Words: Shamim de Brún
Words: Shamim de Brún
If you have been on the internet, in any form, since the Cost of Living Crisis (COLC) began, you have undoubtedly seen the “little treat girlie” (LTG) emerge fully formed from the head of TikTok. Like Athena before her, the Little Treat Girlie is of her time; buttery croissant in one hand, a smartphone uploading an endearingly authentic TikTok in the other. But what exactly is a Little Treat Girlie and why are they suddenly all over our feeds?
A Little Treat Girlie, in short, is someone who treats themselves to little things constantly and posts about it on TikTok or Twitter. The Little Treat Girlie is a culture of the post-pandemic internet age.
An LTG is someone who’d love to be That Girl but knows ‘That Girl’ status is unattainable. LTGs love food; they may have had mental health issues but are in healing recovery mode. LTGs are chronic over-thinkers and, crucially, they are chronically online. Posting about their little treats or being a little treat girlie is almost as important as the treat itself. It’s like a hit, similar to the first sip of a creamy pint on a Friday.
@bugfairy99 and i’ll get another treat after finals and another after graduation and another and another #vinyltok #lanadelrey ♬ Wild At Heart – Lana Del Rey
When they have a terrible or good day, they deserve a little treat. A sad day, a long day, or an “I’m knocking off early” day. Little treat. On a Little Treat Girlie’s worst day, they treat themselves for every little adult thing they struggle with. Brushed teeth? Little treat. Didn’t cry in public? Little Treat. Replied to an email or text? Little treat.
The motivation for sharing their little treats is partly so the world can see they’ve achieved something, albeit small. The proliferation of a ‘small achievable goals’ mentality has fed the hype cycle on socials around little-treat-level accomplishments. It amps up the reward cycle by layering in some likes-based dopamine. It’s a guaranteed win because LTGs dole out the likes as generously as they do the little treats.
You can’t neglect the pandemics’ impact on the emergence of the little-treat girlie. After two years of constant letdowns, people have been reimagining their lives to include more small pleasures. The New York Times reported that this treat-forward approach is one-way people are reclaiming some of the “freedom and stability” lost since early 2020.
When everything else in their lives seems spiralling out of control, at least they can rely on a little treat to comfort them with a fleeting moment of happiness. Then by posting about it, it connects them to others who feel the same, and they get the warm hug of the LTG community. We live in an era where security and ‘the big joys’ are not guaranteed. So indulging in these little treats is like a poor man’s hedonism.
@that_cara It’s always little treat o’clock #noonecanstopme #tinybeechallenge #treatyourselftoday #trendingaudio2022 #littletreat ♬ original sound – Charlie Mosey
Who needs stability and security when you can have a delicious chocolate bar to distract you from the impending doom of global warming and political unrest? Besides, it’s not like a bag of chips will solve all the world’s problems, but it is a dependable win. You’re always regularly going to get the treat, and you’re always going to get the kudos online after. So there’s this guarantee at least something will satiate you.
@kennaacting It’s the only thing getting me through the day #rulenumber1 #viral #badcopingmechanisms #treatyourself #littletreat #spendingmoney ♬ original sound – Angie
When everything else in their lives seems spiralling out of control, at least they can rely on a little treat to comfort them with a fleeting moment of happiness.
Treats are no novel concept; they had a whole moment in 2011, when “Parks and Recreation” popularised the phrase “Treat Yo’ Self” — a saying that came with an annual day of treats for two of the show’s characters — and introduced it to the collective consciousness. This moment gained secondary traction on TikTok last year, likely influencing the burgeoning zoomer LTGs of the world.
The closest thing I have come to the origin of LTG culture is a tweet saying, “Millennials love saying “I deserve a little treat” while buying basic necessities”.
@darcyfoxmusic Acts of service is my love language, can you tell? 🧚 #wlw #lesbian #littletreat #sapphic #lgbtqia ♬ Beach House – Carly Rae Jepsen
But the little treat girl predates the internet. She goes way back to the so-called lipstick index. This is the theory which states that in periods of economic downturn, sales of affordable luxuries such as lipstick go up. Even though people tighten their purse strings under financial strain, they allow themselves these more minor pleasures to cope with the crisis.
It proved true during the Great Depression of 1929, the bursting of the 90s dot-com bubble, and the 2008 financial crisis. And now, with inflation having hit a 40-year peak, we are undoubtedly seeing it again in the form of the Little Treat Girlie.
There is a political and philosophical stance that we shouldn’t numb the pain caused by late-stage capitalism with the same commodities that fuel this capitalism. Then there’s the issue that capitalist notions of self-care distract us from effecting change to the current structures – avocado toast as the opiate of the masses.
But for Little Treat Girlies treating yourself to little things isn’t just a form of consumerism and materialism. Screw that noise. We live in a world constantly bombarding us with stress and anxiety, and sometimes the only way to cope is to indulge a little controllable amount.
Elsewhere on CHAR: Why I Hate The Word Foodie