The sexiest thing a woman can wear

I have a complicated relationship with magazines. I say I hate how Cosmopolitan articles focus more on male satisfaction than female gratification, but my friends point out that I still read every issue, so how much could I hate it? This is similar to my complicated relationship with Starbucks Pumpkin Spice lattes: I know they’re evil, but I just don’t quit.

In my constant diet of  Seventeen up through Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Marie Claire, and InStyle, there are a few pervasive claims I’ve noticed in these glossies. One of these is the idea that shampoo you can use on yourself and also on a horse is a positive. Another is the claim that confidence is the sexiest trait, act, or item of clothing a woman can wear.

I’ve heard my entire conscious life that a confident woman is sexier than a Victoria’s Secret model. The idea of what is sexy obviously varies, but the cultural ideal of what is sexy – even the version that includes “smart” along with “thin” and “attractive” – doesn’t exactly make for confident people. I’d like it to be true that a girl who knew how awesome she is would be asked out before a girl who looked like a Victoria’s Secret model, but that requires more airbrushing of the truth than your average VS catalog.

Because confidence has been elevated like this, trying to seem confident has become more important in the minds of would-be sexy ladies than the pursuit of actually being confident. Instead of pursuing the kind of confidence that involves owning up to cellulite, dealing with jealousy of others’ success, or admitting you struggle with believing the value of your voice, we pretend to be confident because we think it will make us sexier. I know I’ve spent nights pretending I loved myself because I thought it would make me seem more intriguing or alluring.

But unlike other factors that make you sexy, confidence isn’t like new bustier. Confidence is a complicated cocktail of age, experience, and intention – one that doesn’t always get you noticed from across the bar. A short list of things in your closet quicker than confidence are high heels, push-up bras, and leather. They’re also more likely to get you noticed sexually.

Like the fact that chocolate has calories, the fact that the people who are most at peace with themselves aren’t the sexiest, most-pursued people is a deeply lamentable fact. Claiming they are only further jumbles the already-twisted path towards confidence. Here’s some real advice the magazines ought to feature: don’t use the same shampoo on yourself that you use on your horse, and don’t try to be confident because you think it will make you sexy. Trying to be sexy and trying to be confident are both worthwhile at their respective times, but let’s not pretend that one leads to the other.

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5 thoughts on “The sexiest thing a woman can wear

  1. “[D]on’t use the same shampoo on yourself that you use on your horse, and don’t try to be confident because you think it will make you sexy.”

    I never really understood the horse shampoo thing, either! As a kid, I used to beg my parents to buy me some, but they said my magazines were lying to me. The same goes for a lot of the “best sex tips” in Cosmo. It’s fairly easy to tell when an individual is feigning confidence, so I think it’s much better to just acquire it overtime than try to pretend to be someone you’re not. These things take time to develop, and confidence and sexiness definitely aren’t the same thing. After all, a massive ego is hardly appealing.

  2. You know I agree that pretending to be confident to land a man isn’t the right way to go about it and isn’t actually going to attract anyone, but I actually think this confidence thing is one of the best things magazines write about beauty. Finally! Cosmo’s telling me that instead of working on going from a size 2 to a size 0, I should be more worried about how I feel about myself. And although I do not kid myself to believe that my self esteem will draw men from all corners of the room, I want to believe that confidence will keep men from walking away once my stilettos have drawn them in.

    I have never seen the horse shampoo! You have to show that to me! Why would I want to bathe with my horse?

    • Thanks for reading, Katey!

      I agree with you that it’s better than some of the man-centric or thin-pressure assumptions magazines make. But confidence is really complicated. The longest explanation I’ve ever read of what a magazine thinks being confident involves is (sic), “believe in yours3lf!!1! 4get the h4terz.” I guess it’s good that they promote self-esteem at all, but like they claim you can have flat abs in 3 hours, there’s also a pervasive claim that confidence is a decision you have to be smart/pretty/strong enough to make. It’s not! It’s a process. A difficult, personal, and constant process that I’d love to see Seventeen or Cosmo engage with.

      Next post: What magazines should actually say about confidence? Haha.

  3. ANNA. I’m loving this new website you got started here. LOVING IT.

    Confidence. I know you may not agree with this answer, but I believe we can’t fully be confident in who we are until we know the One who made us. Distinctly and uniquely you. With value and a purpose in mind. You’re the ONLY one with your fingerprint. and your DNA. THE ONLY ONE. and the only one who can be uniquely you and shine with the passions and gifts that God has wired you with. and you’ve got some pretty rockin’ giftings, miss Anna. We HAVE to know that God loves us. With a love that would blow out of the water the way any man or friend or even your parents who have to love you love you with. I believe that in order to really love ourselves, in a healthy, confident way, and to love others in a healthy, life-giving way, we have to first know God’s love for us. and receive it. and believe in it. and find rest in it. From that place we can be confident that who we are is not only enough but irreplaceable.

    “You weren’t an accident. You weren’t mass produced. You aren’t an assembly line product. You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on the earth by the Master Craftsman.” -Max Lucado

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