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The Eye Of The Beholder
Defining "Hotness" Across Gender Lines
Grace Kelly
Grace Kelly
Grace Patricia Kelly (November 12, 1929 – September 14, 1982) was an American actress who, in April 1956, married Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, to become Princess consort of Monaco, styled as Her Serene Highness The Princess of Monaco, and commonly referred to as Princess Grace. | Photo: Archives
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Recently, Men's Health Magazine released a list of the "100 Hottest Women of All Time." Of course, there was a slight catch. For the sake of making this article as much as a visual piece as a literary piece, the selection committee narrowed the pool to only include women who have been photographed. Beauties that created legends, such as Helen of Troy or Lady Godiva, were left out because who wants an artist's rendering when you can see a real life photograph of a busty babe? Normally, I would shrug off such an article; take a peek at the number one "Hottest Woman" out of sheer curiosity, and move on. After all, reading about all 100 women would take quite a chunk of time, and I have things to do. This time, however, I gave the article my full attention. I found myself curious, wanting to know these men considered "hot." Would anyone be noted for their intellect or contributions to society, or would the entire article be comprised of women who had been photographed for Playboy? Unfortunately, it seems that the article trended toward the latter.

While going through the list, I was shocked to see classic beauties like Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and even Julia Roberts with her hundred-watt smile could not break into the top fifty while polarizing stunners like Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, and Anna Nicole Smith did. What sort of standard could these men be using when Paris Hilton is deemed hotter than Grace Kelly? And then it hit me. Hotness is in the eye of the beholder. As a woman, I see the article title and formulate a completely different list. My list is comprised of beautiful women, enviable women, and women I want to be. They are aspirations, not sex objects. Sometimes, my rankings overlapped with Men's Health. After all, no one is denying the physical and intellectual beauty of Natalie Portman, the only woman for whom Men's Health specifically commented on intellect. However, for the most part, men have a different view of what it means to be "hot." They are not looking for beautiful women; if they were, I hope that their list would read somewhat differently. Instead, they want the hot, sexy, and sometimes trashy women that they fantasize about. These are women they want to sleep with, not women they want to marry or bring home to meet their mothers. The article bolstered this theory by supporting the marital cliché, "men marry Jackie's, not Marilyn's" (Marilyn Monroe was number three on the list while Jackie Kennedy Onassis did not make the cut).

So what do the men of Men's Health consider to be hot? The idea of the "dim blonde" permeated the article. Think women like Loni Anderson, Suzanne Somers and Alicia Silverstone. Of course, these women may not be dim themselves, but they are more often remembered for the characters they played (WKRP in Cincinnati's Jennifer Marlowe, Three's Company's Chrissy

What sort of standard could these men be using when Paris Hilton is deemed hotter than Grace Kelly?
and Clueless' Cher) than their actual achievements. This seemed to be another common theme – women who were remembered for one particularly steamy role. Time and time again, women were included thanks to a sex scene, a nude shot, or a particularly sensual shower scene. Even women outside the realm of acting are noted for one immortal image. Take, for example, Farrah Fawcett's red bathing suit, immortalized on the wall of teenage boys for the better part of a decade. Finally, there were, as polite circles would say, the Women of Questionable Morals. Of the 100 women featured, seventeen were either burlesque or exotic dancers, Playboy playmates and cover girls, or infamous pin-up girls. Two of these made it into the top ten.

With qualifications like this, I was unprepared for Men's Health's hottest woman of all time. From the first ninety-nine contenders, I learned that, for the most part, men liked sexy bodies, preferably those that they had seen at least mostly naked. They wanted their women to act unintelligent, even if they were not, and they preferred the risqué to the demure. This was why I was pleasantly shocked to see that the men's magazine declared Jennifer Aniston to be the "Hottest Woman of All Time." Aniston exudes the all-American, girl-next-door sort of hotness. She is undeniably sexy, but her sexiness is subtler than what I had come to expect from the rest of the list. In no way is she the dim-witted woman that men find hot. Aniston was invited to join the cast of Saturday Night Live before her claim-to-fame role on Friends, proving her wit. Aniston is a funny woman, and not in ways that demean her own intelligence. Finally, Aniston is anything but risqué. While we all remember the classic GQ cover of Ms. Aniston wearing only a necktie, she was thirty-nine years old, and such shots are few and far between. Aniston is better known for her classic style, classic hair and classic beauty. At forty-two years old, she is proving that hotness only gets better with age.

And who did Aniston say she thought was the hottest woman of all time? Political activist, writer, and co-founder of the Women's Media Center, Gloria Steinem.

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"The Eye Of The Beholder | Defining "Hotness" Across Gender Lines"
Editorial ID #11692, 866 words, first released January 7, 2012, 3:00 pm
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