Is “Feral Girl Summer” just a gentrified version of the “Hot Girl Summer” movement?

Written by Leah Sinclair

Whether you plan to have a “Feral Girl Summer” or “Hot Girl Summer”, the aim is to spend it being your unapologetic, authentic self – and pitting the two movements against each other probably isn’t the way to go about it.

What do you think about when you hear the phrase “hot girl summer”?

For me, rapper Megan Thee Stallion – the authority behind the “hot girl summer” movement of 2019 and 2020 (the term originally stems from a line on her song Cash Shit where she calls herself “thee hot girl”) – comes to mind alongside an image of women having fun, wearing what they want, going where they want and generally living their best lives without concern for other people’s opinions.

Does that sound familiar?

Well, you may have read something similar recently with the emergence of “feral girl summer” – a TikTok trend advising single women to embrace their most liberated, authentic and messy lives in the post-pandemic era.

The trend made waves back in February when TikToker Feral Rat Club declared the theme for spring-summer as “feral”.

“I am feeling some fucking chaotic energy… I think we all deserve it,” she said in the clip. “Life is supposed to be fun.” 

Since then, the feral girl summer movement has continued to gain traction, with many taking to Twitter and TikTok to share their plans to have a summer of “letting go”.

While it has been coined as the opposite of hot girl summer, the two movements share a desire for women to be themselves authentically, not caring about outside opinions and just embracing the “unhinged chaos” within you – and has resulted in a debate about whether feral girl summer is merely an adapted, gentrified version of its predecessor.

“I’m screaming because if “feral girl summer” is your thing then you are indeed having a hot girl summer,” commented one Twitter user. “Having a hot girl is being you, enjoying your life, living and having fun. Like make it make sense.”

“Gentrification has taken over hot girl summer,” another wrote. “But feral? That’s the word we going with?”

“Feral Girl Summer should not be a thing. Anybody can be a hot girl, it’s about being yourself. At least that’s what Megan said.”

In a 2019 interview with The Root, Megan Thee Stallion described a hot girl summer as“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.”

This essence is definitely within both the hot girl summer and feral girl summer movements – and the idea that feral girl summer is the antithesis of hot girl summer is problematic.

It draws a line between the two and poses feral girl summer as “authentic” and hot girl summer as a movement that doesn’t apply to the masses – which is the complete opposite of what it was intended to be.

It also can’t be ignored that ideas, concepts and movements often created by Black women – whether it’s from hair trends to linguistics – tend to be repackaged as something else for the mainstream audiences.

After all, the emergence of feral girl summer, which is predominately being led by white women across TikTok, takes elements from the hot girl summer movement and instead of crediting it as the originator, it places it on the opposite side, almost casting a negative light on it while heralding feral girl summer as the more genuine movement in comparison to the “perfectionism” that hot girl summer supposedly places on women.

As time moves on, iterations of social media movements come and go – which is understandable. And ultimately, all of these movements speak to a desire to encourage women to live their best lives and do what feels right for them, free from judgment and concern.

Perhaps not putting them against each other would be a good start, though. Whether you want to describe your summer as “hot” or “feral” the aim is to have a good ol’ time doing it – and that’s something we all share and can agree upon.

Image: Getty

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