Rat girl summer versus bed rotting: Which side will you pick?

By Jennifer Raymont

Published Jun 16, 2023 at 10:19 AM

Reading time: 4 minutes

In 2019, Megan Thee Stallion coined the phrase ‘hot girl summer’ with the help of her iconic song of the same name. Single women all over the world fearlessly entered their single girl era, some even used it to justify their breakups, and social media became obsessed with the trend. Then, in 2022, we witnessed the appearance of its polar opposite, as netizens went full-on ‘goblin mode’. But if there’s one thing we know for sure about gen Zers, it’s that we tend to move on to the next big thing very quickly, which explains why we’re already hoping onto the next trend, or should I say ‘scurrying’…

What is rat girl summer?

Of all the weird and wonderful trends emerging from the depths of TikTok, rat girl summer is on the weirder side. This is all thanks to content creator Lola Okala, who recently took to the video-sharing platform and predicted the rise of the “rat girl summer.” Okala’s video now has more than 3 million views—if that’s not influence, I don’t know what is.


🐀🧀 #ratgirlsummer #rodentenergy #summervibes #summer2023 #weoutside #selfcare


Okala first told us to “embrace our rodent energy,” and in turn led countless users to share follow-up videos giving step by step guides on how to live your best “rodent life.” But don’t think that because we’re talking vermin here we mean gross energy and hiding from the sunshine. On the contrary, willingness to embrace the outdoors is fundamental—after all, rats do not settle, they are out there seeing the sights and seizing the day. Key to a rat girl’s outdoor uniform is a Uniqlo Round Mini shoulder bag packed to the brim with snacks and sweet treats.


Replying to @chaneltampons #greenscreen #ratgirlsummer #rodentenergy #summervibes #summer2023 #weoutside #selfcare #selflove #bodypositivity

♬ original sound - lola

Next, and my personal favourite, rat girls must “scurry” and eat snacks. Rats are avid nibblers and many a phone charger has been lost to their gnashers. That being said, let’s bring a touch of class to our summer with some amuse-bouche-filled picnics. If you’re craving picky bits in the park, go and head to your local supermarket, summer 2023 is the year to treat yourself.

Promoting a season of eating and it actually being encouraged to openly enjoy eating is very much something I can get behind. The sunshine of summer’s past has often been clouded by the pressure to be “summer body ready.” The saying is nothing short of toxic and so are the slew of body expectations and pressure that women face on a daily basis. But we’re moving on this year, “bikini ready” now means slapping on the factor 50 plus and channelling our inner rat.

Third rule is “killing the cringe.” In other words, it’s absolutely forbidden to be embarrassed for doing things that we like. This summer, we won’t let others’ judgement fall on our shoulders. Bringing us nicely onto the final step, “no overthinking.” Trust your gut and scurry away.

Much like hot girl summer, rat girl summer is all about living your best single life and “decentering men.” Stealing, shaking ass, lying to strangers and using your time wisely are more liberating than being latched onto a boy. As Dolly Alderton once wrote in her book Everything I Know about Love, “nearly everything I know about love I’ve learnt from my long term friendships with women.”


♬ -

As I’m sure you’ve cleverly guessed by now, all the going out and self-love can be incredibly tiring so rat girls are permitted two days a week to decay in bed, but not one minute more, otherwise you might end up spending your summer in goblin mode, and we’re so not here for that anymore. Unfortunately, it’s a very fine line to tiptoe, one that countless rat girls have gone past, turning their rodent energy into bed rotting juju.

What is bed rotting?

Bed rotting is exactly what it says on the tin: staying in bed all day, drowning in crumbs, and binge-watching your favourite TV shows. Bed rotters are devoid of sunshine and reluctant to step into the sensory overload that is the outside world. To them, the clean girl era is definitely over, and honestly, I can’t blame them.


Viral videos sharing people’s own bed rotting habits are currently flooding the internet. Some do face masks and practice self-care rituals in the comfort of their own bed while others scroll until the early hours of the morning, afternoon and evening. For bed rotters, time is a social construct. 


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A post shared by emma chamberlain (@emmachamberlain)

Before she made it on the Hollywood scene and entered the high fashion sphere, Emma Chamberlain could be considered the poster girl bed rotter. Regularly starting her YouTube videos declaring how tired she was, she even prompted a trend of drawing on your own under eye bags with eyeshadow. I did say these trends were plucked from the darkest of corners on TikTok.


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A post shared by emma chamberlain (@emmachamberlain)

For me, bed rotting sounds like a day well spent but as with a lot of internet trends, the fun police do need to have their say. Therapist TikTokers are suggesting bed rotting is a symptom of depression and anxiety, arguing that there is a difference between sleeping to avoid the day and the challenges that being awake brings—aka life—and sleeping because you’re tired.


I learned about folks #coping by being #inbedrotting …here are some thoughts #mentalhealth #burnout #sleep #stress

♬ Part of Your World - From "The Little Mermaid" - Halle

Many self-proclaimed bed rotters are unphased by this diagnosis. After psychiatrist Dr. Jessi Gold suggested journaling and reading books to combat the urge to rot, bed rotters responded: “we can do that from the comfort of our own bed.”

To put it simply, rat girl summer is waking up after a night out still slightly drunk, perhaps doing the walk of shame, and thinking you can do anything. Whether it’s going for brunch with the girlies or having a picnic, fear not, the rat girls have got it covered. Bed rotting, however, is when the hangover kicks in and there is no other option but to stay in bed and feel sorry for yourself. With 30 degree heat slowly but surely becoming a daily expectation, summer is in full swing. So, are you team rat girl or team bed rotter? Either way, I won’t judge you.

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