Recently I came across an article called “The Death of Pretty,” in which the author laments our culture’s movement from valuing “pretty” to valuing “hot.” He describes “pretty” this way:
“Once upon a time, women wanted to project an innocence. I am not idealizing another age and I have no illusions about the virtues of our grandparents, concupiscence being what it is. But some things were different in the back then. First and foremost, many beautiful women, whatever the state of their souls, still wished to project a public innocence and virtue. And that combination of beauty and innocence is what I define as pretty.”
The author believes this type of behavior and beauty in a woman has a positive affect on the men she comes in contact with.
“By nature, generally when men see this combination in women it brings out their better qualities, their best in fact. That special combination of beauty and innocence, the pretty inspires men to protect and defend it.”
“Hotness,” on the other hand, sends a totally different message.
“Young women today do not seem to aspire to pretty, they prefer to be regarded as hot. Hotness is something altogether different. When women want to be hot instead of pretty, they must view themselves in a certain way and consequently men view them differently as well.
“As I said, pretty inspires men’s nobler instincts to protect and defend. Pretty is cherished. Hotness, on the other hand, is a commodity. Its value is temporary and must be used. It is a consumable.”
Probably for the reasons this author points out, I’ve long struggled with the word “hot” as an acceptable description of physical beauty, although I’ve heard it used plenty in Christian circles. And I honestly think we don’t even recognize what might be wrong with it. After all, if “hot” is what culture values, why should some of the best (Christian) girls be left out? Even T-shirts proclaiming innocence use the term: Modest is Hottest.
So what really is wrong with Christians getting on the “hotness” bandwagon? Regardless of what we call it, the innocence and non-consumable beauty and value associated with “pretty,” or even “beautiful,” should be what we as Christians extol. Conversely, we should steer clear of the cheapened concept of feminine beauty and sexuality associated with “hot.” By avoiding terms loaded with meaning that is far from God’s ideal, men affirm true beauty in the women they know and women aspire to something that is far more valuable. Sometimes words are just words, but other times they influence us in significant ways.