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The Time At Which Women Feel Their Sexiest

I look in the mirror and here's what I think.

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beautiful African American woman putting on lipstick
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I look at the unfamiliar reflection in the mirror and think, My prime is so over. As far as looks are concerned, there is no going backward. I notice things like saggy, wrinkling skin around my knees, age spots on my face, and veins protruding from my hands. As a single woman who hopes to one day be a coupled woman, I wonder how my aging body will affect my sex appeal. Will men find me attractive as I age? Do I (or will I) find myself attractive as I age?

Can I even be comfortable in my own (wrinkled) skin and own my body — and its changes as evidence of wisdom and experience? Just as I begin to think the answer is, sadly, no, I also wonder if this is not just an after-prime thing. In other words, have I ever actually felt sexy at all?   

When I think back to my so-called prime, some things were different. I had money to buy new clothes, a drawer full of Victoria’s Secret lingerie, well-manicured nails, and not-yet-thinning hair, which always was perfectly highlighted and styled. I had the looks, but still, somehow, I just didn’t feel sexy or comfortable in my skin back then, either. I was stuck in a world of jealousy and comparison, constantly comparing myself and my looks to every other woman in a 30-mile radius. I didn’t love my outsides, and I most certainly didn’t love my insides. I felt lost, full of envy, and weak in mind, body and spirit.   

Now I am feeling lost again. What does it even mean to feel sexy as a woman? Is it synonymous with feeling comfortable in one’s own skin? I used to think feeling sexy meant feeling desired by the opposite sex. I don’t buy that anymore. I used to think it meant feeling beautiful, but I don’t buy that anymore, either. Adding to the confusion, something deep in my psyche tells me that I shouldn’t discuss or acknowledge sexiness, and that it is not something that mothers (or Catholics) embrace or seek or need or conquer. It is, rather, something we should avoid and push under the rug —  maybe even under lock and key. But I want the key, and so as part of my personal quest to conquer my own discomfort with “sexiness” I decided to ask for the help of other women.   

I asked them, “What makes you feel sexy?” Here’s what I learned.  

Sexy is self-expression

“I feel the most confident and sexy when I work out consistently. It doesn’t even have to be a hard-core workout; it could just be several days in a row of doing simple yoga routines at home. I [also] feel the sexiest when I wear a powerful, bright color. Fashion truly is a mental-health item. The way we wear things — as well as the colors — really reflects how we carry ourselves on the outside.” — Melissa, 33, Minnesota

“Smelling good is my thing. I wear a different fragrance every day. I get compliments daily [about my scent] from men and women alike and [it] makes me feel sexy, confident, strong. And when you feel sexy, confident and strong you feel like there isn’t anything you can’t do.” — Carol, 70, Georgia

Sexy is a state of mind 

“Feeling sexy is a state of mind. There are a lot of factors that go into getting that mindset, but the most important is having good energy and feeling good about yourself —  being happy with who you are. As women we are sold the story that sexiness is being a certain age or size, but I don’t buy it. Sexiness comes from within. Yes, a nice comment from my husband helps, but it wouldn’t be enough to sustain the feeling that I AM sexy! I know I am sexy because my body is strong. I know I am sexy because I am wise. I know I am sexy because I have been forged in the fire of life’s trials. I know I am sexy because I am confident.” — Melissa, 47, Illinois  

Sexy is being unapologetically you 

“In my 51 years I have felt both sexy and disgusting, and it has nothing to do with my size, weight, clothing or relationship status. Feeling sexy comes from my connection to my power — my power to move in a way that feels comfortable to me, my power to control my thoughts instead of have them control me, and my power to stand in my truth and give voice to who I am and what I want. Feeling sexy means that I own myself and my worth, and that no matter what happens around me I am capable of handling it all.” — Lora, 51, Colorado  

“Sexy isn’t a feeling or something to be accomplished; it is my essence, my confidence, my divine feminine aura. I wear lingerie around the house and worship my body through dancing, coconut oil massages, and yoga. Not for my partner, but for me. … I think the greatest transition from feeling sexy to being sexy occurred when I turned my attention inward. Sexy is vulnerability. It’s looking at yourself in the mirror and knowing no one can love you better than you love you. Sexy is written on your skin at birth. It’s a divine right you step into when you let go of all the bullshit. Being sexy is being fullheartedly and unapologetically you.” — Alexandra, 27, California

Who would have thought that other women would be the key to unlocking my own sexiness? I feel sexier already from their wisdom and honesty because these definitions of sexy —  confident, strong, feminine aura, self-love — are things I already possess and embrace. These are things I want to nurture, cultivate and celebrate, and qualities that I don’t shy away from.  

My personal quest to unlock my own sexiness — or comfort level with that sexiness — is just beginning. It may be a bit of a journey or a practice of sorts, but I am ready (and eager) for the challenge. I am ready to define my own sexiness, own it and talk about it. I am grateful that I can learn from other wise, confident women who are farther along in this journey than I. And I am so happy to now have a more refined definition of sexiness — one that proves women can (and should) feel sexy at any age.