What the hell happened to my Hot Girl Summer?

Written by Amy Wootten

Illustrated by Emily Nash

“Hot Girl Summer” is a phrase we’ve heard and/or said a lot this year, as well as scrolling past the phrase at least once a day on social media. Whether it’s in a meme, a tweet, or your best friend’s Instagram caption, it’s been ubiquitous. While summer itself may be coming to a close, I thought I’d reflect back on how I felt at the beginning of summer, when everything felt like it was within my grasp, compared to how I feel now — trying to gauge the actual temperature of my Hot Girl Summer.

Approaching Hot Girl Summer

Picture this, it’s May 2021 and Hot Girl Summer is finally upon us. After a year in and out of lockdown, and in the wake of a continuing global pandemic, here emerges Hot Girl Summer. The summer we have all been waiting for apparently. The phrase may have come about in 2019, but for me, it is specifically tied to 2021. 

It may sound superficial, but I wanted to go deeper into Hot Girl Summer and expand it, make it queer, and dress it up in a way that suits me. The phrase seemed to carry extra weight this year due to lockdowns, which gave us a bit of time to find ourselves. Hot Girl Summer is the amalgamation of what we have to show for that time. Either that, or we had all spent a year feeling pretty depressed and we needed something to work towards. So there it was, Hot Girl Summer, Hot Person Summer, Hot Queer Summer – or as it became for me, Hot Amy Summer. I’ll expand.

In the midst of a break-up after a good three months of deep depression and feeling like an utter zombie, with the help of therapy I was finally starting to change the way I spoke to myself. Stay with me, because this is going to make sense.

Getting dumped left me broken, and needing to treat myself with kindness, to give myself a break and just change the voice in my head that was always degrading me – I’m 100% my own worst enemy. I found myself needing to be softer on myself otherwise I would just crumble, and gradually, ever so gradually, I managed not only to be kinder to myself, but also to big myself up. Actually feel myself.

This is where “Hot Amy Summer” came from. My summer. To get my head sorted, feel myself and just have fun. It started as a bit of a joke but then it became a total vibe. Every time I went into work it was Hot Amy Summer, every photo was Hot Amy Summer. Everyone was bigging me up and trying to get me my confidence back.

That isn’t to say that I am no longer deeply insecure, but I used the phrase to put on a cloak of confidence that really brought a good energy to my life. This was slightly delayed by that month of rain we went through in April. Nothing hot about being soaked in rain. Well, maybe there is, but only sometimes (and mostly only in films).

What Hot Queer Summer means to me

The Hot Girl Summer movement (yes, I’m calling it a movement now) is about more than just looking hot. In fact, to me, it isn’t about looking hot at all. It’s about feeling hot from within, looking at yourself in the mirror and thinking “hell yes, I look bomb”, and putting out good energy to yourself that will then spread through your hot fingertips into the world. It’s a mindset.

For me, it has been about feeling confident in my identity, my queerness and myself for the first time in a long time. Therapy has also been part of my journey to hotness because I have finally been able to see myself in a different light. Not through the eyes of the gremlins in my brain, but through softer, kinder eyes that want me to do well.

Hot Girl Summer is a vibe that is for anyone who needs it, and it can be whatever you want it to be. What I didn’t want it to be about was changing yourself for anyone, trying to become a different version of yourself – because you are already hot. And this is about accepting yourself for who you are and loving yourself for that. It doesn’t mean you can’t get a new haircut, get some new tattoos (this was part of my game-plan) but ultimately anything you do has to be for you and not for anyone else.

It needs to be about celebrating everybody and every body. Hot Girl Summer can be a fluid, inclusive phrase that can be thrown on and adapted for each person.

If I’m being honest, I’m more comfortable using Hot Queer Summer in relation to myself but unless that catches on, I think I’ll be its solo user.

That said, it looks like there has been an emergence of a greater sexual freedom and people — specifically bisexual or pansexual women — wanting to step away from heteronormativity and embrace HGS as a way of embracing women. I’m here for that. If Hot Queer Summer brings an added sense of fluidity then the world is going to be all the better for it. I hope that Hot Queer Summer just makes everyone a bit gayer. 

Queer teens are now the majority, but for those of us in our mid-to-late twenties, we didn’t grow up in such a queer world, so we have come to things a bit later. For context; in a report shared with Vice by the J. Walter Thompson Innovation Group, 65% of millennials identified as exclusively straight, compared to 48% of Gen Z. 

I personally came out as a lesbian when I was 20, but I have only really come into my queerness in the last year or so and I’m sure a lot of people have had the same experience. I also spent the last 5 years in a series of monogamous relationships so I didn’t really get to live my best queer life. So Hot Queer Summer was meant to liberate us, without judgement, and let us be our free queer selves.

Hot Girl Summer gave me the energy I needed to pull myself out of a pretty dark place. I’m not saying that it was the only thing getting me out of it (obviously there are a lot of other factors and self-work that have gone into this transition for me) – but honestly it’s pretty inspirational when you look at it like that.

So, what happened?

It seems strange to look back on my thoughts from the start of summer — so full of hope and expectation that I was going to spend the summer feeling myself — partying and doing whatever I wanted. In reality, I set foot in a club once (social anxiety got me good), got COVID, and honestly just let the rest of the summer pass me by in a haze. September hit me like a train and I really felt like I had wasted the summer because I felt like I haven’t really done anything at all.

I don’t think I continued thinking about Hot Queer Summer in the way that I was when sat in my garden in the first heatwave of the year back in May, fresh with a need for post-breakup confidence. That said, I have still managed to end up in a better headspace at the end of summer than I was at the start. Thank you therapy, a house move and a realisation that I needed to be more of a mate to myself. 

So does this mean that I did actually get my Hot Queer Summer? I guess I did, although with the English weather and getting COVID maybe it was a bit more of a Warm Queer Summer. I probably spent more time in an Instagram reels hole than anywhere else to be honest. 

But maybe all that I actually needed was a starting block to make me put myself first, and that’s what the initial wave of Hot Queer Summer gave me.

The Author

Amy is a small queer person just trying to survive her twenties in London. She gets angry when she’s hungry but otherwise is quite nice to be around. An all-round hospitality and coffee queen who can often be found drinking an oat milk latte or taking photos of other people’s dogs.

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