Bringing Sexy Back

“Feeling sexy” has always been a very ephemeral concept, for me. For a good long while I had no idea what that meant or what it felt like. I’d hear people talk about how a certain pair of underpants helped them *feel* sexy. Or an outfit, or a certain outing or activity. This has always perplexed me. You either are sexy or you aren’t, right?

Feeling is an active emotional state, so how can you feel sexy? You can look sexy, you can be sexy, you can bring the sexy but “feel” sexy? What does that feel like? What are the components that elicit that feeling? How do you get there?

Then I had a *ding* moment, I was hopping out of my van, the Doodle Beast (a decommissioned Air Force vehicle that I’d converted into an art car and safe place), at a gas station, cognizant of the looks of other people as I swung down from the door frame. ¬†I felt sexy getting out of the Beast. When I drive the van, I feel sexy. Looking to that experience, I recognized three components at play with the van, as I identify strongly with the vehicle, that elicited the ultimate feeling “sexy”: power, happiness and uniqueness. This feeling is, by definition, an emotional response, the specific manifestations of these components are incredibly personal, but I think some version of the three are present when someone feels sexy:

The Doodle Beast: Powerful, Happy, Unique

  1. An expression of personal power: Using the example of driving the Beast, I’m channeling the raw diesel power of a large box van. (I didn’t say my catalyst to feeling sexy was going to be particularly subtle or deep.) His power is my power and I’m in control of that power. That’s a heady feeling. When people feel a healthy sense of sexy, there is that personal empowerment at play.
  2. An expression of personal happiness: I can’t help but smile when I drive the van. He’s big, he’s goofy, he’s fun. The sense of enjoyment I get from that experience lights me up from the inside. That internal light is sexy. It’s a level of happy that is specific and unique.
  3. An expression of personal uniqueness: There’s nothing quite like the Beast and everyone has something that makes then unique. Part of the personal uniqueness is being comfortable with those parts of ourselves that are different and special. The sense of comfort with ourselves is integral to feeling sexy and tapping into that consciousness of specialness manifests our internal sparkle. We shine when we own our uniqueness.
I’ve heard that confidence is what is sexy to others, and I believe there is some truth to that statement; however, more to the point, when we feel sexy, I think the greatest component is a sense of empowerment. I recently replaced the brakes on my van (with a good friend walking me through the process) and I felt an enormous sense of self-reliance which translated to feeling very sexy indeed. Covered in grease, in my work clothes, I felt sexier than at any other time in my life. Would anyone else have found me sexy, in that moment? It didn’t matter; I fully grokked what it meant to feel sexy, after I had replaced the brakes and the van worked. I had taken control of my own experience.

With this metric in place, I’ve looked to other times when these three components come together and came up with a few other instances: my glasses help me feel sexy, red lipstick, paper journaling with the fountain pen my best friend gave me when we were … 12?. These are all times when that feeling rises up. Making vulgar jokes? Does not help me feel sexy (but I do truly enjoy a bad “yo mama” or pun.) ¬†Learning something new? Feels very sexy.

What helps you feel sexy?