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The Enigma of the Hot Mess: Do You Want to Be One?

You keep hearing it everywhere you go, but what is a hot mess? Is it a good thing to be one? Or are you better off being a clean stiff?

hot mess

It’s very confusing when you hear someone say “She’s such a hot mess!” in two different contexts. Some sentiments are obvious, but some are just downright bonkers. Are they saying it in a happy way? Or in an angry way? And the one you have to really look out for: Was it sarcastic?

No matter how it was said, the definition is almost always the same. The issue stands at whether or not it’s a good thing or bad thing. The most important thing to consider, if you’ve been labelled a hot mess, is whether you give a damn about it.

What is a hot mess?

A long, long time ago, a hot mess was literally a hot meal in the army. Fast forward to a century later, and people were using it figuratively to describe unpleasant situations, i.e. “We’re in a hot mess now, ain’t we? Argh.” After pirates became passé, the term has gone through several discomforting definitions like jizz and poop. Finally, it came down to two conflicting definitions.

Before the term “hot mess” was used in connection with people who were inarguably hot, but undergoing various levels of messiness, a hot mess was just a messy person on a hot or humid day. I have no idea how it’s come to this. Maybe because of the popularization of the word “hot?” But at this very point in time, a hot mess is described as:

“(n.), someone in obvious disarray or disorganization, esp. while remaining attractive in spite of this.”

Hot messes come in all shapes and sizes. They have different experiences that led them to either look like a hot mess or be a hot mess. The point is that you still look good, even if your whole profile or life is in shambles.

Examples of hot messes are really attractive people sporting dishevelled appearances. They’re the ones who have never gotten over the grunge era and probably won’t. Some hipsters also sport hot mess chic like it’s the next runway trend. [Read: 13 ways you can look hotter without trying too hard]

Another different kind of hot mess is the person who looks okay on the outside, but can be sort of messy on the inside. They could have a lot of issues – medical or otherwise – or have a really, really screwed up life. In fact, the only thing they might have going for them is their looks.

Whether you’re a girl or a guy, you are a prime candidate for being a hot mess if you don’t put too much stake on your appearance or lot in life. It can also be the other way around where you put a lot of effort into strategically looking like a hot mess, because you think it’s a good thing.

How do you know if a hot mess is good or bad?

It depends on how you perceive hot messes. If you’re around a lot of hot messes or have encountered one and then envied them, then you probably think it’s a good thing. If you find yourself face to face with a hot mess and can’t help but scrunch your nose, then hot messes probably aren’t your type of crowd.

If you don’t know how you feel about them, just look at the way your friends and family look at hot messes. You don’t even have to find an actual hot mess. Just turn on your television and you’re sure to find one on Bravo.

Your perception of a hot mess does not matter, as long as you don’t judge them on their personality or worth as a person. You could simply say no to becoming one, but their choice to be a hot mess is on them. You can’t change a person, especially if they’ve accepted who they are.

The question now is, do you accept yourself enough to be a hot mess? If you’re not one, do you want to be one? No matter what you think being a hot mess is all about – whether it’s their appearance or situation that dictates their hot messiness – it’s always what’s inside that counts.

Should you become a hot mess?

For fashion purposes, I think being a hot mess can work for most people. It’s trendy right now, so no one’s going to throw a fit about you looking like one when you’re in control of your own life. Get out of the house without drying your hair, wear really red lipstick *and maybe get some on your teeth* and throw on the first pair of pants you see in the closet. You are now a hot mess.

The beauty of being a hot mess is that you don’t have to worry about what you look like exactly. You just have to own the fact that you look good without needing to fix yourself up.

Now, being a situational hot mess is different altogether. There’s no valid reason why you should willingly make a hot mess out of your life when you’re perfectly fine.

If you’re an artist with extreme methodologies, then maybe – MAYBE – it’s an option. Other than aesthetic and artistic purposes, being a hot mess really isn’t that rewarding.

Why shouldn’t you become a hot mess?

A hot mess can feel at home in various settings like fashion shows, clubs, farmer’s markets and dispensaries. If you work at a corporate office on Wall Street, we urge you to save your fishnet stockings for your girls’ night out.

Being a hot mess today is a fashion statement. Unintentionally being a hot mess is a situation that you should be taking steps to get out of. Don’t be a hot mess if you can’t get anything out of it. It’s better to take advantage of the trend, only if you’re looking to make connections.

You also shouldn’t aim to be a hot mess if you’re looking to hook a guy with it. Being something you’re not will just make you uncomfortable and, therefore, unattractive. When that happens, you’ll just end up being a mess – minus the hot part.

Be who you want to be…

Whether you choose to be a hot mess or currently are one, you should never be concerned about what other people think. The most important thing is what you think about yourself. You should feel good about who you are, what you look like and where your life is heading.

If you don’t feel that way, being a hot mess will be the least of your issues. Appearances only matter up to a point – about 10% of your overall impact, actually. The rest should be focused on how you can become a better person, regardless of how hot or how much of a mess you are.

[Read: Ditch being a hot mess and go for ageless sexiness instead with these 15 tips!]

Now that we’ve solved the enigma of the hot mess, you can now scrutinize the way you look and the way you live your life. If you’re fine with looking like what most people would consider to be a hot mess, then good for you. If you’re living your life like a hot mess, than maybe a few changes should be in order.

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Danielle Anne
Those who can’t do, teach. I can neither do nor teach as well as others, but I can try. Aside from being a writer, I am also a physical therapist. My dream is...
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