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The ultimate writer's guide to the Born Sexy Yesterday trope

The image is of a fully grown adult woman, who has an innocence about her. She looks like the kind of person that you say "Oh, honey" to, like in that one episode of How I Met Your Mother. If you know, you know.

What is the Born Sexy Yesterday trope?

The "Born Sexy Yesterday" trope refers to a character, typically female, who is portrayed as naively innocent and lacking worldly experience but simultaneously embodies an idealized version of physical attractiveness and sexuality. This character often possesses some form of advanced knowledge or skill (e.g., in science, combat, or magic) yet is depicted as fundamentally childlike in understanding social norms, especially regarding sexuality and romantic relationships. The trope usually involves this character being introduced to the world or educated about it by a more worldly, often male, protagonist.

Characteristics of the Born Sexy Yesterday trope

This trope explores themes of innocence, power dynamics, and the male fantasy of a perfect, yet uninformed partner who is dependent on the protagonist for guidance and enlightenment. It's characterized by an imbalance in relationship dynamics, where the naiveté of the "Born Sexy Yesterday" character serves to amplify the worldly experience, authority, and desirability of the protagonist. The trope is criticized for its objectification and infantilization of female characters, reducing them to their physical appeal while stripping them of autonomy and maturity.

Where did the Born Sexy Yesterday trope come from?

The trope has its roots in early science fiction and fantasy narratives, where the exploration of unknown worlds or the creation of artificial beings often led to the depiction of idealized female forms with limited understanding of their own existence or sexuality. It reflects broader societal and gender norms regarding innocence and experience, and while the trope has been increasingly criticized for its problematic implications, it remains prevalent in various forms of media.

Genres & the Born Sexy Yesterday trope

  • Science Fiction: Particularly common where themes of artificial intelligence, alien encounters, or time displacement are explored.
  • Fantasy: Appears in stories involving mythical creatures, magic, or otherworldly beings brought into human society.
  • Superhero: Can be found in narratives where characters possess extraordinary abilities but lack understanding of human society.

Cross-genre Usage: While most prevalent in speculative fiction, elements of the trope can emerge in any genre that involves characters with a significant gap in worldly experience or knowledge being introduced to modern societal norms.

How to use the Born Sexy Yesterday trope in creative ways

  • Avoiding Clichés: Challenge the traditional dynamics of the trope by giving the "Born Sexy Yesterday" character full agency, depth, and the ability to challenge their mentor or society's expectations.
  • Innovative Twists: Reverse the roles, or present a scenario where the "naïve" character possesses knowledge or moral insight that the more "worldly" characters lack, leading to mutual growth and learning.
  • Character and Plot Integration: Use the trope to explore themes of consent, autonomy, and the complexity of human experience beyond the physical or superficial.
  • Examples of Creative Use: A story where an AI designed to be the perfect partner evolves beyond its programming to question and redefine its existence and relationships on its own terms; a narrative that deconstructs the trope by focusing on the ethical implications of creating or encountering beings who fit the "Born Sexy Yesterday" mold.