Thursday, May 29, 2008

What We Call "Sexy"

For the June 2008 online issue of ELLE, writer Walter Kirn wrote an article on relationships called "Pieces of You" that I came across yesterday. It leads with the tag: "That crooked nose. That untamed hair. The enormous appetite. The hottest girl in the room isn’t who you think. Why pretty isn’t (always) sexy."

Kirn continues in this vein for four pages, but I found it worth the time to read--if only to feel marginally better about my "untamed hair" and to examine a point of view that isn't always forwarded in modern media. This idea that a man's version of a sexy woman doesn't necessarily equate with what we see lauded in most magazines, virtually all prime-time TV shows and any movie where Brad Pitt costars was...for want of a better word...refreshing.

But--I kept wondering--is it TRUE?

Not being a man, I'm hardly one to claim absolute knowledge on the subject. But, from a woman's point of view, it rang true for me in the reverse. When I was in college and single, I met a lot of really handsome men--some stunningly so. A couple were male models. Many were very nice. A number were quite talented in some field or other. But none were guys I really wanted to date for long. (Granted, I was a "challenging" girlfriend--as one ex so helpfully pointed out--so there were few guys I wanted to date for long...and fewer still who could put up with me. :-)

The guys I fell hard for, though, were rarely attractive in a GQ sense. Their sexiness snuck up on me. They had killer wit. Surprising grace and gentleness. Several decades of experiences and insightful observations they'd somehow managed to pack into their first 22 years of life... I don't know where most of these men are now or if I'd still feel similarly talking with them again, but I do know they set a standard of "real-life sexy" for me that was far from that of some pretty-boy type.

And they're the men (along with my husband, of course--Hi, honey!) who I think of when I write my heroes.

What traits--whether traditional or not--do you find really sexy about someone?


Carrie Lofty said...

I don't know if you've seen it yet, but I posted the epitome of sexy on my blog. Humor, brains, patience, enthusiasm--and I tend to like them thin, dark haired, and pale, which is lucky for my husband.

Marilyn Brant said...

Oooh, Carrie--he IS sexy! And, yeah, what is it about dark and pale that's just so alluring? :)

Nadine said...

I do tend to fall for the pretty boys, but if they don't have substance behind the pretty face, it's hard for me to take them seriously. I've had extensive conversations with my roommate about this and I think I've figured out what makes me fall for a guy, after the initial attraction: perspective. I met a lot of really well-off, smart guys in pretty lush settings when I lived in the Caymans, and while they were fun, and I found many of them attractive, their lack of perspective was a complete turn off. When they travelled, they stuck to tourist traps and wanted little to do with the locals, they had lots of opinions about the world but very little actual knowledge of it, and most of all, they took their place and privilege for granted. I think subconsciously, that's why I always tended to find the local guys more attractive (er... Cuba, case in point!!!)

Pam said...

Smart and funny. (I don't know if twisted sense of humor falls between the two, but I'll add it anyway.) I could add more, but those are the two most important for me.

L.A. Mitchell said...

A slight imperfection on an otherwise handsome face always makes life more interesting. Humor, definately.

Sandra Ferguson said...

Great topic, and Hi Marilyn. I didn't get your email. Might have hit my spam box. Send it again, and I'll be watching for it.

As to what's sexy in a man . . . for me it's always been eyes. I thought my hubby (yep, only one and been married forever) had the greatest eyes. I so wanted to know what was going on behind that mischievous twinkle. GRIN! It was as naughty as I'd hope.

Marilyn Brant said...

I love reading what you all wrote! Attraction is such a magical, mysterious thing...I could marvel about it endlessly :). No surprise that we all write stories that involve romance and relationships, is it?!

P.S. Sandra, I'll resend it to you right now...