By Nadia Bourne
Nadia Bourne is a junior majoring in English at St. John’s University, and, a native of East New York, Brooklyn, currently residing in Queens.
While surfing the web I came across the Merriam-Webster dictionary and its two definitions for the word “sexy”. One of them addressed eroticism while the other dealt more with appeal. However, many find it difficult to derive a meaning conditioned firmly in the interim because of the subjective nature of adjectives and the polarized use of the word in question. I personally find the word to be intrinsically lubricious in that the word “sex” is encompassed in the spelling, so my association of this word with things I find to be sexually appetizing is seemingly inevitable. How can one not associate sex with the word sexy? For me it is unavoidable.
Most of us will create a definition tailored to who we are, how we see the world, where we reside geographically, etc. A man in the United States traveling to Europe on holiday could be in for a big surprise when he finds that shaved legs with exaggerated curves along with males sporting robust muscles and a “tuff guise” aren’t the norm. What one believes to be sexy does not differ only from person to person, but from city-state to city-state. And even now it is subject to change. When I was younger I was invested in the metal scene more significantly than I am now. I was a complete sucker for incorrigibly pale skin, icy blue (almost cobalt blue) eyes, and long, unkempt, jet-black hair—it made for an impressive wind mill in the pit. Now I only have eyes for Scott Speedman.
In the same way that the word sex is included within the world sexy, one would think there’d be an intrinsic connection for all women when delineating who they are and aspire to be. One would hope that because the word “self” is included in “self-conceptualization” that a light bulb would appear instantaneously, so that the determining factor when defining who we are as men and women is not an external force like the media. The problem lies in the hurdle presented to individuals in the form of detrimental, unrealistic standards of beauty. Let’s face it. Not many women are able to work the same wonders with tanning salons and blush, as the brush up jobs in magazines. And the closest we’ve come to photoshopping ourselves is the cyclic nip-tuck-suck that is plastic surgery! (If there is something else, spare me; please, don’t tell me that there’s more!)
I see a need for women to come together and join a league advocating the necessity of respect and consent when dealing with media portrayals and public representations. We should define sexy for ourselves and live our lives according to those terms, as long as we encourage healthy living. Just as those who advertise sexualized images should be held accountable, women must take charge of how we digest the information around us and the decisions we make regarding our children. So long as sexy maintains its standard status it remains as an accepted ideal in need of approval from another, or others. There will always be a hang-up because “sexy” varies from one institution to another, each society and individual. What I find to be sexy and what makes me feel sexy in relation to however you may categorize these things barely surpasses the surface. The nature of “sexy” is not the pressing matter on trial here, but the value to which we allot it.