What’s the Deal With Sex-Appeal?

Have you noticed how much emphasis the body positivity movement often puts on looking and feeling sexy? And on looking beautiful? I want all people to be happy in their own skin, I really do. I’d like to start off by saying that this post is in no way bashing people who dress in a sexy manner. I fully support people expressing themselves in whatever way feels the most empowering for them.

Since, traditionally, women have been encouraged to cover up and repress their sexuality, wearing sexy outfits is a often a way for people to reclaim a part of themselves that they’ve been told is unacceptable, and I think it’s important for people to reclaim that part of themselves.

Confidence of All Kinds

Something about this push for sexiness and beauty just feels…. off. Why should I have to be beautiful to accept myself? Why should I focus on feeling sexy? What does any of that have to do with happiness?

Just think about the ugly duckling transformation trope in movies; from Cinderella to the Princess Diaries, there’s this pervading idea that women won’t be able to recognize their own worth unless they get approval from society at large, and that society will only accept them if they conform to beauty standards.

Is it true? Can we only really accept ourselves if society accepts us first? And what messages are we bombarded with from movies and media?

It used to be “you’ll be accepted if you’re beautiful.” Now, it seems to be “you’re beautiful, so accept yourself.”

beauty written with pink lipstick
Photo by monicore on Pexels.com

In both cases, aren’t these messages sort of tying acceptance to beauty?

It feels healthier to, I don’t know, accept all parts of myself despite the fact that they’re not beautiful. I have armpit hair and a mustache. Not because I think they’re sexy. Not because they make me feel beautiful. That’s just how my body grows, and I’ve accepted that. I love it despite the fact that it looks a little goofy. In fact, I love it because it looks a little goofy!

You Don’t Have to be Beautiful to be Valuable

More and more, I find myself disillusioned with the cult of beauty.

One time I overheard one of my roommates talking with her friend, laughing about how someone forgot to shave her armpits and how embarrassing they thought that was. I’m not sure who they were talking about, nor do I care. It was just something that I overheard, ya know? They’re entitled to their opinions.

I can’t help but wonder, what exactly is so embarrassing about having a healthy body?

Self Acceptance Doesn’t Have to be Sexy

Unless I put a lot of effort into it, my cooking is usually pretty ugly. But you know what? It still tastes good! Well, it tastes good to me. And since I usually use healthy ingredients while cooking, I can only assume that the finished dish is healthy, too. Does it matter that it’s ugly? Not at all!

I do not think this ramen is very pretty, but it was yummy, and that’s what matters!

Do you see what I mean?

There’s this increasingly common narrative that we should look sexy in order to feel confident in ourselves. While I recognize that there is a vast culture of repressing women’s sexuality, I think that it’s a little bit unnecessary to conflate sex-appeal with self-acceptance. Build your confidence by putting on a sexy outfit, right? Have you seen that advice too?

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look sexy. There’s nothing wrong with owning your sexuality. All I’m saying is that there are other ways to feel confident in case the “sexy” route isn’t comfortable for you.

Which is partly what inspired me to write this; comfort. I am not comfortable in sexy outfits, nor do I want to be, and that seems to be misconstrued with insecurity. I’ve written a bit on this matter already in this post here.

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of “sexy” is:

1 : sexually suggestive or stimulating : erotic. 2 : generally attractive or interesting : appealing a sexy stock.

I think it’s unreasonable to tell people that if they’re uncomfortable with looking sexually suggestive in public then they must not fully accept themselves. For me, having sex appeal is not a goal. I’m comfortable being uncomfortable in sexy clothes, and that’s not going to change. I don’t want that to change!

Hairy Helpers

Aside from the things that I wear, there’s also my hair. My mustache, my armpits, and my hairy legs have all helped me throughout life. They’ve taught me that people really do not give a darn what you do with your body!

At first, I was so sure that having visible body hair was too socially taboo to do. But it turns out, hardly anyone notices or even cares. It’s just that the people who do care, for some reason or another, feel the need to be incredibly vocal about it.

They’re entitled to their beliefs, at any rate.

adorable sphynx cat sleeping near bright sunflower at home
Photo by Alina Vilchenko on Pexels.com

And that’s why it’s been so helpful! If someone genuinely thinks that their opinion on my body is more important than my ✨obviously deliberate✨ decision not to shave, well, is that a person that I really want to be around? (This is in regards to people who go out of their way to make comments about my body hair, and is not directed at the conversation I overheard my roommate having. Expressing their opinions while among friends is completely different from directly making comments about someone’s body to their face. Like I said, I just happened to overhear part of their convo and it happened to relate to this post!)

Do people assume that I’m too stupid to know that people generally expect American women to be hairless (aside from our heads and eyebrows, of course)?

Do people think they’re doing me a favor when they tell me that men don’t like hairy women?

Make Choices for Yourself, Not Others

I know that my mustache isn’t beautiful. She’s not supposed to be (yes, I call my mustache a “she”). I know that people (generally) think that I would look better if I tweezed the hairs inbetween my eyebrows. Most days I don’t wear makeup, even though I know I look better with a little bit of blush and mascara.

How could I not know all of that? Magazines, blogs, and makeover reality TV shows are constantly address how to look and feel sexy, how to get rid of unwanted hair, how to pull off the sexy-yet-casual makeup look. Of course I know how to look conventionally beautiful. The fact that people think that my choice not adhere to these social standards is anything other than deliberate is, quite frankly, utterly baffling.

Does that mean that I never try to look cute, or good? Not at all! My main goal in regards to my appearance, however, isn’t to look attractive; it’s to express my personality!

It’s so incredibly freeing to accept that I was put on this earth to do more than just try to be attractive. My purpose is not to be beautiful. My purpose is not to be sexy. I am under no obligation to look any sort of way for anyone other than myself (except for the dress code at work!).

I won’t ever judge anyone for wanting to look beautiful, or for looking sexy. All I ask is for the same treatment in return!

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