The Problems with Hot Girl Summer

Picture this: it’s mid-July, the sun is beating down on your warm skin and you’re getting ready for a long-awaited night out with the girls. Temperatures are beginning to rise and lockdown restrictions have been lifted. For many of us, the promising prospects of a summer to remember will give us the opportunity to wear clothes that show off more skin. However, because of the popular phrase, ‘Hot Girl Summer’, some girls may be left feeling insecure and under pressure to work out more, tan their skin, and spend hundreds on a new wardrobe – all so they can feel ‘hotter’ or ‘more attractive’ this summer. My questions is, can this term be re-stigmatised into something more inclusive, or is it time for it to be scrapped completely?

The phrase ‘Hot Girl Summer’ comes with a set of stereotypical connotations; promoting the use of the word ‘hot’ to describe skinny, tanned and made-up girls in little-to-no clothing. It only takes a quick Google image search of “hot girl” for this to be confirmed. But who’s to say that the term can’t also be used to address girls who don’t necessarily fit this mould? In a fight for increased inclusivity, many social media personalities have used their platforms to call for a ‘Fat Girl Summer’ – allowing plus-size females to reclaim the summer as their own. Although this seems like a great idea, I can’t help but feel that, by labelling these girls as ‘fat’, this new phrase becomes slightly counter-productive in its aims to promote body positivity.

Summer Girl GIF by HAIM
From HAIM’s ‘Summer Girl’ / Giphy

This is exactly the problem, though. Why should the word ‘fat’ be associated with negativity and undesirability? If we want to combat the problems with ‘Hot Girl Summer’ and encourage girls to feel more at-home in their bodies, we must first abolish the negative stigmas that are attached to the words we use to describe the female form. Proud plus-sized woman and activist, Honey Ross (@honeykinny on Instagram), is one of the many females who are using their platform to support the ‘Fat Girl Summer’ movement, and she’s doing a fantastic job at encouraging girls to join her on her journey. In her podcast, ‘The Body Protest’, she discusses how girls can reclaim their bodies from the grips of society and find peace within themselves, whatever their appearance. With this in mind, the solution to the ‘Hot Girl Summer’ problem could be found if we just talked about body positivity more.

Alongside the questions it raises about body image, the expression has added to debates about female sexuality, too. Social media often attributes the term with the increased sexual activity of women, encouraging them to make the most of their single lives in the height of the summer season. Some girls may feel that they should be having more sex, especially if they are not in a relationship. In fact, in Megan Thee Stallion’s ‘Hot Girl Summer’, this culture of one-night-stands and having multiple sexual partners is precisely what she endorses. Of course, it’s totally fine for women to do whatever they wish with their bodies, you do you! But these expectations should not be presented to females as ‘compulsory’ or ‘expected’. Summer should not be a season where women are pigeonholed by a set of ‘rules’ that they should adhere to. Instead, it should be a celebration of all women; one that urges girls to express themselves however they’d like, without judgement, restriction or shame. At no point should a woman be expected to exploit herself sexually, just because a song told her to.

Ultimately, I don’t believe that there is anything fundamentally wrong with the term ‘Hot Girl Summer’ itself. Rather, sitting at the heart of its problematic nature, is the many stereotypes and stigmas that it advertises. Yes, social media has come a long way in its encouragement of body-positive approaches to the summer season, but we still have a long way to go until these pre-existing expectations are refreshed or updated. Instead of suggesting that only skinny, tanned and sexually active women are perceived as ‘hot’, our understanding should be that any woman can feel beautiful during the summer – regardless of her size, skin-tone, age, sexual preference or dress-sense.

That aside, it all boils down to this: whether you’re planning on having a ‘Hot Girl Summer’, a ‘Fat Girl Summer’, or just a normal summer, be unapologetically yourself and don’t let anyone or anything stop you from living your best life.

-Isabella Ankerson

Featured Image Source: Unsplash

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