• Sex-Ed Steph

Malcolm, Reece, Frances, and Eric

Or: internalized European standards of hotness.

Malcolm in the Middle aired from 2000–2006 on Fox. I only ever saw the last season when it actually aired- I remember watching the series finale at least. I saw episodes in syndication when I got home from school I think. This part doesn’t really matter.

At 12, I didn’t understand the humor and I’m not into cringe but it was in English, so I absorbed that shit. When I was little, my Mexican parents were very strict and liked their media in Spanish. I saw very few things in English outside of school, and we were on a novela diet so the things I saw in English were in the death slots of network tv in between novelas. I don’t resent this, but I have definitely become a voracious student of American pop culture due to it.

At this point, I had already been sexually activated, but as a coping mechanism I was pretending I hadn’t been. I think this was due to the fact that I didn’t have the vocabulary to process and understand what had happened to me. I thought boys were cute but, again, as a coping mechanism, I wasn’t friends with them nor did I engage. I felt and I feel more comfortable among women. And depressingly enough, a lot of them understand exactly why.

The European standards of beauty have gotten on everything, including novelas. So, watching this family living their lives, I felt like I was supposed to be attracted to those white white boys. Malcolm’s big blue eyes are dreamy right? and Reece had cool spiky hair, and Frances was all blond and shit. (I know now that Malcolm is white passing but I didn’t at the time) At school, this was one of the few shows I could talk about, and my friends thought they were cute. This wasn’t before the Internet but it was definitely before I became dependent on the Internet. We didn’t know what their names were, but I could have sworn that Bryan Cranston’s name was juxtaposed over Reece’s face at some point in the theme song, so Bryan was mine. Ha.

One of the things that I have had to do as I have struggled to face my trauma is to disentangle what I genuinely feel from the ways that I coped to protect my lil baby psyche. I don’t think I thought they were hot, I think that I instinctively understood that I was expected to find them attractive and my class mates reinforced that. Standard peer pressure. Add to that the push for the eurocentric aesthetic ideals that they embodied and I’m toast.

I’m not gonna lie and say they were all hot, and now that I understand the media machine and their love for pale people I definitely don’t think so. Cute?Ok. The only one I still think is cute is France’s friend Eric. He has no lips bit I think I’m just into those cheekbones. I am a big fan of cheekbones. Whatever.

This post was originally published on Medium, but I am not happy with medium as a medium so it will live here now.

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