The “Retreat” Diary of Snail Girls

“Hot take for the week, my inner girl boss is dead and my ‘snail girl’ era has begun.” One day, Sienna Ludbey shared this revelation with her friend Beci.

The term “snail girl” was coined by Sienna Ludbey in an Australian fashion magazine, Fashion Journal. It refers to a cadre of young women who pace themselves, retreat when necessary, and advance in life at their own rhythm.

Sienna, a Melbourne native, launched her boutique brand Hello Sisi in 2019. Her affection for Hello Kitty and her nickname, Sisi, inspired the brand’s name. At that time, she was working at a coffee shop. Each day after work, she would craft handbags from household items like candy wrappers and old shoe boxes, even creating a bag from an old Nike box which she carried daily. One fortuitous day, she walked into a store named Coco, where the owner Ellie was charmed by her handmade bags and decided to sell them on consignment. This moment marked the inception of Hello Sisi.

Upon establishing her brand, Sienna quit her coffee shop job to immerse herself in her venture. As the brand garnered popularity, Sienna found herself engulfed by a “girl boss” mentality, pouring all her time into her work and fervently expanding her brand and online presence. To her, success was a form of self-validation, and flaunting her busyness on social media was the simplest way to achieve it.

Identifying as a reformed girl boss, Sienna, who once worked seven days a week, felt perpetually behind. Hello Sisi was her labour of love, making it hard for her to let go and take a step back, yet the hectic lifestyle was suffocating her. During a candid conversation with her therapist Jen, she shared, “Jen, I’m worried I’m losing drive. I don’t care so much about the end goal anymore, I just want to live a happy life.” Post discussion, Sienna realised she didn’t need to be so stringent with herself.

Certainly, not everyone has the luxury to hit “pause” in their professional lives. However, one can blend some “snail girl” elements into life without hindering their income, by setting personal and professional boundaries to preserve a tranquil life. Sienna slowly acknowledged the necessity of seeking help from others, and found the notion of expanding her team quite exhilarating.

Indeed, many content creators are lately advocating for a slower pace of life. KOL Amber Lord (lifeandworkbutbetter@TikTok) expressed, “If you’re sick and tired of the girl boss era, then it’s time to enter your snail girl era. Basically it is about slowing down at work, taking your PTO (paid time off), taking your vacation days, taking your sick days when you feel sick, using up all of your breaks, being gentle with yourself, creating a better sense of work life balance for yourself.”

Another advocate of eschewing the nine-to-five grind, blogger Shaina (2shaina@TikTok), concurred that the girl boss epoch has “concluded”, “Snail girl is a trend that sees women prioritise slow living, happiness, self-care, and purpose, over hustle culture, overworking, and colonially idealised standards of success.”

Model and nutrition blogger Geneve Benatar (genevebenatar@IG) showcased her daily snail girl routine to her fans, discussing the health merits of a slower pace, “Imagine a snail moving at its own unhurried pace, making room for self-care and well-being,” she said. “In a world where everything moves at lightning speed, she remains undisturbed, prioritising herself. If you’re someone who rushes through mornings, perhaps skipping breakfast and relying on coffee until lunch, you might find yourself constantly drained and fatigued. The never-ending hustle leaves no room for pause, and it takes a toll on your well-being.” Geneve advises snail girls to start with preparing a nutritious breakfast or enjoying a morning stroll.

Robbie Bryant, a career expert at Open Study College, remarked that this trend bodes well for both employees and employers, “Unlike the girl boss trend, where people were encouraged to work all hours in order to meet their career goals, the snail girl trend is a great way of making sure you reach your goals without the risk of becoming burnt out.”

Everyone strives to be the best version of themselves, but it’s essential to find a method to treat oneself kindly. Perhaps you don’t have to embody a snail completely; you could be a sloth, earthworm, or even a turtle. The key is to decelerate, quieten down, and tune in to your inner self. You don’t need monumental success to infuse meaning into your endeavours. 

Girl bosses, it’s time to choose happiness over busyness.

Photo source: Fashion Journal, a-zine

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