This time last year, influencer and former Love Island star Molly-Mae Hague appeared on The Diary of a CEO podcast with Steven Bartlett and proclaimed to the world that “we all have the same 24 hours in a day.” Hague stated that “Beyoncé has the same 24 hours in a day that we do […] you’re given one life, and it’s down to you what you do with it; you can literally go in any direction.”
The quote became a viral TikTok trend, caused outrage on Twitter and sparked a huge debate surrounding ‘Girlboss’ culture, toxic productivity and beyond. Sure, we can’t deny that it’s literally true. Beyoncé isn’t smuggling in an extra few hours into her Mondays to blast through her emails. She, like Molly-Mae and the rest of us, has the same 24 hours, but the sentiment behind Hague’s statements remains, of course, ridiculous.
The ‘If you want it, you can achieve it’ mentality ignores any kind of individual or cultural privilege and blatantly disregards the flawed system we all live and participate within. Beyoncé may have 24 hours in a day, but her day looks very different from the day of a single, working mother in a small town during a cost-of-living crisis.
Hague’s quote epitomises the hustle culture we have all embraced over the past decade. You know the one. It’s even more prominent since the rise of work-from-home has led to the inevitable blurring of work and home life.
This is the culture of WhatsApps from your boss in the middle of the night, Zooms from your kitchen table, typing at a million miles an hour from your bed as your eyes glaze over. Send one more email, organise one more meeting, and respond to one more client. You can always do more; you can always do better. If you want it, you can achieve it. Oh wait, you didn’t wake up at 5 am and go to a spin class, yoga class, tidy your house, do a full skincare and makeup routine, read a book and win an Oscar before you’ve had your avocado-based breakfast? What a failure.
“Ever heard of the ‘clean girl aesthetic?’ The ‘That Girl’ trend? Hop on TikTok or Twitter and see the notions of faux empowerment and overpriced wellness.”
And we can’t ignore the current mutations of this mentality. Hague may have spoken those immortal words a year ago, but the millennial ‘Girlboss’ mentality is still here and is constantly evolving. Ever heard of the ‘clean girl aesthetic?’ The ‘That Girl’ trend? Hop on TikTok or Twitter and see the notions of faux empowerment and overpriced wellness. Masked as ‘self-love’ and ‘wellness’, these trends still value unhealthy productivity beyond all else. And frankly, this constant bombardment, this pressure of productivity, it’s exhausting.
As the public discourse around mental health continues to expand and the feeling of New Year’s still hangs in the hair, it’s time to proclaim 2023 as the year of soft, slow living.
Sure, this time of year, we always promise ourselves we’ll Marie-Kondo our entire lives, start actually using that yoga mat we bought three years ago, read more, eat better, go paragliding, jump out of a place, run a marathon. The list goes on. But slow, slow living isn’t about the empty promises we make ourselves when tipsy on Prosecco as the clock chimes midnight. It’s about our attitude to it all.
Self-compassion. Not the ‘self-love’ trends of unaffordable face masks and performative productivity. But whatever self-compassion looks like to you. It might mean clean bedsheets. Staying up late to binge the latest Netflix release. Going to bed early because you’re tired and you want to. Going to the party. Staying at home. Reading more. Finally admitting you’re not a reader and you’d rather be watching The Kardashians with a glass of rosé.
A slow life is about letting go of that culture of toxic productivity. Fill your days, empty your days, it’s up to you. We don’t have to stand barefoot beneath a tree in a remote forest to appreciate nature and live slow, soft lives.
A slow life is about being conscious of yourself, of your body, and of your needs. Choosing yourself, your mental health and your body above fulfilling a cultural pressure to be productive at all times.
We can’t deny that any kind of leisure time is a luxury, and in an ever-worsening economy, we cannot ignore the financial burdens we must all carry. But changing our attitudes, making a conscious effort to prioritise sleep, family, food… It’s a good place to start for 2023.
So let’s slow it down: ignore those TikTok trends, unfollow influencers who promote this culture, and switch off those email notifications on our phones. Draw the line between work and home; make choices which reflect who we are, not who we are told we should be.