TikTok's 'Soft Life' Trend Has An Inspirational Message Behind It

Gone are the days of hustle culture. As the COVID-19 pandemic kept many of us locked away in our homes, a new wave of quiet quitters — something that can help your mental health — and self-care devotees emerged. Finally, people were treating burnout not as a buzzword but as a real condition worth paying attention to.

As masks and vaccine talk became commonplace, another social issue erupted: violence against Black Americans and people of color. According to The Washington Post, the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor triggered massive protests that may have not happened if it wasn't for the pandemic disrupting people's daily routines and work lives. And besides police brutality and civilian racism, Black Americans also had to face higher rates of COVID-19 infections and deaths compared to non-Hispanic white Americans (per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

The trend away from hustle culture during the pandemic was seemingly made for Black people, in particular, Black women, who were tired of fighting and ready to thrive. Enter TikTok's "soft life" movement.

What is the 'soft life' trend?

A quick search of the #softlife hashtag on TikTok yields countless videos totaling more than 670 million views. But before the trend went viral on the social media platform, it was a concept bouncing around the Nigerian community to describe an easygoing, comfortable lifestyle (per Andscape). It's the antithesis of hustle and grind, instead promoting self-care, indulgence, and relaxation.

The soft life message is one that especially speaks to many Black women who have dealt with pressure to embody a strong, superhero-like persona in the face of racism and marginalization. One 2010 study published in Qualitative Health Research found that this "Superwoman role" is associated with higher levels of stress, poor sleep, unhealthy eating patterns, and lack of self-care.

The soft life is a pushback against these stereotypes and expectations. TikToker @look_its_britt says it best in her viral video on the topic: "I don't know who needs to hear this but that whole strong Black woman narrative, it doesn't apply to me. I live a soft life. I am a dainty princess. I will fall out at the drop of a minor inconvenience." Other soft life clips focus on stepping into feminine energy, treating yourself to lavish vacations, and living a quiet life.

How to live a soft life

There isn't one right way to start living a softer life. What matters most is that your soft life habits are tailored to your personal desires. "Living a soft life is unapologetically prioritizing self needs," Nicole Jenkins, an assistant professor of sociology at Howard University, shared with Insider. "Everybody understands self-care, but Black women generally have had a difficult time because they're often prioritizing other folks' needs over themselves."

While some TikTok influencers may be jet-setting or buying luxury goods to achieve their trendy soft girl aesthetic, smaller, more affordable steps can be taken to live a soft life. User @enashaolivia exemplifies the trend by lighting candles, making a charcuterie board, and popping on a nighttime face mask. For others, the soft life is a mindset more than a set of actions or self-care steps. Believing you deserve to relax and refusing to take on back-breaking stress are perhaps the healthiest ways to embrace the movement.

"Many women, particularly Black women, have seen generations ahead of them work their fingers to the bone, sacrifice their comfort and put themselves last for the sake of others because for a long time it was the only choice," Madeline Wilson-Ojo, a children's author and freelance writer, told Stylist. "Now, we are saying 'no more'. So, the soft life is also about choice, and using your agency to create the life you desire."