What Isn’t Sexy

body image
Sometimes I long for the days when my body was simply a vehicle for self-expressive fun: climbing trees, playing dodgeball, or my favorite–chasing boys. I didn’t worry about what it looked like or how it compared to other girls’ bodies. I certainly didn’t worry about what other boys thought of it. That burden came later.

Somewhere along my personal broken road, in between puberty and motherhood, I became aware of my imperfections and began trying to change them. I was already an athlete, so becoming a runner came easily. A quick diet, however, turned into nearly a decade of on-and-off Bulimia. My self-esteem sank lower and lower. Hell-bent on improving myself from the inside out, I adopted a mantra: I love my strong, healthy, beautiful body. I said it often, although it sounded silly and wasn’t true.

That affirmation slowly began to change how I felt about my body. I took care of myself; I looked good in my clothes. Getting naked was another issue entirely. Intimacy was something I merely endured. Taking off my clothes for someone, unless the lights were low (preferably off), made me feel self-conscious. Imperfect breasts, roadmaps of stretch marks, and various other parts I felt didn’t measure up made it difficult to just relax and enjoy my partner.

Where had I developed such a surety about what was required to turn a man on–what was required to enjoy sex? Sadly, the vast majority of sexual images of the magazines, movies and television of my youth featured insanely perfect women, women who had either been Photoshopped or genetically blessed. While I was comparing myself to these unrealistic images, my male friends were fantasizing to similar but less chaste images they hid in their closets or under their beds.

Looking back I can’t help but wonder how many women have been through similar battles with their bodies; battles heightened by unrealistic images of what men should find sexy. Sure, beautiful bodies are sexually alluring, but fantasy sex is not the same as the deep, fulfilling intimacy that real men have with real women who embrace their sensual selves, imperfections notwithstanding.

Sensuality is sexy. So is confidence. How many times do we derail our sex lives by worrying about how good our bodies look? How many times are we “not in the mood” because our skinny jeans didn’t fit that day? How much darned good lovin’ could we be enjoying if we just let ourselves go?

Men certainly find beauty in women of different shapes and sizes, but more than anything, I have learned, they are turned-on by how desirable we make them feel and by how desired we let ourselves be.

In the end, being perfect isn’t what makes us sexy.

Aftertaste


The cold didn’t bother me; the shivers wracking my body were well worth the price of the much needed darkness, the favor of a shrouded moon. I sat with my arms wrapped tightly around my scrunched up legs, my feet frozen and bare, kneading the moist earth beneath them. Tears weren’t an option for they would do nothing to ease the pain and they certainly wouldn’t change the ridiculous choices I had made, nor the ones she had forced me into. Without anyone attempting to reach me, she had died, been buried and properly mourned; her life celebrated for its passionate creativity and for the fierce hold she had had on those who loved her. Every shred of hope I had harbored that there would be at least a single moment to love her again (not that I had ever stopped, mind you) was gone, and the only way I knew to get through such a tragedy was to embrace the blessed darkness and endure the bitter cold just as I had endured the bitterness she had died tasting.

Aftertaste is my response to Lille McFerrin’s weekly Five Sentence Fiction challenge. This week’s word: moon

Lillie McFerrin Writes

Without

Malice - Snake

Ignoring the obvious veiled reference to sex, his words landed softly. Ignoring the lustful look, his eyes comforted her. Ignoring the bittersweet memories in her loins, his advances titillated her. Ignoring the knot that immediately rose up in her gut; a tugging she knew all too well, she smiled wantonly. What she couldn’t ignore were the tears streaming down her beautiful face; tears willing to comfort and caress a man who had certainly been through the kind of ordeal that comes not from malice, but from ignorance and a circle of pain that could only be broken by the kind of love that she was willing to give.

This entry is in response to Lillie McFerrin’s weekly challenge to take one word and caress five and only five sentences out of it. This week’s word: malice

Lillie McFerrin Writes

Tame

Mom's African Violets

It wasn’t that she didn’t have a green thumb, it was just that she was a “Jack of all Trades” and it was impossible to keep up with all the things that she could possibly be great at some day, given enough time and space to spread her wings. At least this is what she told herself over and over again, and especially any time that self-doubt did not have its way with her. Mastery was not her forte, and yet she craved it just like she craved a best-seller, a number one hit, and the perfect body.

So when her mother’s African Violet began to fade away (only one small bunch even slightly green) while an oxygen machine was the only thing sustaining eighty-four years of life, she chalked it up to one more thing that did not get her full attention, versus the failure that it should have been.

Imagine her surprise one day, a few months after her mother’s death, when that damned dying African Violet decided to be wild and bloom like nobody’s business, despite a lack of bloom food, despite a “green-thumb” caretaker, and despite the nagging mourning of the daughter who, as it turned out, needed those little purple flowers to bloom more than she could have possibly known.

Lillie McFerrin Writes

Tweet

Mama

Mom dancing

While her husband sat, mouth taut, fists clenched, jealousy raging, Mom danced. She and Chris whirled around the room with abandon.

I watched, camera in hand, from the middle of the massive glass doors which had just been pushed wide open upon my entrance into the grand retirement home where Mom lived. Click. Click. Click. The smile on her face said it all, and I had captured it.

Later, after pulling the photographs off my memory card, I smiled again upon remembering the sheer joy I had seen on her face.

Last March after Mom died I used one of the photos for her obituary; I wanted her friends to see her undeniable happiness; something that had eluded her for many years.

A few days ago I came across the photo unexpectedly while searching for something unrelated. Though I had seen the photo a handful of times already, this time I noticed something I hadn’t picked up on before: Mom was staring and smiling contentedly AT HER WEDDING RING.

Instantly I knew.

Instantly I was standing in her body, her powerful mind transporting us both to the ecstasy of true romantic love; she was dancing with my father, the love of her life.

I find it both fascinating and comforting that prior to me having found the love of my life, I hadn’t noticed the stunning significance of the photo. Despite forty-four years of being apart, my mother never stopped loving my father, and though she wore another man’s ring on her finger, what she saw was the ring my father had given her nearly sixty-six years prior. In that moment with Chris, the dance instructor, she was gloriously transported to a magical evening from the past.

Perhaps today Mom is smiling from Heaven at the timing of my unexpected revelation–how it coincides so nicely with the fact that I have finally found my own true love. It’s really all she ever wanted for me: to be truly happy. I am Mom, I am.

I think I’ll take some dance lessons…

Mom and Dad

Unraveling

fabric

It was one of those mindless twiddles that has your fingers working overtime; an incessant fiddling with some inconsequential this or that, like a dangling button or a loose string. My mind was so far off in the distance that, though I was looking intently at myself in the mirror, I could not see a thing.

Swirling around in my distracted brain was, ironically, a very focused thought: he wants to be with me.

Why I found the truth so unbelievable demands a complicated and lengthy discussion; perhaps a mini-memoir of sorts, but suffice it to say that being with the right man had been such an elusive task that I figured, by the time I hit my 50th and it hadn’t happened yet, that it never would.

Imagine my surprise when, while contemplating the miraculous and unbelievable events of the past few weeks, I suddenly found myself topless in the middle of the men’s department, my sweater a disheveled jumble of threads; the quite willing victim of that blasted twiddling.

This week’s prompt, provided by the ever-faithful Lillie McFerrin, is “fabric.”

Lillie McFerrin Writes

The Key

A Weak Link?

“Don’t wait too long Donny, your dad is a fickle man; he could change his mind at any moment.

“I know Mom, believe me, I know.”

It took a few days for Donny to pack for the cold cold weather he would have to endure, to find someone to care for his very needy dogs (five Dobermans), and mostly to muster up the courage to visit the old man in his old house, with his old-school set-in-his ways conservative viewpoints.

He had come out to the world years ago, but facing his father with the truth of who he was had proven more difficult for Donny; impossible really as he could think of no one more conservative or more judgmental than his father.

But last week the unexpected call had come, translated into a herky jerky message on his phone that had said something about how time had taught his dad a few hard lessons, had opened up a few locked doors; the cryptic words only becoming clear when Donny finally walked into his Dad’s frozen cabin to see him cuddled up on the couch with someone who could only be described, by the looks of things, as a boyfriend.

Lillie McFerrin Writes

Arrangements

Andrew's Blue Airplane small

It had been difficult to arrange to be there two evenings each week without fail, and harder still to justify the long row of mandatory Saturdays also required; rigorous training and long hours that not only meant precious time away from his beloved family, but that also took every last penny of the emergency fund he had set aside for more important needs.

To his great surprise Kat had convinced him that sometimes a deeply held desire is actually a need; one that, left unrealized, could easily turn into a debilitating regret, a “should have done” that could never become a reality once too much time had elapsed, once the body could no longer comply with the brain’s commands.

The single most intelligent move Kat had made in her ploy to temporarily push Randy away from his practical provider’s nature and towards his little boy fantasies, was to pay for the lessons as soon as she had his, albeit tentative, agreement; effectively eliminating his ability to change his mind. Then, every evening he was away, she created beautiful photos, works of art she would sell each Saturday in order to secretly replenish their savings account.

Months later, Kat and the kids watching and filming from the runway, Randy lifted the beautiful blue Sportstar into the air, the plane and his long-held dream finally taking flight.

If you click on the icon below, you will be taken to Lillie McFerrin’s “Five Sentence Fiction” challenge–a weekly word prompt to spur your own thoughts, to be written down using just five sentences. This week’s word: flight

Lillie McFerrin Writes

Bleak and dismal emptiness

The sun pushed its radiance upon her through the purposely darkened blinds; always that rogue, penetrating shaft slipping through a lazy crack. So she rose, reluctantly and despite a weight that felt as heavy as three elephants, not because she wanted to but because she had promised him she would.

The automatic coffee maker had been a brilliant idea, a gift from her closest friend, the kind of friend who forces things upon you that you need but don’t really want; the kind of friend who refuses to leave you alone even when all you want to do is pull the covers up over your head and never emerge again – ever.

As she sipped the strong dark brew, she glanced out of the window and noticed that someone had been tending the flowers her husband had planted for her last birthday. She was grateful for the help and knew that she should find the flowers beautiful and yet every single thing around her looked as black as soot, as black and desolate as her heart had felt since her reason for living had suddenly stopped breathing.

This piece is in response to Lillie McFerrin’s brain-child, “Five Sentence Fiction,” which can be found here:

Lillie McFerrin Writes

The word: “desolate”

On edge

Caterpillar on the edge

“If you abide in my word, you’re my disciple.”

Carmen had heard these words most of her life since they had been uttered after every transgression large or small; there was never a good reason to disobey Him, for if she did, hell would be the result, and who in their right mind would want that?

Bryson had escaped such tormenting guilt by only pretending to believe, so the threat of hell made him laugh inside since he knew that if there was actually such a place, he would be the rare kind of person to truly enjoy it, which made perfect sense; heat had never bothered her brother one iota.

“Jump, Bryson, jump now while you still can, while we still have the chance to do this together!”

But he wouldn’t budge, having accepted Christ the day before and vowing to change his recalcitrant ways, so she kissed him gently on the forehead and jumped off the edge of the window and down six feet into the impatiently idling van filled with giddy young adults heading out to Burning Man.

This week’s five sentences were inspired by Lillie McFerrin’s prompt: edge

Lillie McFerrin Writes