Girl Dinner? Try Girly Pop Summer

Zeitgsty
9 min readAug 29, 2023

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Ah, summer. The season of sun-kissed skin, beach parties, and if 2023 has anything to say about it — embracing the unapologetically feminine! After all, this summer was like a fizzy, effervescent soda with a cherry on top. No judgments. No restraint.

You see, the buds of this flowery trend were tenderly sown in the mid-2010s — a gentle rebellion against, well, certain global powers-that-be. But like a sequined butterfly emerging from its pastel cocoon, society is now going full throttle into this sparkling movement.

Let’s kick it off with the basics. Remember the “cool girl” archetype from Gone Girl? The portrayal painted an image of a woman who’s “everything” and “nothing” all at once — like a high-pressure balloon waiting to pop. Here’s a refresher for you:

“Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer…[and] jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding… Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.”

Ah, poetic isn’t it? 😍 I bet you’re envisioning that speech and its cinematic glory (in case you’re not, there’s a video just below for a trip down memory lane).

But this year, we’re taking a decisive leap away from the “Cool Girl” allure. Instead, there’s a tidal wave of sentiment: we’re celebrating rather than shying away from our most effervescent and unabashedly “girly” attributes. No more half-hearted attempts to jam ourselves into predefined molds.

So, get ready to delve deeper, to look under the glittery hood of culture and figure out why we’re calling this the ultimate “girly pop” summer. And whether you’re here for a profound sociological examination, or just to decide which shade of pink to rock this season, I’ve got you covered.

Now, let’s slide our rose-tinted glasses on and take a closer look at why this summer’s narrative feels like a bubblegum pop song.

On the big screens

Personally, I officially rang in summer with the finale of season 2 of Yellowjackets. Think: a dazzling high school girls’ soccer team that crashes in the Canadian wild, turning from “goal!” shouts to, well, trying not to get eaten. If you’re thinking Andes crash survivors — ding, ding! You’ve won the jackpot. Heck, some even label it as the female Lord of the Flies. You’d think with its campy, bitchifying tone and an intense obsession with cannibalism, we’d be wading into murky waters. But not so fast.

Scholar Catherine Rottenberg might describe some of today’s trends as the “evisceration of feminism of its emancipatory potential,” but Yellowjackets? It feels like a cry for a richer authenticity and self-acceptance among women. Sure, these young ladies walk on the ferral side, but aren’t we all a tad morally ambiguous?

Newsflash: feminism isn’t about ever-present strength. Sometimes, it’s just about women being… human. And boy, does Yellowjackets serve humanity on a platter, seasoned with complexity. Not to mention, centering middle-aged women like this? Pretty damn awesome.

For those still on the fence: dive into this promo for my personal favorite episode. And if it doesn’t rouse your inner female lioness, well, I’ve got a Reddit community that might convince you otherwise. ;)

Now let’s talk Barbie–because…how could we not? On July 21 Barbie strutted her iconic pink stilettos onto the big screen. Achieving even more than predicted, she shattered glass ceilings with her plastic heels. Biggest opening of 2023? Check. Biggest opening by a female director? Double check. Highest opening for a non-sequel? Barbie’s in the hall of fame now.

But beyond its record-smashing success, the film serves some piping hot tea on the patriarchy. Like Ken’s misguided attempt to play surgeon and dubbing every night “boys night”.

Quick aside — remember Laura Bates’ 2020 hit, Men Who Hate Women? In this book she delves deep into the modern manosphere of radical misogyny. And lucky for us, Barbie’s flick stands statuesque against that. The movie refuses to shy away from poking at the contradictory expectations set for women–even echoing the age-old Madonna-Whore complex. All in all, it’s a glorious reminder that we’re waking up. We’re dissecting societal subtleties like never before.

On social

Image made using Dall-E

Roll out the red carpet, folks, and get into TikTok. A social channel that’s essentially the virtual realm where trends are born, memes are made, and (to no one’s surprise) the “girly pop” summer wave is hitting harder than my attempt at a DIY fringe.

Grab your phone, throw in a hair scrunchie, and let’s decode the summer’s social trends.

“Girl Dinner”: For when you’re hungry, but not that hungry. 🍔🥒

First on the menu? 🎶Girl dinner🎶. A “girl dinner” is basically that minimalist meal you whip up when cooking feels like too much effort, but you’re still hungry. Imagine raiding your fridge for leftover veggies, crackers, and maybe a slice of cheese, putting them on a plate and saying, “Voila! Dinner!”

Now, add a catchy jingle (that’s probably been stuck in your head for days), and it feels like an inside joke all of us ladies are giggling about. The trend is so hot right now that even the NYT, The Washington Post, and Bon Appétit are hopping on the train.

Why does this even matter? Think of it as the antithesis to the 50’s housewife legacy. We’re saying, “Hey, some days I’m just too busy to whip up a three-course meal. And that’s perfectly okay!”

Lazy girls’ GRWM (Get Ready With Me) 💤🛌

Ever watch a “Get Ready With Me” video and think, “Who wakes up at 5 AM for a 10-step skincare routine?” Well, the tables are turning.

Welcome to the era of messy hair, late wake-ups, and, “This was on the floor, but it’s clean, right?” outfits. Women are tossing out the dusty glamor playbook in favor of more realistic depictions of day-to-day life. No more battling for the most impressive morning routine. Instead, we’re just embracing the beauty in our ever-so flawed mornings.

Because, let’s face it, most of us are a bit of a hot mess in the AM.

Bimbocore may not what you think. Remember Elle Woods from Legally Blonde, Paris Hilton in…well, almost anything? Or the iconic Marilyn Monroe? They’re the OG faces of this trend.

But, what even is a bimbo? Tracing its lineage, the term originated from a funky combo of “bingo” and Disney’s “Bambi”. Initially an insult, the moniker had shades of misogyny attached. Here’s the good part though — as of 2020, the internet did its thing and gave the word a millennial-pink, Y2K revamp. Today, being a “bimbo” is cool, classy, and all about debunking the myth that being fun-loving or feminine equates to being dim-witted.

Front and center of this resurgence is TikTok dynamo Chrissy Chlapecka. For the uninitiated, Chrissy’s the crowned queen of #BimboTok, revamping the bimbo aesthetic with splashes of queer, feminist, and leftist vibes. Fun fact: she’s even been hailed by Rolling Stone as one of “The Brightest Pop Stars to Watch in 2023”. The girl’s got moves, grooves, and is set to light up dance floors this year.

In music

If you’ve been vibing all summer to some killer femme beats, I’m right there with ya. The music scene got the “girly pop” memo, and they’re strumming it loud and proud.

For one, take a look at the dynamic duo that’s been a gift that keeps on giving: Taylor Swift’s Eras tour and Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour. Now, we’re not saying they’re the entire economy’s backbone, but, I mean, $4.5 billion? Damn, ladies. 👏👏👏

Why do these queens of pop matter, you ask? Taylor Swift, with her red lips, fearless attitude, and songs that traverse heartbreak, empowerment, and everything in between, has painted feminism in hues of love and strength.

Then, there’s Queen B. Not only does she wake up flawless, but she’s consistently redefined what feminine strength really looks like. Together, these two are an economic force. More importantly though, they’re changing narratives.

And here’s something fascinating — have you checked on Spotify’s top 10 lately? Women artists have been playing musical chairs, dominating those coveted spots. 10 out of 10, darlings! Well, with the exception of “Seven”. Yet, even there, we see Latto (the female powerhouse) collaborating with Jung Kook.

The music scene’s cherry on top? Selena Gomez’s deliciously apt “Single Soon”. Given her whirlwind, paparazzi-favorite relationship, and subsequently the all-too-public breakup with Justin Bieber, we’re all ears when Selena drops a breakup anthem. It’s like getting the inside scoop. But also being able to get down to said inside scoop.

And then, in a corner of the music scene, painted in all shades of bold, we’ve got Doja Cat’s “Paint the Town Red.” Controversial? Ah, for sure. Iconic? Absolutely. Doja, the self-proclaimed demon, is stirring the pot, embracing every shade of her persona. It’s wild, it’s wicked. But isn’t that what this summer’s all about? Complete, unabashed self-acceptance.

Women have taken over the airwaves folks. 🫡

In fashion

Let’s paint the scene pink. That delightfully rosy hue that’s long been the BFF of all things girly. Going back to the beginning of this surge–remember when everyone suddenly became all about those pink pussy hats in 2017, weaving in threads of the #metoo movement? It seems pink took on a fiercer, more powerful shade.

Of course, pink’s bold and slightly wild sibling, Red, remains not far behind on the trend cycle. With “Tomato girl fall” on the horizon, red’s ready to steal some of that spotlight.

Now, the fashion-forward gurus are pairing these once rival shades together, creating a unique blend that’s a tad bit Valentino, a smidge rebellious, and 100% stunning.

Who’d have thunk? It’s like black and navy’s surprising rendezvous all over again. And if you need a visual to be convinced, just take a quick flashback to the 2023 Golden Globes. Enough said.

From the era of the high bun in 2015, which let’s be real, had its highs and lows (pun intended), we’ve now shifted to the much-more-democratic slicked back bun and the ever-handy claw clip. Both styles are easy, breezy, and way more inclusive.

While we can thank Hailey Bieber’s “clean girl” influencer for that, which let’s face it has a wealth of issues in its own right, I’m glad we’ve managed to preserve the no-fuss hairstyle.

And speaking of clean girls…

The heavy-duty contouring kits? The sparkling highlighters? They’re so yesterday. If Marie Claire and a dozen other beauty bibles are to be believed, it’s all about the au naturale now.

Honestly, why not? We’re embracing skin that’s dewy and dotted with freckles, trading in the intense black liquid liner for a softer, neutral-toned eyeshadow swipe. Less has quickly become so much more.

In politics?

Okay, politics isn’t all pearls and pink power suits, but this year has definitely seen the ladies slay in the corridors of power.

While the world of politics might still be a boys club (to some extent), the ladies are here, and they’ve taken their seats. This past June saw events that shook feminism to its core. Most notably the overturning of Roe V. Wade. Now, that’s not very girly pop — is it? 🤬🤬🤬

Yet, silver linings do exist. For example, in January, the political stage shone brighter with the entry of more women, leading to women helming 1/4 of U.S. states.

Can we sustain this momentum?

Girly Pop Summer isn’t just a season. It has the potential to help root a movement. The question is, how do we keep the party going? Start with a sprinkle of awareness, a dash of advocacy, and a huge dollop of women supporting women.

As we bask in the golden glow of a Girly Pop Summer, it’s clear that the shift isn’t just about rejecting the “Cool Girl” trope or subverting age-old norms. It’s about embracing authenticity, honoring individuality, and celebrating the many facets of femininity.

The tides of change in politics, media, fashion, and beyond are not mere coincidences. They have the potential for a collective uprising. An uprising where the anthem isn’t about being the loudest in the room, but about being the most genuine. Or, even better, about having the most heart. We’ve traded the idea of perfection for rawness, silent nods for powerful roars, and passive acceptance for spirited assertion.

So, while we may reminisce about our 🎶Girl Dinners 🎶 and play our favorite bubblegum pop tracks, let’s remember that the real victory of a Girly Pop Summer is its daring embrace of the ever-evolving woman. As we rewrite our narrative, it’s not about fitting a mold. It’s about shattering it.

As a reminder–after a period of growth, things might stall. But we’ve got the power to push through. We’ve done it before, and we can do it again. 🎀🌸

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Zeitgsty

Zeitgeisty = your compass to the culture cosmos. 🔭 Ideal for the marketer's muse, the journalist’s journal, or if you just love being culturally in the know.