I have a secret formula. Red lipstick, an off-the-shoulder top and tequila. That, my friends, is the recipe for Bad Gal Jazzy. Borrowed from queen Rihanna, of course. And yes, it’s a far cry from "sugar, spice and everything nice" but it’s effective. Disaster often ensues (hangovers, lost credit cards and the like) but I’ve always been very chill about the fact that this fun and flirty version of myself was the better Jazmin, the Jazmin everyone loved to laugh both at and with as she expertly bulldozed her way through London's pubs/bars/dance floors/corner shops to chat up an unsuspecting man on the other side of the room.
"She’s fun! She’s carefree! That lipstick never fails!" sang my choir of imaginary hype women every time I’d shimmy out of my oversized sweatshirt to reveal the little black bodysuit that had been hiding beneath. "She’s got a date!" cheered colleagues as I faux-coyly arose from behind my computer screen with a lick of rouge lippy at the end of the day. I’d smirk, they’d laugh and I’d walk out into the night, ready to live my 'best' life.
Then the days got longer, the nights got lighter and the mood of my routine took a turn. Back in May I’d decided that it was time to date more. No longer would I rely on waking up next to Bad Gal Jazzy’s Bad Decisions on the off chance that it might turn into something legit (it almost never did). I was going to retry the conscious dating thing that involved meeting guys at a prearranged time and destination – the red lipstick and shoulder-baring bodycons were still invited, of course, and the tequila often followed, but the arrival of my confidently sexy alter ego at least felt a little bit more purposeful in this context.
So we ushered in the era of Jaz’s Sexy Summer. Properly dating, continued partying and living that Hollywood version of being young, free and single, except while on a boozy rampage through London. It was around the second or third week of 'grown-up dating' – there was a guy with twin babies, a guy who arrived with a pint can of Stella tucked into his coat pocket and a guy who was really, really into face paints – that I realised Sexy Summer wasn’t as sexy as I’d imagined it to be. 11am texts from unfamiliar men that read "Am I just thinking of an excuse to hold your body close to mine [devil emoji]" weren’t fun. Being on a first-name basis with the bouncer at your least favourite late-night dive bar isn’t flirty. Having to collect your Apple Watch from the other side of town the morning after the heaviest night of your life is not the one.
But then Megan Thee Stallion redefined the season. The internet pointed right at her like the guardian angel I never knew I needed, and we were introduced to the collective Hot Girl Summer as we know it now. Don’t roll your eyes at me just yet. I know what you’re thinking. This idiot is about to claim Hot Girl Summer. Don’t worry, I wouldn’t dare. The idea of my own sexy summer is actually a crucially different vibe; it was not attached to an absolute banger of a song, nor was it recognised beyond my circle of very patient friends and colleagues at whom I’d been preaching the Good Time, Not A Long Time gospel to justify my mood. The birth of Hot Girl Summer did make me realise, though, that whatever wild wave I was riding would probably be better (or at least a little less rogue) if I aligned it with the way of life the rest of social media was celebrating.
This was about taking the assertive energy that I’d muster up on a night out and channelling it in my day-to-day. This was no longer about the thrill of the incidental hook-up, nor the mindful dinner dates with unappealing men. This was about looking good, feeling great and letting the boy stuff fall into place around my unapologetic, party-bringing, all-day glowed-up existence. A positive spin on my potentially catastrophic fixation, if you will. Fun. Hashtag-friendly. Comes with its own theme tune. Great, I thought. Let me be that bitch.
Christ, it was exhausting. For all we silently mock influencers’ unconvincing 'Instagram vs Reality' posts, in which their reality looks a million times more filtered, staged and perfect than any photo we mere civilians could orchestrate, the mental energy required to live an Instagram-friendly best life (even when you’re not taking pictures to prove it) is a lot. But I persisted. I went out with my friends more. I bought cute new dresses for the multiple weddings I attended. I frolicked in the sun. I danced harder to my favourite songs. I said yes to more dates and I embraced the attention I got from guys who vibed off my hot girl shit.
Now, if you paid close attention to Megan Thee Stallion’s definition of Hot Girl Summer, you’ll know that it’s not about hooking up. In fact, it’s got nothing to do with relationships; it's about just doing you because you deserve to. Nevertheless, the niggling assumption that my Hot Girl Megan/Sexy Summer Jazmin relied on being single wouldn’t budge. I’d taken on this weird pressure to dance with random guys and be available for nonchalant snogs in the smoking area to fulfil the season’s brief. And hey, I was pretty good at it.
But then another boy came along. A great one. After two dates with whom (yes, two! With the same person!) I complained that my sexy summer was ruined because I kinda liked him. I had a weeklong trip to Barbados on the horizon. I wanted to switch up my hair and overhaul my Instagram with thirst trap snaps for all those ridiculous guys who ask for your Instagram handle rather than your phone number. I was outraged, I felt cheated and I resisted this potentially wonderful thing out of commitment to the summer sesh. Good time, not a long time, remember?
Time went by, the new boy lingered on my mind and I was increasingly aware that I was projecting fun but not really living it. I lost perspective of where the free-spirited enjoyment of the summer was meant to come from. It certainly wasn't going to come from me, not now. In reality the whole endeavour left me without any money (booze, dresses and red lipstick), exhausted and unwilling to recognise something – or rather someone – pretty great in front of me. My Instagram game slowed, my heart wasn't in the cause. My hot girl summer went cold.
Autumn now hovers on the horizon and the perhaps misguided brand of sexy that I've been championing in the last few months seems even more silly. I didn't do Thee Stallion's Hot Girl Summer justice, I lost all meaning of it the moment I merged it with my storm of sexy singledom. It's a wonder that I came out of Jaz's Sexy Summer alive with just a few bruises and embarrassing stories to share with you all. It was a blast and my alter ego thrived like she'd never thrived before, but the journey wasn't anywhere near what I thought the social media-fronted pursuit of 'best life in real life' (oh, the irony) would feel like. It's the end of August and I feel neither hot nor sexy. It's the end of summer and I'm tired and broke with little more than a few cool photos to show for it. The new boy is still around and I'm on my best behaviour. Let's see if I can manage a sincerely Sexy September.