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Apr 8, 2013

Smart is the New Sexy: Insecurities Aren't Worth our Time

Disclaimer: This post applies to guys/girls equally but I'm obviously a girl and it's from my perspective.
Be sure and read the linked posts in this because they say things better than I do.

I've been thinking and having conversations about what makes a powerful woman. In different groups and cultures women are feeling oppressed and that is something we need to resolve. One of the things that our American culture/media seems to be telling us is that women are most powerful when they are sexy, man-eating seductresses. Companies like Victoria's Secret are bombarding young girls with undergarments that read "Feeling Lucky?" and "I Dare You" and "Let's Make Out" (Victoria's Secret's Little Secret).

I enjoy feeling sexy. I own red underwear. But there is a reason that mothers don't want their 14-year-olds wearing "I dare you" panties. I want my 14-year-old to wear "Chess Club Champion" underwear. Can we make that a thing? Or instead of "Feeling Lucky?" how about "Let's talk about our feelings...Actually, let me put my pants back on and we can talk about our feelings." Physical intimacy is an important part of relationships, but it can be damaging if not handled correctly. (Another Post on Victoria's Secrets). Especially for young people.

As a not-bad-looking girl I have at times had a complex that boys are only into me because of my looks. This is because I have heard the way my guy friends talk about girls and how important physical attraction is to them. You know, the "hit it and quit it" mentality.  I've been there for the guys' conversations where one of them comes home from a date and the first question is, "So, did you make out with her?" Though I know not all guys think this way, I still feel that way because I live in a society where I feel like some physicality is expected or desired after the first or second date because that's the way we talk about it (girls too). Success in a relationship is determined by "how far" someone gets.

We don't seem to know how to communicate what we are comfortable with physically, because we think we know what the other person wants, when we don't. See: UN-MEMORIZING THE “SILENCE IS SEXY” DATE SCRIPT.

Sadly, and this is a personal problem I realize, this has made me paranoid that any guy who is interested in me is just interested in my body. I find myself constantly searching for validation. "You're beautiful" "Thanks, I'm also hilarious." or "You should see how great I am at coming up with slogans." So in this ironic sort of way, someone telling me I look great makes me more self-conscious because I feel like that's all they're noticing.

From sweet grandma-types to boys trying to woo me I have heard from a variety of people that I am "so pretty". Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a compliment on my looks, but I worry about how much value we put into those physical things. I don't want to get depressed when I start to realize that no amount of physical alteration can hold back wrinkles or sags or the other things we are told are unattractive. Or even worse, that it can hold them back/perk them up if I inject enough silicon into the right places. I want someone to be in love with the parts of me that'll last.

Part of this problem is porn. The effects porn is having on our society are real and we are letting more and more things slip into the mainstream that used to be behind locked doors. Ads and movies are decreasing their level of sensitivity and in one way or another portraying women as objects to be looked at. I want to be seen as a thinking, vibrant, passionate woman, not an object of lust. I think it needs to be removed from our society if we want our girls (and boys) to grow up with healthy views of sexuality.

We need to teach women that smart is sexy. That getting educated is important. On Thursday I saw the documentary Girl Rising and it gave wonderful perspective on how much power there is in an educated woman. That women are more than servants or spectators in our societies and that educating a woman is one of the greatest worldwide investments we can make.

Women are not objects to be sold and passed around in various forms of slavery as is happening around the world. Some people are put into these circumstances due to events outside their control, some of us willing gravitate towards people who don't treat us well because we don't realize how much we are worth. 



I am grateful that I was raised in a home, culture, and religion were I was told that I was smart and talented. That my talents were encouraged and that I had people who supported my dream. I am glad that I was taught that I am a daughter of God and that I have infinite worth...

"The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity." (Margaret D. Nadauld)

So I have trust issues sometimes. Sometimes I don't commit because I've been taught that boys don't commit. That they're going to leave me for someone hotter or more desirable or more fun or more whatever else I'm not. That there's no chance of keeping them around if I'm not a good kisser. That they're going to be grossed out if there's something in my nose or if I miss a spot when I shave my legs or if there is dry skin on my elbow. That I have to be completely put together and smell like flowers and wear 3-inch heels (which I actually enjoy--so that's not a problem). That they're going to be upset if I don't like sports or haven't seen every Batman movie. That I'm not smart enough or too smart. I try to be things that I think I'm supposed to be.

Then I realized that I'm not going to try and find people who will like me by pretending to be something I'm not because those aren't the types of relationships that have any endurance. So now I try and be as odd as possible upon meeting someone so they know exactly what they're getting into. ;)

I am tired of being told that I need to be "tough" and "edgy" or "sexy" and "flawless" to be strong. I want to be sweet and feminine. I want to be intelligent, witty, and hilarious. I like being a girl. I like having someone help me put my suitcase in the overhead bin when I'm looking pathetic. I like that I'm not a boy (even though ironically I thought I was a boy the first six years of my life). I think women  should embrace the womanly things about us. We need to embrace our imperfections and embrace our vulnerabilities.

We should stop trying to be something we're not. Stop doing things we are not comfortable with.

Because here's the thing, one day my face broke out in a couple large spots before I went to a conference and I felt awful (I didn't have any makeup to cover it up with). That day three guys got my number. Just saying...Maybe these notions we have about what is or isn't attractive don't matter as much as we think they do.

Sometimes you find boys who think it's "hawt" that you know how to spell "judgment" correctly. Boys who tell you they love your brain. Boys who don't let you kiss them until they've taken you on a nice date first. Those boys also exist (we call them nerds) and are even more manly than the rough-and-tough controlling "manly" men portrayed as sex symbols in media. You can keep your James Bonds and What's-his-face Greys.

“The real lover is the man who can thrill you by kissing your forehead.” ― Marilyn Monroe

Went to Jurassic Park last night and I got many a compliment on my dinosaur t-shirt and tennis shoes. That's the way I roll. That's the way anyone can roll if they want. Let's all just be who we are and find someone who loves us for that and forget all the crap media is trying to teach us about what makes us valuable or attractive. 

3 comments:

Holly Ann said...

A million times, amen! I also hear boys' conversations about girls and it makes me feel insecure about relationships as well. And I don't like to be told I'm beautiful very often because I get worried that that's all that matters to people. I have so much more to offer, if you would only see. :-) Great post. Thanks.

babetta said...

So much well-said wisdom.

Mormon Women: Who We Are said...

I am grateful that I was raised in a home, culture, and religion were I was told that I was smart and talented. That my talents were encouraged and that I had people who supported my dream. I am glad that I was taught that I am a daughter of God and that I have infinite worth...

"The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity." (Margaret D. Nadauld)


LOVE.

"Because here's the thing, one day my face broke out in a couple large spots before I went to a conference and I felt awful (I didn't have any makeup to cover it up with). That day three guys got my number."

Just want to take that a step further and say that how many boys get a girl's number is not the measure of her worth, either. Our worth just IS. It's a constant.

Keep believing that, and keep writing about it. You go, girl!

Great to see your tweets about Women's Conference. Would love to hear more of your thoughts about what stuck with you. We'd love a guest post about it if you are up to it. ;)