As a surprise to no one, Black women are the architects of culture. It is a position that we have stepped into by default, by force of the compounded pressure that keeps us doubly oppressed; that is being both Black and female. It has become imperative for survival to create movements like #BlackGirlMagic to shape and lift ourselves and each other from society’s harsh criticism of what we should feel, be, and act.
But #BlackGirlMagic feels specific, we know it's both for us and by us. Unlike similar hashtag campaigns like #MeToo, it cannot be co-opted, generalized and spit back out into the ether, totally separate from it's origins in the Black community. #GirlMagic simply does not have a ring to it. It needs the word Black and therefore it becomes exclusionary. However, if the Black is simply implied but not explicit, we start to have a problem. Enter the latest Internet craze: #HotGirlSummer.
The term was coined by 24-year-old Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion, the fearless emcee with hit songs like “Big Ol Freak” and “Hot Girl.” The rising star affectionately refers to her fans as "hot girls". She uses the term to describe Black women who are unapologetically sexy and ambitious. In an interview with The Root, Megan says the term is how she connects and builds with other women, communicates her art, and maintains her party girl persona.
The emcee recently dropped a very hot mixtape, Fever, which is living up to its name and Megan doesn’t plan on cooling down anytime soon. It's remarkable that in her naturally expressive creativity, she accidentally sparked a communal wildfire. Megan's hot girl army swelled in numbers with the release of Fever, and just like an actual fever, tempertures around the country began to heat up, and before anyone knew what what hot and what was not, we had a major problem. We had #HotGirlSummer on our hands.
When it comes to Black empowerment, it’s important to keep an open mind and this term can apply to every type of Black woman, especially ones that identify with the feminime energy who might also be a part of the LGBTQ+ community. We don’t want to deny Black people their right to reaping the benefits of a hot summer girl because we understand that gender is fluid. Hell, even men are getting in on #HotBoySummer and Thee Stallion approves.
Hot grown-ass women like Red Table Talk host, Jada Pinkett Smith and singer, Sevyn are lighting up their Instagrams in their token hot girl outfits (also known as bikinis) and the adoring public is eating it up. We stan a confident, powerful, woman who is unafraid to own her body in public spaces and beyond. The movement is helping to eliminate fear and stigmas for many women, Black women specifically and the fierceness that they have. And of course, like it always does when women, especically Black women moblize towards positivity, the wave of misogyny hits back.
According to Urban Dictionary, the "city boys", are defined as a 'player in the game Vs. hot girls who fights for the respect of all men out there done wrong by women who act out for attention'. Yes, that's just as gross as you thought. Men assume that women owning their bodies and confidence must somehow be punished because they are "doing men wrong". There are thousands of videos, memes and tweets about this but I won't bore you with more details. Just know that the existence of the "city boy" is enough to justify the necessity of the #hotgirl, period.
Just like anything that can get out of control, the #HotGirlSummer wave has crashed into other forms of negativity. Last week, our favorite resident chef and mom, Ayesha Curry tried to remix the term into “Hot Summer Mom” and was dragged by the Internet to kingdom come. Megan was not having it, either. Ayesha later apologized to Megan stating she tried to make the term comfortable for her. But it's when people start adding and changing words that we run into some trouble. #GirlMagic, doesn't work, remember?
As it should, and as it did in the beginning, the term is embracing all women who are willing to embrace themselves. It's creating a moment in our culture where different types of women (and some progressive men!) are coming together to celebrate their uniqueness and what makes them special.
But in all things Black and dope, there are piranhas who are coming to dine on the flesh of our greatness. These monsters unknowingly or knowingly (you be the judge) have colonized #HotGirlSummer because no where in there does it say Black. It now becomes something that’s for everyone which loses the value towards the intended audience. And sure, a white girl can be a Stallion fan, and Megan would embrace her #hotgirl rights just the same but when groups of white women are screaming #hotgirlsummer over their rose and avocado toast, the term is being stripped of it's power. It's impossible to know where everything "starts" on the Internet and there will always be one thousand and one haters ready to claim they did something first, but in this case, we actually do know where the term started and who is responsible.
And going beyond the brunch tables, what about a brand who doesn't have any Black employees? When brands are thirsty and eager to jump on the bandwagon and capitalize off our culture with no credit to its designer, it pisses people--us--off. Recently, Maybelline tweeted, “Hot girl summer, Periodt. How’s your hot girl going?” Of course, Black Twitter went off asking the brand how many Black employers it had. Not only that, but are they going to hire Megan for a campaign? Give her a line of cosmetics? Maybe, but so far, nothing. And they get to seem "cool" and "relevant" because they are speaking our language. Someone quench their thirst.
Other brands like Duolingo, a language education app, also made an attempt to jump in on the cultural moment, tweeting, “Duo’s Hot Summer Girl”, featuring their company icon simply basking in the sun. Again, the connection between a Black, sexy stallion to a furry, green, bug-eyed bird is beyond us but we digress.
Fast food chain, Wendy's took it another step further and tweeted they had, “The official drink of hot girl summer.” Not sure how the term applies to white, redhead Wendy but sure, whatever! The thing is, it’s getting old. If brands want to be a part of a cultural moment, they should just give credit to the owner instead of pouncing on without respect or money allocated to the person. That's Megan. Cut the check.
As if we needed more evidence but as we know, Black women are at the forefront of culture and anything trending. It is our magic that shifts culture within fashion, beauty, music, and entertainment. Before the Kardashians, it was us. And after them, it will still be us. The more that we are pushed aside, the more creative we will become. You can take from us, but you cannot be us.
Black culture and female empowerment as a whole is constantly being exploited by brands and we’re sick of it. It's important that we are accredited when brands decide to use our content, lingo, or capitalize off our culture. We should continue to call brands out when they appropriate our culture because they need to see that we have a voice. We have power and agency. We are #hotgirls. We are #magic. It’s about respect. When you respect the culture, it will be easier but it’s also imperative for brands to be more aware and hire Black content creators on their team so they’re not facing lawsuits and backlash.
As as for, Megan, this won't stop Thee Stallion's ride to the top at all. She is in the process of trademarking #HotGirlSummer and we hope she can get her much deserved bag.
(Photo: Lorne Thomson/Redferns)
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