What exactly does “sexy” mean? Who decides what it should look or feel like? Should it be privately contained or openly shared? With United Pole Artists’ Bringing Sexy Back Week just a few days away I’ve been thinking a lot about my answers to these questions.
I like feeling sexy. I like the way pole dancing can at times bring that feeling out in me. I hold no shame in celebrating the body I was given (and have toned through hard training!). To me, sexiness isn’t found only in how I look or feel but also in what I can do. When I can effortlessly climb to the top of a pole with grace: that is sexy. Some people in the pole community want to downplay the sexier side of pole dancing as a way to gain broader respect for what they view as a sport or art form. I understand this frustration. But I also think that denying there is sensuality in pole dancing is like denying a pink elephant in the room. What I would much rather prefer is that the general public know pole dancing can be artistic, or athletic, or raunchy or yes sexy as well. It is a form of dance and can’t dance itself be all these things? It’s performed on a simple vertical pole and the context can be changed by the dancer or even the perspective of the audience viewing it.
Anyone who follows my posts knows the topic of female sexuality fascinates me. The new book entitled What Do Women Want? Adventures in the Science of Female Desire explores so many interesting topics on the subject. I think it’s the prefect tie-in to Bringing Sexy Back Week. One of the book’s most fascinating revelations comes from a study conducted by psychology professor Meredith Chivers. In short, the study analyzed the correlation (or lack thereof) between what women say they desire and what they actually desire. Modern society has undoubtedly influenced the way we perceive sexuality and it is clear that the majority of women do not feel comfortable expressing this part of themselves. “We have so relentlessly eroticized the female body that it is very hard to strip away societal views and forces,” says author Dan Bergner. I have to say I agree. I think it is sad how early in life young girls are feeling the pressure to be sexy. I also think it’s sad that women of all ages feel the need to try to keep up with unrealistic standards of beauty.
Does my desire to feel sexy come only from being born into a patriarchal society that encourages women to exude sexuality out of every pore while simultaneously slut-shaming them for doing so? My environment may influence my actions but I don’t think it controls them. Feeling wanted is a universal desire felt by both men and women. Science may show evidence that women relish in the feeling of being desired more than men do. I don’t think that is a particularly harmful trait though. It depends on the situation.
I am excited about Bringing Sexy Back Week for a few reasons. One, because there is immense power in being confident in one’s own sexuality, whether male or female. I enjoy the freedom to express myself as I choose. (And no that freedom is not controlled by stereotypical images of what pop culture defines sexy to be). I also enjoy relishing in the victories and successes of those around me. I am surrounded by strong, creative and intelligent women (and men) at my local pole studio every day. We show support for one another’s growth. There is not only an acceptance of other women but a celebration of them as well. To me, that is a beautiful and empowering thing.
Close your eyes. Picture when you feel your best, your most desirable. I want you to capture that moment in your mind. Now lock yourself in a dimly lit studio and recreate that image on camera to share with the world….or not if that is what you prefer. This is all about freedom of choice. I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t describe what “sexy” is because in describing it I would be defining and therefore limiting it. Sexy can mean whatever you want it to. There is no definition.
***The views expressed herein are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of United Pole Artists.