I have confidence in confidence alone!

TBM Topic 16: What is the distinction between being sexy and being desirable?

“I have confidence in confidence alone!” by Julie Robison
“Sensible, Courageous, and Very Beautiful” by Trista (a.k.a. Megan Fox) at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
“Revealing” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion!

Julie Andrews is dead sexy in The Sound of Music. Putting aside the obvious bias of sharing a name with said actress, her portrayal of Fraulein Maria showed us that life is worth embracing in any circumstances.

Her confidence, more than anything, is what drew people to her. She does not back down when the children play pranks on her, has the family say grace before dinner, and works within the boundaries she’s given. She wore a heinous dress and didn’t mind. It was her personality, positive outlook and amazing voice brings the children around and helps heal the loss of their mother.

Maria & the Captain minuettes in Salzburg

Captain Von Trapp picked Maria over Baroness Schroeder. I do not think this should be taken lightly- the Baroness was gorgeous, wealthy, powerful and had the right connections. Maria? Not so much.

In one of the many books the real Maria wrote about her life, I was always tickled by a story she recalled about being first married to the Captain, and trying to be like his first wife to please him. After the Captain teased her about how slowly she was knitting, he suggested they go for a bike ride instead. She refused, since his first wife had not been active. But what the Captain wanted is for Maria to love as selflessly as his first wife did, which she already did, and what he loved best about Maria was Maria herself. So off they rode!

Maria was no bombshell beauty. But can you imagine the Baroness crossing the Alps to escape the Nazis? If you don’t believe me, then ask any male: survival skills are sexy. These skills may include killing bugs (small and large), making decisions, athletic ventures and standing up for yourself.

Sexiness is more often externally shown. A person’s looks, confidence and general demeanor and personality can warrant a second look at a person one may usually scan over in a full room. Desire, then, is a deeper attraction.

Desire, however, can be good and bad.

For example: A girl walks into a room. Two guys see her. One thinks, wow. What a beautiful girl. I’d love to get to know her better. Second guy thinks, wow. What a beautiful girl. I want her.

As a female, I’d prefer the first guy. He’s interested in the whole person, opposed to the second guy, who desires her body or action more than her personhood. Objectifying another person, male or female, is wrong. It puts worth in shallow qualities, and demeans the very person one claims to like.

Men and women want to be desired. Sexiness, then, can be a precursor to desire, rightly aligned. There is nothing wrong with being sexy or wanting to be desired. To make it one’s purpose, and with a disregard for love or the other human beings who are present however, is a distortion of a person’s inherent goodness. If one wants to be sexy by wearing the bare minimum, they are leading their brother or sister in Christ into tempting thought or actions. That is not loving behavior, and leads the desire away from goodness.

Look! Salzburg was expecting me!

Take Fraulein Maria again– when the Baroness was insecure, she told Maria about how the Captain kept watching her. This made Maria uncomfortable- she was there for the children, but was having feelings for the Captain. It was this desire that drove her away and, eventually, brought her back.

Sexiness comes in all shapes and sizes, but desire dwells in all of us. Just as we desire a deeper relationship with God, so we desire another human to be our companion. As Blessed John Paul II wrote in Love and Responsibility, “The value of a person is always greater than the value of pleasure.”

What do you think? Does sexiness leave something to be desired? How does one discern desire?