Every year, as the days get longer and the temperature gets warmer, there’s a je ne sais quoi that makes people want to live their best life. That may mean spending all day at the beach, dropping a few pounds or getting the highly desirable ‘summer glow.’ Though not a new idea, the popularity of having a “hot girl summer” is not slowing down anytime soon. The tag #hotgirlsummer is being plastered all over social media with growing intensity as summer 2021 comes into full effect. The versatility and malleability of the phrase’s meaning point to women’s desire for more autonomy in every aspect of life. After over a year of a pandemic that increased job insecurity for women, pushed 47 million women and girls below the poverty line and led to stay-at-home orders that resulted in increased domestic violence against women, hot girl summer is the feminist energy we need and deserve.
Backed by the anthem “Hot Girl Summer” by Megan Thee Stallion, the hot girl movement is a blend of several waves of feminism, from the body positivity movement to the empowering aspects of female entrepreneurship and professional advancement. How someone’s hot girl summer turns out is up to the individual. It could be breaking the mold of societal expectations put on women’s behavior, especially when it comes to their sexuality. It could be working hard to be financially secure and independent. However, it most notably is associated with authenticity, embracing one’s body and the freedom to do whatever you want whenever you want.
Women are consistently bogged down by societal expectations; hot girl summer lets us overcome them unapologetically. One of the most liberating values behind the movement is denying socially constructed beauty standards as something that is one-size-fits-all. Hot girl summer challenges women to embrace themselves as their own definitions of beauty. This movement is especially important for women who don’t fit what society too often deems as the gold standard of beauty, such as being thin, yet having curves, having full lips and not being too tall. It preaches inclusivity and positivity. Megan Thee Stallion, whose fan base is credited with creating and popularizing the phrase, publicly stated that the ideals behind hot girl summer weren’t only applicable to women. The idea behind the phrase makes it open to anyone, regardless of their gender. That means whoever wants to have a hot girl summer, whether a man, woman or another gender identity, is more than welcome to have one.
The movement also fights against the expectation that women should be quiet, should not take up space and should not be too assertive. For far too long, society has perpetuated the idea that women should be subservient. Hot girl summer allows and advocates for giving power and choice back to women. It doesn’t provide a cookie-cutter layout of how women should behave — it is completely up to them. Whether that be charting new frontiers in the workplace and spaces that have been traditionally dominated by men or choosing to stick with more conventional gender roles, the movement perpetuates the importance of female autonomy. There is no wrong way to have a hot girl summer, and that is key to why it has been so heartily embraced.
Perhaps most important of all, hot girl summer is about having fun and striving to be the best version of yourself. The movement opens up a world of possibilities without demanding anything in return. Attaching the ideal of being a hot girl to the summer season perfectly gives a name to that familiar feeling of elevated moods in the summer. It capitalizes on the increased serotonin levels we get from the season’s increased sunlight and encourages us to use our boosted moods for having fun, reaching our goals and living our dreams. COVID-19 took so much away from us. Weddings were postponed, summer travel plans were canceled and so many of the little things that make summer special were foregone. Embracing a hot girl summer lets us reclaim many of the things we have sacrificed.
While the movement is open to any and all, it is particularly important for women. Hot girl summer encapsulates freedoms women have been fighting for for years. Dress codes are pervasive in schools and workplaces, and they are often discriminatory and demeaning to women. Summer provides women the opportunity to ditch those clothes in favor of their own. Even with the progress that has been made toward gender equality, men still hold power over the way women dress. Events like the 1998 Italian Supreme Court decision to set a rapist free because the victim was wearing tight jeans, the arrests of 13 women in Sudan for wearing pants in public in 2009 and France’s burkini ban in 2016 epitomize this. While persecution over women’s clothing may be less intense in the U.S., there is still so much progress that needs to be made in all facets of society when it comes to gender equality.
The torch of feminism that the generations of women before us carried is being passed on to our generation. Hot girl summer is how we keep that flame alive and how we persistently fight for equality while having a great time doing it.
Theodora Vorias is an Opinion Columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.