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7 questions about hot girl summer you were too embarrassed to ask

2019’s most fun meme, explained.

Rapper Megan Thee Stallion, the originator of the term “hot girl summer.”
Maury Phillips/Getty Images for BET
Rebecca Jennings is a senior correspondent covering social platforms and the creator economy. Since joining Vox in 2018, her work has explored the rise of TikTok, internet aesthetics, and the pursuit of money and fame online. You can sign up for her biweekly Vox Culture newsletter here.

It’s a hot girl summer. This is a fact, regardless of whether you know why or where it came from. It just is: Learn it, know it, live it, love it. Don’t think about it too hard. Just lean into it, like falling asleep on the beach after two spiked seltzers.

But you’re reading Vox, which means you probably have a hard time refraining from overanalyzing, even when the subject itself is fundamentally at odds with being analyzed. Because this is the true essence of hot girl summer: It’s the mentality of going breezily about one’s own business regardless of what anyone else might think.

Of course, there’s more to it than that — and as of August 9, hot girl summer now has an official anthem: a song aptly named “Hot Girl Summer” by Megan Thee Stallion featuring Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign.

Here are answers to seven additional questions you might have, including whether you yourself can have a hot girl summer. (Spoiler: You can!)

Where did the concept of “hot girl summer” come from?

To understand hot girl summer, one must first understand the original Hot Girl. That’s 24-year-old Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion, who released her first full-length album, Fever, in May. For years, she’d posted videos of her freestyles on Instagram, and adopted the moniker after older guys would call her a “stallion” due to her height (she’s 5-foot-10).

Megan calls herself “H-town hottie” or “Hot Girl Meg,” and her fans are called “hotties.” On the cover art for Fever, one line reads “She’s thee HOT GIRL and she’s bringing THEE HEAT.” That, combined with the first line of her song “Cash Shit” — “Real hot girl shit” — cemented the association between the term “hot girl” and Megan Thee Stallion.

But it was her fans who brought hot girl summer to life. According to Know Your Meme, one of the first hot girl summer posts was when Twitter user @sweetliketeaaa wrote “I heard it’s a hot girl summer” with a series of photos of herself, which inspired others to post similar sentiments.

So really, hot girl summer is a combination of hip-hop and fan culture, which means the term will likely continue to evolve as hot girl summer wears on.

But, like, what is hot girl summer?

I’ll let Megan herself explain, which she did in an interview with the Root in late June: “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.”

To truly master the phrase, though, consider the way her fans are brandishing it. At a Megan Thee Stallion concert in London in July, Vice UK asked attendees what they thought it meant. All the responses are perfect, but here are some highlights:

  • “It’s about living my best life, feeling like a bad man and doing what I have to do. Being you and being independent is all it’s about. Enjoying yourself and not caring is the key!”
  • “Girl, it’s hoe szn. Period. What makes a hot girl summer? Your attitude and your vibe. It’s 2019 — a year for women to do what they want to do.”
  • “It’s about being a bad bih and role reversal — live your best life. Guys always talk about getting girls, and we love Meg because she’s doing exactly what they do unapologetically. We can talk about dick, too.”
  • “It’s the outfit and especially the attitude. You can look like trash but if you have a hot girl summer attitude, you’re good!”

So, yes, hot girl summer can sort of mean whatever you want it to mean, but there are some uniting factors: Hot girl summer, as its name suggests, is a feminine-coded term enjoyed largely by women, and like many cultural trends, it originated with black women. There’s a third-wave feminist tilt, in the sense that women having sex and making money without shame — basically, activities men have been allowed to do forever — can be considered feminist acts.

Finally, there’s the liberation of the speaker unabashedly calling themselves “hot” as a way of ownership over both their appearance and the meaning of the word. We know what a “hot girl” looks like in a traditional sense, of course, but the joy of hot girl summer is that it’s inclusive. Sure, plenty of women whom mainstream culture would label “traditionally hot” are posting photos of themselves with the caption “hot girl summer,” but many are using it subversively or ironically.

Why am I seeing it everywhere?

Hot girl summer is a play on themes people on the internet are always talking about: being a girl, being hot, and summertime. It provides a template against which people can perform the realities of their life: Having a fun day at the beach with friends? Hot girl summer! Staying home alone in your room? At least you can make a hot girl summer joke about it!

Plus, like many viral memes such as the 10-year challenge, hot girl summer offers an excuse to post a photo of yourself, which everyone loves to do, always.

Can I too have a hot girl summer?

Though many people reasonably consider hot girl summer a synonym for partying, flirting, hooking up, etc., Megan confirms that even if you’re in a committed relationship, you can participate. “If you are cuffed up, you can still have a hot girl summer,” she says in the Root video, adding, “but you still gotta be on your bullshit.”

Plus, having a hot girl summer by no means requires you to be “hot” according to mainstream culture — as long as you have the attitude and confidence that allows you to use the phrase “hot girl” to describe yourself in whatever way you mean it, you too can have a hot girl summer.

Is there a hot boy summer?

No, and don’t even bother trying to start one, it’s already canceled! Mel Magazine catalogued the desperate attempts to make hot boy summer a thing, which essentially amount to being the equivalent of a Straight Pride Parade.

But as Megan reminded us, men are more than welcome to participate in hot girl summer, as long as they retain the purity of the phrase. Tony Soprano jumping into a pool? That’s hot girl summer. Tom Hanks’s frontal shirt bow? Hot! Girl! Summer!

Are brands trying to capitalize on hot girl summer?

Of course they are. Wendy’s claimed its lemonade was the “official drink of hot girl summer.” Forever 21 sent an email blast with the subject heading “Hot girl summah” (which, wrong!). Maybelline recently tweeted the following: “Summer 19 in three words: hot girl summer. PERIODT!” and it has somehow not yet been deleted. Even the DuoLingo owl is trying to have a hot girl summer, and she (or he?) is a stuffed animal!

These attempts are all cringey at best and appropriation at worst. Fans are calling on Megan to trademark the phrase to prevent more brands from capitalizing on its cachet — which Megan is currently in the process of doing so that she can create hot girl summer merchandise.

What happens when hot girl summer is over?

Who knows! But considering that autumn is typically considered a time for solemnity and contemplation, it will be decidedly less fun than hot girl summer. Some have suggested we embrace sad boy autumn since Bon Iver is releasing a new album on August 30. Others have posited that we simply postpone hot girl summer, so that there’s more time to prepare for the often tiresome task of being both confident and gorgeous.

But really, hot girl summer is a mindset, one that can flourish year-round. The beauty of hot girl summer is that it’s not meant to be painstakingly dissected. All you have to do is say the phrase and it becomes fact: hot girl summer.

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