May 12, 2014


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.

:mic drop:

linked on Deligtfully Tacky

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  1. A thumbs up post!


  2. I love this! And so true, beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Happy Monday!

  3. HELL YES! I absolutely love this post! You're so right! Who is he to say whether she can feel sexy or not in sweatpants? She's allowed to feel sexy in whatever she damn well wants to! We all feel sexy for different reasons and in different clothing. One woman might feel sexy in a tight dress, another in a loose dress, another might feel sexy in a white tee and jeans, or in sweatpants. Some of the things people say on Facebook make me cringe!

  4. Usually I would say that I totally agree with you, because like you said, being sexy is a state of mind, and is nobodies business how we dress. Still I think the FB guy, and here i'm not defending him, well it was his wall, and if he feels better criticizing someone who he only saw once, and didn't say a word in person, well, that's his problem. Probably the lady really look bad on sweatpants, but he didn't hurt her feelings making a nasty comment to her, he only wrote a bad comment in his personal place.

    1. Hey Dulce!

      I'm totally not saying that the Facebook commenter shouldn't be free to have whatever thoughts he wants about the lady in the sweatpants. I'm not the thought police, and I'm not trying to say people can't have opinions. But what is the purpose of making a public statement about it? (Sadly, I don't think Facebook can be considered a personal space anymore...) Does it accomplish one positive thing?

      Also, it wasn't just him. There were 6-7 people participating in this post via comments, and 30+ who "liked the status. People who had never met or seen this woman, but still wanted to chime in about how gross she was.

      That's a group mindset, not just personal opinion. And I think it's a problem, and indicates a culture that is way too comfortable passing judgement on women's bodies... even women that they haven't even SEEN before.

      Thank you for participating in the conversation :)

  5. Right on. I dunno. I think at the end of the day, people have to be prepared to take criticism for the words and phrases they choose to prominently display on their clothing. For example, I saw a Let Them Eat Cake sweater for sale at some exorbitant price at a well known on-line retailer and I was so appalled that someone who be proud to display those infamous words on her body. Of course, someone who takes the phrase literally and without any historical context, would find it wholly innocuous.

    People are judgmental by nature. So, it is completely natural for something like those sweatpants to elicit a range of emotional responses. Obviously that dude didn't particularly care for it and he wasn't all that eloquent in delineating his reasons hehe. Other people might have liked it. I, personally, wouldn't wear a garment with that print on it because of the range of judgments it could/would elicit. I'm so sorely misunderstood by people all the time (I don't know if it's because I'm black and they expect me to act and dress a certain way and then when I don't I just blow their minds hehe or what), but it's true. I have to overcome so many misconceptions based on how I look and act. Wearing pants like that would just compound the problem in my case.

    I think one can feel sexy and beautiful without actually wearing stuff that says "SEXY" and "BEAUTIFUL" on it, if that makes any sense? Otherwise, it gives the impression that the person is either really full of herself or just plain trying too hard. I think if you feel good about yourself and you think you're attractive and sexy, these qualities will be apparent in how you carry yourself. You'll be broadcasting it at such a level that people will notice without you having to spell it out.

    That's my two cents. Leave it to me to go against the grain, I guess. Haha. <3

    - Anna

    1. Hey Anna!

      This is a really thoughtful response. I personally do not like "word" clothing either, and would never wear it. To me, it's less about the actual clothing she was wearing though, and more about an overarching theme in our culture... the consensus that it's totes cool to make public commentary on women's bodies and/ or looks, and the harm it can cause.

      Example- last summer, there was a day when it was really hot outside, and I decided to put on a pair of (pretty short) shorts to run an errand. Big mistake. I was harassed every step of the way to the store, and the entire way back.

      At least 20 guys on the street *could not* keep their opinion about me in those shorts to themselves. The feedback was all "positive," but I couldn't have felt less so. Their words made me feel disgusted. I wanted to burn those shorts, and never wear anything but turtlenecks again.

      To me, it is the exact same thing- people (women AND men) just somehow feel an entitlement over women's physical being- praising it, or mocking it. It's not just a simple "criticism," but a history of these sorts of things happening day in and day out throughout a woman's life. I blew a gasket over this particular instance, and had to write this post :P

      BUT. I agree that it's completely natural for people to have initial judgements and reactions towards things. I'm not saying people can't be entitled to their own preferences!

      I'm saying that I think that it's good for both society and individuals if people dig a little deeper, and understand their own intentions and thought processes with these sorts of things. And I'm also basically saying this:

      "I think if you feel good about yourself and you think you're attractive and sexy, these qualities will be apparent in how you carry yourself." We're so on the same page here! :)

  6. Love this, lady! Your timeline really made me think about events in my own life that shaped the way I still think of myself. So interesting.

  7. Oh man I love this post and love you so much!! did you unfriend that guy? i only ask because I deactivated an old facebook and made a new one about a year ago and found it to liberating to only see (generally uplifting) posts from about my 20 closests friends. on the flip side though his comment promoted you to write such a wonderful post. i feel pretty fortunate that i was just totally cluless about all beauty standards until middle school and nobody every said anything to me dressing exclusively in basketball shorts and big t-shirts, but I definitely felt it later on, never feeling sexy in HS because I was never skinny like my friends. fortunately my now-husband had been complimenting me on things (including my curves) ever since we met and i've got to admit that i feel pretty sexy now and it's great haha. i've been having this sort of conversation with my mom a lot lately though, when i shared w/ her a picture i saw online that said "got a body? then you've got a beach body." and i think it's helping her to be more confident as well.

  8. I love this post, and you are brilliant and beautiful!

  9. Glad I found this post linked on Delightfully Tacky! Your blog is wonderful.

    I can definitely relate to your snippets of's bizarre to think back to a time when we didn't care really about what other people thought of how we looked and how that evolved into caring so much about how other people see us...kind of sad.

    I agree - if you are confident in who you are you are sexy. If you think you're sexy then you are!


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