22 Apr 2023

Sexiest woman in the world.

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The magazine Maxim has just announced this year’s Sexiest Woman in the World. The true meaning of this title has finally hit me. I have struggled for most of my life to look attractive or good, almost always feeling wrong when I looked in a mirror. My own eyes were severe judges, always comparing and contrasting the mirrored image to what I saw on billboards, in commercials, and in magazines.

I grew up believing that being sexy meant being pretty, and was an essential goal. I bought thousands of dollars of clothes and cosmetics, and spent thousands of hours in front a mirror to achieve the goal. “Pretty” or “sexy” were two words synonymous in my mind. I never passed the self-scrutiny that I put myself through daily in my teens and continuing through to after menopause, when I ceased existing as a sexual being in the eyes of the world. I graded my appearance on a short scale, from awful to okay. Day after day, I did this, constantly starving my self-esteem.

I actually starved myself in my late teens and 20s, going so far to take diuretics and emetics to keep the number on the scale low enough to make me feel okay for that day, aspiring to be as small as possible. I did so well at this that I stopped menstruating, and was delighted to be looking good to myself, never considering what I was doing to my long term health.

Finally, at age 72, I see that title for what it truly is: a cultural value, pervasive and unhealthy. The title of Sexiest Woman in the World simply means the woman that most men would want to fuck.

I pray that someday soon, our children won’t have to live under the shadow of this patriarchal value.


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