May 12, 2014
SEXY IS A STATE OF MIND
The other day I came across a post on my Facebook wall that went something like this:
"I was walkin' down the street and saw a lady with the word "SEXY" written on her sweatpants. And OMG, she was NOT sexy at ALL. Like, barf!! False advertising!! Ugh, if you have to advertise the fact that you're "sexy" on your clothing, then u r definitely not!!!"
Most of the time, no matter how ignorant a Facebook post may be, I can get over it without feeling the need to comment. However, I was irrationally angry at this man's post. Was it the fact that he was not conventionally attractive himself, yet still felt the need to publicly slam another human's appearance? That he had so many people backing him up via comments and likes? The smugness in his tone that insinuated he was an ultimate authority on sexiness?
Maybe it was just the last straw for me, after absorbing a lifetime of similar sentiments, which are all about judging a woman by no other criteria than her looks.
I spent a lot of time typing potential replies, eventually to discard them all and decide to write a post about it here, instead.
Not-So-Secret Confession: I like to feel sexy. It's not really a revelation... I think most people do.
Fact: There's nothing wrong with feeling sexy, even if you're not the cultural ideal of beauty. It's totally a part of being an adult human.
BUT: Sometimes, something as simple as feeling sexy is much harder than it needs to be. And for me, part of that reason is that over a lifetime, I've been fed tons of bad information that made me feel like I'll never be sexy. Here are some examples:
+ When I was eight years old, blondes were all the rage. They were the glamorous lead actresses in movies. They were the popular girls at school. They were all my favorite singers. Blondes seemed to be the ones getting all the attention. Therefore, I desperately wanted to be a blonde.
+ When I was nine, I started noticing my mom's habit of worrying about her weight, and dieting. So I started worrying about my weight, and wanting to go on a diet.
+ When I was ten, I learned from the kids at school that wearing glasses didn't make me cool and unique, it made me a four-eyes.
+ When I was eleven, I discovered that having interests that pleased me didn't hold a candle to being "pretty." It didn't matter that I felt fabulous and special when I was singing, writing, or dressing wildly. All that mattered was that my outside appearance be manipulated in such a way as to appear more attractive to others.
+ When I was twelve, Cosmo told me I needed to be thin like a model. But Victoria's Secret said I had to have a big chest. Decisions, decisions... which unattainable ideal to strive for?
I could go on and on with these little stories, but you get the point. And I'm sure any woman you ask will be able to tell you about similar experiences. They all share a common thread- that I felt the need to change fundamental parts of myself to fit into a fabricated ideal.
Every new phase of life brought new fears, and new reasons why I needed to change myself, or stress about my appearance. The messages start young, and come from many sources.... and there are always new standards, along with creative reasons why women must alter themselves to fit in.
People like the man above- who felt the need to publicly shame a stranger for having the audacity to muster some confidence- they're really pawns in a bigger game. All they do is lap up the tripe-du-jour, and regurgitate it back. So new generations can buy into it, and the cycle can start again.
It might be one stupid comment from a guy who exists in an Internet black hole, and will never matter. But it's one comment of a billion comments that shapes a cultural mindset, and helps perpetuate (daily, hourly, by-the-minute) messages that women will never be good enough as they are.
And so I'm just... done right now.
I don't care what size you are. I don't care how old you are. I don't care how symmetrical your face is.
Every woman, and every person is deserving of respect and dignity. Their bodies and choices will not be regarded as public property. They have the right to feel good about themselves- even in broad daylight. Even if they are not considered "hot." Saggy skin, wrinkles, and all.
So, Facebook Dude: No. Sweatpants Lady will not put it away. She will not cover it up. And she will not hide.
Do you know why? Because SHE IS SEXY!!!
Debated fact, but still a fact: If you feel sexy, you are. Sexy is a state of mind, even if it's only you who believes it. Contrary to what we've been taught, those who simply project an aura of confidence have no problem attracting attention- regardless of how many boxes they tick on the "conventional hotness" ticket. They are comfortable in their own skin. They smile. They are genuine. They are sending a message to the world, and the world simply responds.
People who love themselves, and know they are awesome and hot don't even need outside validation... They already have it from within.
Furthermore, there are many, many things that a person can be, other than eye candy for rando dudes. Maybe Sweatpants Lady was a mother. Maybe she was amazing at her job. Maybe she was an artist. Maybe she was just a good person, with a kind heart, who volunteers at the animal shelter.
...All things with so much inherent value and merit, that have nothing to do with the way she looks. Not that one even has to prove that they're the Superwoman of motherhood or careerism to get a pity pass for being "ugly" and deserve basic human decency.
To place merit only on someone's outward appearance, is to discount everything else that they are. All their experiences, wisdom, and amazing traits. It's a fast track to devaluing an entire human.
Don't do it.
Confidence is sexy.
Style is sexy.
Being smart, mysterious, or having a great skill are all super sexy things.
(Feel free to add to the list in the comments.)
And yes, being born with fortunate physical traits are sexy, too.
But being sexy isn't everything, and it's subjective anyway.
There are going to be people in life who you definitively do not find sexy, and that's totally okay.
But judging people exclusively by superficial criteria is not sexy. In fact, it might make you a jerk.
Hating on a person's entire being just because you find an aspect of their physical appearance unattractive is indeed, a jerk-move.
Don't be that jerk.
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