I was in K-mart yesterday, buying a few last minute wardrobe additions before I begin my new full time position with a Big 4 Bank this coming Monday, and whilst waiting at the check out, I noticed the headline on this issue of Cosmo Magazine.
“FALL OUT OF BED SEXY: Super cute hair tricks for hotness in a hurry.”
Aside from the ridiculousness of such a so-called ‘headline’, not to mention the other ‘headlines’ that accompanied it, (“A very intimate guide to his donga” – does this guy live in a mining town, where they live in Dongas? No? ohhhh, I get it) the concept of this article struck a particular chord with me. Not a harmonious, resonant chord, but something akin to a tritone mashing aggressively in amongst a tune where it does not fit.
Should I, as a woman, be aspiring to fall out of bed ‘sexy’?
Suddenly, I found myself in the middle of K-mart, reassessing my priorities in life. Here I am, standing in line to purchase the most non-sexy of all items (shapewear, to be specific) in order to look professional and presentable at my new job. Shapewear to disguise the lumpy parts my weight loss has forgotten to take with it; clothing to make me appear more svelte than I actually am, not to feel sexy, but so that I don’t feel like I’m being judged for my pot belly or big butt, and there, right in front of me is a magazine offering insights into how I can fall out of bed sexy. (And have intimate knowledge of some guy’s accommodations on a mine site, apparently.)
Something about this doesn’t sit right. I read a news article on Mamamia.com the other day, where someone was talking about praising children. When we praise boys, we praise them on what they do, or how they behave, but when we praise girls, we praise them on how they look. “Aren’t you a pretty girl? Look at your beautiful hair!”
From the youngest age, we as women are conditioned to believe we need to look a particular way; that our value as individuals is directly dependent on how we look, and whether we are ‘sexy’. Our teenage years are bombarded with imagery and pressure to look like the models we see in the media, and we go through our most formative years wracked with insecurity and frustration because most of us just don’t look like that. I always want to shake high school aged girls and tell them that there is an amazing world outside of your highschool bubble; the people who seem so important now won’t be in 10 years time, and you get to choose who you are and how you are seen as an individual; that high school isn’t the defining point on your worth as a person. And yet, here I am, a month away from my 30th birthday, intrigued by the concept of falling out of bed oozing sex appeal, like somehow that will help me be more worthwhile as a human being. Because of a magazine written by the ‘pretty, popular girls.’
We are taught that we can be or do anything we set our minds to in life, and yet somehow no matter how much I set my mind to being ‘sexy’, I just don’t feel it. Sure, I’ve lost 26kgs in the last 2 years, and sure I feel a heck of a lot more confident when I walk through the city these days wearing the skinny jeans I could only dream of wearing 2 years ago. But is sexy something I ever truly feel? No. I don’t wake up and think “how can I be sexy today?”
Most days I’m focussed much more strongly on “My coffee. Where is my coffee.” or “Oh god, I have to wear a skirt today, I can’t be arsed shaving my legs.” Not to mention that most days, I just want to stay in my pyjamas and eat chocolate while watching Dr Phil diagnose someone with problems that are clearly much worse than my lack of effort in the sex appeal department. In fact, on the days when I do go out of my way to make an effort to dress nicely, it is very rarely, if ever, to look sexy. I dress up for job interviews, family dinners, special occasions, none of which involve being sexy. Last time I checked, my husband decidedly finds me most sexy when I’m not even trying to be. Like the sudden urge to be all over me when I’m trying to cook using very hot oil in a frypan. Or when I’m trying to sleep. No incidents of me falling out of bed sexy. And just quietly, as much as I do love the good bit of lingerie, in my experience, it always ends up crumpled on the floor in a matter of seconds.
And falling is exactly right. I am not one of those spritely people who feels like singing to the small disney woodland creatures when I wake in the morning. Getting out of bed is a mission. A daily battle. BECAUSE I’D RATHER STAY IN BED WHERE IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW I LOOK. Because it’s comfortable. Because it makes me feel good.
If I turn up looking tired at my job, some co-worker will be the first to point that out. No matter how much time I may have spent concealing the bags under my eyes. No matter how sexy I might have made my hair. Cosmo has got it all wrong. Women don’t fall out of bed and think about feeling sexy. And no hairstyle is going to make that happen. Women just want to be valued regardless of how sexy they are to the world. Most women just want a coffee and a good commute. They want to get safely to their work place without being harrassed, or being reminded that their worth to society is largely wrapped up in the way they look on the outside.
So here’s my list of important life lessons, Cosmo. Maybe try concentrating on these things on your front page instead of reiterating the importance of looking a certain way. Because we’ve got enough of that pressure in our own heads without you giving us tutorials on it.
Life Lesson 1:
You should be valued as a woman because you are a human being. Not because your skirt is hugging your ass in all the right places, or because your stomach is flat. (Or not, in my case.)
Life Lesson 2:
If you don’t feel ‘sexy’, that’s normal. Most women just feel tired most days. Even those glamorous models you see on the cover of magazines. It takes a lot of airbrushing to make women look sexy. So unless you have a personal digital retouching system that you can apply to your look in person, don’t worry about it.
Life Lesson 3:
When you feel good on the inside, it shows. Do something in the morning that revitalizes you and prepares you for the day, even if that is treating yourself to a choccie in the morning, or going for a run.
Life Lesson 4:
No amount of sexy makes up for being an ugly person on the inside.
Life Lesson 5:
A real lover will be attracted to you regardless of your level of sexy.
Life Lesson 6:
Don’t listen to Cosmo unless you want your whole life to be wrapped up in the way others view you.
Life Lesson 7:
Aspiring to be ‘sexy’ is fine, just don’t let it define you, or the lack of sexy-ness affect your confidence.
Seriously, Cosmo. As if we need to see this kind of rubbish. We have enough things to worry about just to get up and functioning on a daily basis without having to worry about falling out of bed sexy. And the last time I checked, knowing a guy’s donga intimately doesn’t qualify you for anything other than sex.
So on Monday morning, when I get myself out of bed to go to my new job, I will pull on my shapewear, and do my best to feel good about myself. Not to feel sexy, but to feel pride in myself for being a strong, capable woman, wobbly bits and all.