Beauty and the brain.

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.

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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.”

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On life, death and wearing purple.

My mom had a birthday yesterday, a biggish birthday I suppose. On the eve of this age old aging tradition, some feelings were had, some tears were shed and some truths were realized. The feelings and tears were not mine, the realizations will however be something I will always treasure.

My mom fears age, she fears wrinkles, and hormones and health issues. She fears the small amount of fat deposits that have settled around her middle (and when I say small I am not under-exaggerating to spare her feelings). She fears being alone, she fears being lonely, she fears being forgotten. She fears what people will say, how they think she looks, and how she will be judged. She is the first to refuse to have a photo taken and the first to mention her own flaws. And this saddens me. It makes me want to cry out while shaking her shoulders until the thoughts manage to fly into her psyche and take root without her realizing. I want her to know how incredibly beautiful she is, how courageous she is, how worthy and how significant her life has been. I want her to see herself through my eyes, to see a woman that gave birth to and is raising three beautiful girls, to see a woman that has known loss yet walked through the flames with her head held high. I want her to see the naughty twinkle she gets in her eye, like a rebellious teenager. I want her to see the blessings she has been given, and to understand the depths of her intellect. I want her to hear the passion in her voice while screaming on the side-lines of my sister’s hockey game or at the ref on TV. I want her to see the joy on her face while laughing over a drink with friends, the softness in her eyes as she plays with our kitten. I want her to see that her age is something to be celebrated. Her wrinkles show life.

On the other hand there is death. I have been confronted with death numerous times in my life, however a recent story about a girl who I attended varsity with has left me jilted. At the ripe young age of 23 she was merely a glimmer in the eye of life, yet she encompassed so much of what it means to live. She was enigmatic, charismatic and alluring and this all comes from a distant perspective of her life. We were not friends, but on speaking to her friends and reading status updates, I feel their loss. This glimmer of life was taken far too soon- while on a gap year after varsity, travelling the world and following her dreams. Death. Gone. No more dreams, no more thoughts. Nothing. She will never see those dreams realized, her ticket home never used. She will never feel the joy of walking towards the love of her life, and making a commitment in a beautiful dress. Nor feel the thrill of growing a life inside of her, and holding that life in her arms and watching that life grow up. She will never achieve success beyond her wildest dreams, or know the disappointment of failure. She will not feel the cold sting of betrayal or the warmth of a friends hug once more. She will never again laugh uncontrollably, or cry for no reason. Her beautiful face will never get a single wrinkle, laugh line or scar. She will never have to worry about gaining weight or become obsessed with losing it. She will never have to look in the mirror and not like what she sees, because she will never see again.

This is what I realized. Life is wonderful, growing up is glorious and old age is a privilege denied to many. Cliché as it is. I did not read it on a motivational poster or search it up on Pinterest quotes. Although I am sure it is probably on both. I feel it in the core of my being. I want to live, and when I say live I do not mean merely exist. I mean I want passion; intense and barely controllable. I want to feel so full I could burst, and I don’t actually mind if it is full of love, full of pride, full of sadness or full of food. As long as I feel. I want to treasure each new stretch mark, and wrinkle and scar as I treasure each new memory, piece of wisdom and mistake. I want to read so much that my brain is full and my bank account empty. Dance so much that someday in the nursing home as I get up and my knees creek I can smile with a twinkle in my eye and a memory to warm my heart.  I want to teach, and learn, and write, and travel. I want to argue, and fight and cry and forgive and forget. I want to sing the wrong words on long road trips and have conversations with strangers on airplanes. I want to laugh so much that the laughter’s only choice will be to forever etch itself on my face, and so be it if that means laugh lines and crow’s feet. But most of all I want to love. I want to love so much that I simply can’t anymore, and then find it in me to love some more.

And when the big O comes, and I’m reaching the climax (and by the big O I do mean Old Age, for those of you hanging out in the gutters) I want to follow the wonderful Jenny Josephs advice,

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple

With a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me,

And I shall spend my pension

on brandy and summer gloves

And satin sandals,

and say we’ve no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired,

And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells,

And run my stick along the public railings,

And make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain

And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens,

And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat,

And eat three pounds of sausages at a go,

Or only bread and pickle for a week,

And hoard pens and pencils and beer mats

and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry,

And pay our rent and not swear in the street,

And set a good example for the children.

We will have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?

So people who know me

are not too shocked and surprised,

When suddenly I am old

and start to wear purple!