Is it possible to be sexy AND cute?

One self-identified cute girl asks the big question.

body image cute difference Feminism media meggie fairclough sexy

Last term, somewhere between an essay on emotion regulation and the damaging consequences of stress, I had a mid-Cambridge crisis.

My love life was crap; I was going to die alone with cats, I didn’t even get a form back for RAG blind date and hadn’t had any need to fake tan my legs since Christmas; Bridget Jones didn’t even come close. I had come to university dreaming of my Prince Charming, a Hollister-type model called Steve (with Fry’s wit and Hawkings cleverness) who rowed, could cook lobster and would cite Shakespeare whilst lying under a cherry blossom tree.

This almighty being had sadly not come my way,  I was a mess, curled up with blankets, cuddling  my pot plant (subsequently named Steve) and working my way through the top 100 romcoms instead of even attempting to be productive. After enduring Friends with Benefits, The Ugly Truth and Harry Met Sally to name a few, I realised the problem was me; I was not sexy.

This hit me when my friend, armed with Ben and Jerry’s, said something that stuck with me; “You’re cute, you’re not hot, fit or sexy really and that’s not a problem. It wouldn’t ‘go’ with you anyway.”

There is something about being sexy that comes completely naturally to some people. You have it or you don’t, like tongue curling or ear waggling; it defies Bandura, Vygotsky and Skinner. You can flaunt it for a while, but at the end of the day, it’s more difficult for a Miffy to be a Jessica Rabbit if you don’t have a good grounding to start off with.

Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail have nothing on these guys…

It seems you need the whole package to upgrade to sexy too. I have a good bum but the boobs of a koala, so they seem to balance each other out but I remain stuck at ‘cute’. No girl is perfect, but media has consistently targeted and accentuated the features that define femininity in the pursuit of sexiness, and now there are unrealistic expectations to tick all the boxes. I’m not saying you need a body of Megan Fox to be sexy, but when you are doomed to podgy cheeks and toothy grins instead of defined jaw bones and pouty lips, it’s trickier to ditch the cute label from your baby days. It’s not that you can’t change ‘your side’, more that it’s hard to simultaneously be cute and sexy, there’s no best of both worlds for the majority of people.

But fellow cute girls, despair not, there is hope. It’s not all about looks, intrinsic to the art of sexiness is having confidence and owning it. If you believe you’re hot, so will everyone else. Sexy people have that unique inbuilt ability to swish their hair as if on a L’Oreal advert, whilst simultaneously doing a cirque de solei type of stomach shimmy while at Cindies. I cannot do this and there is no number of sit-ups that will change this; but if you pretend you are the belly dancing champion of the world, smile and wave your arms in the air, you may seem a prat to half an audience but the sexiest jelly in the world to the rest.

I could never pull off the whole sexy devil thing

In the end, to be sexy you have to know it and work with whatever you’ve got. People can still be sexy if they have the mindset to do it, despite the predisposition to be cute and sweet and fluffy. It’s all to do with the attitude.

Being cute should not be thought of as a bad thing though, and definitely not something inferior to being sexy; they’re just different. We need to embrace both.