The concept of the “It Girl” supposedly started in the 1920’s, after the release of “It” by author Elinor Glyn who said “With ‘It,’ you win all men if you are a woman and all women if you are a man. ‘It’ can be a quality of the mind as well as a physical attraction”. An original definition describes the slang term as “a beautiful, stylish young woman who possesses sex appeal without flaunting her sexuality” while a modern definition describes “a young woman who has achieved celebrity because of her socialite lifestyle”. Having “it”, in modern terms is usually something only a woman desires, as we see “it girls” gracing the covers of magazines and flooding our social media feeds. I’ve never seen a young man described as an “it boy”, but media is quick to pick a female chosen one, and label her graciousness the newest “it girl” or “a girl to watch” or “the doe-eyed beauty taking the world by storm”. In a way it’s empowering, it says “look at this woman! She is magnificent! She built a successful career while maintaining her beauty! All eyes are on her!” but it also has a downside.
Today’s it girls like Bella and Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Alexa Chung, Lily Rose Depp, Kaia Gerber, Taylor Hill, Kiernan Shipka have all had the label stuck to them by a global audience. It’s difficult to understand what makes one an “It Girl”. Today it usually means beautiful eyebrows, beautifully relaxed hair, glowing skin, long and thin legs, a seemingly effortless beauty and graciousness, but also swagger and coolness. It’s likely the phrase “every guy wants her, every girl wants to be her” was an observation of the envy and praise that surrounds the It Girl. This is where the concept becomes more twisted, the It Girl is praised for superficial characteristics, only what she puts out into the world: her social media, street style, books, for example. There is a blind adoration for the individual, she becomes a goddess, a flawless being, totally beyond human. In other words, a stripping of humanity, in the words of Chung “I was just a pretty girl at a party wearing a pretty dress. [In those circumstances] you’re not worth anything other than the outfit on your back.”
When you sit back and think about our adoration for these young women, as I have, there is a darkness that creeps into my mind. We become so obsessed with a flawless figure of femininity that we must place our idea in a physical body, to represent and grow our ideals. That is the “It Girl”. Don’t be confused, if Kendall Jenner wears thigh high boots, I want to wear thigh high boots. I’m just as sucked in to this as you are. I’m not trying to hate on these women or their well-built careers, and other controversies are left for another article. But I ask you to think about the why and the how of the It Girl. To be, I think the concept is unsettling, an obsession of an ideal woman, a fantasy of being a beautiful goddess constantly in the spotlight. A new ideal, less put together, more relatable, but all the more naturally enviable.