When it comes to summer, people seem to divide into two camps—those who dread the heat, hibernating until September, and those of us who are right. We live for the shortened hemlines, the debauchery, the sweaty nights out spent talking to strangers. We are consumers of pizza-shaped pool floats and Instagram-photoshoot enthusiasts. Some small part of us believes it’ll be hot and humid forever. And we have lived according to the “hot girl summer” constitution, long before it was ever given a name.
For the uninitiated, hot girl summer is the phrase that will soon appear below every single Instagram thirst trap on your feed. The definition is a little ambiguous, but here’s how Jordyn Woods used it in a sentence.
The concept can be traced back to Megan Thee Stallion, the Houston artist who’s known for rapping about subjects once reserved for men—sex, money, and confidence. She opened one of her most popular songs, “Cash Shit,” with the lyrics, “real hot girl shit,” and she’s been known as “thee hot girl” ever since, a title she’s earned over and over. Take the cover of her recent album, Fever. Stallion is decked out in full leopard and almost engulfed in flames, looking like a mix between Jessica Rabbit and the baddest bitch in the wild, wild west. The text reads like a warning, “She’s thee hot girl and she’s bringing thee heat.”
Fans soon took Stallion’s title and turned into a humid, sweat-soaked rallying cry, and idea of the hot girl summer was born. But much like 2018’s Big Dick Energy (better known as BDE) which started with a tweet about Pete Davidson’s, well, D and quickly turned into a cultural phenomenon much greater than the comedian’s nether regions, hot girl summer is about more than Stallion. Because hot girl summer isn’t just cute Internet slang. It’s a lifestyle.
But how to explain hot girl summer? For starters, it’s useful to compare it to the aforementioned BDE. Not because the two are similar, but because they’re polar opposites. BDE is all about the casual confidence of being well-endowed. Think: that not quite hot, but somehow oddly appealing dude who lived on your freshman hall, had off-beat taste in music, and still pulled a shocking number of girls. You saw his cute smirk, his swagger, and you just knew. That’s nice, but there’s nothing subtle about hot girl summer. Hot girl summer is all about oozing your hottest, loudest, most extra life—without apologies.
As Stallion put it to The Root, “It’s about women and men being unapologetically them, just having a good-ass time, hyping up their friends, doing you. You definitely have to be a person who can be the life of the party and just a bad bitch.”