The ‘feral girl’ of 2022 doesn’t come close to the real thing | Emma Beddington

I thought this was a trend I could get behind - until I realised it was all about hard-partying and wearing yesterday’s makeup, rather than wearing a discounted fleece and refusing to wash.

I was thrilled to hear that we’re in for a “feral girl summer”: finally, a trend that seems within my reach. Further reading has burst my bubble: this “feral” is more of a sexily dishevelled, smudged mascara and tousled hair thing, rather than my own “grey-blue flaky legs and broken toenails” aesthetic. The “feral girl” of 2022 is a depressing descendant of the infamous “cool girl”, as outlined in the film Gone Girl. The feral girl “is always down to go with the flow and have a good time,” one comment piece explains. “She’s out every night of the week, loves house music, she’s talking to all the strangers at bars, she’s getting spontaneous tattoos and drinking every shot handed to her.” In other words, it’s another one of those labels designed to make women feel as if they are doing “being a person” wrong. They seem to be breeding exponentially: this week alone, I have spotted “weird girl aesthetic” and “clean girl makeup” (already over, FYI).

What a missed opportunity. You want a real feral girl summer? Come to someone who has been feral every summer of her adult life. I am in every night of the week (unless I’m looking for my husband’s escaped tortoise). I’m talking to a stranger I call “the neck-tumour pigeon that sits on the windowsill”. I’m getting spontaneous takeaways. I’m eating every Magnum in the corner shop. Want to get the look? Snap up a discount fleece from Mountain Warehouse, then stuff the pockets with dog wormer, chicken antibiotics and twine. Moodboard: sagging trousers with pasta sauce on the crotch and bike-chain oil on the knees. Feral girls wear “yesterday’s makeup”? Give me a break. Try: “Only worn makeup once since 2020 because it gives me eyelid eczema.” Replace that sexy chipped nail varnish with a good half-centimetre of soil around your tattered cuticles. Commit to water conservation by failing to shower. Forget you ever owned a handbag, a pumice stone or moisturiser. Let’s do this properly, you cowards.

  • Emma Beddington is a freelance writer

  • Do you have an opinion on the issues raised in this article? If you would like to submit a letter of up to 300 words to be considered for publication, email it to us at


Emma Beddington

The GuardianTramp

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