'Rat Girl Summer' Is The TikTok Trend That Says Anything Goes

TikTok is known for its ability to turn one person's few seconds of video into a viral phenomenon. Sometimes, this results in trends that can compound the societal pressures placed on women to look a certain way that has been deemed desirable — doubly so in summer, when mainstream consciousness shifts to beaches and bikinis. Think #hotgirlsummer and #feralgirlsummer; both encourage women to force themselves into very narrow definitions of either desirable or chaotic.


But a new trend has emerged on the app that ditches the pressure of conforming to an aesthetic and instead encourages women to embrace the summer for what it is: a time to get out and enjoy life in any way that inspires you. This trend comes in the form of #ratgirlsummer, a term coined in a short video by TikTokker @lolaokola. Having a rat girl summer includes empowering activities such as finding the courage to visit places you wouldn't normally visit and enjoying eating without guilt during bathing suit season. A closer look at the rules involved in the trend shows why rat girl summer is all about encouraging you to follow your gut and embrace anything that brings you joy this season.

Go outside for your adventures

In a follow-up video to the one that started the trend, TikTokker @lolaokola laid out the four guidelines of rat girl summer for others who want to participate. Most importantly? "You have to go outside," she says. "You need to leave your home." The whole point is to encourage you to scurry from place to place like a rat, doing whatever you please — and it's hard to achieve this goal if you only ever stay home and bask in the safety of your bed or sofa. Forcing yourself to get up and get out and about is absolutely crucial, even if you aren't able to travel far. It's also just plain good for you — WebMD notes the benefits of regularly leaving your home include lessened anxiety, more opportunities for social connection, and improved sleep quality and focus.


If bed-rotting and taking some downtime is part of what helps you enjoy yourself, not to worry. Rat girl summer's rules do allow for two days of rest each week; lolaokola refers to these days as "allotted for decaying." You might use this time to scroll through your social media feeds, nap, or binge-watch all your favorite streaming shows. But outside of these two "decay" days, you're expected to venture outside of your home every single day — even if you don't feel like it. 

Enjoy eating

For generations, people have been plagued by the notion that in order to be deemed good enough by societal standards, they should be preparing their bodies for summer by making them smaller and "fitter." As soon as the first signs of spring emerge — and often, even before then — advertisements for restrictive dieting plants, weight-loss supplements, and gym memberships explode on social media, streaming services, and television. All of them urge you to get to work on your ideal summer body before it's too late.


But rat girl summer encourages you not only to eat what you want over the summer, but also to truly enjoy eating. For instance, summer is often filled with barbeques and picnics, which can be a minefield for people who have been pressured into restricting their food intake to achieve #hotgirlsummer status. Instead, a rat girl summer means fueling your body with adequate calories and nutrients and ditching the guilt that may be associated with doing so. And if you're craving a sweet treat after dinner? Rat girl summer tells you to go for it!

If you need help with an eating disorder, or know someone who does, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).


'Kill the cringe'

If you've ever shut down your own enthusiasm or avoided doing something you wanted out of fear of how it makes you look, rat girl summer is here to tell you to stop — it's time to do what @lolaokala calls "killing the cringe." The cringe, in this case, represents the shame, embarrassment, and self-doubt that tends to surface when you imagine doing something you may have always dreamed of doing but have been too scared to follow through with. This could be something as inconsequential as singing karaoke during a night out or as major as signing up to go back to college.


At its core, rat girl summer is about embracing who you are on a fundamental level and following your instincts. If you wake up one morning and all you can think about is learning how to make your own goat's milk soap, then you should absolutely sign up for a soap-making workshop. You should also do so without pausing to feel ashamed of how weird or random you think your interests are. Rats don't care whether anyone is judging them as they run around on their little errands — it's time to embody that same energy.

Replace overthinking with going with your gut

While overthinking itself isn't a disorder, excessive amounts of it can lead to greater stress, anxiety, and even physical symptoms like digestive issues, per BetterHelp. Rat girl summer's last core tenet urges you to get out of that cycle of constant overthinking. Nimble little creatures like rats don't stop to question themselves before they decide to scurry to a new location or swipe a dropped tidbit of food from the sidewalk — they operate solely on instinct and intuition, always fully trusting their own natural ability to make the right choice without overanalyzing. To pull off a rat girl summer, you'll need to learn how to follow their lead.


Though that may be easier said than done, the point is to practice. No more second-guessing yourself when you feel the urge to go on a spontaneous road trip or slip your phone number to a new acquaintance. Quiet your mind and listen to your gut for the summer instead. When you see how following your intuition can change your life, you just might decide to leave behind your overthinking ways for good by the time fall rolls around.