Over the weekend, a gaggle of 12-year-old girls flocked to our home. As I sat in my office, I alternately eavesdropped and tried not to hear what this tittering troupe of preteens were talking about as they changed clothes about five times each. My ears pricked up when I heard this phrase: “I so want to look hot.” and “Do I look hot?” No, I did not spring from my chair and rush in there, telling them they can’t be Hot. They’re all 12. They can’t be hot. Instead, I made a note in my brain: Ask beloved daughter later.

The next day, I broached the subject. No, I did not set my alarm and wake her up with my query.

So, hon, what does it mean when you and your friends say you want to look hot?



“Yeah, pretty.”

Oh. It doesn’t mean anything else?


This is preteen daughter speak for: I am going to blow a gasket if you keep talking about this right now.”

Over the course of the weekend, I brought up the subject a couple of times. I’ve learned that my need for tucking into a subject must be interspersed over several days.

What I learned was this:

Hot is, in fact, their word for pretty, attractive, good looking. It does have some sexual connotation but not as much as my version. 

While I said silent silent hosannas about this semantic difference, I remembered many an early morning before school worrying about every skirt, every bracelet, every hair clip, all in the quest of being popular–my version of “hot.”