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Snail Girl Era: Why We’re All Slowing Down with Work

Gen Z’s response to toxic workplace environments, burn out and work culture demanding they dedicate their lives to the grind: snail girl era.

Young business woman working at the computer in cafe on the rock.
Younger generations are rethinking their approach to work with the help of new lifestyle trends like Snail Girl Era. Credit: Shutterstock/ Olezzo

From 2014 to 2020 girl bosses have reigned supreme as the Millennial work culture icon. A powerful, successful, busy woman was the ideal. Yet, Gen Z saw the burnout, the stress, and the depression that followed when things got to be too much, prompting Gen Z to reevaluate their priorities and their relationships with work. 

“Snail Girl” is a 2023 trend captivating Gen Z and Millennials alike. This lifestyle trend was started by Sienna Ludbey in an article for the Fashion Journal. “The snail girl goes slow, retreats when she needs and follows the path at her own pace,” said Ludbey, “it’s not about a holiday or stopping work completely. I love what I do . . . It’s just about taking that time to remember to not be as hard on myself, to have a work-life balance, and to stop comparing my journey to others.”

Ludbey started the trend when the girl boss persona became too exhausting. She was constantly working and hustling as, for her, the “easiest way to feel good was to be perceived as successful.” When she started to burn out and lose her drive, she discovered “that maybe in this life, we don’t need to achieve huge success to give what we do meaning.” She continued, “I just don’t care so much about the end goal anymore, I just want to live a happy life.”

Why Did Gen Z Reject the Girl Boss?

Due to initiatives working to de-stigmatize and start the conversation around mental health, Gen Z is a generation that is conscious and active regarding their mental well-being. So when Gen Z saw the mental toll overworking and hustle culture was causing older generations, many decided to follow Ludbey’s lead.

The younger generations have chosen to live consciously and to prioritize happiness and self-care. “Think of it as a time to put yourself first, set personal and professional boundaries, and protect your peace,” said Ludbey. She also urged her readers to remember, “It’s okay to say no sometimes!”

Ludbey isn’t the only one to ditch the girl boss’s way of life. Michelle P. King, Netflix’s director of inclusion and author of “How Work Works,” told Business Insider why the girl boss has failed with the younger generations (and why it shouldn’t). She said the girl boss concept, like others, is “built on the idea that women need to change or fix themselves to align and compete with men at work.” She continued, “These ideas are inherently misogynistic because by telling women they need to do more or be more to advance at work, we are in fact telling them that they are not good enough to start with.”

Is Snail Girl the only trend advocating for a change of pace?

No, many recent lifestyle trends are urging workers to slow down. Such as, “bare minimum Mondays,” “quiet quitting,” and “lazy girl jobs.”

Woman in bathrobe working on computer.
Recent workplace trends are advocating for healthy boundaries that allow workers to escape toxic work environments and unrealistic expectations. Credit: Shutterstock/Olena Yakobchuk

“Bare minimum Mondays” is a trend where employees do the least amount of work necessary on Mondays. In doing so, you give yourself time to acclimate to the fast-paced work week. This trend was started by Marisa Jo Mayes, who wanted a way to combat the ‘Sunday scaries.’ The ‘scaries’ is just another name for the anxiety that rocks many as they prepare for the upcoming work week. 

Mayes told CNBC, “This trend is about giving employees flexibility to pace their work evenly . . . reducing work-related stress and burnout that can potentially carry over into their engagement, productivity, and the company culture.”

While many critique Mayes for promoting laziness, she is quick to point out, “The term ‘bare minimum’ has always been used in a negative way when it comes to work, but . . . the definition actually is: The least amount of something that is allowable.” This trend, like the snail girl, is not about slacking off but finding a work-life balance that promotes mental well-being.

“Quiet quitting” is another popular trend that skyrocketed into mainstream media. In July 2022, a TikTok made by Zaid Khan received millions of views, gaining widespread attention and support. In the 17-second video, he said, “I recently learned about this term called quiet quitting, where you’re not outright quitting your job, but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond.

You’re still performing your duties, but you’re no longer subscribing to the hustle-culture mentality that work has to be your life. The reality is it’s not. And your worth as a person is not defined by your labor.” Due to the immense popularity this trend has gained, it’s safe to say many agree.

Concept Burnout Syndrome. Business Woman feels exhausted working.
Due to shifting protrites younger generations are forging their own path to success and happiness in the workplace. Credit: Shutterstock/PEERAWICH PHAISITSAWAN

In May of 2023 the hashtag “lazy girl job” went viral and is still going strong today. The lazy job trend is about promoting low-stress jobs, often remote, with a comfortable salary and benefits. Doug Dennerline, the CEO of Betterworks, in an article for Fast Company, called Lazy Girl Jobs “healthy jobs.” He said this trend is “a sign that leaders need to rethink how they treat workers.” Dennerline continued, saying, “The ‘lazy girl job’ trend doesn’t endorse lethargy or a lack of ambition. If anything, it champions the idea of healthy boundaries.” 

The Snail Girls are part of a larger movement working to redefine what success looks like to younger generations. While some villainize these lifestyle trends, many argue they are pushback against toxic work culture. Some also believe they are an effort to de-stigmatize the desire to find meaning and purpose outside the office. Younger generations are severing the ties between their worth and their work.

Yes! Work-life and culture changed forever during the pandemic, allowing workers more control and freedom over their work. When restrictions were lifted in 2021, the idea of returning to the office wasn’t a desirable one to many. It’s no coincidence these lifestyle trends pushing for workplace reform began popping up in 2022 and 2023. It seemed most people didn’t want to go back to the pre-pandemic way of working, giving up the flexibility and balance they had achieved.

In Dennerline’s Fast Company article, he challenges the value employers place on their employees saying, “A common mistake leaders make is equating commitment with long hours. In reality, commitment is about output, productivity, and goal completion.”

Dennerline argues that when employees “have the time to recharge and explore other interests, engagement increases. And when they really understand their goals and are completing them effectively, productivity thrives.” Dennerline says this change in work culture, this shift away from long hours to goal completion, is beneficial for both companies and workers, as employees will produce better work more efficiently.

What do you think about these trends? Let us know in the comments below.

Written By

Ella Shauman is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Michigan. She enjoys writing about latest products, cultural trends, and news.

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