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Deconstructing ‘Hot Girl Summer’

Maddy Bellucci explore the phenomenon of 'Hot Girl Summer' and what it really means in 2021.

Hot Girl Summer. Three words I’ve had sporadically sprinkled around my Instagram, powdered atop my YouTube and scattered upon my Tiktok ‘For You Page’; and three words deployed greatly and prolifically by my one and only Emma Chamberlain, and thus consequently – of course – heavily dusted upon my subconscious. 

In that standard way we all feel intrinsically superior to things we are not personally a part of or concepts we do not understand you can imagine my initial reaction to this new hot saying was to immediately disregard it as cringey and so colossally below me. But life guru Emma, who I thought was on my superior and worthier level, did me no favours by deciding to take the phrase in her coffee drive-thru stride and make it a force for me to reckon with. If I was going to carry on being her long-lost twin sister, I needed to commit and take the 4 and a half seconds to search it up and see what it entailed: an opportunity to justify revamping my closet and spending money I don’t have. 

Naturally I immediately took to the idea quite fondly. But I did not stop there. Such is the inquisitive mind. I searched up the term in the Urban Dictionary Definition, which defined it as a “summer full of fun”. It was coined by pop star Megan thee Stallion, who explains that it is about “just being you, just having fun. It’s turning up, driving the boat and not giving a damn about what nobody’s saying. A summer where you are in charge of your own happiness. Chase the bag and we ain’t crying over no man PERIODt. It’s a hot girl summer. I need all the hot girls to get yalls head in the game! The summer isn’t over yet!” 

Here’s the hitch though: “We ain’t crying over no man”. Have I passed the Hot Girl Summer deadline if I’ve already gotten over my ex and moved onto a one-year happy relationship? Last year I would’ve been perfect for the part: a puffy red face covered in various shades of black and mauve, smeared in matts of something that was once hair, and a stomach with the perfect amount of blubber – courtesy of comfort Lotus Biscoff spread – ready for chiselling and sculpting. But the time-honoured New Me concept is exciting to us all and is an opportunity that should not be exclusively open to the post breakup queens. I am also entitled to chiselling and hair washing. And I stand firm in this belief. Lizzo’s Good As Hell could very well be its soundtrack (but even without the ex-boyfriend story line). I envisage me and my BFF on the Amalfi Coast in our matching bikinis, with our matching Sex on the Beaches and matching pouts. But, alas, not everyone will be in Santorini (neither will I actually, or her, for that matter) and so who’s going to see me and my pouty BFF? 

This leads to my next postulation: Is Hot Girl Summer only Hot Girl Summer if the world and its wife are there to bear witness? Can it only co-exist with Instagram and the such? Is there even any point in getting on the yacht with an endless supply of Champagne if ex-boyfriend Brian won’t see? (Very much yes, absolutely yes). But all jokes aside – as, again, the yacht and Champagne on tap is not exactly quite the precise picture of how my summer is personally going to pan out (unless one of my parents has a midlife crisis and mental breakdown all in one go, have a New Me epiphany of their own and then each win the lottery). Is it just a picture-posting illusion? I think yes and no. I think yes, there’s the urge to share the shiny tan and the cocktails but also no, as it does just feel good inside to make a change. Always. Be that in summer or in rainy autumn. Even if the change just entails two new blond strips at the side of your face, or a new cartilage piercing. 

But I’ve noticed that as the phrase has progressed over time, becoming a part of our day-to-day lexicon, it has in some ways shifted to mean something slightly deeper. It’s a solidarity anthem to girls having fun on their own terms, redirecting focus away from boyfriends or exes and away from outdated “beach body ready” tropes and back towards themselves. As much as I love the Hot Girl Summer of yachts, pouts and matching bikinis, I also think that I could do with some change in other aspects of myself. Maybe I could stop going on and on (the banes of both my friends’ and parents’ existences) about how I will write a graphic novel, I will read that book on my bedside table that’s been gradually accumulating so many layers of dust you’d think has magically developed its sequel on top of it, and just do it. Or at least start it, whatever it is. There’s only so much time my blonde front strips can keep my little easily bored brain entertained, and perhaps it’ll take something slightly longer lasting to fulfil the glow up. (Matching butterfly tattoo with BFF you say? Yes. I know. That’s already very much at the top of my list). 

So, I’m not really sure what to make of this Hot Girl Summer. I think you make of it what you will. What I know for sure is it belongs to every girl and to every season. Another thing I know for sure is that me holding a wet muddy pole whilst being yelled at by my drunken friends as I nearly capsize into duck-faeces-infested waters (almost decapitating one of said drunkards) and then nearly being decapitated/impaled by a branch myself (all contingent on which angle I choose to fall at – the fall at this point inevitable) is not the first thing that springs to mind when I hear Hot Girl Summer. But what’s being an Oxford student without at least one punt, hot or not.

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