How Hot Are You?

How Hot Are You? July 19, 2022

Expanding the definition of Hotness, one blog post at a time.

A lovely person sent this bit of hotness along to me this week. I jest, of course, the article is no manner of hot, despite its feverish intentions. Nevertheless, we should still consider the claim. Which is that whatever you thought “hotness” was before, you must set all that aside and prepare to have your mind blown:

Ms. Estime is one of many who are expanding the definition of hotness, taking it beyond its former association with old notions of attractiveness. These days, being hot no longer pertains only to your physical appearance, but includes how you move through the world and how you see yourself.

Many of those pushing for a broader understanding of the term are also pushing back against the idea that you need to wait for confirmation from someone else before feeling justified in calling yourself hot. To them, hotness is a self-declaration, and that’s that. Hotness is no longer just in the eye of the beholder. It’s a mood. It’s a vibe.

Emily Sundberg, a 28-year-old editor and filmmaker in Brooklyn, was eating spaghetti when she had a realization: She was being hot.

What a realization that must have been. I have those sorts of epiphanies all the time. I wake up in the morning astonished by my own magnificence in whole new ways. It’s one of the things that makes my life so important and meaningful to others. For Ms. Sundberg, though, it was dinner time:

There was nothing glamorous about it. It was just a solo weeknight dinner at the kitchen counter, and Ms. Sundberg was wearing workout clothes and glasses. But she felt moved to make a video of herself as she twirled the pasta strands onto a fork and succeeded in getting most of them all the way into her mouth. As she chewed, with Kanye West’s “Jail” blaring in the background, she stared into the lens with a blank expression.

I love that–“she felt moved to make a video of herself.” Remember when Christians used to say that sort of thing? ‘I felt moved to pray for so and so,’ or ‘I felt moved to give to the missions budget.’ The Christian was referring to the alien work of the Holy Spirit to bring one believer close to another, knitting the Body of Christ together with the bonds of truth and charity. The problem with the expression, of course–“I felt moved”–was twofold. It centered the self and it conflated personal feelings with the work of God. Feelings, as such, dwell in the land of subjectivity. You can be wrong about your feelings. But the Holy Spirit isn’t ever wrong. If you “felt moved” to move to Majorca, but then discovered the place didn’t suit you at all, was it that the Holy Spirit was confused? Or that you weren’t even hearing his still small vague whisperings? How was one to tell?  Looking back at that well-intentioned expression that I abandoned at least five years ago, I think it unwittingly illumines the hazy gray shadowlands so many Christians have lived in for the last hundred years as they have tried to sort out how it is, exactly, that God brings about his will. What admixture of bible reading, prayer, and “intuition” could be depended on to make a good Christian do wise and holy things? As the bible became harder and harder to bother to comprehend, the “Holy Spirit” began to “move” Christians to weirder and weirder adventures. Funny that.

None of these questions, however, shed any light whatsoever on this new and pressing question: How Hot Exactly Am I?

“You don’t have to ask for permission to be hot online,” Ms. Sundberg said. “You can take up space and perform and create your own power dynamics between yourself and your audience. I think being hot online is sort of pure and, debatably, what social media was originally for.”

I don’t think there’s been any real debate on that point. I think we are all of one mind and will and heart that the purpose for which social media was instituted by Zuck et al–quite successfully I would say–was to display all our relative levels of hotness. But let’s skip forward to the part of the “article” that, for me, feels like a completely different dialect. It must be English, but not the sort that is meant to bring people together in a common cultural understanding. It is the sort of linguistic exercise meant to let some people know that they are old and, what was that expression? Oh yes, “not hot”:

“There’s a campiness to it,” Mr. Ko, 30, said. That ironic tone comes through loud and clear on social media. Since 2020, TikTok users have been posting videos of themselves doing activities that they deem hot to a snippet of Megan Thee Stallion’s feminist anthem “Girls in the Hood.” The videos begin with a snippet of audio taken from a Coach commercial in which Megan Thee Stallion explains that she can’t talk right now, because she is busy being hot. The activities shown in the videos include tapping on a laptop, doing homework on a Saturday night and cleaning crevices of student housing with sponges and brushes.

I watched about a minute of “Girls in the Hood” and then was moved by the Holy Spirit to turn it off, not just because of the sex, but because I had gotten the point and needed to go do other things. But not before first watching a couple of some ordinary young women very boringly filming themselves on their “hot girl walks”:

Nylon has reported on tinned fish as a “hot girl food,” and Vice noted the rise of the so-called “hot girl walk,” a phenomenon started by the TikTok influencer Mia Lind that encourages young women to go on four-mile walks while remaining focused on self-affirming thoughts in three areas: what they are grateful for; their goals in life and how they plan to accomplish them; and how hot they are. “You may not think of any boys or any boy drama,” Ms. Lind said in the video that laid out the ground rules. In an interview, she said that she wanted to “un-gatekeep” the feeling of being hot with her hot girl walk, taking it away from male-gaze arbiters who treat daily life like some kind of beauty pageant.

Not to change the subject, but did you see that super hot pic of Elon Musk on a boat? If we’re going to “expand the definition of hotness” and no longer (as if anyone ever did…do these people live under rocks?) “treat daily life like some kind of beauty pageant” we might as well all go for the billionaire dadbod. Hot Hot Hot:

“Being hot is really accessible, more accessible than previously thought,” said Ms. Lind, who credited Megan Thee Stallion as an inspiration for the walk. “I think there’s a really big reclamation of the term hot.”

Of course you do because you don’t have anything else to worry about for some reason. In an age of unparalleled decadence, agonizing over how accessible “hotness” is must be such an important task. How do any of us get on with our lives not knowing the boundaries and rules of hotness? There’s a lot more to the “article” but you know what, I have to go turn over my laundry, and then stare out bleakly into the middle distance for a while. Also, I think that one of my dogs is peeing on my living room rug, so that’s fun. But first, let me just offer up two examples of real hotness. First, there’s this:

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