Body Image and Hot Girl Summer

by Erika Pranzo, LPC

The author discussion hot girl summer and body image.

Summer is often a major source of anxiety for many women. Research by Kite (2019) found that many women completely avoid social activities because of anxiety regarding how their bodies look in vulnerable clothing.

Over the centuries, women have received pressure to maintain a certain beauty/ body standard through nearly every avenue of media. However, these standards change almost every decade. From pencil eyebrows, flat bums, and large chests in the 90’s to basically the exact opposite in the 2000’s, how can we really say what beauty is and isn’t?

Recent years have taken strides in the direction of inclusivity of body diversity. Many companies, worldwide, are including women of different sizes and races. Still, many times these women in larger bodies shown in media have a certain shape to their body, implying that we still have a way to go.

Many of us know that things like Airbrush and cosmetic surgeries exist. But, we still get caught in the cycle of comparing and self-criticism. This may be because objectification is still so deeply entangled in society’s norms.

Now flash forward to 2021, where the hashtag #HotGirlSummer fills social media.

In 2019, this term Hot Girl Summer was born and it became a movement that has empowered many women. The phrase often preaches to enjoy time with yourself and your friends, doing what you want without judgement.

However, I have noticed that issues like self-criticism, competition, and self-destructive behaviors still seem prevalent among many friends and clients. So, I created an Instagram poll to see how people are feeling about body image anxiety this summer. This poll detected 79% of participants, those of which did not exclude any gender identities, answered that Hot Girl Summer provokes body image anxiety for them. If Hot Girl Summer is supposed to be an empowering term, why is it still causing so much anxiety? Likely because the first word in the phrase is Hot.

This leads me to wonder: what are we defining as hot, and why?

While society’s body standards have changed throughout centuries, people’s main goals beyond the external world have remained fairly constant. People want to be happy and content and to feel empowered. Maybe hot girl summer is not about how your body looks, but it is how you feel, what you do and the overall energy you cultivate.

Erika specializes in anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and grief. To learn more about Erika, read her bio here.

Looking for a therapist or unsure where to begin? Get started on our booking page.