This is the year of the “hot girl summer”: A time to go out with your friends, to have fun, to love yourself and enjoy life, no matter who you are or whether you think you are “hot.”
Though it originated with 24-year-old Megan Thee Stallion, a Houston rapper, it’s a concept you don’t have to be in your twenties to enjoy. As she said to The Root in an interview, “It’s just basically about women — and men — just being unapologetically them, just having a good-ass time, hyping up your friends, doing you, not giving a damn about what nobody got to say about it. You definitely have to be a person that can be the life of the party, and, y’know, just a bad bitch.”
But, you say, I don’t think of myself that way!
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That’s a problem with an easy solution. How do you think of yourself? Do you love who you are? Do you feel strong and confident in yourself? No? Then you definitely need a Hot Girl Summer more than anyone else.
But what can a Hot Girl Summer do for you?
First, there’s something incredibly liberating in just calling yourself “hot,” owning whatever is beautiful about yourself, and asserting your right to have a good time. “Hot girl summer” doesn’t come with any size, age, ability or gender limitations; everyone is encouraged to love the skin that they are in. Yes, plenty of people who fall into that stereotypical definition of hot are posting photos on social media of themselves labeled “hot girl summer,” as though people who look exactly like them don’t post pictures of themselves looking stereotypically hot every single other summer, but they aren’t the ones finding real joy in this cultural moment.
People of all genders, ages and sizes have embraced the meme to subvert traditional narratives about beauty, class, disability and race. They’re using it as a way to show how much they can love themselves even in a world that tells them they don’t deserve to be loved. You can have a hot girl summer from your home or from your office, from a bus during your commute to work or from your car stuck in traffic on the way to pick up your kids. It doesn’t matter where you are or who you are, you are wonderful and you deserve to have some fun.
But what about [insert scary worrisome political news here]?
What about it? It’s not going to be solved by you never taking a break from thinking about it. In a time in which everything is stressing you out, the best thing you can do is recharge your proverbial batteries and encourage everyone around you to do the same. And let’s be clear: Just because you like to have fun does not mean that you're not also an educated, socially engaged person who is politically aware and involved. In order to be effective at fighting oppression, you absolutely need to be your best self.
Think of hot girl summer as a way to put on your emotional oxygen mask so that you can help others. Your best chance of being a good person, a good ally, a good friend all lie in being as emotionally healthy as possible.
Hot girl summer is a chance to embrace everything about yourself, from the thighs you might think are too thick for shorts (they aren’t) to your complete lack of interest in being berated by your overbearing relatives at the family reunion about when you’re going to settle down. It’s a chance to decide to skip that awkward family function and go to that big music festival that looks so fun. Not a fan of festivals? This is a great time to throw a party with your friends or ask that special someone out. And if you’re already in a relationship, this is a perfect time to reinvent dating the person you love. Get dressed in an outfit that you feel good in, tell your partner(s) to do the same and make your own fun.
And this bout of confidence-boosting doesn’t have to stop when summer is over. Fundamentally, hot girl summer is about rejecting labels — including “hot,” “girl” and “summer” — about who you should be or what you should wear and when you should wear it. And, for the young Black people that make up a lot of Megan Thee Stallion’s fan base, it’s a chance to push back against harmful racist narratives about what they have to wear and do in order to be safe or respected. For them, having a hot girl summer is about rejecting a white-centered beauty aesthetic and pushing back against the respectability politics that can keep them from loving themselves. Being free is always a good idea.
Hot girl summer is for everyone. Think of it like a cool drink on a hot day for your emotional and social health. Or think of it like the pool party you keep skipping because you’re not sure you want to be around strangers in your bathing suit, and march on over and dive right in.