This article also picked up and run on the GOOD MEN PROJECT — (minus the HOFF)
I had one of the most awkward and hilarious conversations yesterday when my daughter called me “sexy”.
Thanks to Gangnam Style, and LMFAO’s 2012 anthem “Sexy, and I Know it”, I think every parent in the world has been forced to answer the question… what is “sexy”?
For me, the conversation occurred while I was driving, so thankfully, I could keep my eyes forward to hide my smiles.
LMFAO was pumping in the car and the chorus came to “I’m Sexy and I Know it…” (PS.. do NOT let your kids watch THAT video), and my daughter asked me, “Daddy, what does sexy mean?”
I tried to think quickly and talk slowly and speak in terms she could understand. This was not easy.
“First of all, a girl starts off cute like you honey. Then she becomes pretty like Chelsea, your babysitter. Then later, when she is older, she becomes beautiful like Taylor Swift. Then, she may become killer sexy like Beyonce. Don’t worry honey; you will probably be really sexy when you are older!” Agghh, I can’t say all that to my daughter?
“Can boys be sexy daddy?”
“Oh yes, sweetheart. For boys, they also start out cute like your brothers. Then become cuter like that “Home Alone” kid. Then they become handsome like the Twilight vampire werewolf dudes. Then those handsome boys take their shirts off, stop shaving, put on firefighter gear, suspenders, and a helmet (with no shirt which doesn’t seem very fire smart) to become sexy beasts.
I did NOT say those things – this was a tougher question than I first thought. How do you really describe “sexy” to children? What is sexy to one person may not be sexy to another (see David Hasselhoff). Besides, no one under 20 should ever use the word sexy anyway.
I don’t ever want my children to use the word sexy or EVER be called sexy. If my daughter’s prom date picks her up and mentions how sexy she looks, someone is gonna get hurt real bad.
So I took a deep breath and began…. “Sexy is a word that grown-ups use to describe someone that is friendly, kind, and people want to be around them…” That was my first attempt – more about character and personality than outward looks. Safe right? Then I added, “People that are sexy feel good about themselves and other people are attracted to them”
“Oh, Daddy, you are really sexy then!” — Um, well, no, I guess, maybe. Yikes.
Honesty from parents is always the best tactic when faced with tough questions. You are there to help them make sense of new ideas. Besides, you don’t want their knowledge base to be learned largely from the schoolyard. (as a young’un, I confused ‘erections’ with ‘elections’ and wondered why some men only had them every 4 years…)
As dads of daughters, ‘sexy’ is a touchy subject as we might be becoming increasingly uncomfortable with our maturing daughter and her emerging sexuality. Deal with it. It is what it is. One day, our beloved children will be sexy to someone.
One of our biggest jobs as parents is to help teach modesty and boost confidence. Your daughters (and sons) are always watching you, absorbing your character, morals, and values.
You are the translator for this confusing sexy world. So first off, you need to stop ogling that ponytailed jogger while you drive the kids to school. That ain’t helping your credibility.
We want our sons and daughters to know that they should proudly love their bodies and focus more on what their bodies can do – but they also should be valued for so much more. Our bodies are just the container that carries around our personality, values, and energy.
When the time comes for someone to find your daughter sexy, like say when she’s approaching her 50th birthday, you want the man she fancies to be the highly evolved kind; a man who finds intelligence, ambition, and self-esteem sexy.
Just a few thoughts on ‘Sexy People’… Do they have an easier life? Maybe, or are they constantly trying to prove themselves to be not just pretty faces?
There are promotional companies that exist solely to supply other companies with hired ‘guns’ – sexy people to hand out products and coupons. “How many beautiful babes do you need delivered to promote your new lawnmower repair business”? Oh, the poor sexy folk.
Many restaurants in this town have hiring practices, where they only hire the “sexiest 2%”. Whether they are friendly, interesting, honest, or competent may be further down the hiring criteria list. While this is a topic for another day, I choose not to eat in these establishments out of a silent protest against forced sexiness and the lowest common denominator.
So to bring sexy back, how you describe it and what you focus on is up to you. It really isn’t easy with all the follow up questions – but remember, you are the fountain of truth and knowledge, so be ready with good honest answers, appropriate for their developmental level.
Whether its Roy Orbison’s golden oldie “Pretty Woman” to the 80’s anthem “I’m too Sexy”, we have always had songs that focused on the sexy so don’t hate LMFAO, Korea, or Gangnam Style for thrusting sexy into your family’s spotlight.
Sexy doesn’t have to have a strong negative feeling. We need to teach our children to be strong and self confident – to rely on their charisma, social competence, and skills to get ahead in life. THAT is sexy!
How have or will you explain SEXY to your children??? Please help us all!
Until next time!
** Bonus clip — one of my favourite YouTube clips of all time is this one of golfers checking out the sexy beer cart girl…
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This is a tricky one. I was recently asked by my 9 year old daughter “what does sexy mean”? I’d love to say I was prepared and gave a confident, accurate, and age appropriate definition. But to be honest I took the easy way out. I had just given her hug goodnight and was leaving her room when she asked, so I said “Sweetie, I’ll be glad to answer that question, and any others you have, tomorrow morning. Now go to sleep”.
In my defense, this was the safest answer at the time. My daughter is really good at dragging out bedtime by asking me difficult questions just when she is supposed to be going to sleep. I can’t count the number of times I realize its 20 minutes after her bedtime and I’m half way through explaining what causes tides or why the sun shines, etc. Unfortunately, neither of us remembered her question the next morning and I had didn’t remember it until now thanks to this article.
While the answer has to be age appropriate, I think we’re doing our children a disservice if we don’t explain to some degree that ‘sexy’ implies a sexual connotation. To a small child that may just mean we tell them sexy is a word adults use to describe other adults who are attractive. But as kids get older we should be teaching them about the birds and the bees, so for older kids we should be more open and honest and explain it more like it is. I would much rather my daughter hears my answer than something her friends might tell her on the playground.
I think my first description to my daughter will be something like this:
“Sexy is a word adults use to describe other adults who they think are physically attractive. It’s a response we have to someone who looks like they would be a good mate. That’s why it’s a word only adults should use to describe other adults. We may think a child is cute, or an older girl is beautiful, but children are not ‘sexy’. Some kids may use that word, and some people may even use that word to describe older children, but they shouldn’t. It is not appropriate.”
I would encourage my daughter to ask questions to me or her mother, and I may provide more details like:
“Finding someone “sexy” is usually an instant reaction based purely on how someone looks. While the biological reaction may have originated mostly because it gave us a quick way to tell if that person is healthy enough to raise children with, our reactions are also affected by what our culture finds attractive. Unfortunately we are also affected by what the cosmetic and fashion industry would like us to find desirable. Thinking someone is sexy is not a bad thing, but it’s not near as important as some believe it to be. We are attracted to many aspects of other people, and most of those other aspects will mean more and last far longer than being sexy. For example, I’d much prefer to spend time people who are friendly, smart, helpful and kind, than those who are just ‘sexy’.”
Wow — this is way better than my article!
My kids do the same thing, dragging out bedtime with great questions, so I know the feeling of wanting to answer the question but recognizing that some questions are better answered in the waking hours! Sexy is a really tricky one to explain because we know, as adults, what WE mean when we call someone “sexy”, but how do you explain that to a child and do we even have to do that??? Sexy or not sexy really can be an instant reaction, while some people might become more ‘sexy’ as you get to know them, others become less sexy as soon as they open their mouth!
Honesty is important, but talking in terms they can understand is just as important! Timing is everything too!
Thanks again for the input Kurt!
Jeff, first, of all, can you highlight Kurt’s response in white so it is easier to read? it comes with a transparent background right now.
secondly, I suppose that IN GENERAL what the public means when it talks about sexy is what they see on the outside. (my kids, too, are singing the songs and using the word and asking the questions). I would like to have a good explanation, so with the help of your article and the comments above, I will be more prepared next time!
Hey Mom of 4!!! I think we have fixed the issue with Kurt’s awesome feedback — it’s all about being ready with good answers to tricky questions eh! Sexy is an adult word and only said by adults is how some adults handle it — but that may not be enough… thanks for your response as always!