I struggle with body image. I am forever careening hopelessly along the spectrum of self-appraisal, somewhere between total bridge troll and absolute sex goddess. I have not been feeling sexy lately, but I think I am finally getting my sexy back?

Getting my sexy back

Most of the time I feel that I’m squarely in the middle of that spectrum: not offensively bad looking but nothing special. I avoid mirrors, I don’t dress sexy very often and I’m always legitimately caught off guard if someone calls me sexy. Any semblance to “sexy” that I feel I project always seems performative and somewhat artificial. I share “sexy” images for many reasons but mostly to prove to myself that I have the “courage” to do so, not for the compliments. The kudos and compliments are nice but they also embarrass me and make me self-conscious; I always assume that at least some of them are mocking and are insincere. I can warm up to compliments from people I know and trust but even that comes with some trepidation. I am actively trying to work on taking compliments more graciously. I was raised to be humble, always; to deflect attention and downplay success, and I am learning, as I age and move through a variety of professional and personal environments, that complete humility is a shitty strategy.

The reality is that being humble only gets you so far, and it only gets you that far with a certain kind of person, usually people who are also very humble or lacking confidence themselves. That’s the rub: I was taught that deflecting praise was appropriate and polite, as if graciously standing in your own greatness was the same as being arrogant. It is not. There are many miles between confident and arrogant, and living in fear of the latter has kept me from the former.

Getting my sexy back

I was sharing this sentiment with Daddy recently and we were talking about how my self confidence and sense of sexiness ebbs and flows and sometimes all but disappears. He maintains that His opinion and the opinions of my other partners, friends, fans, etc. do not falter or change and encouraged me to try to ‘hear’ the compliments and support for what they are: true opinions and love. I immediately countered with “Yes, but …” and I deflected. Old habits die hard.

In an attempt to break that cycle, He suggested that I focus on (and blog about) things about myself that make me sexy that are NOT based on my body or face or looks. I’ll admit, at first I didn’t even understand what He meant. Sexy but not physical? What? He asked what I found sexy about Him and my list was a mix of physical characteristics (His hands, chest, smile, His soulful eyes, His lips, my gawwwd the lips …) and many other qualities that do not require sight to see: intelligence, kindness, curiosity, an ardent love of cute cat videos, the list goes on and on. So that was His challenge to me: brainstorm and share qualities that make me sexy that need not be seen with the eyes. Ugh. Here goes …

I’m intelligent
This kind of feels like a cop out, but I do know that I find intelligence so sexy in others that I guess it’s fair to apply it to myself. Part of the sexiness of intelligence is being emotionally intelligent, and while I definitely have some flaws and blindspots in my EI, for the most part, I am self-aware, empathetic and  compassionate. I see the best in people and sometimes that makes me blind to their true nature or puts me in a vulnerable position, but for the most part, it is a quality I’m proud of, and that is apparently quite beguiling.

I’m sex positive
Being open-minded about sex and sexuality is apparently very attractive? It’s something I appreciate and admire in other people but had never considered to be an attractive quality of my own until I attempted to make this list of sexy things about myself. I suppose that it’s that sex-positivity that spurs me on to write erotica and personal experiences and share images that are sexy, so in turn, it is a sexy feature of who I am.

Getting my sexy back

I’m funny and an insatiable flirt
Humour is sexy, this we know. Flirtatious and sarcastic humour, though? If you have a dark-ish sense of humour or you appreciate sarcasm, witty banter and droll observations of the world around us, then you may find this part of me sexy. As for flirtation, it comes naturally, a characteristic that is not very common in deeply introverted people like me. Flirting, to me, is simply about making someone else feel good by expressing your interest in them as a person, not just in what they say. Making people happy and comfortable is something I am always on the alert for. On the other hand, I am an absolute dunce when it comes to knowing if I am being flirted with. I’ve heard that that kind of oblivion is endearing? I don’t know, but apparently it makes me “cute” because I’m always the last one to know if someone is into me.

I can articulate my erotic imagination very well
My imagination is highly sensory, meaning that when I imagine something I imagine it in a very 3D way and I can picture it for all its sensory qualities. If I imagine a room, I don’t just see a room with furniture, etc. I see textures and colours and the feeling of the space, the temperature, the acoustics, all sorts of crazy details that few others consider. This makes me a great sexting partner and (hopefully you agree) a good writer of erotica. It also means that when I talk about real life sex and desire and what I want and need, I am able to be clear and descriptive, making it easy for my partner to understand. Clarity and specificity in sexual descriptions is both practical and alluring.

I have a sexy voice
I have a very versatile voice. It can be low and firm, rich and seductive, light and sweet, and adorably saccharine. I definitely use my voice and the nuanced range that I can speak with to my advantage and it is a very common compliment. For the longest time I held onto a judgemental comment I received from my father: that my voice was “a bit nasal and an awkward tone”. I carried that assessment for decades, until I finally had the courage to sing (something I love to do but lack confidence in) and heard my voice recorded. It was not nasal at all and there was no awkwardness! It was clear and strong and objectively good, as if my voice, my essence, had come alive as it left my mouth. Is it always sexy? No, but it can be if I try.

Getting my sexy back

I have sexy ‘street cred’
I have spent most of my adult life avoiding being or feeling overtly sexy because it felt so out of reach, but the reality is, I have had a great number of sexual partners, I have never lacked for attention and interest, and no one that I have ever wanted to fuck has ever turned me down. I have received a lot of positive reinforcement over the years, sadly, I just couldn’t, or wouldn’t, see it. When I was in my teens and early twenties, being sexy felt dangerous, it felt like it opened me up to predators and abusers. I knew that the sexier you acted the more likely you would be accused of “asking for it” and all of that frankly wasn’t worth it. As I’ve aged and seen more of how the world works, I feel less that way, or rather I feel more able to assert that acting or looking sexy is not license for abuse. When I feel unsexy, I try to think of all the lovers I have had and how every one of them found me sexy. Sure, some of them have dubious taste, but overall, it’s a pretty good track record.

Grace, not arrogance
I’m never going to be the girl that needs the spotlight all the time. I will never be the first, nor the loudest, to say that I think I look good. I will, however, learn to take a compliment, and learn to accept that projecting confidence doesn’t make me an asshole. Arrogance is ugly, and if you are ugly on the inside there is nothing beautiful to shine on the outside. I realise there is a real balance to be struck here, and maybe the pendulum will swing too far at first, but overall I am confident that I can  learn to accept kindness and compliments from sincere people with grace and aplomb instead of avoiding eye contact and trying not to cry, assuming that they are secretly being mean. I will get there. Someday.

What I’m beginning to learn, and perhaps I’m a bit late to the party, is that sexy really is a state of mind. Furthermore, what you believe about yourself and what you project do not always have to match. “Fake it ’til you make it” is a popular concept for a reason: it works. I want to use this unusually buoyant sense of sexiness that I have currently (no idea where it came from!) to fuel my future sexy self, and to normalize feeling good about myself, inside and out. In short, I’m so incredibly tired of the scripts I was fed as a younger person, and I’m sick to death of empowering opinions of people who don’t matter to me, by living by their words and definitions of me. It’s high time I learned to hear the good and use it to drown out the bad. For now, I’ve got my sexy back. Maybe this time, I’ll hold onto it.

Violet Fawkes

Violet Fawkes (she/her) is a freelance writer and sex blogger focusing on pleasure education, erotic fiction, and the intersection of identity, kink and mental health.