Sitting at my computer last night, eating a bowl of cereal (my dessert of choice), I asked my boyfriend whether there were any topics he thought would be interesting for my blog. I was mostly just curious to see what he’d say, but his suggestion was one that I’ve considered writing about before. He wanted to know whether it was hard being a feminist and being “sexy.” Side note: by sexy he meant dressing more provocatively (in my case wearing see through shirts, itty bitty shorts, and tight dresses), being more sexually expressive, etc. – but obviously there are multiple definitions of sexy, and sexiness is different to everyone (but more on that later in the post!). Obviously, he thinks I’m a sexy feminist, but he wondered whether I found it difficult to be both, knowing that – at one point in my life – I was very focused on being “sexy” and not so concerned with being a feminist.
A little background on my pre-feminism days: I was NOT a conservative dresser. I wore short shorts, skintight dresses, crop tops, and stiletto heels of ridiculous heights. I definitely had a stereotypically “sexy” wardrobe. Why? Because I longed for male attention. The shorter my shorts, the more looks and catcalls I received. I only felt good about myself when guys told me I looked sexy and hot. I wanted to be wanted, and I’d convinced myself that male desire was the truest form of validation. Dressing sexily ensured that I received attention (albeit a certain and very shallow kind).
Thankfully, in the last year and a half I’ve revaluated, reconsidered, and changed my outlook on self-worth, sexiness, and what’s important in life. I learned to love myself, found self-confidence, and fully embraced self-love.
These changes left me with a big question regarding fashion: Now that I was a feminist, could I still dress sexy? Could I still wear revealing clothes that showed off my body? For several months I really struggled when it came to getting dressed. I longed to throw on a pair of booty shorts, but wasn’t sure whether that was appropriate any longer. I tried dressing more conservatively, thinking that – perhaps - my past way of dressing could no longer be a part of my more self-aware, more confident, and more feminist self. I bought looser jeans, stopped wearing sheer tops, and looked for more “grown up” clothing options.
But it all felt so wrong. It just wasn’t me.
I found myself craving short dresses, nipple-bearing tops, and spandex shorts. But I came to realize that, this time, I wanted to wear shorts shorts and burn my bras because I wanted to - for me. I felt happy and self-assured and strong for the first time in forever, and –now – I wanted to wear my sexy clothing because I liked them. I was dressing for no one but myself, and that was a really empowering feeling. So I tossed out the knee length denim and threw on my high-waisted booty shorts and a crop top and I felt fan-fucking-tastic.
I finally realized that dressing sexy (my form of sexy anyway) was just one way to categorize the way I dressed. More than anything, my clothes are simply my style. They’re what I put on to feel good, to feel colorful, to feel joyful. I love my body – more than I ever have in the 25 years I’ve been on this planet – and I’m damn sure going to put things on it that make me feel good and make me feel like me.
Of course, plenty of people continue to take issue with my style decisions, and some question my feminism based on my clothing choices.
“If you’re a feminist, why do you dress like a slut?” --> someone actually asked me this!!
Woah. Okay. Well, first off, slut is a word I could – and probably will – write an entire post about. Suffice to say I take issue with it. Second, what does the way I dress have to do my feminism? That, because I have less fabric per square inch of my body, I’m automatically excluded from being a feminist? That, because I like to take selfies in weird, sometimes scandalous outfits I must not care about women’s rights? Or, that because I’m not wearing a turtleneck I probably don’t respect my body? I know, first hand, what it feels like to not respect your body. And it doesn't feel like this. If feeling confident, joyous, unashamed, proud, and embracing my sexuality/femininity/etc. means I’m not a feminist, then I guess I misunderstood the meaning of the word.
So, duh, being a feminist doesn't mean renouncing your sexuality. And being a feminist doesn't mean you can’t be sexy – whatever ‘sexy’ means to you. The definition of ‘sexy’ online is “risqué…radiating sexuality (involvement in sexual activity)…excitingly appealing.” Yeah, sexiness is these things, but it is also so much more. Everyone’s idea of sexuality and sexiness is different - some of us are more demure, others like to let it all hang out. It doesn't matter. What matters is knowing that sexy comes in all different shapes and sizes and colors and styles. It’s knowing that sexiness has nothing to do with how other people perceive you – it has to do with loving yourself. It’s about feeling empowered, and self-assured, and proud of yourself.
Being a feminist doesn't mean covering up your bosom. Nor does it mean flashing your boobs at the beach and yelling “GRRRL POWER!” It doesn’t mean staying a virgin or knocking boots with that cute guy you just met. Any of these are fine – but none are indicative of being a feminist. Being a feminist and being sexy are both about loving yourself and making decisions and choices because YOU want to, not because society/the internet/some random person tells you to.
Basically, being YOURSELF is sexy.
So wear that little LBD with fishnets and stiletto heels. Or pull on your sweatpants and an oversized sweater. Either way, you’re sexy and if you didn’t already know it, well, I hope you do now :)