Today Paleo for Women brings you the five most infuriating statements to come out of Hollywood females this week, ranked from the”oh, that’s unfortunate” fifth place of Scarlett Johansson to Lauren Conrad’s “ohmigod-that-crazy-said-whaaa?” gold medal. They come from an article in the Huffington Post titled “8 Sexy Celebrities Who Don’t Feel Sexy.”
The two runners up are Scarlett Johansson and Kim Kardashian.
Scarlett Johansson, first up, says “I don’t feel sexy, not right now.” Ok. Maybe she feels sexier after she’s showered or gone to the gym. I’ll give Johansson the benefit of the doubt. She comes in fifth place.
Kim Kardashian, the other runner up, says “I don’t find myself as sexy as everyone thinks.” Kardashian gets off the hook largely due to the ambiguity inherent to her statement. It remains plausible that she still thinks of herself as sexy. Not “as sexy as everyone thinks.” Fair. She could still consider herself a sex bomb. She passes under the fiery-depths-of-hell threshold and does not, like the forthcoming women, make me want to light my hair on fire in protest.
The medalists do, however, send me reaching for the matchbook. They have no excuses. Check it out. I might cry.
Third place is a tie. First up is Nicole Scherzinger. She says: “I don’t really see myself as sexy; I’m the biggest nerd I know.” To which I can only say: “please close your mouth, Nicole Scherzinger.” She does a major disservice to herself first and foremost. She speaks as though she cannot be sexy as herself. She cannot be sexy because of what she loves and enjoys, and she cannot be sexy because she doesn’t conform to some ridiculous standard of plastic, objectified womanhood. Please.
Maybe worse, though I am not positive, is that she speaks as though nerd and sex appeal are exclusive. To which I can only say “false!.” I myself am an excellent example of just how wrong she is. Her statement reveals that she thinks – or at least lets popular culture think she thinks, that being smart is a bad thing. As though all smart women cannot be sexy. As though all women being themselves in their own skin and enjoying their own hobbies is antagonistic to sex appeal. As though liking Game of Thrones automatically disqualifies any woman from the sexy category. Boooo hiss. Please don’t make it any harder for the rest of us to live out our own empowered sex appeal. Don’t let culture make you think sexy is a thin woman in a red dress and heels. Sexy is just as easily – if not more so – a woman in sweats and a Gryffindor scarf.
Tying Nicole for third place is Carrie Underwood, who says “I don’t consider myself sexy. I am kind of a nervous person in general.” She gets the same critique, though with a bit less fire. I understand that she is nervous and self-conscious, and that is perfectly okay. Nonetheless – just because she is (and we are all) vulnerable to pressure to perform and to be confident and to obtain love, and because she feels uneasy – does not mean she cannot still love herself. Nerves are okay, if sad. Letting those nerves get in the way of your own empowerment, however — letting them prevent you from your self-loving goals – not okay. I hope all of us learn to embrace and to love ourselves and to live through our nervousness.
Jennifer Lawrence is the recipient of the silver ribbon — an infinitesimally close miss of taking home the gold. She says first “I don’t think of myself as sexy.” Okay, fair. Lots of women don’t, and all of these celebrities are guilty of that. She goes on, however, to say: “And, obviously it’s not true.”
To which I can only say, “we are not in seventh grade anymore.”
The reason this statement infuriates me with the fiery passion of a thousand suns is that Lawrence makes the categorical statement every single woman in the history of the world makes: “Obviously it isn’t true.”
No! Fuck you! How many times have you said this yourself? How many times have I? It took me years and years and years of effort to overcome this problem. It’s the world’s easiest cop-out and a frightfully obvious cry for someone, anyone, please, will you?, tell me I am wrong.
This is something I learned to do when I was in seventh grade. Probably sooner.
We as woman are told time and time again that our sex appeal is out of our own hands. We need validation from the outside. We need men to tell us we are sexy. We need other women to bow to us in sexy deference. And then – worst of all – is that it is never an internal feeling. It is only a descriptor other people can give to us. We make statements like the one Lawrence did because we have sacrificed our confidence and our sex appeal for the sake of false humility and this horrible culture that beats into us from birth that we are small and should always think of ourselves as small.
True humility is honesty, not deprecation. True humility is receptivity to correction, not rejection of inherent worth.
Finally, I do not know who Lauren Conrad is, but apparent she is famous. She wins. It’s not her fault. Same as the rest of these women. It’s not their fault. But her statement indicates something horribly insidious that lies at the heart of femininity in America today, and I’ll be damned if I don’t shout its rebuttal from my rooftop (or blog) every day for the rest of my life. She says: “I’m not a sexy person. I’m okay with it. I’ve never been the sexy girl.”
A) “I’m not a sexy person. I’m okay with it.” In this, Lauren commits the same sin as Lawrence. She goes even farther, in fact. “I’m okay with it.” Yeah, I get that. I’ve said it a thousand times myself. I even kinda like it. It’s acceptance. It’s having worth beyond sex appeal. But is it really? Is that really what she’s saying here, however? I’m not sure — I highly doubt it. Most women who say things like “I’m okay with not being sexy” are really saying “Please tell me I’m sexy. I’ve gotten really good at being self-deprecating, but that just gives all the more reason for you to tell me I am sexy.”
B) “I’ve never been the sexy girl.” This one takes the cake and is the one that has set my poor hair to frizzy ashes. The sexy girl. As if there can only be one. If that’s true, I’ll eat my own arm.
Conrad could not be more wrong about what it means to be sexy. Every woman (and man) is sexy. Every woman has sexiness inside of her, much as she and all these celebrities might deny it.
More importantly, however, is the fact that just because one person is sexy does not mean another person’s sex appeal is less. Sexiness is not relative. Sexiness is absolute. Sexiness is a fucking right, for god’s sake. Everyone’s got it if they will only see it. We should be able, as women, to delight in each other’s beauty rather than fear or hate or estrange ourselves from it. God damn. I want every single one of you – every single woman in the PfW community and beyond – to be extraordinarily sexy. And to be extraordinarily beautiful. It’s not going to make me afraid. It’s not going to make me jealous, or hate you, or resent you.
If you own your extraordinary beauty and hope that I do the same, then you will join me and every other woman in a community of mutual love and support. We will delight in each other’s womanhood. We will be strong, self-loving, and femininity-loving together. We will boost each other up rather than tear each other down. We will be a community of empowered, self-loving, self-determining woman, throwing off the heavy hand of American Sexism and doing things our own damn way. We are what we please, and it’s about damn time we stop pretending anyone else has any say over who we are or how we feel.
There are a couple of brief notes I should make before moving on for the sake of fairness. First, I want to commend these women, and to obviously give them as much love and support as possible. I have been flippant about their statements, and have even called them “sins” – though obviously what I have shared about each of them is a quote out of context from a very real and very difficult life in the limelight.
Second, what these women might actually be after is a move away from defining themselves by sex appeal. “I’m not sexy and I’m okay with that” might be their way to empower women in terms of other qualities. It’s not important to be sexy, in all honesty. Much as I’ve been ranting about it – hell, I called sexiness a “right” – there are still about eight million things it is more important to be than sexy. “Nice” is one. “Smart,” another. Now – I consider both of those things qualities that enrich a woman’s sexiness, but I appreciate the sentiment and want us to love ourselves first and foremost for who we are, and only secondarily to give that the mantle of sex appeal.
My definition of sexy is extraordinarily inclusive. I consider sexy to be a feeling. I think sexy is “excitement to be in the skin you’re in.” I think of sexy as ownership of our own selves, and of recognition of inherent worthiness of sexuality.
For that reason, we are all worthy of sexuality. We are all beautiful, natural, imperfect, alive human beings. We are all worthy of love, worthy of being loved, and worthy of loving ourselves. We are worthy of confidence. We are worthy of comfort in our own skin. We are worthy of life and dancing and strutting on the way to work, and of wearing make up if we want to or not if we don’t. We are worthy of our wardrobes and of flattering clothing, and of looking in the mirror and saying either “hell yes” or “it’ll do.” We are worthy of having acne or being overweight and still being hot, of being in pain or sick and still being sexual; we are worthy of sexuality because we are women and we are ourselves and we are alive, god. damnit.
To that end, I would like to posit an alternative to the statements above, in the form of an assertion of my own sexuality. I invite the rest of you to do the same in the comments. This is a community of love and support, so please feel happily free and affirmed. You will be affirmed by me and this kickass community no matter what, this I promise you.
My name is Stefani Ruper. I am a super young almost-25-year-old. I am inexperienced in life, but I try very hard to be good. I try to be kind. I try to be smart. I try to live a life of integrity and awareness. For these reasons more than almost anything else, I think that I am sexy.
I have PCOS. I have a sex drive maybe 8 percent of the days I am alive. I have acne scars all over my chin. I have comedones on the side of my face. I have always hated my thighs, and I spent my entire adolescence wishing for a thigh gap. My breasts are small and boring and I have one nipple pierced, not like it matters, except that it means to me every lesson of love and life I learned while living on the tiny island nation of Taiwan. For these reasons I am sexy.
By some miracle of my upbringing and location, I was a girl of rabid curiosity and anti-authoritarianism, which means that it wasn’t long before I took a long, hard look at the sexism in our society and said “fuck that, I would like to feel differently than just plain bad all of the time.” For that reason, I am sexy.
I love frosted flakes. One of my greatest feats is that I have watched all seven seasons of the West Wing in the span of four weeks. I have read several million words of slash Harry Potter fanfiction over the course of my life. I have a purple sex toy named Maurice. I almost never do laundry and I wear the same socks several weeks in a row. I prefer to work than to spend time recreating. Sometimes I spend all day in the library and don’t speak to another soul until 10pm. Usually I like it this way. I am anti-social on most days. On other days I am super social. When I day dream, it is always about dancing. For these reasons, I am sexy.
I am also a natural woman. I do my best to be in harmony with my body. I feed my body what I think it needs. I eat every single time I am hungry. I lay on my roof like a lethargic, passed-out lizard every sunday afternoon, and there I delight in the simplicity of my existence and the sizzling warmth of the sun on my skin. I have learned through years of trials that American society put me at war with my body but the best place to be is on her side, in her skin, working with her to do what needs to get done. I accept my illnesses. I accept my limitations. I accept my psychological scars. I work hard to overcome them. I don’t give up. I don’t let rejection worm its way under my skin. I get hurt and I hurt myself most of all, and some times I have done it real bad, but I have never given up. For that reason, more than anything else, I am sexy.
My name is Stefani Ruper. I am not afraid of who I am. I am nothing more, and I am nothing less. I think I am sexy. And I think you are, too. Thank you for bringing so much beauty into my life, even if you have never known it or thought of it that way.