Kylie Harris didn’t actually think anyone would show up. 

The Austin native and Texas A&M grad had recently settled in Dallas and, after finding herself lonely and struggling to make friends, she posted a TikTok to her one thousand or so followers suggesting a casual walking club. “I saw there was a running club in Dallas, and I loved that, but I’m just not a runner. I wanted to go to socialize, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up,” Harris said. “So, I thought maybe there’s some interest in a walking club.” 

Some of the key words Harris leaves out in that summation are “hot” and “girl.” Harris was looking to start specifically a hot girl walking club. Either that rings a bell for you, or TikTok’s algorithm hasn’t found you. The term “hot girl walk” was first popularized on the video sharing app in early 2021 by user @exactlyliketheothergirls, whose profile says the 23-year-old is the “Creator of the Hot Girl Walk™.” Her initial video has been viewed more than three million times. In it, she spends a second touting the well-known and established health benefits of taking long and regular walks, but quickly diverts to explaining what makes a hot girl walk special and different than a regular walk. 

“It’s what you do on the hot girl walk that matters,” she says. According to the Creator™, you’re only allowed to think about three things on your walk: what you’re grateful for, your goals and how you’re going to achieve them, and, most important, how hot you are. Also extremely important is what you don’t spend time thinking about during your walk: romantic drama. That’s when @exactlyliketheothergirls encourages you to turn up your music and walk on. The video ends by noting that “the most important part of the hot girl walk” is that the themes don’t end when you finish walking but instead are carried through to the rest of your day.

@exactlyliketheothergirls

#greenscreen literally my best glow up advice in 45s follow if you wanna hear my whole journey #advice

♬ original sound – Mia
@exactlyliketheothergirls on TikTok

In the past year, group hot girl walks have popped up across Texas, and now those looking can find a group of women to walk with in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio

When Harris planned her first group hot girl walk in July, she wasn’t feeling very hot at all. “I’d never really felt this sense of loneliness before,” she said. “I didn’t have anyone to go to dinner with. I didn’t have any friends in my workout classes. I’m a really social person, so I wasn’t used to it just being me alone, by myself all the time. I called my mom crying one day and told her, ‘This is the loneliest I’ve ever been—maybe I made a mistake.’”

When she showed up at Dallas’s Katy Trail, she was shocked to see a group of about forty women mingling. Outfitted in an array of spandex separates and tennis shoes, with oversized statement water bottles in tow—the hot girls had come through.

After they did what they had set out to do (a gentle two-mile loop that landed them at the doors of Katy Trail’s popular patio restaurant and bar, Katy Trail Ice House), the group socialized, drank margaritas, and went home feeling, maybe, a little more connected than before. Harris took to TikTok to share a recap video and set a date for the next walk. That time, a group of around two hundred women showed up ready to walk the trail. “People were stopping us like, ‘What is this? What’s going on?’” Harris said. “Some people knew, ‘Oh, that’s a hot girl walk!’ But others pulled out their phones and took a video. I just laughed. I get it. It’s a lot . . . a literal mob of girls coming at you. I can imagine what that looks like.”  

https://www.tiktok.com/@kylieharris/video/7125555174998871339?is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v1&lang=en

The group, which has leveled off at about a hundred and just completed its ninth walk, is mostly women in their twenties but, as Harris stresses repeatedly, it’s open to all ages: “People bring their dogs. We’ve had a few people bring their baby in a stroller. It’s truly open to everybody.” Erin Kee, a fitness blogger who helped launch a monthly hot girl walk in Austin, reiterated the sentiment, saying, “We welcome any and all gals, and want this to feel inclusive to all.” 

So, girls who might not always identify as hot, too?

While the “hot” in “hot girl walk” is rooted in building confidence and dedicating time to thinking positively, with intention, about one’s self, the trend has evolved to feature a handful of aspects tied to personal appearance and presentation. Certain shoe brands are often cited in hot girl walk outfit recaps, and popular workout-wear brands and styles have generated a sort of unofficial hot girl walk uniform. In response, well-known TikTok user Kate Glavan took to Bustle early this summer to criticize the trend, saying it had “turned into showing off your personal wealth and consumer habits,” and offering her own anti-aesthetic antidote, the “fugly hag stroll.” 

It’s worth noting when asked by Bustle what she wears on a fugly hag stroll, Glavan answered, “I always wear Hokas”—an especially popular brand of running shoes that retail at around $150, and for which she is an ambassador—and “an article of clothing that has a stain on it.”

Glorified consumerism as a possible side effect aside, for Harris, at least, the walks have accomplished their intended purpose. “I think all of us have at one point in our lives tried to make friends,” she said “It can be really hard. You can come to this walk each week knowing that everyone wants that too. It’s not weird. Everyone’s there for the same reason. If one less girl can feel the way that I felt, then it’s working.” 

Harris also spoke to the added aspect of security women can find walking in a group: “When I walk the trail by myself, I have my head on a swivel. Because, you know, you have your headphones in, and you have to make sure no one’s following you . . . We’re always told, ‘You’ve got to make it back before dark!’ I’ve been told stuff like that my whole life.”

Walking in fear is decidedly not hot. But for a group of our state’s residents who often feel targeted and unsafe, to walk headphones-in (and music up), or alongside women who might, maybe, be friends—all with their dreams and ambitions top of mind—well, that’s beautiful.