What Do #lazygirljobs Say About Our Response to Burnout Culture?

Anti-work or just anti-burnout? We spoke to the creator of the #lazygirljobs movement, and its critics, to find out.

Do you manage a reasonable workload, clock off at 5pm on the dot, and benefit from a nice salary? If so, you may be working a #lazygirljob. 

What started as a throw-away video from TikToker @gabrielle_judge has snowballed into a global movement with a hashtag that’s racked up over 31.5 million views to date. Drawing comparisons to other Gen Z concepts like #quietquitting and #restenteeism, the trend seeks to challenge the “always-on” culture that permeates US workplaces by encouraging younger workers to opt for low-stress jobs with healthier work-life boundaries.

However, while its advocates view it as a healthy counter to the millennial #girlboss, to its critics, the movement is an unnecessarily gendered trope that’s holding back ambitious women in the workplace. Whichever side of the fence you fall on, we spoke to US workers and the movements creator, Gabrielle Judge, to find out what the movement reveals about our relationship to work in 2023.

The Rise of the Lazy Girl

First coined by TikToker and self-proclaimed ‘anti-work girlboss’ Gabrielle Judge, #lazygirjobs refer to flexible, often remote jobs that pay well and don’t take up too much of your energy. Think of non-technical, clerical positions like office administrator, customer-success manager, or digital marketing associate.

The term takes inspiration from other #lazygirl trends that have been circulating TikTok, such as #lazygirlmath – a trend that uses lackadaisical math to justify pricey purchases and #lazygirldinner – a buzzword used to describe what is essentially a plate full of snacks.

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But contrary to its title, proponents of the movement claim that they’re anything but lazy, and instead use the title to subvert tired stereotypes about unmotivated Gen Zs. “A lazy girl job is a mindset that supports a better relationship with work,” Judge tells Tech.co, explaining that a “work-life balance” and priority setting” form its central pillars.

@gabrielle_judge's lazy girl jobs post on TikTok

@gabrielle_judge’s lazy girl jobs post on TikTok

Judge started pursuing the lazy girl life after becoming burnt out by her dream job in April 2022. “I quickly found doing good work just meant more work and didn’t guarantee a raise or promotion”, Judge told us. While she works as a full-time content creator and CEO now, she’s grateful that her career pivot gave her more time and energy for her business, relationships, and other personal endeavors.

Judge’s message has resonated. Since she first coined the term back in June, hundreds of mostly Gen Z TikTokers have flocked to the platform to show off their so-called “lazy girl job”. Many of the posts, which often feature young females tapping away on keyboards, gorging on snacks, and leaving their desks for long leisurely strolls, have attracted thousands of likes and tons of engagement, including Victoria Carmonar’s video – which has currently been viewed 2.4 million times.

@victoriacarmonar's lazy girl jobs post on TikTok

@victoriacarmonar’s TikTok post received 2.4 million views

Before Victoria Carmonar became a lazy girl, she worked taxing 8-hour shifts as a technical engineer. “Working as a technician I would get home very tired so I wouldn’t pursue any hobbies or wouldn’t even spend time with my loved ones.” she tells Tech.co. “All I wanted to do was get home and rest”.

“Having a lazy girl job gave me the opportunity to have more free time for myself which allowed me to find new hobbies.” – Victoria Carmonar

Since switching to a less labor-intensive desk-based job, Carmonar has had more time and energy to work out, spend time with her dog, hang out with friends and family, and pursue new hobbies. Put simply, she’s been able to swing the pendulum from living to work to working to live, which in the context of the US hustle culture is a sensible, yet radical, concept.

Burnout is On the Rise Universally

The rise of the #lazygirljobs hashtag, and other workplace trends like quiet quitting, bare minimum Mondays, and resenteeism haven’t happened in isolation. They’re all responses to the US’s rapidly growing burnout problem – a type of stress that can have a devastating impact on a worker’s physical health, mental well-being, and sense of identity.

Burnout isn’t anything new, but recent research from the Future Forum shows the health concern is at an all-time high, especially for younger generations and female workers. Due to a heady mix of financial concerns, external pressures, and the turbulent time in which they entered the job market, Gen Z is commonly cited as the most stressed demographic, while around 10% more women report being burned out than men.

However, unlike older generations that propagate, or at least passively accept hustle culture, many Gen Zers are fighting back. By pursuing lazy girl jobs and reserving time and energy for their personal lives, the generation is choosing to actively challenge the ‘always on’ corporate mentality that normalizes mandatory overtime, unrealistic workloads, and unused vacation days.

But while the movement is empowering young workers to carve out healthier work-life boundaries, not everyone is ready to trade in their passion for lazy girl jobs.

Who You Calling Lazy?

The truth is, women in the workforce are more ambitious than ever. According to McKisney’s Women in the Workplace Report 2023, 96% of working females admit that a career is important to them, and nine out of 10 young women are currently trying to work their way up the career ladder.

And while the “purposefully controversial” use of the words ‘lazy girl’ is key to the success of the movement,  the term has also drawn a lot of backlash from professional women, concerned that the term may negatively impact their reputation in the workplace.

“Gendered labels may be catchy, but they’re restricting” explains Shilpa Madan, an assistant professor of marketing at Singapore Management University. “It is easy for these labels to feel patronizing, especially since they may inadvertently minimize the complexity of women’s experiences or undermine their autonomy”.

Others have derived the term for being deceptive. Gina Yiyya works a flexible job as a remote dental health worker, but sees herself as anything but lazy. “The phrase lazy girl job is misleading” Yiyya tells us “as I find I need to work harder to manage my time effectively, especially as a parent.”

But while greater female career progression is undoubtedly a good thing, does leveling up and fulfilling your passion have to be at odds with a thriving personal life?

Lazy Girl Jobs Aren’t The Only Route to Job Satisfaction

The roles that lazy girls promote in their videos roughly fit the bill of what British Anthropologist David Graeber describes as “bullshit jobs”: “a form of paid employment that is so completely pointless, unnecessary, or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence”.

While clerical data entry and customer success roles are nothing to be snubbed at, it’s true that pursuing this type of career may be ill-suited to workers looking to gain deep meaning from their nine to five.

Melanie Ortegon, the marketing director for the restoration company Cleaner Guys rejects the movement for this reason. “I believe that all people need to do something meaningful with their lives in order to feel like their life is worth something,” Ortegon tells Tech.co, “I don’t believe it will ultimately satisfy.”

For others, however, there doesn’t need to be a trade-off between fulfilling your passion and instating healthy boundaries. Veteran digital marketer and founder of FocusWorks, Amanda Sexton, explains that she’s been able to combine both in her current position. “For me, it’s not about choosing between a healthy work-life balance and feeling challenged at work, it’s about integrating them.”

“A job should stimulate and challenge you, but not at the expense of your well-being or personal life.” –Amanda Sexton, founder of FocusWorks

And for those rejecting the corporate rat race to coast in well-paying jobs? Well, they shouldn’t be shamed either. Opting for flexible, low-stress jobs is the only way many can nurture a prosperous life outside of the office.

Speaking to us about this issue, TikToker and #lazygirl Victoria Carmonar explained that despite being criticized for her career move, it finally feels like it’s allowed her to do something with her life. And with Gen Z workers currently experiencing unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety in the workplace, this should be something that everyone – regardless of generation or gender – can rally behind.

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Written by:
Isobel O'Sullivan (BSc) is a senior writer at Tech.co with over four years of experience covering business and technology news. Since studying Digital Anthropology at University College London (UCL), she’s been a regular contributor to Market Finance’s blog and has also worked as a freelance tech researcher. Isobel’s always up to date with the topics in employment and data security and has a specialist focus on POS and VoIP systems.
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