Photo Credit: courtesy of TV Land
Tonight is the premiere of Hot in Cleveland, starring Valerie Bertinelli, Wendie Malick, Jane Leeves and Betty White. The premise: The first three women are flying from Los Angeles to Paris for a girls getaway when their plane unexpectedly lands in Cleveland. While in the city responsible for Arsenio Hall and rated poorest in the nation in 2004, the ladies find that their looks net them far more second glances and come-ons than they did L.A. In other words, while they may just be so-so in the City of Angels, they are hot in Cleveland.
They’re not the first to enjoy an enhanced sense of confidence from C-Town. In an episode of 30 Rock called "Cleveland," Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) has to choose between following her boyfriend, Floyd, to his new job in Cleveland and staying in NYC. But when she visits the Midwest, Liz gets a major self-esteem boost when a woman stops her and asks, "Are you a model? Because you are so skinny. You should really eat something!"
I have to admit, I feel sexier in certain places than others. I wouldn’t go so far as to say City X makes me feel like Scarlett Johansson but City Y makes me feel like Sloth from Goonies, but there are clubs and restaurants that I used to frequent with my miniskirt held high, knowing I’d be the cream of the crop, but now I barely get in without promising to clean the bouncer’s apartment. As Stephanie Dolgoff, author of the blog Formerly Hot puts it, I’ve come to the "sudden realization that I was no longer who I'd always been a pretty girl who navigated the world partially aided by the advantage of her looks. After 30-some-odd years, Spanx had found their way into my lingerie drawer, and men who asked me if I 'had the time' really just wanted to know the time. Imagine!" This fact was etched in crystal during a recent Las Vegas bachelorette party when I was able to get my party of eight ladies into a hot club for free, past a line of about 200 people, not because I was smokin’ in my short, ruffled, purple dress and black patent stilettos, but by comparing carpal tunnel surgery war stories with the bouncer with a bandaged hand.
A dear friend of mine, Amanda, knows all about feeling Hot in Cleveland, only her Cleveland is the entire state of Wisconsin. Granted, most of her Wisco time is spent in rural areas, but she says she usually feels like she is "in the upper echelon of aesthetic genetic lottery winners while there. In addition, many of the men AND women in Wisconsin are kind, honest and polite people who have no qualms about bestowing a compliment on an ex-pat returned home for a visit. I am often regaled with comments that include 'little' and 'gorgeous.' Since Wisconsinites have a knack for making (what is essentially) an opinion sound like an undisputed fact, my self-esteem sky-rockets."
Being surrounded by female Wisconsinites, who tend to be practical and brimming with commonsense, also helps Amanda to be more accepting of what she considers her bodily flaws. For example, "When I was in Hawaii with my family, I mentioned to my brother's Wisconsin-based girlfriend that I hated my cellulite. Without missing a beat, she took off her swimsuit cover-up and quipped, '90 percent of women have it. It's not a big deal. Who cares?' I envied the ease in which she could wear her swimsuit with a less-than-perfect body. It made me feel silly and vain, and I stopped (at least for that morning) being so hard on myself."
I should add that Amanda is an unequivocally gorgeous girl who is repeatedly told that she looks like Reese Witherspoon. But even a sizzling blonde like her has glommed on to the fact that -– and this is going to sound harsh -– that surrounding yourself with plainer-looking people is going to make you stand out even more.
Are there certain establishments or cities that you like to visit more than others, specifically because they make you feel better about your looks? Do you frequent dive bars because you seem like a long-stemmed rose among a sea of dandelions? Are you afraid, like I am, to visit Brazil because you fear every woman, even the cashier who greets me, "Bienvenido a McDonald's. Le puedo tomar su orden?" will look like Gisele Bundchen. Where is your Cleveland? Chime in below.