So you want to afford the cost of being alive but you don’t want to work 60 hours a week doing it. There are several words to describe this goal — “balance” and “priorities” come to mind — but TikTok’s newest trend has chosen a different one: “lazy.”
Coined on TikTok in May, the “Lazy Girl Job” follows “quiet quitting” in an ongoing anti-work discourse. Unlike quiet quitting, an anti-work trend in which employees stop exceeding their job descriptions, the lazy girl job title does it — and thousands of workers who have adopted it — a massive disservice by equating laziness with the desire for work-life balance.
Whether remote, in-person, or a mix of the two, a lazy girl job offers flexible hours, adequate pay, and work-life balance. Self-proclaimed “lazy girls” want a boss who respects them, a company that cares about them, and a job they don’t have to kill themselves over.
Look beyond America and you’ll find this concept normal — and sometimes encouraged. For example, French workers follow a “right to disconnect” email policy set by the government to encourage work-life balance. In Italy, only 3 percent of employees work 50 or more hours a week while over 10 percent of US workers report the same hours, according to the World Economic Forum.
Setting a boundary between your work and the rest of your life is far from lazy — unless you live in a work-obsessed society entrenched in decadent capitalism.
Workaholism is a keystone in American culture. Originally a cause for the country’s economic growth, the concept has since soured. Now, it’s the reason Americans have a warped public perception of what it means to “work hard.” In many cases, American workaholism leads to overworking and burnout, which negatively affect mental health outside of work — or sideline it completely.
When the COVID-19 pandemic threw everyone’s work lives for a loop, employees emerged asking why it had taken so long to introduce remote work options or prioritize their mental health. Americans questioned the necessity of a 40-hour workweek, which trends like quiet quitting and lazy girl jobs address on single-employee scales.
The lazy girl job trend is simply an effort by young workers to reevaluate their relationships with their jobs and regain control over their lives and mental health. But the use of the word lazy has misrepresented the idea, casting its participants in an unflattering light and perpetuating negative stereotypes against women — particularly Gen Z women and women of color.
Historically, women have been associated with jobs that require less perceived physical or mental effort. Discrimination of employment based on sex was made illegal in 1964, but women’s labor continues to be undervalued, with Black and Hispanic women making even less than white women.
The use of the word “girl” in trends such as “lazy girl jobs” and “girl dinner” perpetuates the association of women with certain ideals, like an inability to work or a peckish appetite. Even the “girl boss” trend of the 2010s, which attempted to give work done by women a positive connotation, backfired as it quickly became used to patronize women in positions of power.
As long as the patriarchy exists, putting the word “girl” in front of anything makes it inherently different and reinforces the idea that the male experience is the norm.
In the context of lazy girl jobs, the language is even more detrimental to women of color — particularly Black women, who face stereotypes that can be traced back to slavery of incompetence, anger, and laziness. Associating women with a job lazily done can reinforce these harmful stereotypes.
When employees already battle their employers’ implicit or explicit biases as well as society’s workaholic norms, the language they use to discuss their jobs becomes all the more important.
It’s no secret that work-life balance has myriad benefits inside and outside the office. The lazy girl job concept is not inherently harmful; in today’s workaholic culture, it is a refreshing breath of fresh air. But, the use of the word “lazy” is a colossal branding error.
Vivi Smilgius is a Metro co-op at the Globe.