Strong Sexy Sexuality
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.