Saturday, 11 January 2014

Sexy Back

What is sexy?

It is a question I pondered over the other week with some friends. Who is sexy? What does it mean to feel sexy? Is it at odds with feminism, to want to be sexy? What makes a person sexy? Is it in the eyes? The smile? The clothes? The attitude? Or all of the above? Are we at our sexiest in our youth; is it a word applicable to a woman over 35? Or a mother? Or is it a word for the young?

Feeling confident isn't the same as feeling sexy. they are not mutually exclusive either... A discussion at work about who or what is sexy provoked all kinds of blushes and stuttered conversation - not least because sexy is in the eye of the beholder - and what one person thinks is HOT another will find repulsive. I don't really know any women who deliberately try to be sexy - to dress provocatively, to hoist their cleavage to the masses - or raise their skirts to knicker grazing level. I find displays of overt 'sexiness' crass and obvious - on women and men. Women in a T-shirt and jeans look infinitely hotter than a woman squeezed into some binding dress threatening to cut off their circulation. Therefore, is sexiness in the person, rather than what they wear?

For the record, for me, the sexiest woman of all time:

The beauty, the tousled hair, the feline eyes, the perfect pout. Bardot never looks like she starves herself of all of life's joys: food, wine, sex, sunshine. Like Liz Taylor, she oozed glamour and yes, that word, sexiness, in her attitude, her walk, her voice. Even patting a dog she looks hot:

Is there a time in life where you discover your sexiness? Or embrace it? There seems a general consensus between women I know that this word, 'sexy' demeans them in some way - better to be thought of as brainy or funny, or beautiful. Perhaps because lads mags and bimbo filled reality shows have dumbed down the meaning of the word; made sexy something so blatant and in your face that it no longer has any appeal.

Men have told me they found their girlfriends and wives sexiest when the are wearing their old Xmas PJs and are curled up in bed with no make up and a book. My Husband hates women plastered in make-up, he likes a more natural look; elegance, or simplicity in what women wear.

Being no looker in my teens, the boys passed me by - in favour of my infinitely more glamorous best friend. I took a job glass collecting at a local tennis club, working to 2am at the late license discos. I vividly remember the night some men in their 20s tried to pull me onto the dancefloor. They put their numbers into my hands, curled their arms inappropriately around my waist, individually asked me on dates - all as they bought their girlfriends drinks. I was 16 and it was the first time anyone had ever found me attractive. I was stunned. I was used to taunts at school, abuse, being called a 'dog'and much worse. For a teenage virgin who had barely been kissed, it was utterly intoxicating.

Still I struggled with my looks, my confidence. I don't know if I ever really shook off the feeling of being 'not good enough' that those boys imprinted upon me. It meant the thought of feeling sexy was about as foreign to me in sunny Belfast as Thai food... I think my first love was the beginning of a change in how I viewed by body, myself. He cherished me in a way that made me I was worth being wanted. When he left for university, with it went my confidence, my newly discovered sense of self.

All through my 20s, in the vicious world of TV, I let myself be rejected for my looks. Let myself be passed over time and again for presenting jobs - being told 'But you aren't a model. More, you know,' Girl next door.' They stopped short of saying, 'you aren't sexy enough.' It was the 90s,and the boom of lads mags had begun - you couldn't move for wonderbras and women stripping to 'empower themselves.' I didn't fit the mould - nor did I really want to. Why have to strip to prove my worth? I struggled with it all - my boy/work rejection, my self esteem - my view of myself. Outwardly confident, inwardly convinced that no wonder the jobs passed me by - I just wasn't that attractive. Mind you, show me a woman alive who hasn't struggled with her looks? Even Kate Moss admitted hating her flat chest, replete with a mole on one breast. Where do we grow with this sense of what is beauty and what is not? What ideals do we think we should live up to?

I digress. This is about sexiness. Not beauty. Let's not confuse the two. The most beautiful women in the world can be sex-less. Do woman only really feel sexy when they enter womanhood - and when is that? I know one friend who said he found his wife at her sexiest, not on their wedding day - but when she was 8 months pregnant. I'm amazed - I felt at my LEAST sexy when I was waddling around with bump the size of Britain.

Maybe feeling sexy isn't anything to do with what we wear, or how we see ourselves, but who we are with? Do they make us feel that way about ourselves - in the way they see us, the way they look us in the eye? Is it in the our voice, our smile, our laugh? The way Julia Roberts was at her most sexy not striding around in PVC thigh high boots, but laughing loudly when a jewellery case clamps briefly on her fingers?

Another man told me once that the sexiest thing a woman has done for him is to go out for dinner and actually eat! Which proves really that sexiness means one thing to one person and another to another. It isn't something to fear, or to be ashamed of, or to even try and achieve: you are sexy if you feel it. It is probably that simple. The difficulty, in talking to female friends, comes with the 'feeling' it. Will a high heel do it? A breast job? A diet? There seems to be sense of striving for this elusive sexiness. Yet, rarely if ever have I known a man to chase it in the way women do.

The sexiest men to me are usually the funniest, the smartest, the ones that have great eyes or smile. It isn't about the rock hard abs and the dancing pecs. It starts with the brain - their smell, their wit.... Which is why as HOT as a man may be - without the above, there is no sexiness. Looks do not equate to sexiness...

I don't know if I've ever really got the bottom of what makes one person sexy and another not... What defines that word. Jennifer Aniston, (she who has been sexiest woman in the world) summed it up , 'Nobody thinks of themselves as sexy, really. some days you go 'I'm not going too bad today. but if you try to be sexy, you'll never be sexy.'

So know you know.


sara burn said...


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