I read an article the other day. It was written by a well-intentioned dude. A talented trainer. A good guy.
The Message: Strong is the new sexy.
The Content: A dude’s reassurance that strong women are sexy women. Plus, trainer tips (good ones too) about how to get strong.
The Takeaway: If I want to be sexy, I better be strong – build a booty, work the biceps, sculpt those abs.
His article reaffirms some truths – It’s not about skinny. There is another paradigm for sexy. And I appreciate him saying so.
BUT. I also think his saying so creates a problem.
First, let’s talk about sexy. Sexy is a weird idea, right? Because the word itself implies that there is an object and a subject, followed by a feeling. These days, it even has a skanky implication. Like, Donald Trump style. The word sexy isn’t inherently skanky though. It’s really a word about attraction.
Here’s the Merriam-Webster definition of sexy: sexually appealing, attractive or exciting. Having interesting or appealing qualities.
I think of sexy like this: a magnetic quality that attracts another person.
All people are different. We have different magnetic charges, so to speak. Our sexy-size holes aren’t all the same shape. Ugh. Bad visual. Let’s try that again. What we’re attracted to is unique to us. And likewise, the magnetic charge we emit is unique to us. It doesn’t resonate with everyone. It doesn’t attract everyone. It’s not meant to.
This is where the word sexy resonates with me. Because it speaks to the idea of attracting compatible humans to my life. And attracting others is important because I don’t want to live alone.
So back to the idea of strong is the new sexy. Sure, this message dismantles the idea of skinny = sexy. But it does so by replacing one single attribute with another. The message is now this:
skinny strong = sexy
Which is supposed to be liberating. Right? Because, Yay! You no longer need to starve yourself to be attractive. But, be sure to grab yourself a gym membership and rack that bar.
This is not an improvement.
If the early twenties Natalie would have seen that, she would have been like, “Oh yeah! Strong, not skinny! Yes! I’m so glad to know what turns you on! Okay, off to the gym! I’ll be back when I’m strong. [Wink, wink, shimmy, shimmy, hip swing, hip swing.]”
And how about my daughters? My fantastic 4 and 5 year old people who are looking to form their idea of who they are, who they want to be. What does replacing skinny with strong mean for them?
It means this: pay attention! Figure out what they’re looking for and be that thing. Or there is no place for you. You attract nobody.
Sexy isn’t skinny. Sexy isn’t strong. Sexy isn’t one single thing. It’s relative.
We need a new a message. A new equation.
SKINNY STRONG THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU = SEXY
Yeah, I’d like to see Ryan Gosling say THAT in a cute little meme!
It’s not what he/she thinks is sexy. It is nobody’s place to categorically proclaim what is (i.e. who is) attractive.
And if we find ourselves looking around for that answer. We’re in trouble. Because what we’re really doing is begging, “Oh please, won’t you tell me who you need me to be?” And that is no way to live a life.
No. I want to live my life becoming who I am. Leaning into what makes me hum, buzz, smile. My energy will go towards growing my truest self. And in that journey I will attract people who resonate with just that – my real humanity. That is exciting. That is worth living for. And that is my sexy. My true self.
The fullest, most valuable relationships I have are with the people who are attracted to me. People who tell me, “Be who you are. I love that you.” They’re excited by who I am and eager to see who I’m becoming.
So, here it is. My meme.
“This is not about you, Buddy” is the new sexy.
Don’t tell me what you need me to be. I’ll answer that one myself, bra.
And while I’m still becoming what I am meant to be, I know what my sexy feels like. Free. Confident. Full of laughter. Eager to love. Ready to dive in.
Interesting. Not one single physical attribute came to mind when I thought of how to characterize my sexy. Because it’s not rooted in the physical. It comes from somewhere deeper. And I thank the good Lord for that.
P.S. On the flip side, this means I’m in no position to tell anyone else who they should be. Instead my role is to encourage, “Become who you are.” Which can be harder than it sounds. (Most of us have quite specific expectations of others that have more to do with us than them.) But, I’ll get there. And so will you.