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Strong Sexy Sexuality

October 31, 2012

My dear friend, the amazingly talented photographer Tim Aguero, took some amazing photos of me last year, on my birthday. I was turning 42, and felt, really the sexiest I had ever felt in my life. I was truly single for the first time in ages – by choice, having decided to stop dating just for the sake of doing so, but rather wait for men who ignited me. (Though I had just started dating the man who I now know I will spend the rest of my life with, a relationship that worked because I refused to compromise.) I was strong as hell. I was comfortable in my body. I was clear about what I wanted out of life in all its facets. I felt truly fucking alive. And I called Tim and asked if he would be willing to photograph me as I see me.

So we talked about what that meant. And he listened. Really listened. He listened for the key words that then went on to inform the shoot, and probably explain why I love the photos so much. I said that I wanted them to be natural. I don’t wear make-up, generally, so I didn’t want to be made up. I didn’t want to be photo-shopped. If I have bags under my eyes, wrinkles, whatever, I want them in there so that I can see the beauty in me AS I AM. I wanted to be photographed as strong, because I take much pride in the things my body can do, and even in the fact that I value my body as much as I do.

I didn’t want to be photographed as “sexy” in a way that implied my meeting someone else’s idea of sexy. Because that’s not sexy to me. Sexy, to me, isn’t about contorting my soul to match a notion that someone else has about what they think they’re supposed to want. Sexy, to me, is owning what I am. It’s not a fantasy, so much as a challenge. Or maybe an invitation. Sexy is the state of being able to own all of my intimate and erotic energy in a way that empowers me. Sexy is a partner who wants me at my most empowered. And that’s what I was feeling.

But sexy is also an outward manifestation of sexuality. Sexy is something that involves the perception of others. It is an idea, hopefully shared. But sexuality is a personal, natural and  vital part of a healthy self. Sexuality is a vital and organic energy that informs, and is informed by, almost everything in our lives. For me, I can tell how I feel about a situation by how it informs my sexuality. (Which is not the same as sex, and I’ll get to that too.) When I am turned on intellectually, I tend to feel it in my sexuality. Many things ignite my sexuality: a great conversation, a successful professional presentation, a good book, a great meal, a strong workout, an awesome time with friends….. All of these things ignite my sexuality. They are not necessarily sexy, and they do not usually involve sex. But they turn me on in that deep and empowered way. When my sexuality is on and engaged, I know that a situation is “feeding” me the things I need to thrive. The converse is also true. When I feel my sexuality wither, it is a signal for me to look at what’s going on in a situation that is toxic to me. This is as true in my relationships with others as it is in my relationship with myself.

My sexuality is the canary in the coal mine of my soul. (Where you also might find diamonds.)

The older I get, the more that I love my body in ALL of its facets, the more comfortable I am in my sexuality, and the more it manifests as “sexy” to my beloved partner. See, they’re connected.

Then, and only then, can I have the sex I want to have. When it’s all firing together. When my empowered sexuality triggers the feeling of sexy, and turns into sex.

All of which is a slight digression in terms of this photo. I see them all in there because it’s me, and I know. And to me, this photo clearly illustrates the separate but beautiful integrated concepts of sexuality, sexy and sex. As natural things.

But the thing I love most about this photo is that although I think it is sexy, there is  no attempt to sexualize anything. There is no pandering to anyone’s ideas but my own. And that’s interesting to me, because that is my mostly naked body. How often do we get to see pictures of mostly naked women that are not sexualized? My breasts are just there, that’s all, just there. Exactly the same as the chest of a man would be there. No pus-up bra, no pasties, nothing. Just like a guy. I love that. It’s on Facebook right now, though I assume it will get censored eventually, seeing as they have a “no breast” policy. Well, no female breasts, that is. Male nipples are fine, just not female nipples.

I don’t get it. There is no difference at all, except that we have turned female breasts and nipples into a sexual commodity. But men’s nipples are just as sexually sensitive. I think the biggest disservice done by the sexualization of female nipples might just be the desexualization of male nipples. I love my breasts and nipples in this photo. Just because they are just there, just one part of my strong body.

And my appendectomy scar. And the reminder that even a body this fit has thighs that practically touch. And that women can be very strong. And that, really, everyone has bags under their eyes, and that’s okay. I don’t have a waist really, or maybe I don’t have hips, one or the other. No matter.  And I’m willing to be seen. For me.

And that at 42, I finally figured this stuff out. 42 used to sound old. I turned 43 a couple of days ago, and it’s only gotten better. I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again, turning 40 was the best thing I ever did. I would have done it long ago, if I’d known how great my 40’s would be.

That’s it. It’s as simple as that, isn’t it. The strength of truly appreciating the things that make you YOU, and bring you joy. I appreciate myself. My body. My sexuality. And the life that is filled with other people who can say the same. That is MY birthday wish for everyone.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. October 31, 2012 6:46 pm

    for some strange reason, i’m having a tough time commenting. I’ve been able to before, but wordpress no longer knows me.

    I’ll try through fb, though originally i think i started following you through the boing post about burning man.

    You just nailed two really great blogs. It’s like you are on fire.

    thank you. you inspire. and you look great. just as you are.

  2. November 1, 2012 11:09 am

    Now that is Sexy! A woman who owns her own inner and outer beauty. Thank you for sharing Alyssa.

  3. November 1, 2012 2:29 pm

    You are delivering a truckload here. From the distinction between sexuality and sex to the desexualization of male nipples!! Sexuality is a bit like voodoo energy for me.. the more I work with it the more power I have in it. Its a compass and a beacon, an origin and a destination.
    I am a t-shirt kind of sexy, willing to go beyond that for a picture or a role to play, but rarely for my own sexuality.

    Emotional and instinctual stimulation can be overwhelmingly arousing and often lead to sex when the physical attraction is also present. But I get confused.. by the moments when my physical is aroused without the intellect and emotional stimulation. Physical arousal feels awkward when it comes first… but to blind myself to it also feels out of touch. And our culture so heavily focuses there.. the visual is quick to stimulate while the rest is a slow build. Far more rewarding but requires patience, and sometimes oceans full.

    In my minds eye, I want to say “You are beautiful” every time its real for me and have it mean nothing more than that visual WOW for both me and the receiver. Its a practice I will have to play around with… and I will start with this perspective of the powerful self-confident woman!

  4. bill t. permalink
    October 1, 2013 5:15 pm

    hi alyssa. i happened upon your ted talk on youtube, and i thought “that is my kind of thinking (and my kind of woman)! so i googled you and found this site. how right i was! you are the total package, smart, uninhibited, muscular, powerful and sexy as hell! thanks, and keep up the good work. ps: is there a copy of the questionnaire from the video on here where you list the stuff you are into? you can’t read it in the video, and i am curious about your answers.

  5. Alyssa Royse permalink
    October 1, 2013 8:01 pm

    Well, it’s not a link of what I’m into, cuz, well, that’s mostly my business. 😉 But here is a link to all teh results, including the results from when we ran the survey online for a while.

  6. bill t. permalink
    October 2, 2013 4:49 am

    thanks alyssa, you’re the coolest.

  7. resonance permalink
    October 26, 2013 9:27 pm

    A few months back I had a date with a very muscular woman. I requested she not wear make up. She said because of her imperfections she would not feel uncomfortable. How could she be brave enough to display a non mainstream physique and yet be ashamed of her face? I saw her later without make up and she was even more attractive. Why can’t women spend more time on their confidence than on their externals. For women to outspend their educational goals choosing instead to invest more on cosmetics is baffling. I have come to appreciate women in all forms, shapes and sizes. Flat chested, skinny to thick and BBW’s. I am black therefore predisposed to the curvy flank and thighs. While I admire muscles on a female, confidence is the thing that makes my earth move. Crows feet and gray hair are things a lot of women despise and yet I find a woman with the confidence to rock them naturally extremely attractive. I’ve been to topless vacation resorts and I am not a fan of boob jobs. A great quote I live by is “I will always prefer a breast less glorious but true”. Kate Hudson was so much hotter pre-augmentation. The enhancement screams lack of self confidence. I wish women would understand that as they mature, the lines, curves and gray are indications of character and it is only when a woman learns to showcase these aspects as opposed to hiding them does her beauty glow. When I look at your picture, it says:WOMAN. Very hard for most of your gender to pull that off. The are busy hiding behind someone else’s vinyl bags or facial camouflage to be seen.


  1. Sexy, Sexuality, and Sex | Good Vibrations Blog
  2. 17 Awesome Things About Being 40 | Just Alyssa

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