Personal Stories

What is the “Soft Life”?

I hate the expression “we all have the same number of hours in a day as Beyonce.”

Because even if that’s true in the most basic sense, we can’t all spend it the same way. This expression is usually wielded by the “self-made” cohort, with their smugness and family money. Like much of their rhetoric, it reduces people’s circumstances to the sum of easy choices when — frankly — that’s not true.

People are not mere vessels of self-discipline or laziness, with lives that reflect which virtue they choose. The way external factors impact our lives cannot be overstated. And though there is increased awareness of all the -isms, the pandemic brought back hustle culture and personal responsibility rhetoric in a big way.

“We’re all in our homes, all you have is time — no excuses” was the messaging used to sell Pelotons, inspiring people to start side hustles doing dropshipping, becoming landlords, or something else just as toxic. All while reinforcing the idea that if we’re not all operating at the same level as Beyonce, we should feel bad about doing enough.

But it wasn’t even true. We didn’t all have the same free time.

Some people couldn’t work from home. Some people suddenly had no childcare, turning their homes into pseudo-schools with no notice. In overwhelming numbers, women and BIPOC communities were especially economically impacted by the work changes during the pandemic.

These factors took their toll. And now, it feels like we’re emerging into a world that has somehow gone backward. From the she-cession, the Roe vs. Wade verdict, and the impending recession, it feels especially heavy to be a woman right now.

Maybe this is why so many women — Black women, especially — are gravitating towards the “soft life.”

What is the #SoftLife

The soft life trend is about rejecting these narratives of hustle culture. No more grinding. Just softness.

Urban Dictionary describes the aspirational #SoftLife as “a life of ease without requiring hard work, sacrifice, and unpleasantness.”

Sorry to my trusty Urban Dictionary, but for once, I have to disagree. This definition misses some important nuance. The #SoftLife trend was popularized by Black women. So it’s not about eschewing hard work out of entitlement. It’s about creating peace instead of accepting the idea that for Black women, life will always be difficult.

The soft life says it doesn’t have to be.

This resonates with a community of Black women across the globe, who have contributed to the #SoftLife trend. So many Black children (especially those in predominantly non-Black communities) grew up hearing the mantra: “you have to work twice as hard to get half as much.”

This idea shaped generations of overworked, underappreciated Black folk. But no more. The soft life says this life of ease is already earned. It has been hard won. And you can create moments of luxury without having to run yourself ragged.



How to Create a Soft Life

On social media, the #SoftLife tags are packed with imagery of luxury lifestyles, designer clothing, and expensive vacations. And while that can be one part of it, the Soft Life is not only about flexing for the gram. It’s a state of mind.

Luckily, you don’t have to overspend to get it.

“Luxury is all about quality over quantity, but it’s also about prioritizing what’s important to you,” says Bola Sokunbi, certified financial education instructor (CFEI), founder of Clever Girl Finance, and author of Choosing to Prosper. “Spend on what pleases you, not what pleases other people.”

With that in mind, curate your soft life by holding close the things you already value. Make time for you every day, create professional and personal boundaries, and resist hustle culture in all its forms.

The soft life is already yours. All you have to do is grab it. Here are some ways I choose softness in my day-to-day life.

Doing a face mask

via Soko Glam

You go through the motions, you rush your routines. Soon enough your days start to pass by you in a blur. Slowing your mornings helps you cherish your days and, ultimately, your life. I slow down by adding a face mask to my daily routine. The Rosé Resurfacing Facial Mask from THEN I MET YOU on Soko Glam transforms my skin and makes me feel instantly AWAKE. Your skin and your mornings will thank you.

Treating myself to clothes that I feel good in

via Net-A-Porter

The soft life emphasizes getting in touch with your spiritual side. By tapping into your higher self, you can start to show up as her. My higher self is always dressed to impress. So to become her, I am slowly adding new, exciting pieces from stores like Net-A-Porter. While I won’t give into fast fashion in the name of the soft life, dressing up in high quality garments never fails to make me feel good.

Personalizing my space

via 54Kibo

Most of my furniture decisions when I moved into my apartment were dictated by desperation — what could I afford? What was available on Facebook Marketplace? But the soft life is about intention. And putting yourself first. To feel more at home in my own space, I am now adding personalized statement pieces. Nothing too big. A vase of fresh flowers. An accent table from 54Kibo for my crystals. Something to make every aspect of my life feel chosen.

Traveling as much as I can

via Southwest

Travelling doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive. While overseas trips cost an arm and a leg, making domestic travel a priority The Southwest Rapid Rewards program makes flying accessible — without resorting to budget airlines. Take your PTO, go somewhere warm. You deserve it.

Getting enough sleep

via Linoto

Hustle culture will tell you to sleep when you’re dead. But not getting enough sleep has seriously adverse effects on your health and happiness. I do everything I can to make sure I’m feeling my best, and sleep is part of the list. I drink sleepy time tea. I sleep with selenite crystals next to my bed. I only sleep on linen sheets from Linoto. These artisanal sheets make all the difference. With bedding so comfortable, how can I not sleep well?

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