Are you a ‘beige-fluencer’, a ‘rat girl’, or some combination of the two - like me?

If you’re looking for me this summer, catch me in the gutter, looking up at those beige, beige stars

I find myself in a unique position this summer. Not prone on a sunlounger nor folded in a pike dive, but at the coalface between two opposing lifestyle trends.

A brief scroll on TikTok or Instagram will be enough to make clear to you, two popular and apparently oppositional trends gracing our social media sites this summer. What is surprising to me, and I imagine to you too, reader, is that I appear to satisfy both?

Is chronic illness finally having her day?

The first of these two trends is conspicuous for its lack of personality, therefore it may take longer to come consciously to your attention. Once made known to you, however, I imagine you will be well aware of its ubiquitous influence.


“Beware the ‘beige-fluencers’, cheerleaders for a life of no surprises” read a recent article headline, written by American writer and columnist Sarah Manavis.

Within this trend of “beige-fluencing”, the author writes “…you won’t find advice on how to live a life that is exciting and fulfilling, or punctuated by surprise, newness and glamour. Instead, you will find millions of young people describing an ideal life that is overwhelmingly dull, fundamentally rooted in living each day the same, and following a narrow, regimented routine”.

About five years ago, a friend described my Instagram aesthetic as “I’m in bed. Ow my head”. So, while I don’t like to brag, I guess I was ahead of the pack in leading this lustreless existence.

At its core, this trend works by romanticising the banal aspects of our lives, the perceived glorious beigeness of a mild existence.

Slippers, TV and a mug of tea? Golden.

A cosy hat on a winter walk? Obsessed!

Bed by 9pm? Oof.

Can I get a bitten lip emoji here?

Beige-fluencing, like migraines, loves stability and consistency; we don’t throw surprise parties, or meet a friend for an impromptu drink that ends in a pint of Fat Frog and a bathroom assistant karate-chopping down the door when your drunken hands can no longer manoeuvre a lock.

No, we have one 30-minute decaf flat white with a close friend, before fitting in a 10-minute meditation and returning to work. Or if not a coffee, at least a tablet of soluble paracetamol that we mindfully watch dissolve.

The author claims this desire for consistency to be a reaction to an instable world. I dunno, I think I’m just tired.

In contrast to the modesty of beige-fluencing is the other half of a sick gal’s ego; “Rat Girl Summer”. This trend is defined by “scurrying” about outside, “nibbling on our little snacks” and finding yourself where you have no business to be. “Occasional mayhem is encouraged” and “crust is fine”.

Anyone with chronic illness will know that “crust” and “scurrying” are the bread(crumbs) and butter to our existence. Sitting on the bus picking snack crumbs from our fleecy jumpers is second only to sleeping for those of us with chronic illness. And mayhem? Well, that’s just thrust upon us whether we want it or not. Our bodies rule the score on that one.

Rat Girl Summer is defined by mischief, which is the love song to my soul and enemy to my chronic migraine. It’s the yang to the solitude of illness; the essential seasoning to a dish of life defined by pain. Or perhaps, at times, the pain is the mischief itself, with “hurt”, “impairment” and “trouble” standing as synonyms to the term.

While it might seem to you that I am contradicting myself here, in attesting to be both bland and ratty, mischievous and boring, that’s only because a life of chronic illness is that; a life of contradictions.

It is a life where things don’t quite match up, aren’t as they appear to be. Where multiple truths exist at once. Where blood tests tell you you’re fine and bouts in bed tell you you’re not. Where aspirations for a day scurrying about the town, become a day scurrying about your drug drawer, and tomorrow the club, and the next day the hospital corridors.

In my head I’m a paid-up rat girl, but if my couch could talk it might tell you otherwise.

Either way, I’m enjoying this brief period of being on trend not once, but twice. If you’re looking for me this summer, catch me in the gutter, looking up at those beige, beige stars.