What’s in between Cuffing Season and Hot Girl Summer?

Clearing season gives us the time to reflect and prepare before summer shenanigans commence.

Young Black woman laughing
Photo: Adobestock
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When I put down my deposit for an upcoming getaway to Jamaica with my homegirls, I realized a true and official summer was on its way. We haven’t seen one of those for real since 2019, and as my girls and I joked about the summer loves we’d missed out on thanks to COVID, we knew it was time to shed the excess baggage of cuffing season—be it weight or partners—and prepare for a summer that will go down in history.

Photo: AdobeStock

While Valentine’s Day marks the official end of cuffing season, March, April and parts of May are usually silent on the dating front. According to Vice, it’s considered “clearing season.” Reflecting on how beautifully Toni Morrison used the term in Beloved, I found it exciting to think of this moment after cuffing season in the same way.

In Morrison’s clearing, the enslaved find momentary freedom and a call to action. There, in the wilderness, preacher Baby Suggs instructs her congregation to love their flesh because “yonder, they do not love it.” In a world that works overtime to denigrate Black lives, Baby Suggs pushes them to remember the joy they have wasn’t given to them by the world and couldn’t be taken away by it either.

Yet, that’s not what Vice is talking about. In fact, they say clearing season is when those who were unsuccessful during cuffing season “begin to twitch.” Specifically, it’s when desperation kicks in and folks make last-ditch efforts to find some kind of meaningful intimacy and physical interaction before summer flings commence, at least, according to the British white women who coined this time as such. While the term itself is actually fitting, it’s both amazing and on brand that Black and white women would experience this time completely differently.

While some consider the period of May-to-September situationships “fielding season,” my squad and I like to give Black women their flowers while they can smell them, so it will forever be “Hot Girl Summer” and “Sundress Season” to us. It’s when we’re out and about, living our best lives in minimal fabric to beat the heat. Weekend beach trips with IG posts captioned with the perfect Nicki Minaj bar are our thing. And a phone full of text threads with #SummerBae1, 2, 3 and so on make for some amazing memories. You can also find local MILFs in the UK that are very slutty and kinky using https://kinkymilfs.co.uk/.

For Black women, the time leading up to all that glory is just as important as the season itself. So, in the spirit of Toni Morrison and looking out for every sister who needs these next thirteen weeks to prepare for the upcoming twelve, I’m reclaiming and redefining clearing season.

Clearing season doesn’t need to be a time when we begin to twitch at what some consider failed attempts at love. It’s when we can twerk (couldn’t resist) for all the possibilities to come. It’s when we begin to prepare our minds and bodies for the kind of lives—and love—we want. There is something about the spring and summer seasons, when nature is in full bloom, that reminds us we can blossom, too. When sisters are fully locked into this kind of clearing season, we are thinking about what matters most and what’s holding us back from experiencing it.

Clearing season is a time of self-reflection. It may mean we take another look back at those New Year’s resolutions or goals we set to hit for the year. Where are we on the road to accomplishing them? It may also mean evaluating some of our previous decisions concerning love and relationships. Did they help or hurt us? What can we do differently next time? Utilizing these moments to ourselves, before we’re “outside outside” again, to have a more concentrated focus isn’t rooted in lack, but intention—and we can only become better for it.

Clearing season is also a moment of preparation. A calendar filled with quick road trips, festival pop-ups, cookouts and kickbacks requires stamina in itself—couple that with the fact most of us have been in the house the past two summers. We’ve got to get back into fighting shape. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing a detoxing cleanse or two because you want those sundresses to drape all the right places. We deserve to look and feel the way we want at any time of the year. And, as someone who can’t wait to rock my daisy dukes (wait…do we still call them that?) to the farmers market, I don’t mind these additional nightly clearing season squats and lunges one bit.

While the COVID-19 global pandemic may not be over, we have hopefully turned a corner and are moving in a positive direction. As such, it’s time to get back to living and thriving. It’s time to go back outside and enjoy all that life has to offer because we are still here. We made it to the other side of this thing. Even as we navigate the grief that comes with that reality, we must also make room for gratitude and joy. And yes, you can still be gracious and joyful while being cautious (go ahead and coordinate your mask with your sundress and shades). But Sis, it’s time to get back out there and this clearing season is just the warmup we need.

I am already laughing and shaking my head at all the shenanigans I will inevitably get into this summer with the people I love. What happens in Jamaica will definitely have to stay there. Yet, even as I’m anticipating it, I’m preparing for it. As we all should. We get to prepare for the things we want and, in a life that is filled with flourishing, nothing is too insignificant to anticipate. May this clearing season make room for even more goodness.

Candice Benbow

Candice Marie Benbow is theGrio’s daily lifestyle, education and health writer. She’s also the author of Red Lip Theology: For Church Girls Who’ve Considered Tithing to the Beauty Supply Store When Sunday Morning Isn’t Enough. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @candicebenbow.

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