The Hot Girl Myth

Today, a simple idea. Mainly for the men. But women should read too.

Recently I asked Nicole to marry me. In looking back, I’m actually bemused to have arrived at this point. Not about her, but that I actually managed to get engaged to anyone at all. You see for most of my adult life, I’ve wondered whether I’m really capable of loving a woman with any kind of certainty.

And, this ain’t my first rodeo. I’ve dated seven other girls before Nicole. Not bragging, just saying I’ve had a few data points to work with. But with her, I learned something that I didn’t quite know before. A cliche, really, a phrase I’d heard thrown around, but never believed down in my bones.

It is this: “Beauty is on the inside”

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… and it sounds like garbage from a hallmark card. Right? This phrase sounds to us like a pitiful attempt to level the field. It feels like when everyone on the pee wee baseball team got a trophy, because everyone was special and nobody ever actually lost. But after a while we grew up, and realized that sometimes your team actually does lose the game, and sometimes other people are more special than you.

So we don’t believe this phrase anymore. We heard it a thousand times in our childhood, and now it is a cliche, and we don’t pay attention to the notion. We dated around in high school, or tried, and we discovered that some people are more beautiful than others. Some of us got hurt. Some of us got lucky. Primetime TV conditioned our standards. Advertising conditioned our desires. And for the men (mostly), porn conditioned our eyes.

At some point we discarded this platitude, then, and thought instead: Sure, I guess everyone is somehow beautiful in a metaphorical way … but some girls are actually hot. And I want to be with them.

What arose from this adolescence of disappointment and confusion and occasional good luck is a generation of men that mean well (some of us), but who are stuck, unconsciously, in the search for a bombshell woman. In spite of whatever we’ve learned, we have meanwhile quietly acquiesced to the narrative sold us by TV, advertising, and porn: Get hot girl = Get happy

Mind you, I’m not saying I’m better than all this. I lived in all this.

At one point a while ago, I actually found the girl who I deemed to be the bombshell. I got to be with her for a little while. At first I was crazy about her. Then, slowly, like all the other girls before … I grew half-hearted, and wondered if I still wanted her.

Seriously — I got the hot girl … but still got no satisfaction. Interesting. Interesting.

At that point, I began to sniff a little more closely at the hot girl myth, and realized in time that the whole theory was broken from the start.

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… Nicole wrecked this whole thing anyway.

I knew Nicole among a larger group of friends for about 6 months before we started dating. In that span, I didn’t think she was my type. Then in February, I got a tip from a 3rd party, and decided to get to know her better.

Five minutes into our very first real conversation, I thought ‘Oh no I’m in trouble’ and quickly found myself falling for her. What — where did that come from? For all of 6 months, she was sitting across the room, and I assumed we would never be. Then, I barely began to skim the surface of who she was, and at once she looks like … huh … a bombshell. Everything that I knew and thought about her changed. The way she looked to me changed. She was transformed. All because … I got to know her?

This is stupid. Surely this is a flight of fancy, too good to be true.

Or is it?

I was drawn to Nicole because of her passion, her elegance, her fire, her inner rebellion. Her hidden, wildly beating heart, which I was surprised by. These things about her were sexy to me, more than anyone I’d ever known. Why?

A few years ago, I read somewhere that the definition of sexy is being comfortable in your own skin. I thought that was a novel idea, and then forgot about it.

It came back to me when I was with Nicole. I started to realize that we are mostly captivated by women when they are in their element. E.g. a woman that looks otherwise mediocre to us might become inexplicably quite hot when she:

  • steps out onto the ballet floor and becomes a moving work of art
  • sings in perfect harmonic notes from a rooftop just for the hell of it
  • takes graceful control of a group conflict and leads it to resolution
  • makes everyone in the room laugh with some exquisite witticism
  • doodles in the margin of a notepad and effortlessly chisels a dozen masterpiece scenes

Am I right? You know I’m right.

These momentary feelings of attraction are not accidental. They are hints toward a bigger truth. There is beauty, divinity, in every woman. It comes out most often when you see her doing what she’s comfortable with, because all the self-doubt and fear and armor gets sloughed off for a moment and suddenly you’re watching confidence, profundity, grace, and warmth — you’re watching her heart, as unfiltered as you might ever see it. And your own heart responds to that; don’t think it won’t. Seeing a heart unfiltered is captivating. Captivating is sexy. Captivating is crazy wild uncontrollable sexy.

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Okay, I need to wrap this up for today. The bottom lines are:

Our culture sings a myth that says ♫“There is such a thing as an objectively hot woman, and if you get her, you will be happy”♫ Guess what? This idea is dumb and broken. There is no such thing as objective beauty. And if you chase the hot girl and succeed in getting her, you’re still likely to want a different one after a few months. Try it, you’ll see. Repeat as necessary in order to get the point.

Not every woman is right for you, but every woman is sexy. Your challenge is to get past the armor and self-doubt (your own too) and discover her fluency, her passion, her elegance, her heart. Once you see that, you’ll know quickly whether you want her or not. Try it. Repeat as necessary.

If I had understood all this a bit earlier, I probably would’ve arrived at this point sooner. But if you’re reading this, maybe you can benefit from these words, and skip a few steps.

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Commentary is encouraged. Surely you have an opinion about this.

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17 Comments

  1. i know that this is a myth, and as much as my fellow women have debunked this myth, it’s quite another thing to hear a man (one whom i respect and regard as a great brother/friend) echo the truth that God’s been singing over me all along.

    i’m inspired to blog (or further elaborate) on the flip side…

    thanks, ian.

    Reply

  2. Allow me to put forth the theory that there is no dichotomy between some of the two “opposing ideas” here – at least when one of the ideas isn’t “finding an attractive person makes you happy”. But there is nothing wrong with having “I need to be very attracted to this person” on your requirements for a serious relationship.

    Reply

    1. Daniel,
      Definitely agreed. I was hoping someone would go for that. And somehow this post is incomplete, or my logic is a bit incomplete here, I feel.

      But, I know that the way I approached this stuff in the past was somehow flawed. I thought I was going after attraction (among many other things), but was confused when attraction didn’t persist the way I wanted. I had yet to discover what I laid out above, and it was frustrating.

      Don’t misunderstand me — I think Nicole is crazy hot. But the way I stumbled upon that fact was different, this time.

      Hopefully somehow that’s more clear. Replies welcome.

      Reply

  3. Bravo!

    It goes both ways, I am continuously surprised by the amount of women around me who wouldn’t give a guy a chance because of his physical features.

    The best relationship I ever had (parted ways after high school) was with a guy that looked funny to me. I actually remember hanging with friends, looking at him and thinking “that guy looks strange”. But we got to know each other, then fell madly in love. Two years later I could look at him forever and just think “those are the most handsome eyes I’ve ever seen” ” what a cute smile” because those eyes were the ones that had seen who I was and loved me.

    For all those who don’t go for the mushy crap, it’s scientifically proven that significant others become more attracted when we grow to love them. Which is good… because in the end, we all will be wrinkly and saggy. Hunt for a beautiful soul and it will only get hotter over the years 🙂

    Thanks again, it really is refreshing hearing it from a guy!

    Reply

    1. Rae,
      True stuff. At first it was somehow disappointing to me to realize that beauty really is pretty subjective. But then, I realized it was actually incredibly liberating.

      There will probly be a blog about that notion, sometime this month. Anyway, thanks for dropping a line.

      Reply

  4. Excellent. With a few cosmetic changes this could also be titled, “The Tall, Dark and Handsome Man Myth” or similar. Sounds like Sarah’s gonna write about that. Share the link when you do, Sarah!

    Reply

  5. Thank you…thank you…thank you! This post was written so well. I think you hit this subject of “hot girl” right on the spot. But it totally goes for us girls and wanting the “hot guy” myth. We do the same thing. My roommates and I were watching a movie last night…the gist of the movie was two guys find out they are dating the same girl (but the girl doesn’t know they are friends). In the end the girl falls in love with the more “hot” suave guy. I totally was rooting for the more genuine, caring and (as the girl in the movie said ) “safe guy”. But I had this thought of why do us girls or guys always go for the “hot” one or the one that seems for dangerous outwardly, so I really like you are saying, we need to skim the surface and get to know the real person next to us.

    Again thank you! This post has encouraged me and reminding me, as a single woman, to keep being myself, keep pursuing my passions and someday a guy will find that who I am is attractive and pursue me. 🙂

    Reply

    1. Sarah,
      You’re welcome! I’m happy to hear it. Be affirmed in your identity.

      Otherwise, though, very interesting commentary. My first thought is …

      …. There’s something important about the dangerous guy that the safe guy is lacking. It’s probably cajones, aka self-confidence, or maybe a sense of adventure. I’m an old-fashioned guy so forgive me for sexism here … but I think you all (women, in general) are looking for men with a sense of adventure (among other things). You don’t necessarily want to come on the adventures with us (well, some do), but it’s important that your men have the fire in them necessary to chase after something wild and risky. Else, perhaps, they’re not quite man enough to chase after you.

      Am I right?

      If that’s the case, then the DANGEROUS vs SAFE matchup doesn’t have a clear winner. The former will be exciting and attractive but might not be loyal. The latter will be loyal and reliable, but might leave you bored and wanting more.

      … makes me want to do some more writing on the subject.

      Women, I’m interested to hear your thoughts. Er, men too I guess.

      Reply

  6. I love this post. (big surprise there). I pray often for the men and women in my life to be free from an idol of appearance. Attraction is important, but I think that several things in this world have screwed up our lens to see beauty. When Ian started dating Nicole, I told several of the girls in my community house. Well, I maybe told everyone because I was so stoked. A couple of people asked who she was and several people used words like “stunning”, “striking”, “really beautiful” to describe her. I’ve always thought of Nicole as one of the most beautiful people that I know. And not just because she makes you laugh so hard you’re delirious. :-). I’ve loved loved loved seeing this idol be rejected in Ian’s life. I’m praying that it sweeps this generation. Yeah Jesus!

    Reply

  7. As a former Marine, beach lifeguard and all around male slut – I dated a ton, I mean a ton! I have the scars and issues that come with it.

    You are 100% right, I dated the hot models, literally, the hot models – but found no joy, hot girls in clubs, found no joy, went to a Church, found a woman who was – well – normal – but then she spoke, she was different, challenging, a pain in the ass, smart, funny, and she just got sexier and sexier – then I asked her out and she said NO! Said I had been a trainwreck and had too many issues.

    I kept at it changing my lifestyle and still cannot believe that two years later she married me! Took a lot of work to show her I had changed.

    Christ redeems.

    Reply

    1. Jose,
      Good to hear a Y-chromosome weigh in. Sounds like you and your wife have a really gorgeous story. Your description of how she grew on you should probably resonate with more guys than it does.
      Thanks for sharing.

      Reply

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