To Find Freedom, Gen Z Women Are Looking Back to Girlhood

By Anna Marks

Produced by Vishakha Darbha

This summer’s viral trend of “girl dinners” and “hot girl walks” felt like collective entertainment. For weeks, posts featuring women doing everyday activities — tagged with #girl — took over TikTok and Instagram.

“Girl,” to a second-wave feminist, may have infantilizing connotations. But for many younger millennial and Gen Z women, including Opinion editor Anna Marks, channeling girlhood can be liberating — a return to a time that felt free from societal expectations.

As delightful as the trend was, though, Marks argues there’s an opportunity to turn this playful show of solidarity among women into something more: a political movement.

Credit…Illustration by Akshita Chandra/The New York Times; photograph by Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images

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This Opinion short was produced by Vishakha Darbha. It was edited by Kaari Pitkin and Annie-Rose Strasser. Mixing by Isaac Jones. Original music by Isaac Jones, Efim Shapiro and Carole Sabouraud. Fact-checking by Mary Marge Locker. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta.

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