Desperate + dressing “sexy” = nightmare.

Are you a woman, over 28, wondering where prince charming is and feeling like you have to show a little more cleavage in order to catch a guy’s attention? (or perhaps you’re feeling the pressure a little younger? at 22? or 15?)

OR

Are you a man, over 30 and wondering why all of the women you meet are “hawt- yet-horrifyingly” clingy?

Chances are, you are experiencing the nightmarish symptoms of the “I’m desperate so I’m going to dress even MORE sexy”-culture we live in today.

No.  It’s true.  I know it sounds silly, but it’s true: desperate + dressing “sexy” = nightmare.

Sadly I fell for this.   Let me briefly tell you my fashion story.  It is a funny one:

Once upon a time, I was a little girl and wore cute dresses and had ribbons in my hair.  Then I grew up and became a teenager and realized that I wanted to look skinny in my clothing so that I could get the attention of the boys in my class. Then came the grunge/I’m broke in college, frump of torn jean shorts and over-sized concert t-shirts.  After graduating college with a business degree it was suit sets, pearls and heels.  Devoid of a fashion personality I hit the management world ready to not bother anyone with my attire. Then I started buying clothing for my non-work hours that was flattering, not just deeply discounted. I started buying accessories and searching for the best hairstyle.  Suddenly I realized that there was more to wearing clothing than simply the antidote to nakedness.  THEN I started swing dancing and with that, I started my search for dresses! Dresses that twirled and swayed when I danced.  Dresses that were flattering to my figure and were complimented by the flower in my hair and the red beads around my neck.

As my dancing improved and the frequency of dancing increased, my waistline decreased.  I was finally looking my best.  A girlfriend of mine and I came up with the term, “being the cutest me!”  That  helped us in choosing outfits when we were shopping as well as helping us weed out our closets.  It even helped us weed out beaus who were not good for us.  In simplest terms, they weren’t nice to us and that left us with scrunchy faces, which was definitely not the cutest-us’es.

After all this time had passed, I had finally been blessed with the true message of chastity:  that chastity is about freedom, not repression.  I realized the importance of modesty.  The more I learned about how important the body was, the more I naturally started feeling the awkwardness of revealing too much.   I watched as men were distracted by what I was wearing, that it was harder for them to hold a conversation with me, and I realized that I didn’t want to manipulate them into staring at me.  I wanted them to notice my beauty, but I wanted them to be inspired by me, not coerced.

But at 33 years old, after a couple of absolute heart breaking break ups and a deluge of disastrous dates, I started to get desperate.  I wanted to be married. I thought, “if I live in NYC where gorgeous virtually naked models are plastered across billboards on every block and most girls are wearing dresses that look more like a shirt with a hem than a flattering dress, I’m going to have to start “wearing the uniform if I want to get in the game.”

I also fell for the line that society was/is pushing: Sexiness is power.  To be a powerful, confident woman, you must wield this sexy-power.  In other words, if you’ve got it, flaunt it.  AND if you have it and choose to not flaunt it, you are weak.  If you have it and don’t flaunt it, you are old and frumpy and you really have no need of being noticed let alone being valued because you aren’t a “confident woman.”

(BTW: Somehow over the past few years, sexy has gone over to slutty. Sexy shoes have turned into porn star platforms.

Hi, fashion industry? It’s me.  Educated woman.  Hi. I have a college degree. I have a job.  Can I please have some cute shoes to wear? that aren’t frumpy? and DON’T make me look like I’m on my way to my job…. at the strip club?!?!?!?!  Ok.  Sorry for the tangent.)

So anyway – for a moment, I fell for the above crap.  Let’s face it, I was on the edge of desperation.  (Now, I’d just like to clarify that I didn’t think it was desperation at the time… it only felt like I was on the edge of desperation…..) I was 33, trying to save sex for marriage, and I was in a pool of about 2 million other single gals who were looking for a spouse.  So the competition and “reason” kicked in.  I was going to HAVE to start dressing sexier to “attract” a man.

Well, let me reiterate:  Desperate (even edge of desperation) + dressing “sexy” = nightmare.

Oh yeah – I attracted a man.  But it wasn’t the kind of man that I wanted.  Long story short, he used me and cast me aside as if I was yesterday’s newspaper.

What I learned was this:

  • Aiming for being alluring is good.  Being alluring inspires a man.  It allows the man to notice you, and then truly see you – as a person. A man should delight in a woman’s beauty – both her physical beauty and her emotional beauty that is in her personality.  Being attractive is a good thing.  Being manipulative is a bad thing.
  • Aiming for sexiness is not a good idea.  Sex should always be an expression of love.  Sex is NOT about power over someone.  Sex is a renewal of the wedding vows.  It is a gift of self (mind, body and spirit) to one’s spouse.  So – using one’s sexiness to have power or control over someone – to manipulate them is a mis-use of this “power”
  • To quote Uncle Ben in Spiderman, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
  • With this power, we have the responsibility to use it for good! NO FRUMP ALLOWED! The burlap-sack-dress-look is not ok! Women: if you look like you are wearing a rectangle, GO HOME and change! Guys: if I can’t tell where your waist, bottom, knees, or ankles are, GO HOME and change! FRUMP is NOT the cutest you! (Ok Fashion people: breath deeply.  Remember: keep breathing! I’m not saying that 1 oversized item is a bad thing.  That’s ok – I like it.  Good great. Just not Everything.)
  • What people wear reveals something about themselves.  Sometimes it’s that they are revealing tooo much.  Sometimes they are revealing tooo little. What you wear should accentuate your beauty or your handsomeness.  NOT your sexiness.
  • If you use your sexiness to manipulate someone, you treat them like an object; things are usually reciprocal.  Once someone is being used as an object, they are more likely to use you as an object.  So- if you want to avoid being used, avoid manipulating someone with dressing sexy.
  • Translation: Men, if you want us to stop being so clingy then you are going to have to stop encouraging us looking at you as an object; stop encouraging us to be sexy so that we have power over you!
  • Yes you might end up with a guy.  You might up in the “game”.  But is that the kind of guy you want to be with? Is that the kind of game you want to play? NOOOOO! Learn from my mistakes! don’t do it!  I understand that you want to dance; You want to get out on the dance floor! But let me tell you – it’s better to wait to be asked to dance by a dancer who sees YOU, than it is to be asked by someone who treats you as an object, whips you across the dance floor, and dislocates your shoulder!  Believe me guys and gals, you want the dream gal or guy, not the nightmare.

So let’s say you want to turn that desire to find a spouse into something good instead of something frustrating? Try these things:

  • Pray. Thank God for this desire to be a gift of self to someone. Then ask Him to send you someone who is going to help you to be the cutest you.
  • Get yourself out there: take group dance lessons, go to discussion groups, go to http://www.CatholicNYC.com for a list of things to do, and last but not least: online dating.  If this makes you cringe, then pick up your cross, and sign up… because your spouse might be waiting for you to log on.
  • Volunteer.  We learn a lot about ourselves when we give of ourselves.  Seek others who are generous.  Find others who need help.   The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal have a ministry to the poor and hungry.  Contact them via: http://www.franciscanfriars.com.  The Sisters of Life help women who are in crisis pregnancy.  Contact them via: http://www.SistersOfLife.org.

I resisted the urge to wield the power of sex (and sexiness) over the men in my life.  Then, the man of my dreams came into my life and asked me to dance. Literally. We celebrated our first wedding anniversary in June.

(Wondering why Spiderman is mentioned on a Theology of Swing blog? Well, check it out! Spiderman does more than swing around town nabbing crooks! Here he is!: Spiderman, Swing Dancing at the American Lindy Hop Championships in 2007!)

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2 Responses to “Desperate + dressing “sexy” = nightmare.”

  1. Alisha Says:

    Yay! 🙂 Actually, I really think that fashion, at least what is mainly on the racks in stores most people shop at, has gotten so much better in the past four or five years – there’s been a lot of modest, stylish (and even better – swing era inspired) clothing out there, where as it seems over 6 years ago it was very teenagerish…the clothing now seems to be for women, and not afraid to just be pretty as opposed to over the top sexy.

  2. Dave Hahn Says:

    That was a terrific piece. Thanks for writing it. We have come a long ways from where we use to dress in our grandparents or even parents days. I believe the way we dress says alot about us as well. Check out this letter written by Cardinal Siri in the 60’s. It has a little bit of a different theme to dressing but none the less is similar to what you wrote. Check out what he says here http://www.olrl.org/virtues/pants.shtml

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