Hi, folks,

There has been some understandable confusion about what I mean when I use the term “hot,” as in Formerly Hot, or no longer hot, or when I was hot. Once in awhile, I’ll get an email from a reader to the effect of, “What do you mean ‘formerly’ hot? Why can’t you be hot just because you’re older? I am in my 40s [or 30s or 50s or whatever] and think I’m hotter than I’ve ever been!” Growl!

My intention is not to imply that an older person cannot be attractive, gorgeous, good-looking, doable, cougarific, or whatever synonym for hot you favor. In fact, I consider my 42-year-old self all of those things (maybe not first thing in the morning, but after a shower and ideally a tinted moisturizer, absolutely.) In fact, I consider my mother all of those things. Even better, she considers herself all those things.

I’m (trying to) poke fun at a world that would quickly scan a woman and rate her “hot” or not based on the easy markers that I used to have in spades: youth, big hair, smooth, unlined skin and a prepartum body that allowed me to eat carbohydrates without inflating like an airline life vest. When I had those things, I was treated very differently than I am now, and was in an entirely different category of female. Figuring out that I’m no longer in that category, and what that means, has been a trip. Sometimes funny, sometimes fucked up, but always fascinating.

I’m also poking fun at myself for being conflicted about no longer being hot–hot in the sense that people who didn’t already know that I was “beautiful on the inside” thought I was hot. We are all of this culture as well as critics of this culture, so it’s hard not to buy in to some of the silliness even as you’re trying to carve out a place where you can feel good about who you are as you get older.

So I hope this helps and I’d love to hear your thoughts about “hot” and not and perhaps reclaiming the category.

Xo Steph

Photo by Margaret Ann Clarke CC