An exploration into what hot girl summer really is and what it shouldn't become.
If you’ve been on TikTok or Twitter in the last couple of months you’ve probably heard the phrase "hot girl summer" at least a couple of times (if not, where have you been?)
A Tweet by Apple Music promoting their new playlist 'A Hot Girl Summer'
Whether it is friends encouraging each other to live their best lives or the original hot girl herself, Megan Thee Stallion, letting her followers know what the phrase means to her, hot girl summer has dominated social media platforms. Coined by Stallion in her 2019 song 'Hot Girl Summer', the phrase is used to describe people having fun, feeling empowered and enjoying the summer with friends – and with the temperature finally in double figures and lockdown restrictions easing, now is the perfect time for a hot girl summer!
The spirit that is so vital to having a hot girl summer is encompassed in Stallion’s music video of the same name - it is full of empowered partygoers having a good time. While partying may not be everyone's style, the hot girl summer mindset can be adapted to whatever you feel comfortable with. The phrase has become 2021's answer to ‘you only live once’ for young people, encouraging them to live their summer how they want to and with no regrets.
Despite the empowering and exciting concept of hot girl summer, harmful and unrealistic body standards have managed to work their way into the phrase. Summer is already a season in which companies target young women and profit off of their insecurities. Unfortunately, hot girl summer may be unintentionally adding to this pressure. Diet culture thrives in the summer and even pressures some people to buy clothes smaller than their size in hopes of losing weight. By branding a summer of fun and empowerment as 'hot', we risk alienating those who don’t feel that they look hot due to society’s toxic beauty standards. Though unintentional, the phrase may be pressuring people into feeling that there is only one way to be hot. There is no one way to be or look hot. Hot girl summer should be an outlook, not about the way you look.
Recent criticism has also been levied at those who use the phrase “hot girl summer” in reference to a summer of sexual empowerment and safe, consensual sex with as many people as they like. This criticism is rooted in misogyny by using derogatory terms for women who like sex. Instead of criticising women, discourse should move towards why women feel they need to hide the fact that they are sexually active and empowered behind the phrase "hot girl summer". Women are criticised for being open about their sex lives, and when they find a euphemism to refer to a summer full of sexual empowerment, they are also criticised for this.
Criticism like this illuminates a larger societal double standard surrounding sex and purity culture for men compared to people of other genders. Using the phrase "hot girl summer" has unfortunately been added to the long, long list of things young women are criticised for. It is not surprising that a term primarily used by women to empower themselves and have unapologetic fun has been ridiculed online. The pushback young women have received for simply using a fun phrase to
empower themselves and their friends proves that women are not allowed to exist in society without criticism.
As the weather (hopefully) stays warm, please remember that anyone can have a hot girl summer - there is no one right way. The whole point of the phrase is to be empowered and have fun in whatever way you want. Hot girl summer isn't about the way you look or the things you do - it's a mindset.