Hot Cheeto Girl

Hot Cheeto Girl

And well, people in general

"Church on the Hill" is in Oakhurst, California and dates back to 1894

I mentioned Flaming Hot Cheeto Girls in a recent essay of mine. I promised to write more about the phenomenon in a future story. This is the week for that story, and I'm afraid I'm in over my head. To start with, I got the spelling wrong. It's Flamin', not Flaming. There's more.

Before a couple of weeks ago, the most I knew about Flamin' Hot Cheetos was that they don't exist in Europe. When my wife and I visited our daughter in Germany, one suitcase was half full of bags of Flamin' Hot Cheetos. Not that I am all that interested in American snack foods. I am interested in other people, particularly people who are very different from me.

When out on road trips, I like to listen to the radio. Just by scanning the dial, there are so many different points of view that come up. One radio program I tuned into was about the personality type of some who adopt the persona of a "Hot Cheeto Girl." You can take a listen here.

This is where I am in over my head. I want to understand what is going on in our culture. Particularly what the younger generations are up to. I gotta say, this Hot Cheeto Girl thing is hard to get a grip on.

The way I understand it, "Hot Cheeto Girls" was a stereotype that made fun of certain types of high school girls. They were overly feminine (big lashes and nails.) As well as being aggressive, working-class, and having a taste for snacks like Flamin' Hot Cheetos.

That was then.

Now, it seems, the stereotype has been co-opted and turned on its head by the very people it made fun of. Rereading that sentence, I realize it doesn't make much sense. I mean, how do you co-opt something that is already yours?

So here's the thing. If someone is being made fun of, it hurts. In this case, the Hot Cheeto Girls took ownership of the stereotype and made it their own. They enjoy the big lashes and nails that click. Makeup is over the top, and the clothes are too. They own that look and are proud of who they are. Here is how they turned it upside down - They use their aggressive stereotype to defend others.

It takes an incredible amount of self-awareness to redefine that stereotype. And then use it to defend others. Yea, it's complicated!

I know I haven't gotten all this right. And this is way too short of a story to include much more than the basics. Digging into something like this is the best way to understand how our culture is changing. At least it's a good start. So while I don't completely understand what Hot Cheeto Girls are all about. I do have an idea of what's going on. And now I can stop wondering, "What's up with those nails and lashes?"

It's the way they are. It's the way they like to be. And that's okay.

The three photos I have to share with you this week are from my most recent road trip to Northern California. Here is a sneak peek at what I am working on.

Above, at the top, is Oakhill church in Oakhurst, California. It's a beautiful church in the center of a cemetery. This building has a lot of history, as it dates back to 1894. It is a pleasure to photograph places of worship since they carry so much meaning for so many.
Below, top, is Dome Rock, photographed from the Great Western Divide Highway. This photo is in the Sequoia National Forest and is one of the few photos that I am happy with from that area. Notice the foreground and the burnt trees. Most of the Sequoia forest is damaged by fire that way.
Finally, below, is the base of a giant Sequoia tree in the only Sequoia grove I could visit on this trip. Notice the standard-size pine tree stump to the left of the Sequoia. Once the forest opens back up and the weather cooperates, I plan to go back and spend the time required to properly photograph these massive trees.

Dome Rock as photographed from the Great Western Divide Highway. Btw, The Great Western Divide Highway is a two lane black-top without any striping or guardrails. Exciting!

The base of a giant Sequoia tree in "The Trail of a Hundred Giants" grove, Sequoia National Forest