“I will be very upfront: I don’t always lead the hot girl lifestyle,” confesses comedian Esther Povitsky, looking like a fish out of water as she slides into a velvety love seat at Tower Bar in a PE class chic outfit consisting of a matching blue tank top and flyaway sweatpants. “I just have this obsession, whether it’s healthy or not — in fact, it’s definitely not.”
She suggested meeting at the glamorous West Hollywood hotel lounge based on her wealth of knowledge as TikTok’s trusted “Jane Goodall of L.A. hot girls.” After a lifetime of devoted study to the habits and lifestyle of this aspirational demographic, Povitsky began sharing her findings on the app in 2022. The ongoing series, “Things Hot Girls in L.A. Are Currently Obsessed With,” has since garnered millions of views.
The L.A. hot girl archetype is at once ineffably elusive and immediately identifiable. She’s as defined by what she is — an undeniable 10 — as what she is not. For example, the conventionally attractive, “skinny-fat” Instagram models and influencers in their 20s who roast on tanning beds do not qualify, by Povitsky’s definition. They lack the essential “high level of intelligence and knowledge on human health and wellness” that informs the true L.A. hot girl’s exacting standards. Far from a kept woman, the L.A. hot girl is independently wealthy, yet also not typically from money. Her success instead comes from being at the top of her cool, creative field, whether that’s fashion or writing (though never comedy, Povitsky emphasizes). She does not age out of her L.A. hot girlness, either. “In fact the older you get, the wiser you get, the more information you gain” so you can “live until you’re 120 years old.”
If you’re still confused about which type fits the bill, Provitsky has a good litmus test; “Ask, ‘If I was the perfect version of myself, what would life be like?’ These women are your North Star for figuring that out.”
While impervious to trends, their taste runs the world, as the “North Stars of our entire culture,” despite staying hidden in the shadows whenever possible. They’re smarter, more successful, self-assured and well-read than you’ll ever be. “And that’s how you know they’re making all the right, better choices.” It’s also why she spreads their word like gospel on obsession-worthy makeup brands (Fluff Cosmetics, which doesn’t appear purchasable anywhere), vegan ice cream shops (Awan), French nipple creams (Homeoplasmine) and podcasts (Pivot).
While Povitsky’s expertise on this local subset of hot girl began over a decade ago, her overall fascination began practically at birth while growing up in Skokie, Illinois.
“My sister was seven years older, taller, skinnier and bigger boobed than me. We had different dads and my Mom’s first marriage was clearly for looks. Her second was for personality.” Povitsky remembers being convinced she was a “dirty little troll” whose “dead skin cells would infect my older sister’s bedroom if I went in.”
It’s this childhood wound that left a “pretty-older-sister hole in my heart I’ve been trying to fill my whole life.”
A breathless admiration for beautiful women has defined Povitsky’s comedic sensibilities since 2011, when she launched the Esther With Hot Chicks Tumblr blog after moving to L.A. “I’d run up to hot girls on the street, in grocery stores, all wide-eyed and asking every question like, ‘What are you buying? Why are you getting that? How do I look like you?’” She’d take pictures with them, then post about the encounters.
The concept evolved into a well-liked MTV web series of the same name, with Povitsky grilling the likes of Cailin Russo and Hanna Beth on their hotness. Her unabashed horse-girl energy made Povitsky a natural fit for a recurring role on “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and carried over into a bigger role on Hulu’s “Dollface.” Her first full-length Comedy Central special, appropriately titled “Hot for My Name,” released in 2020.
But it wasn’t until Meghan Thee Stallion’s 2019 “Hot Girl Summer” single dropped, inspiring subsequent TikTok trends like #HotGirlWalk and #HotGirlsHaveIBS, that Povitsky’s passion found its moment. Years of dedicated research and data gathering made her uniquely equipped to contribute to hot girl culture suddenly going mainstream.
“In the early days — especially in a male-dominated industry like comedy — I felt a lot of shame,” Povitsky admits. “We’re made to feel less than for liking the things that interest women. But the series helped me realize, OK, I’m not alone in this.”
Much like the recent reclaiming of the bimbo as empowering and gossip as an act of feminist resistance, her L.A. hot girl TikToks remove guilt from the pleasure of feminine hobbies that patriarchy maligns. Judging by its popularity, many share Povitsky’s love for insider scoops on the outlandishly lavish and niche stuff that L.A.’s most put-together women are into these days.
“It’s become an unexpected way to connect with other women,” Povitsky says. She suspects a majority of the interest isn’t in actually booking a $475 lymphatic drainage Ricari massage, either. It’s also not in comparing themselves to an impossible ideal. Rather, it’s the fantasy of being someone who believes they deserve all the best, nicest things, no matter how ridiculous.
“Hot girl culture is a form of self-love,” says Hannah Berner, fellow comedian, podcaster and friend of Povitsky. “What’s aspirational about the series is getting to imagine how hot we’d be if we just obsessed over taking the best care of ourselves. Esther’s proven that being hot takes a lot of effort and resources. And that it’s a mindset.” You get to choose how much you invest in the mindset. “I only have time to be hot, like, 10% of the time. And that’s fine.”
At last, Povitsky has found herself fully accepted into an L.A. hot girl group chat, members of which she even vacations in Italy with. Yet instead of fixating her studies on how to look more like them, she’s now interested in how to think more like a hot girl. While avoiding skinny dipping across the Amalfi Coast with L.A.’s most beautiful women, the group called Povitsky out for a major flaw. Not a physical one, of course, but for her constant negative self-talk. “They were like, ‘Why do you say bad things about yourself? We don’t do that. There’s no reason to put that in someone’s head.’”
Povitsky took this pearl of hot girl wisdom to heart, in her own way.
“It’s up to you how you identify on any given day,” she explains. “Sometimes I wake up, and maybe it’s a fun day of my cycle, I’m ovulating, full of energy, and I can put on the hot girl mentality,” she says. “But I also reserve the right to be like, ‘Today I’m ugly.’ I reserve the right to claim that word, to not have it be scary, so people on the internet don’t hold the power over me.”
Mental health benefits aren’t the only advantage to surrounding herself with such confident, secure women. The TikTok series connected her with more “ethereal model creatures” like Yasmin Moon, co-founder of the handmade jewelry brand Mudd Pearl, which Povitsky featured in the series. For Moon, every spotlight contributes to the brand’s growing cult following.
“It’s been really special to see such positive results from me just organically wanting to share these niche, artistic, small brands with people,” says Povitsky, who was sporting the pearl and iridescent seashell necklace that Moon gifted her. L.A. Hot Girl-approved brands don’t always have big marketing budgets, Povitsky has observed, despite being high enough quality to earn the loyalty of such a discerning consumer demographic.
The series may seem like a superficial lark at first blush, but Povitsky considers it “very sacred,” calling her “investigative hot girl journalism” a “serious art form” and one of the last bastions of “honest reporting” on the community. Having studied journalism for a single semester of college (before dropping out), she applies the rigor of corroborating facts, guarding off-the-record information and doggedly protecting her anonymous hot girl subjects. (In true Hot Girl fashion, none of said sources agreed to speak on the record with the L.A. Times for this story.)
Their secretiveness is a harbinger of the unfortunate trend Povitsky sees on the horizon: Gatekeeping is back. The news is devastating, since her series rode the wave of anti-gatekeeping, pro-sharing online movements. Povitsky now finds herself in a conflict of interest between her civic duty to “share truth with the public” and maintain a relationship with the L.A. hot girl community. “I may never be able to do another video again,” she sighs.
Much like the elusive L.A. hot girl who’s always just out of frame in all of Povitsky’s TikToks, appearing only as a perfectly manicured hand displaying her empty bottle of Paya Health Superior Skin supplements, “The L.A. hot girl series is ephemeral.” She’s there one moment, then gone in the next, on to obsessing over the next best thing.