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Happiness over haste

AFP – Getting tired of hustle culture? Not everyone is inspired by the expectation of grinding out their lives in the hope of some material gain.

In fact, a growing number of workers are now taking steps to ensure a better work-life balance, which can include a slower pace at work.

These workers, “snail girls”, prioritise their own happiness and personal fulfillment outside of the climbing the career ladder.

The term was coined by Australian entrepreneur Sienna Ludbey in an article published in September in Fashion Journal.

In it, she explained how she became a “snail girl”; five years after launching her brand of vintage-style bags, purses and keychains.

The “snail girl” term refers to women who prioritise their well-being and happiness over being busy or overworked.


“Snail girl, for me, is not about a holiday or stopping work completely. I love what I do and the amazing community that has supported my brand.

“It’s just about taking that time to remember to not be as hard on myself, to have a work-life balance and to stop comparing my journey to others,” she explained in the magazine.

Internet users became familiar with the term “snail girl” after Fashion Journal shared Sienna Ludbey’s testimonial on TikTok. One of the magazine’s editors Maggie Zhou stated in her post that “snail girls” effectively stand in opposition to the concept of “girl bosses”.

This expression gained popularity in the 2010s thanks to founder of the Nasty Gal clothing brand and author of a book giving advice on how to be a powerful businesswoman Sophia Amoruso.

It was then taken up by the women’s press to talk about female leadership.


However, younger generations are increasingly critical of the ambitious “girl boss” figure.

They are pushing for the emergence of alternative models that are less productivity-driven and more focused on personal well-being. After all, research suggests that employee morale is at an all-time low.

Some 72 per cent of workers said they have an unhealthy relationship with their work, according to a survey conducted by HP among nearly 12,000 office workers worldwide.

They feel that their careers take up far too much room in their lives, and that this has an impact on their physical and mental health.

It’s against this backdrop of general dissatisfaction that the “snail girl” concept came about. It is particularly popular with TikTok users, as the hashtag #snailgirl has racked up 1.7 million views on the social network.

For the most part, videos talking about it show the daily routine of young women who claim to be “snail girls”.

It’s all about slowing down the pace, taking care of yourself and dialing down the pressure.

Except that it’s not always easy to slow the pace at work with total peace of mind. Work culture is often based on the belief that achieving more is always better.

So, adopting a snail’s pace in the office could potentially hinder the career development of “snail girls” who have made this choice.

But it doesn’t have to be a career killer, according to business coach Natalie Trice.

“Slowing doesn’t mean the end of your career and dreams, but that you need time for other things as well,” she told Fortune magazine.

“As someone who has experienced burnout more than once in the relentless pursuit of reaching the next goal, I know only too well that finding the right balance is the real key to success.”