The Hot Factor
My first boyfriend dumped me because I wouldn’t say that I was “hot.” One day we were discussing our varying degrees of sexiness (as sheltered, vapid, gay 17 year old Los Angeles teenagers do [twisting my hair]), and he asked me how I would describe myself “looks-wise,” so I said: “Oh I don’t know? Cute, Unique, and Sexy?!”
It was mortifying for me to have to answer that question. I had barely just gotten my braces off, cleared up my acne, gotten my hair-game right and embraced my unique “look”; and now some spoiled Beverly Hills teenage asshole was probing me to objectify myself for some inexplicably bizarre, suspect reason. I was fine, okay? I was cute, okay? I was definitely unique, okay? And I suppose I was sexy, okay (puke)?
At the time, I fed into this coupled narcissism because this boy was the cutest boy I had ever kissed. Actually, he was the only boy I had ever kissed; he looked like a Ken Doll, and he was also the best kisser in the world as far as I was concerned.
Again, this was my first boyfriend, so I really didn’t have anything to compare to, but I still felt really excited to be with such a “rock star.”
Sadly, (sometimes) when you treat a man like a rock star-he’ll (sometimes) treat you like a fan; and that’s exactly what happened. Matt told me that he wanted to be with someone who thought of themselves as “hot,” since he thought of himself as “hot,” and that his boyfriend needed to mirror his attitude and confidence.
Matt said that he wanted to be able to walk into a room with his boyfriend and have every single person want to fuck both of us. 17 year old me was like, “Gross. Who needs that kind of attention?” But 17 year old me was also like, “Oh no. I guess I should want this if he wants this, and he’s such a great kisser-I should do whatever he wants.”
That’s so confident, right? And then Matt broke up with me, and I was devastated. Matt and I had such good physical chemistry, and we had spent hours driving all over L.A.-making out in various, discreet points of interest.
I can’t tell you how many hill-side locations we found to fog up the windows in my Discovery, or how many fun beachscapades we had. And now-simply because I couldn’t utter one, three lettered multipurpose word-Matt was dumping me.
In retrospect, on the surface it seems like it could have been about confidence, but I was perfectly confident in my own imperfect perfection. Genuinely, there was so much that I liked about myself, and to have someone not mirror that same affection simply because I was too embarrassed to utter the cringe-worthy, “I’m hot,” felt like a monstrous injustice.
Couldn’t Matt just be happy with someone who (hesitantly, admittedly) viewed themselves as “cute and sexy” (after great peer-probing), since those two things pretty much comprise the etymological foundation of the concept of “hot”? And why was it so important that I thought of myself as “hot,” I wasn’t dating me?
I still carry the scars of that conversation around with me, but not in the way that some of you might think. When I look down at those invisible emotional scars, I laugh because being hot is great; but most of the people I know who were “hot” in high school ended up going way down hill, like they fell of the cliff, girl(s). And what’s hot to me at 29 is completely different from what I used to consider “hot.”
And then I read this, and it’s so cliche but gay men (and errrrrbody else really) are apt to suffer from body and looks dysmorphia because of the cultural cues and perceptions that we’re socialized into believing about what’s hot and what’s not.
And this implies that there is a certain standardized “hotness” that we’re all supposed to feed into, which couldn’t be further from the truth. What someone may find beautiful, someone else may find hideous; and it’s really hard to standardize the way we’re all supposed to look and be shaped because the beauty of humanity is in its vibrant diversity-physical, intellectual, and emotional.
Now that I’m a 29 year old man-whose been a lot of places and seen a lot of faces-what’s “hot” to me is a cultured, impressive brain, certain physical traits that constantly change and evolve as I get older, good manners, success, and someone who can make me LOL, GOL, ROFL, LMAO; and any other acceptable internet acronym to describe the concept of laughter.
If I were dating a man now, and he turned to me and said, “Edward, how would you describe yourself looks-wise? Would you say that you’re hot? Because I think of myself as “hot” and it’s important to me that my boyfriend mirrors my own hotness.”
And I’d probably just laugh and say, “Honey-if I had to look in the mirror and see you as my reflection, I’d rather kill myself! Have a great fucking life gorgeous!”
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