The other day I went out dancing with a friend. A male friend. Who has always been (some harmless flirting aside) firmly in the friend zone. Disclaimer: this night did have it’s fair share of glasses clinked and shots thrown back. While standing at the bar singing along (quite melodramatically) to a song, he leaned over and said: “You are so sexy”… SEXY. S-E-X-Y. Sexy? I think I blushed from my toe nails up to my split ends. And then very sincerely informed him that, that could not be true. I am most certainly not sexy. Cute, maybe. Pretty, to some. But most certainly not sexy. The night ended, but the thought lingered on.
What actually defines sexy, and is this definition endemic to a culture; to a gender; or is it a completely personal decision. Is sexy based on beauty, provocative clothing or a dirty mind. To me sexy has always been the unattainable picture of Scarlett Johansson in a red dress, heels, perfectly curled hair and her signature red pout. Or one of the girls from the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition- buxom with all the right curves in all the right places. Or Victoria’s Secret Angels.
I took to the inter-webs to find a definition of this illusive concept. The Oxford Dictionary (online) defined it as “Sexually attractive or appealing”. Urban Dictionary had a range of sickening attempts at being a cute boyfriend and defining their girlfriends as sexy mixed in with, “Sexy is someone that is another level of hot”. And heaven forbid you type sexy into Google images, you will be bombarded with half naked girls with their bums in the air.
This is most certainly not me. I do not see myself as overly sexually attractive, my looks are definitely not even in my top 10 best qualities, nor have I ever worn a red dress or been able to pull off red lipstick without looking like a baby prostitute. Lets not even get into the what my body looks like naked discussion, because that is definitely not anywhere near sexy.
Eager to understand how I possibly fit into that category I asked some of my other male friends to quite honestly explain to me how I was sexy, in the most unassuming way possible. Their response, “You are definitely sexy”. I ventured even further and asked for explanations. Both of them defined sexy as something that had nothing to do with looks but rather personality, sense of humour and “Just something you can’t explain”. I like where this is going… “Sexy is the way you talk, how comfortable you are around us, the jokes you tell, and the way you laugh”. Somehow this seems way more like a compliment now.
I realize that sexy is not a single concept, and even in my own use of the word I have slowly realized that when I say something is sexy it is not always the Guess male model with nothing but jeans and abs and a smirk on his face. Though sometimes it is. Just as sexy can be Megan Fox in her underwear. It can also be about wit and intellect, and each thing that makes someone unique. It can have as much to do with beauty as it does with your brain. And actually even more.
I found this wonderful quote by Courtney E. Martin, “You know what’s really, powerfully sexy? A sense of humour. A taste for adventure. A healthy glow. Hips to grab on to. Openness. Confidence. Humility. Appetite. Intuition… Smart-ass comebacks. Presence. A quick wit. Dirty jokes told by an innocent looking lady… A woman who realizes how beautiful she is.”