A Hot Mess is a colloquial expression used to describe someone or something that is in a state of chaos, disarray, or lacking organization. It refers to a person or situation that is out of control, messy, or generally in a state of confusion. The term is often used in a lighthearted or humorous way to depict someone who is struggling to keep it together or who frequently finds themselves in messy situations.
The phrase may also serve as a double-entendre, describing a messy, but highly attractive person, one would label “hot”.
Example: Imagine your friend who is always running late, spills coffee on themselves every morning, and can never find their keys – that’s the epitome of a hot mess.
The expression didn’t always carried the same meaning, for instance, in the 1800s people referred to hot meals that weren’t so appetizing as a “Hot Mess”. The turn in meaning occurred in the early 1900s, when people started describing any confusing person and/or disordered situation.
There are speculations, whether the phrase comes from African American Vernacular English (AAVE) or a southern dialect, however, all theories agree, that the expression was coined in the United States over a century ago.
Regardless of its exact origin, the term quickly caught on and became popularized through literature, music, and television, and it may still be encountered both on- and offline.
As the internet came into the picture, the term got more popular. The first entry submitted on Urban Dictionary was in the early 2000s, just exactly around the time when the phrase started to spread among the fashion industry.
The “Hot Mess” saw a spike in popularity in 2007, when the controversial Project Runway tagline was released named “Hot Tranny Mess” by Christian Siriano.
Term was revived for a second time in 2009 thanks to the release of the pop band Cobra Starship’s album titled “Hot Mess”.
In 2013, the famous fast-food restaurant Jack in the Box even made a burger named after the expression. The spicy burger required to have at least a full roll of paper towels, to make sure nobody is going to look like a “Hot Mess” after finishing the burger.
Overall, the phrase is a witty expression, frequently used by creators in the whole Anglosphere, be it television, music, literature or maketing.