In The Huffington Post, Emilie Aries examination of the trendiness of being a “hot mess” for young women. According to her article, it has become popular for women to act and/or appear frazzled, insecure, disheveled, etc. Not only that but these same women have been known to accept this as part of their identity. Aries attributes this, in large part, to how women are inaccurately portrayed in pop culture. We’re led to believe that the same traits that make us disorganized and clumsy also make us charming or enchantingly “adorkable.” Just watch 10 minutes of any show with “girl” or “girls” in the title and you’ll see her point. The tagline for Girls—”almost getting it kind of together”—is literally the national motto of hot messes.
To be clear, I don’t have a problem with less-than-perfect characters on television. In fact, I often prefer them because they remind me that none of us are perfect. We all lose socks and miss appointments from time to time, but when did it become cool to promote being disorganized and frazzled? This clip from Girls is a perfect example:
It’s become popular to appear disorderly and unkempt but still be considered beautiful. Being attractive is always a bonus, but why should it be something you achieve despite not taking the time to brush your hair or being an hour late for dinner with friends?
Aries said, “Messages that tell us it’s charming to be that confused girl in our 20s can hamstring us for life.” I enjoy watching New Girl, 2 Broke Girls, and Girls. However, if I went by the female characters’ logic on those shows, I would often leave a room screaming and running, make fake dolls of my guy friends, do drug tests for money, and not wear pants in public (I don’t care if you just poked your eardrum with a Q-tip and have to go to the emergency room. Throw on a pair of shorts for God’s sake), spontaneously burst into song (or serenade my ex-boyfriend’s coworkers whom I’ve never met before), charge hipsters to ride a horse, and pee next to train stations. Yes, these situations have been funny to watch, but you have to be as charming as Zooey Deschanel or Lena Dunham and have an excellent writing staff, camera crew, production team, and makeup to pull it off.
That’s why I want to thank Aries for calling pop culture out on this and asking that we shift away from the “hot mess” trend and toward the “owning your success” trend. I’m not saying I want to see a bunch of women who look like Victoria’s Secret supermodels playing rocket scientists with perfect lives. Yet it would be nice to see a character who says, “I am not going to try to go to my 9 a.m. spin class, show up late, look terrible, and not enjoy the workout because I was working until midnight.”
Aries believes that Mindy Lahiri from The Mindy Project is a great example of a character who owns her success and isn’t afraid to show it, flaws and all. This trend seems to be catching on, as MTV recently pulled a show called Hot Mess from its lineup.
While being adorkable may have its perks, owning your success is even cuter and, as Aries points out, can be a real turn-on:
“Other women in comedy and music in particular are showing us there’s an alternative way. Beyoncé. Janelle Monáe. Nicki Minaj. Tina Fey. Amy Poehler. All of these women take their business seriously, are unapologetic for their success, and show that while we all struggle to balance love and a rewarding career, we don’t need to play down our accomplishments to date. I just wish there were more 20-somethings to list here.”
Be proud of your accomplishments, and don’t be embarrassed to talk about them. You are a hot, dynamic person! Talk about how you’re saving for retirement, killed it at work today, and even managed to find time for the gym (even if it was only for 40 minutes).