When is “Sexy” Ok?

Who would have thought Dancing With the Stars would have stirred up a deep and profound conversation about female sexuality in relation to society?

DWTS is easily one of my favorite shows, partially because it’s one of the few programs that The Big Guy and I watch together. Truth be told, First Born Son and Second Born Son have been known to drift in and out to watch a couple of minutes as well, but I doubt they would admit it without prolonged interrogation.

This season that wrapped several weeks ago featured a great cast of celebrities, including American Simone Biles, who is a gifted Olympian in Gymnastics. The girl is AMAZING. Other gymnasts have taken part in the program, and done very well. The first week alone proved that she and her professional dance partner would go far in the competition. Her feet flew, her jumps were massive and she could pull out any trick in the book to wow the audience.

While some would write the show off as reality dance competition, it has come to mean more to the participants. Year after year celebrities discuss the evolution they go growth, the growth as a person.

After a few weeks of being dazzled by the tricks and flips, the judges were asking Simone for more. “More,” they would say, with urgency, asking for emotion and connection. She would take their notes with a fair amount of confusion on her face.

Finally, her partner explains during their following rehearsal, that the judges want her to be emotive, and sexy.

<PAUSE> Simone is 20 years old. For most of her life, she has been training to be an Olympian. This does not mean discovering how to feel comfortable in her skin in a sexualized manner. This means that the only thing she sees when she looks at herself, is a machine that must be in peak condition to be better than her competition. The costumes they wear, while somewhat revealing to the novice spectator, has no emotional or sexualized meaning to the athlete, outside of the flag or national colors that are incorporated into its design.<PLAY>

So smoldering looks? A come hither glance? Hell most 20 year olds don’t do that well, never mind one who will tell you up front that she’s been shelter in a world of competition and practice since she was a child. Emotionally she was stunted and she was becoming more and more aware of this each passing week.

Here’s the rub: another contestant, The Real Housewife of Beverly Hills reality star Erika Payne, known for her overt sexuality, was being chastised for showing it. Was it because she was 20 years older than the young Simone? Was it because she was mature enough to know what she was doing?

It occurred to me long after Erika Payne was eliminated, that for some reason, society is okay with a woman owning her sexuality, within reason, and when society deemed it appropriate.

And “appropriate” was a moving target. If you are younger, and hopefully naive, you can get away with a little more demonstrative. If you cross that line, and seem to know what you are doing, (read here “mature and/or experienced”) you will be told it’s inappropriate. Even younger women who are overtly sexual are accepted or their image is rehabbed. Think I’m off base? May I remind you of Kim Kardashian? I rest my case.

I felt sorry for Simone at the end of her run, which happened to be only a week after the very public instruction to tart it up. She didn’t know what to do, and her frustration was evident in her next performance.

She is back to prepping for the next Summer Olympics, which is more in her comfort zone. Hopefully society will stop criticizing her “hotness” and focus on the other use of her body, being an extraordinary athlete.