Back in college, when I was wrestling with the idea of having sex outside of a relationship, a friend of mine asked me something so ordinary that it caught me off guard:
Do you find yourself sexy when you’re all alone?
It’s was an interesting concept, I thought at the time. I looked down at myself wearing a homecoming t-shirt from the year before with baggy sweatpants, my hair pulled up in a clip I’d never be caught dead wearing in New York. My makeup was smudged from the day’s wear and I had just downed at least two pieces of pizza (I won’t admit to anything higher than that). But had I needed to be sexy today?
What had I done anyway? I had gone to class wearing jeans and cute top with heels. I had met friends for lunch, had no intentions of seeing a man that evening or of taking off my clothes in any strip-pole-approved manner. It was just another day – one that ended in my dorm room, next to my friend with green eyes and flawless olive-color skin. She had back muscles – something I’m still figuring out how to develop even with my best gym efforts. I bet she always felt sexy, regardless if a guy was worshiping her or not, I thought as I looked at her. This surely wasn’t a fair question for me to answer – the me who is consistently pale and pimpley.
“I mean, I feel sexy when I dress myself up for a night out or where that little black dress I love,” I replied casually. She rolled her eyes at me in return: “No, silly – I mean when there is no intention of being with anyone or of having sex or of doing anything. Do you ever have a night in with yourself where you just feel sexy on your own?” she asked. I raised an eyebrow in return, silently questioning her. “Oh Linds, I don’t mean like that, I just mean the feeling of being sexy,” she said with exaggeration.
At that point – I hadn’t.
I only put on anything remotely sexy when I thought I would have a reason to take it off. I only splurged on lingerie when there was a special occasion or when I felt the need to up the ante with my partner at the time. I never lathered myself in lotion and expensive perfume just for the hell of it, or laid around in silk bathrobes or lace bras and panties. I didn’t walk around naked, only in my heels and look at myself in the mirror and think, “Damn girl! Look at you!”
I admitted that I don’t feel sexy alone and she made a suggestion: “When I want to feel sexy on my own, I order in a pizza and then I change into my sexiest lingerie and eat it alone on the couch with dim lighting and sensual music.” While that sounded nice, it wasn’t the way I wanted to romance myself.
And to really knock myself off my own feet, I’d have to figure out what was romantic to me. Over the course of the next few weeks when my roommate wasn’t home, I’d try different things. I’d walk around naked with stilettos. I’d eat a big bowl of pasta while wearing silk (and pray not to drip on it). I’d throw something over my lamp to make it sultry and I’d curl up my hair so it flowed around my face. I laid on my bed seductively, attempting to find a position that made me feel like a supermodel. I tried all sorts of things until none of them worked, I lost interest and forgot the conversation.
Maybe my friend had found her inner-sexy at 19, but it took me a little more time. It wasn’t until I moved, when I came home after a day of worked, followed by dinner with a dear friend and poured myself a glass of wine that it clicked. I was standing in a black skirt from work, a black lace push-up bra, my only pair of designer shoes still on, my hair naturally wavy with Merlot resting in my hand and I caught a glimpse of myself. My other hand was turning on the computer, my lips were pieced and my eyes were unusually blue for being indoors and I felt beautiful.
I finally felt sexy.
And it wasn’t that I was doing anything particularly sexy – there were no candles, no soothing music, no anything spectacular. But that was the beauty of it. That was what made it sexy. I realized that without trying, without making a big deal of it, without testing out positions or deciding if silk or stockings gave me more pin-up qualities that I was sexy. I was sexy all on my own, without doing anything at all.
So I don’t really try to romance myself anymore. I wear the right bra with the right shirt, sometimes it is lace and sometimes its not. I buy skirts that fit me, some that hug my hips more than others. I lay however I wish on my bed and I don’t think twice. And I continue to find these moments where I catch a passing reflection of myself on the street or in the privacy of my apartment that I see my inner sex goddess and that Southern drawl comes out all on its own with and it thinks: “Damn girl, you’re lookin’ good!”