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What is 'feral girl summer'? Hoda and Jenna explain the 'wild and free' TikTok trend

Jenna said this summer's unofficial theme embraces “the wild child that lives inside all of us.”
Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

Wild, free, and ready for fun.

The idea of "feral girl summer" has become an online sensation — and recently came up on TODAY. When asked by Samantha Guthrie if she would be taking part in hot girl summer, Rebel Wilson brought up feral girl summer, instead.

“I heard this thing called feral girl summer,” Wilson remarked. “It’s when you don’t care.”

Think of “feral girl summer” as the vibe for the upcoming summer season. It’s a response to the concept of “hot girl summer,” a term coined by Megan Thee Stallion in the 2019 song of the same name. Coinciding with widespread vaccination, 2021's hot girl summer was meant to be all about fun – and looking good while doing so.

This summer's theme, however, is a bit more chaotic.

Likely, the first thing that comes the mind upon hearing the word “feral” is the crazed raccoon rifling through your trashcans or the stray cat that escapes the heat by holding up beneath your car in the summer.

But on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok, the term refers to the embracing of a carefree summer lifestyle. That said, rat imagery is often used to evoke the feral lifestyle, so wildlife is never far away.

Below, we'll take a deep dive into the feral girl lifestyle and answer all those questions you're too embarrassed to ask the Zoomers in your life.

Who is a feral girl?

“My body is a temple on the weekdays, and a watering hole for vodka sodas on the weekends,” a self-proclaimed feral girl shared in a post on TikTok. "Friday cardio is getting absolutely feral on the dance floor."

In a sentence, this describes the mindset and routine of someone participating in feral girl summer.

To be "feral" is to go against the expectation to be more organized and more optimized, or to strive for a clean lifestyle. As this TikToker put it, "I will never wake up at 5am to drink green juices and be hyper organized. I will instead be in 4am reddit holes, diet coke first thing in the morning." It's like a more energized version of goblin mode.

Though the feral girl mentality gained traction among the very-online Gen Z population, anyone has the potential to be a feral girl — it comes down to whether or not a person has the gall to behave like one. In fact, the term was first tweeted about in 2019, amid the "hot girl summer" craze.

A feral girl embraces the opportunity to be a little unhinged. She does her cardio on the dance floor with a drink in hand, has the potential to be booted from a club for having too much of a good time, and has no qualms about taking selfies in the bathroom despite the line for it being extremely long.

In short, Rick James would have absolutely dated her back in his heyday.

Okay, but what is feral girl summer?

Feral girl summer is the act of causing good trouble and having carefree times at any location in 2022 — from party settings to the pantry — during the summer season.

Above all, feral girl summer encourages tossing caution (in regards to fear of judgment, at least) to the wind and having fun.

“Time to wreak havoc, cause chaos, align your rodent chakras, and just completely get after it,” one post on TikTok about feral girl summer encouraged. “Life is supposed to be fun.”

One TikToker previewed her feral girl summer itinerary: “I’ve officially entered my feral season. I will not brush my hair. I will determine which t-shirt I wear based on how much it smells like sunscreen. I will be hanging out on the gulf beaches I grew up on and drinking cheap beer while I eat boiled peanuts. Tomorrow I will do it all again with a sunburn.”

The underlying message, as this TikToker put it? “Do something you’ve always wanted to do," and don't feel sorry.

TODAY's Hoda and Jenna are on board the feral summer train

Rebel Wilson and Lorde, who said her new album was "a little bit feral" on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, are among celebrities advocate for feral girl summer.

And so, it seems, are TODAY's own Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager. In May 2022, Jenna and Hoda brought up the trend in an interview with Entertainment Tonight at a red carpet event. 

When asked if her recent single-lady status meant that she was going to have a “hot Hoda summer,” Hoda's co-host Jenna answered for: “It’s a feral girl summer and we’re leading the charge!”

“Feral is wild,” Hoda explained in response to the question. She said her summer plans simply involve enjoying herself. “I’m really enjoying my kids and my life,” she said.

Jenna and Hoda also talked about the “Feral Girl Summer" during a new segment on the show called “Trend or Pretend." Speaking about the summer state of mind, Jenna explained that it speaks to the "wild child that lives inside all of us.”

“This is the summer who doesn't care, you can go crazy, you can be undone and wild and free," Hoda explained.

The hosts got literary, offering up the poems they felt best spoke to the concept. Hoda was reminded of an Anne Lamott essay about self love.

“(It) talks about how you spend your life talking about 'how will I look in this bathing suit?'" Hoda recalled. "'How will I carry myself?' She says 'One day don’t you just want to be free and feel the water on your body. To just enjoy, to close your eyes, pop out of the ocean and not worry what somebody thinks looking at you?'”

The concept reminded Jenna of the Mary Oliver poem, "I Worried."

“You spend all your time worrying about what you look like and then towards the end of your life, you realize what a waste that was,” Jenna said. “And you get into the water and you’re free.”

Go forth this summer and be free — and feral.