Opinion: In praise of the Hot Girl Walk

The No. 1 thing to take advantage of in New York City is your own two feet.


Susan Behrends Valenzuela

The Hot Girl Walk is more than exercise — it’s a ritual for the modern Manhattanite. (Staff Illustration by Susan Behrends Valenzuela)

Alexandra Cohen, Deputy Opinion Editor

I was recently gifted an Apple Watch, which means I have been forced to adopt a new personality to overcompensate for the not-so-chic addition to my wrist that peer-pressures me to stand, breathe and burn calories. I attempted to get the least ugly band, but an attractive option simply does not exist. I’m actually not allowed near Tisch or Gallatin with my new bling. It has been deemed offensive to fashion — and I get it. 

To make up for the visual monstrosity of my new friend, Applina Jolie, I’ve adopted a daily ritual into my life — the Hot Girl Walk. Really, it’s a simple stroll that boosts your confidence, mental health and satisfies your Apple Watch. There are two categories of Hot Girl Walks — one for when you’re feeling hot and one for when you just need to cry. The first one involves dressing like a wealthy suburban mom who just dropped her children off at school and is heading to pilates. This walk is sponsored by Lululemon. 

The second is more of a weekend vibe, if you will. Sweatpants and hoodies and, of course, sunglasses to cover last night’s slightly sad but sort-of-artsy residue of eye makeup. Nobody is perfect — sometimes we must sleep before we take off our mascara, and that is OK! This walk is hot only because there is no hotter feeling than the post-cry eye, and hot is truly a state of mind! Something about it just makes you want to tweet and write poetry in your notes app! You can be the unproblematic version of Lena Dunham in the pilot of “Girls,” telling her parents she is the voice of her generation! 

My walk commences at my dorm, Third North, which is quite East in the NYU sphere. I venture all the way west, staying on 12th Street the entire time until I can jump into the Hudson and swim to New Jersey. My hair is down, my coat is open and my sunglasses are on. My AirPods, the probable cause of my constant adult ear infections, sit in my ears as I binge the podcast “Seek Treatment” heading crosstown. I used to be an intellectual podcast listener, consuming the news and any analysis of it on my drives to school. Nobody in need of a Hot Girl Walk owns a car, though especially not in New York. Hot Girl Walks are not the time or the place or the moment for being an intellectual — but that doesn’t mean intellectuals can’t participate in them. Hot Girl walks are for walking around Manhattan looking like an idiot as you laugh with the voices in your ear. You are only allowed to listen to a podcast that makes you laugh so hard you cry, numb yourself to true crime, or learn something that you could never learn in school. Some people listen to music, but I designate that for the Hot Girl Run. 

The Hot Girl Walk is not so much exercise for the body, but exercise for the soul. You walk around the West Village, first in the area that no normal person could afford, then in the area that maybe one day with an okay-paying job in your late 20s and the co-signature of your parents, you could maybe, potentially, perhaps afford with a roommate or a significant other — the Zillow and StreetEasy tabs I look at on my Walk are not for the faint of heart.

The Hot Girl Walk is an exercise in romanticization and manifestation. It is nothing if not romantic! Maybe one day you’ll pet that really attractive guy’s golden retriever. Afterward you’re like, “Wow what is this young man doing in life where he’s financially and mentally stable enough to have a golden retriever in the West Village?” And maybe one day he’ll give you his number and eventually you’ll live in his apartment with him and his golden retriever and you’ll owe it all to the Hot Girl Walk. How insane is it that young people take care of dogs and kids? Literally could not be me. On this journey, nothing is impossible because every emotion is generated by the endorphins that only emerge on a Hot Girl Walk at a 20-minute-per-mile pace. 

It is such a privilege to both have to and get to exist in New York City. Hot Girl Walks are for the modern woman. Walking aimlessly is sophisticated and rational! Walking in the rain is the very definition of being in a rom-com, and doing it alone elicits all kinds of emotions and those emotions deserve to be felt. Life’s a stage, and the Hot Girl Walk lets you write and be the star of a play! It’s a productive procrastination tactic because you’re being active, and nothing is more sacred than walking 10,000 steps in a day and closing each ring on your Apple Watch. You don’t even have to have an Apple Watch to participate in this ritual of Manhattan womanhood  — or personhood, Hot Girl Walks are not gendered — since your phone tracks your steps too. 

Really, a Hot Girl Walk is what you make it — it’s the scratch to whatever itch you’re currently facing. It’s a chance to disconnect by embracing the beautiful anonymity that is living in New York City. People here cry on the streets all the time! That is something we should celebrate, something that we should take part in, something that we should all do before we turn 30 and after we turn 30! Isn’t it crazy that we’ll all one day be 30? 

Take some time this week to walk, stroll or Citi Bike aimlessly. We all go through a phase where we decide that our main means of transportation will be Citi Bike — that phase always ends as fast as it begins. Walk with confidence, with insecurity, and most importantly with a podcast in your ear! Feel every emotion there is to be felt, but don’t you dare think about the essay due next week or the test you have to study for to pass the class! Hot Girl Walks are sacred because they’re an escape from all the worries you’re supposed to have — they’re a place to dwell on the irrational ones.

WSN’s Opinion section strives to publish ideas worth discussing. The views presented in the Opinion section are not the views of the Washington Square News.

Contact Alexandra Cohen at [email protected].