There is nothing that makes me feel hotter than my morning routine.
It all starts when I wake up and roll over to check the time on my phone: 9 a.m. Perfect. After laying in bed and basking in the feeling of not needing to be anywhere or do anything, I allow myself one last stretch and get up. I walk to the bathroom and perform my daily morning routine, wetting my face before pumping a clear puddle of CeraVe facial cleanser into my hand and lathering it on my damp face.
After a quick swipe of a towel, I dot moisture cream evenly on my cheeks and forehead, smoothing the excess down my neck — if I’m paying $48 for it, I’m not wasting a single drop. Teeth and hair are brushed and reflection is checked before I head to the kitchen. The beverage of the morning is a matcha latte, made with frothed oat milk and honey and drunk out of my favorite mug. As I sit on the couch in the curated space that is my apartment, I can’t help but think this is exactly what being a hot girl should feel like.
Everyone’s idea of what makes them feel hot is different. Sometimes it takes the form of a matching lingerie set or a pair of sweatpants you stole from your mom’s closet. Sometimes it’s dancing to your favorite song in a crowded bar and other times, it’s going to the farmer’s market on a Saturday morning. Whatever it is, the recent hot girl movement includes it.
Originally coined in 2019 by Megan Thee Stallion, the goal of the “hot girl summer” was to focus on yourself and be confident while doing it, whatever that looked like for you. But when summer ended and COVID-19 struck, people were looking for ways to break up the monotony of being stuck at home. Thus, the “hot girl walk” was born.
A girl named Mia on TikTok said the term was meant to romanticize the daily walks many of us took during the pandemic to stay sane. On her walks, she came up with a set of criteria that distinguishes a regular walk from a hot girl walk. The one rule was that you could only think about three things: what you were grateful for, your goals and how hot you are. During a time when there was so much loss and sadness, this positive distraction was well received.
Not a long time after, girls everywhere were posting on social media about their hot girl walks, wearing their Alo sets and LuluLemon belt bags while sporting AirPod Maxes. To feel good you have to look good first, right? As much as I believe in the power of a good outfit, a trend whose original goal was to help with mental health shifted to one whose aesthetic costs no less than $200.
A common criticism I’ve heard used in regards to the hot girl movement is “toxic positivity.” At first I didn’t believe something like that could exist. How can positivity be toxic? My revelation came when I went on a “hot girl walk” after a bad day wearing my matching set and Hokas and realized that upon finishing, I didn’t feel better. The idea of going on a walk in something that makes you feel confident is sound enough, but the problem arises when practicing self-care becomes measured by what you’re wearing.
The same idea can be applied to the wellness industry as a whole, the home of the hot girl movement. My social media is filled with beautiful girls sharing their skincare routines and healthy meal ideas. It led me to believe that if I follow what they do step by step, I’ll look just like them. Even though I know this isn’t realistic, a part of me wants to believe it is — after all, it’s an easy solution. I’d much rather spend money on material objects that are marketed to fix my problems than actually fix my problems. It is because of this mentality that the industry has been able to thrive. There’s no one more impressionable than an insecure woman.
While the mentality is inclusive of everyone, the movement is not. It only caters to a specific group of people — the kind of people who have money and time to spend on themselves, whether that means buying expensive clothes or simply dedicating part of their day to go on a walk. It’s important to note that this particular group of people are also often from a white background. I’m privileged to be in a position where, as a woman of color, I’m able to splurge on myself, but this isn’t the case for most of the country.
With all of that being said, I am a strong advocate for self-care and taking steps toward doing things that make you feel good. However, I think in order to do this and sustain it, we as a society need to look less to our wallets and more to ourselves.