Welcome to the new year! I didn't think it would happen this fast, but I've got my first "soapbox" piece ready to go, thanks to an article I read on Yahoo! via ABC News the other day about a high school student's racy senior photo. Ready for some proselytizing? I promise it relates to writing and reading...sort of. :)
This story caught my attention because as a romance/erotica writer, I'm responsible for creating female characters my readers can relate to and connect with, such as Heidi in You're All I Want for Christmas and Emerson from The Dragon's Queen. I've also written characters that are so totally polarizing that I get reviews from people who hated them or loved them with few in between, such as Professor Rumani Gladstone in Ride 'Em, Girlfriend!. Part of creating those characters is understanding how sexy they are, what being sexy means to them, and how they express their sexy side. So now I'm an expert on the subject.
HA HA HA HA. I'm totally kidding here. However, I do have some opinions about what sexy means, and the more I see young women trying for the effect--and failing--the more I cringe. There are several sides to sexy, but today, in light of the article being about clothing, I will focus on fashion.
First, let me throw out something here. I've read that women really dress to impress other women (not men!), not to attract them, but to let them know who's in charge and in the alpha female position. I'm beginning to believe this because over and over again I see surveys where men are asked what they think makes a woman look sexy. Typically, if she can rock a fitted pair of jeans with boots and a white T-shirt, she's considered sexy. So why all the skin-bearing fashions and magic bras? Perhaps it is, indeed, to intimidate other women. Perhaps some women just like the feeling of their bazongas hoisted as far from the evil pull of gravity that man-made contraptions will allow.
But I digress.
I think many young women believe that to be attractive they must dress provocatively because that's what men consider pretty and feminine. From my interactions with men, however, I've learned that pretty and feminine usually do not derive from sexy couture, but pretty and feminine couture. Women who dress sexy usually only get one response--leering. In other words, if you dress sexy, you pretty much come across as sexy only, but if you dress in a pretty and feminine way, you'll come across as pretty and feminine and sexy as well. The whole package. If you're hoping to find a partner interested in a relationship and not a fling, the whole package is what you want to project.
Now, if you just want people to see your "hot" side, then dressing that way is for you. Just know that when you dress this way, the kinds of relationships people will want to have with you will focus on sex. In contrast, when you dress pretty and feminine, the relationships people will want to have with you will be focused more on you as a woman than on just sexual desire, although that would be part of it as well.
I realize I sound like an old fogey here, but when I hear girls complain that guys only want them for one thing and they can't understand why, it's sort of sad, especially when I see some of the clothing they wear. If you want a relationship, dress like it. If you're dressing in skimpy outfits because you want men to think you're pretty, then you're missing the mark. Pretty is pretty and it can be sexy, but sexy is just sexy and will net you pretty much a relationship based on the oldest indoor sport known to mankind.
I don't know the intentions of anyone in the article, but I do know that in this day and age there seems to be a disconnect between the freedom to express ourselves in fashion and understanding the messages we send when we do so. No young woman wants to send a message she doesn't mean, and every girl wants to be pretty, but that can be achieved with a beautiful smile, a positive attitude, and a sense of humor (and apparently great-fitting jeans, boots and a white T-shirt). :)