.
We can recommend some lovely ethical loungewear to hang out in!
Alana Mann is a recently graduated journalist, writer and content creator spotlighted as a 'Top Talent from the Class of 2021' by the Graduate Fashion Week Foundation. Based in Birmingham, UK, she self-publishes her own magazine, Kerosene, which showcases young, bold and entrepreneurial women across the globe who have something to say.