Late last year I joined a gym for PhD sanity purposes. Healthy body, healthy mind and blah blah blah. And despite working very hard at eating and drinking all the tasty things, I’ve still lost 5kg in 5 months. I’m a size 14 and if I was a celebrity, being seen in public would mean I was “celebrating my curves”. Possibly by smashing a bottle of champagne on my arse.
My usual exercise gear is a pair of trackies and a old Bonds singlet. Hubba hubba. But lately it’s felt like there’s a lot of fabric around me, so I bought a pair of cotton exercise leggings for the sweatshop sale price of $5. (I know, I know. But I only work two days a week and have to keep myself in alcohol. Not in a formaldehyde-y way, although I’m probably quite pickled.)
The first time I wore them, four male drivers almost cricked their necks having a perv. One man was already turning his head as I walked by, so he could check out my arse. I had to laugh. Anyone would think they lived in a culture devoid of sexualised images of beautiful women everywhere we look. Later, when I told ManFriend about it, he chuckled and said you know the reason why, you know that men and women generally have different ideas of phwoar. I listed reasons why they were mistaken in their phwoar – perhaps they were visually impaired, or drunk, and no doubt they got whiplash from the double-take when they discovered they were perving on an old bird – and he pointed out what I was doing.
I’ve blogged before about how being leered at in public makes me feel like I’ve been physically mawed. And often, the feeling of wanting to hide my body so they can’t see it anymore overrides my normal mouthy response to dickheads. There is a big difference between checking someone out and leering at them, and if you don’t know the difference then it’s safe to say you’re a fuckwad who thought you would see boobies on this blog.
But this isn’t a post about the arrogance of believing you have the right to comment on someone else’s body. It’s a post about an experiment. This is about getting my phwoar on. Because although we live in a highly sexualised culture, it isn’t very sexy. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to feel sexy in public much these days. Brightly-coloured/casually-dressed/work-attired/dressed-up/hot-and-sweaty-but-not-in-the-good-way, sure, but sexy, not so much. When my friend The Dressmaker gets her phwoar on, she could be drinking beer at a house party or wearing an afro at Wrong Prom, but everyone in the room has noticed her because she’s just so damn sexy. (She’s a designer, but The Dressmaker sounds more commanding.)
The next day I was walking down the road with a coffee, wearing jeans, t-shirt and hi-top volleys. It was way too stupidly humid for any of these things, let alone all of them together. I felt sweaty and gross. So I thought back to that stinking hot summer when ManFriend and I met, when we were already dripping with sweat before we jumped on each other. Perhaps the reason I’m sweaty is because I’ve been having bikram sex all morning… Suddenly I was walking taller, and smiling. Smiling knowingly. Because not only do I have the carnal knowledge, but I’ve had it all over the apartment. And people started to notice me. Perhaps they were checking that the crazy sweaty grinning lady wasn’t going to start talking to them, but I’m going to pretend it’s because I had my phwoar on.
A few nights later, I went to the fabulously funny and sexy Pirate Jenny’s Strip Club with Lady C and Mistress X. On the way home, in a teal singlet and red pencil skirt, I felt like an overstuffed sausage. I felt dumpy. Then remembered I was supposed to have my phwoar on, so I stood up straight and began striding up the street with as much stride as a tight pencil skirt can allow. I passed a group of young guys and one leaned over and smiled and said “pretty”. It was pretty funny.
All of this is not to say that I judge my physical attractiveness by the reactions of others. Not at all. It was an experiment to remind myself that attitude – rather than appearance and attire – makes you sexy in public. Which is something I tend to forget when I’ve divided my looks into “normal, everyday” and “dressed up, going out”.