Sex is everywhere around us. And the mainstream media has very narrow ideas and portrayals of what is sexy by their standards. Men and women are cut from a certain cloth, one that touts attractiveness, fitness, health, and overall beauty. If you don’t meet or subscribe to those standards then you are not, by definition, sexy.
Growing up in the late 90s and early 2000s with role models like Alicia Silverstone, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Neve Campbell, I certainly felt as though I would never measure up to the standard of attractive or sexy that I felt like the media had established for me. I was tall, gawky, and awkward, I had breasts well before my female peers even thought about them, and skinny just wasn’t a realistic goal for my build, which is somewhere close to linebacker. In short I never was and never will be anything close to delicate, dainty, or petite. It was one of the injustices of life when I was 13 and just wanted to go to the school dance and have someone taller than myself to dance with.
Going into high school I had finally started to accept, if not quite own, the idea that I was tall and to quote one of my old girlfriends, “built like a warrior princess” (yes, that’s Xena reference). It took me a couple years to embrace it, but by the time I graduated high school I was pretty OK with my body. And from my escapades, so were all of my partners.
Entering my marriage I could say that I loved myself and who I was and how I looked, even if I never attained the so-called “perfect” body that I supposedly needed to have to be found attractive to my partners. But gradually, my husband, my abuser, my jailer, my rapist, taught me that I was not pretty or desirable or wanted. I was a tool, a thing, a sexual vessel for his satisfaction, a person who tended to his every need and made his life run smoothly, while I gave up my wants and needs and desires. And I lost whatever that magic spark, that mojo was that made me feel as though I was attractive or enticing. In that time I also gained weight, then lost weight, and yo-yo’d back and forth somewhat. That made the ex alternately tell me I was beautiful or tell me I was fat depending on which way my weight swung at any given time. Discovering roller derby helped, because it let me lose a fair amount of weight AND boosted my confidence. I was starting to feel as though I might be, if not conventionally attractive, then at least not bad looking. It was a lot of forward progress for me. It was enough that my husband took notice and immediately began doing everything he could to undermine my new found confidence. Finally, I found the courage to divorce him, but the damage had been done after nearly a decade.
I had lost whatever spark I had that I felt made me pretty or attractive or sexually wanted. And I wasn’t sure how to get that back. For the last three years I have struggled with that, along with a lot of other things in my life that have made it hard to see myself as someone who is worthwhile, wanted, desirable, and deserving of love. Not being able to see myself thus has upset m many times and frustrated my partner because they only want the best for me and that includes that I be able to love myself.
It is only very recently that I have, at the heaviest I have been in my life, began to rediscover and reclaim much of my sexuality. I still have days where I hate to see myself in the mirror, where I want to cover up, and when I don’t know what my lover sees in me. Those days are still especially difficult for me, partly due to my past and partly due to my own head (I have bipolar disorder type II), but I have been working harder to address what I feel head on and acknowledge it and be mindful and aware that what is in my head isn’t always my reality.
So what does all of my rambling have to do with the secret to being sexy? The secret is that there is absolutely no secret. You just have to be who you are and love that person, even if you aren’t perfect. I knew that as a teenager, but I let life and my ex basically beat it out of me and then it was all too easy to fall victim to the beauty “rules” that we are all force fed by society and the media at large.
Just because I am plus sized (is there a better term for this? Seriously; the average woman is a size 14) doesn’t make me any less relevant, attractive, sexy, or able to have a happy and fulfilling life than if I were a size 6, which is never happening by the way. I’m OK with that. Would I like to be smaller than I am? Sure. My weight increases certain health risks for me, it means that my knees hurt more, but it isn’t everything that I am and it doesn’t mean that I’m unworthy of love or having and enjoying my sexuality. It is just part of me AND it is a part of me that I can change. I can be sexy at the size I am currently and I can be sexy at a smaller size or a larger size or at any size. Because I (am learning to) love myself.