I have never been the kind of girl who considers herself to be “sexy.” Pretty? Sure. Cute? Most of the time. But sexy? Eh. Not so much. I’m also not really one for selfies. My Snapchat and Instagram are typically filled with more pictures of places and food than photos of my face. And yet, when I discovered a challenge to take a “sexy selfie” for a week, it seemed like as a good time as ever to figure out what this phenomenon was all about.
The first time I flipped my camera around and stared at my face on my smudged iPhone screen, I was sure this had to be another one of my not so great decisions. But as the week went on and I flipped my camera around more and more, it got easier, and more importantly, I realized that while trying to be “sexy” I was learning a lot about myself.
Step 1: Follow Kylie Jenner on all social media.
I’m not sure why, but when it came to gathering celebrity inspiration for how to take a sexy selfie, 19-year-old Kylie Jenner was my go to.(YES. 19. Honestly, freaks me out, but that’s another article topic.) In short, Kylie seems to have mastered what the public eye views as sexy, so I followed suit.
Step 2: Find Features You Love
As I studied the selfies of Kylie and the like, it was evident that these women all had parts of their bodies that they loved and wanted to showcase. Both Kylie and Gigi Hadid are clearly proud of their bodies, despite the fact that they’re both very different body types. I realized quickly that the old saying “confidence is sexy” is actually true despite it being a cliché. Being sexy isn’t about having an A cup or a C cup or pouty lips or long legs; it’s about loving what you have, and for the sake of a selfie, knowing how to capture it. So I stood in the mirror and instead of going straight for the things I didn’t like, I sought out the things I did. Things like my hair, and my curves, and my color changing eyes. While I began seeking out these things for selfie purposes, I realized that finding features I loved was helping me to feel more confident in my body in general, whether I was staring at myself in my iPhone screen or simply fixing my hair in the bathroom mirror at school.
Step 3: Keep Your Clothes On! (Or don’t, you do you.)
If Kylie can get two million likes in a sweatsuit, surely there is more to this game than just having to wear pretty or sexy lingerie (or lack of anything at all). Going along with that whole “confidence is sexy” thing, I realized that what I was wearing was actually super irrelevant to how “good” I thought my selfies were. Now, I won’t lie, my bralette definitely came in handy. But so did my new favorite pair of jeans and a t-shirt. As cliché, as it may feel to do, focusing on how you feel, will yield much better results than if you focus on how “sexy” your articles of clothing are.
Step 4: Validation Not Required.
Around mid-week I realized something: I felt sexy. Even more important was that I didn’t need anybody to tell me this. I never posted my selfies on social media to see how many likes I did or didn’t get and while I shared one or two with a friend, the validation I received was the cherry on top, not the basis of my new found comfort in my body. Just like beauty, sexy is in the eye of the beholder, and the most important eye is the one looking back at you from the camera. We talk about beauty as being personal and being different for everyone. It’s like we’ve created this idea that anyone can be beautiful but only Victoria’s Secret Models and celebrities can be sexy. Perhaps if we created a similar dialogue around being sexy we wouldn’t grow up thinking that we need to look a certain way or wear (or not wear) certain things in order to see something appealing when we looked in the mirror.
The biggest thing I learned from this challenge is that being sexy is not a bad thing. As growing young women it isn’t something we need to shy away from or be scared of. More importantly, sexy isn’t about pouty faces or giant hair or thigh gaps or looking like Kylie Jenner. Feeling sexy is about confidence. Sexy is about loving the skin you’re in and reveling in what makes you, you. So, go stand in front of mirror, grab that phone, and flip the camera around. Wear lingerie or wear sweats. Pucker your lips or laugh out loud. Sexy is what you want it to be. Nothing more, and nothing less.