Claire Hailowood believes ‘rizz’ says a lot about today’s culture and why Christian teens need to look for a whole lot more


Would you say you had ‘rizz’?

In a recent conversation between George Clooney and Tom Hanks on the Graham Norton show, they made it clear that if you say you’ve got ‘rizz’, then you almost certainly haven’t.

Actor Tom Holland has let it be known that he believes he has no ‘rizz’ !

The Oxford University Press has revealed its word of the year for 2023 and it’s ‘rizz’ defined as ‘internet slang for romantic appeal or charm’, it’s used largely by Gen Z and is an oft used hashtag on TikTok. It’s linked to how likely you are to be able to attract a sexual partner and is apparently an abbreviated version of the word ‘charisma’.

As interesting to me is that of the seven other words shortlisted, three are connected to or describe relationships in some and marks quite the change from last year’s word of the year which was ‘goblinmode’. Some commentators have suggested that this a move away from a challenging few years where we’ve been more isolated, and wondered whether this marks a new confidence and desire to connect and ‘get out there’ in gen Z?

So, whether you’ve heard the word before or whether you think you have ‘rizz’ or not, it’s an interesting word, especially in light of some of the commentary and the context of previous words of the year and how this one came to the fore.

I think if I attempted to use the word, especially with my teenagers and their peers, I would get more than one withering look, but I do quite enjoy the emergence of a new word that celebrates something a bit like charisma. I’m encouraged that it may represent a desire for connection and deeper reconnection amongst younger generations because much has been lost in some formative years for many of them. I’ve chuckled at a few examples of #rizz online, celebrated some and rolled my eyes in despair more than once.

There’s much to celebrate and enjoy as new generations explore what’s important and valuable in a partner. And you only have to read a few verses of Song of Songs to realise that God understands and has wired humans for connection which includes physical attraction, so in and of itself, figuring that out and celebrating it is something I want to help my kids (and others) to celebrate, explore and never feel shame in.

But if TikTok and culture tells this generation that ‘rizz’ is to be sought above all else then I also want to be a voice that encourages them to look for it and more. What about other characteristics that are desirable in another human – compassion, integrity, humour, steadfastness, loyalty and more. Perhaps those are some things that make up someone’s ‘rizz’ but I suspect some of the deeper character traits are not what hashtag ‘rizz’ online celebrates. And I think one without the other is only a partial picture – my prayer for those I love and am raising is that they will look to become and look for someone who has ‘rizz’ and a whole lot more.

I want to make sure this continues to come alongside conversation about God’s best for relationships, how important ‘rizz’ might be in a partner that God would have for them and what else. I want to encourage my kids to dream and go after God’s best for a life partner. Not for perfection, not for some unrealistic short-lived version but to be ready to become someone ready to love and commit to someone for a lifetime.

And if you want a laugh today, go ask someone in Gen Z whether they think you’ve got ‘rizz’ or not!