Sexy - Don't Let it Scare You.

Disclaimer: I wrote this a year ago for Mind Over Model, a website I'd co-founded with a friend of mine, and my gosh is it amazing to read these over again! Happy to say I'm down with my sexy side, and I hope this teaches you something of the same. x

This past summer provided me with a rather poignant Saturday; one that hit a nail in the floorboard of insecurities I possess. I’d just gone for a run, done a few ballet exercises at my childhood studio, and was driving around my hometown, looking forward to the cup of coffee and omelette the day had promised me.

I’d only gone to Starbucks — a quick to-and-from-the-car scenario — when I heard a distant stranger utter “You look great, girl. You look sexy.”

I smiled a little, to be polite, and took my iced coffee away. My initial reaction to that statement still sticks with me — it was shame, fear, worry.

 Photo by Ryan Fujiki

Photo by Ryan Fujiki

I’m not sexy, I’ve never been sexy. As a model I was sold as either edgy, quirky, or doll-like; someone whose definition came alive with makeup but remained a blank slate in all other realms. I never felt comfortable being sexy — I didn’t have an ass, or conventional, Megan Fox curves that made me the first choice for the adjective. In high school, I had nine guy friends who would talk about other girls at the cafeteria table as I sat, never the object of discussion, beside them. I had a lot of friends, but never because I was “the sexy one.” I was the awkward, loveable friend; a proud nerd who just happened to work in fashion. I wore whatever was comfortable — Whatever, if I think about it, hid my body from inquiring eyes. Makeup wasn’t something I cared about — What was “a lot” for me still looked bare on camera.

I still live this way, but, clearly, an element seems to have shifted. Am I okay with that?

Initially, I wasn’t. One of my best friends proudly embodies “sexy”; she’s a full-on European who taught me how to pick my first lipstick, (try to) stop overthinking, and find jeans that fit like a glove.

I’m not sexy, I’ve never been sexy. As a model I was sold as either edgy, quirky, or doll-like; someone whose definition came alive with makeup but remained a blank slate in all other realms.

I immediately went to her, stuffing my hair in a top knot and snatching my cell phone by the top corner. Typing with a tinge of embarrassing uncertainty, I asked her about what it meant to be sexy — was it a good thing?! Was sexy even something I could BE, in any possible world?!
Apparently, yes. The verdict? “Sexy Madison” was simply laying dormant until she stopped wearing sports bras and saying, over and over, she was as undesirable as a starfish. (No joke — I would say this growing up, often and always. The idea of being sexy equated with having to get a boyfriend, and I didn’t want one, so sexy, in my head, I was not).

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To this day, I still relate being sexy to “doing so for somebody else,” and I really don’t like that. I truly believe, at least, I want to believe, that we can be what we want and not have to apologize for “asking for it.”

By European instruction, I was to stop wearing sports bras (at this point they were an armour, a security blanket, even) and reach to the back of my underwear drawer, starting from the skin. I had a few lacy things — balconette bras that were fun and summery and made me feel like I lived in a Sonya Esman youtube video, but if I was going to do this, I wasn’t going to do it for my friends, or a guy, or the prospect of a guy. I had to — I was ONLY going to — do this for me.
Easier said then done, right?

Fast forward a monotonous three months, during all of which Lululemon remained my most constant companion, fastened to my chest long after I’d leave the gym. That week, a box of lingerie arrived at my doorstep. Sighing, I looked at it, laughed, put it back in the box and moved on.

Not yet.

About a week ago, I was walking home from the library when a thought hit me in the way I can only imagine Beyoncé feels when she’s at Madison Square Garden in a sequinned glam-suit. This was a very precise feeling, so stay with me.

I texted my friend immediately, saying, verbatim: “I’ve decided I’m going to be comfortable in my sexuality starting today. Not living for other people, but being sexy for ME. Just felt like telling somebody!” Her reply? “Totally.”

I got home, opened the boxes of lingerie and placed them, front and centre, in my closet. The sports bras? Back where they belong, near my Aasics and running shorts. Time will tell if this experiment feels good to me, but right now, it looks like I’m not going back any time soon.

There are SO many ways we can explore the idea of sexy, and I plan on being very much aware of all of them. How do they affect you as models? How do you feel when you’re an editorial girl and told you look sexy? Why does that bother you, if so?

And in life, does sexy make you feel comfortable? Is there, in any possible way, a price to pay?
All I know is that, starting now, I’ve got a lingerie advent calendar that I’ll be opening daily until my birthday, December 11th. Each day I’m going to test myself, teach myself, and hopefully, teach you. Being sexy is one of my biggest fears, and I think it’s ridiculous that this be thus any longer.

Thanks for taking this one on with me!

In love and loving your damn self, 
Madi