Thursday, November 3, 2011

beauty and sex appeal

image via plasticknife

My good friend Sara is a model. She is drop dead gorgeous and very talented. She is also what the fashion industry refers to as plus-sized. She's got a killer figure a la Christina Hendricks, which is, I'm sure I can attest, something that many, many, many men (and women, of course) find attractive.

Sara has an album of photographs on her Facebook filled with beautiful plus-sized models, sort of as an inspiration and motivator for her modeling career. Many of these models are dressed in little clothing, most in lingerie, some in the classic pin-up style. I think they look beautiful and sexy and va-va-voom.

A friend of ours made a comment (well, it was more of an essay, because she is a writer and therefore, naturally, verbose *points to self*), regarding the view that these women were beautiful. She brought up that she personally does not find this kind of "beauty" attractive, as these women are clearly still there for the sexual appreciation of men. She said that women wear stockings and garters and corsets because these are the stuff of men's fantasies, and such items are tailored for the preferences of men. And that these women are portraying themselves as "slutty" or "trashy."

While I can see her point, what I do not agree with is the idea that wearing these items only make us feel beautiful because it makes men want us. I personally love wearing things that show off my figure, be it a nipped-in waist through corsetry or stockings that make my legs look a mile long. Knowing that I'm rocking an hourglass look gives me confidence. Wearing something that hides my figure makes me feel as if I'm hiding which just sucks the life out of me. Might be my inner Big Ol' Attention Whore(tm), but I like to be noticed.

It's not just men who appreciate a beautiful woman, after all. We can't pretend that men are the only reason we like to put on corsets and sweep on mascara.

Actually, if we could just not blame the men altogether, that would be great. Do they like us in corsets and vampy red lipstick? Of course. Rawr. You know what they like better? Us completely naked wrapped in a sheet, with our hair crazy and disheveled on a pillow and nothing but the morning sunlight on our face.

So, let's just rule that out, shall we?

Let me be clear; I do not think women should have to dress a certain way. I think that all women should dress in a way that makes the feel comfortable, and better yet, confident. Whether it be in a corset and pencil skirt with sky-high stilettos, or in sandals, a swooshy dress and cardigan, it's about you, baby, and if they don't like it, they can kiss your stylish ass.

I think that what really hit me about my friend's comment is that it kind of came down on women who enjoy the pin-up style, who enjoy modeling and showing off what God was kind enough to give them. That beauty is only beauty if it is not sexualized at all, and that men should be ashamed of themselves for being attracted to a woman who prefers catsuits to caftans.

Sex can be beautiful. It doesn't have to be slow, sensual love-making in order to count as an adult, respect-filled act. If a girl wants to dress up in a naughty sailor costume for her man, and he still shows her respect and love and devotion, who is to say that this is a demeaning relationship? Wearing something skimpy doesn't make her a whore, it doesn't degrade her, unless it's something she's uncomfortable with.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as cliché and well...lame as that may sound. What I deem as beautiful may seem tawdry and classless to some, while what they deem beautiful may appear drab to my tastes. I guess that what I want taken from this article is that while I love my friend, I found myself being hurt by her comments, because I am the type of woman who gravitates towards sexy silhouettes and five-inch heels. I am the kind of woman who likes to put on ruffles and lace for my man because it makes me feel powerful and attractive and puts a smile on his face. Does that mean I'm a slave to men's lustful influence? Hell no. The guys I date have seen me unshowered, makeupless, and trouncing around in their sweatpants before. Am I going to let a man degrade me to the point that I'm uncomfortable with it? Absolutely not.

Beauty is not about purity and hiding yourself. It isn't about showing yourself off. It's about loving yourself and accepting what you are and what you like and having that love absolutely pour out of you. Because one of the most beautiful things in the world is a confident woman, and the best way to destroy that confidence? Other women bringing her down when she feels beautiful.

So, ladies, please, I beg of you: when your friend is wearing something, or showing you something, and you can tell that it is so important to her and makes her feel beautiful or inspired, even if it's not your cup of tea, revel in the beauty of her happiness. Women have enough self-esteem issues in the world without us turning on each other.

Every single woman (and man, of course, if there are any out there;) ) is absolutely beautiful, and deserves to feel that way. Do NOT let someone brings you down when you're feeling as lovely as I know you are.

♥ Em

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