What Is Sexy?

08/08/2011 12:11 pm ET | Updated Oct 08, 2011

Yesterday, I had a long conversation with my brother about his daughter. Seems my five year-old niece, has decided that she wants a 'crack in her chest' so she can be 'sexy', which has my brother freaking out. So after I had a laughing fit over her description of cleavage, I did what any sibling would do, and teased him for several minutes about his sordid, slut puppy past coming back to haunt him. Then big sister mode kicked in, and I shared with him how I had managed a similar conversation with my daughter.

Four years ago, my daughter, who was then 14 and about to enter high school, finally said the "S" word. She told me she wanted to be "sexy." When I asked her to explain to me what she thought sexy was she, like most of us, was at a loss for words. So, I of course took the opportunity fill in the blanks for her.

I told her that "sexy is a clean body. Sexy is fresh breath. Sexy is skin that's soft and not ashy. Sexy is a clean room," (okay, that was a little behavior modification, but it couldn't hurt!). Apparently, that wasn't the definition she was trying to hear, and she all but knocked me down trying to answer her cell phone.

She's now 18 and on her way to college. Happily, as she grows into her version of an amazing woman, her idea of sexy is still evolving, but she's on the right track, largely because I've been in her ear these last four years, continuing the dialogue and expanding the sexy definition. These are all the things I pass along to my daughter whenever she is willing to listen:

Kindness is sexy. Laughter is sexy. Realness is sexy. Smart is sexy. Humor is sexy. Bold is sexy. SAFE is sexy. Truth is sexy. Confidence is sexy. Passion is sexy. Quirky is sexy. (Strange is not!) Individualism is sexy. Mystery is sexy. Compassion is sexy. Fairness is sexy. Natural is sexy. Loving God is sexy. Loving yourself is the sexiest!

I want her to know that she is sexy because she is who she is, not because of what she looks like or wears. That sexy isn't a one-size-fits-all mold every woman has to stuff herself into. That she has the right to be sexy on her own terms and she shouldn't judge hers, or anyone else's sexiness by any rigid cultural, societal or media implied standards. She is the new (and improved) sexy and so, by the way, are you.

Just like my niece and daughter, to be sexy is the secret wish of the majority of women all over the world. But have you ever really defined sexy -- the word, look, and attitude -- for yourself, or have you done what most do and let others define it for you? And then, based on this definition, tried in vain to fit into a mental and physical definition that doesn't come close to the reality of your life (not to mention your body)? Out of frustration and a sense of failure, you turn to the books of secrets and techniques that fill the bookshelves, only to find that they might help you get through the night but not through your life. Most will show you the secrets of acting like a sex kitten, a red-hot mama, or a bombshell, but they don't show you how to actually become one -- particularly one who is comfortable and confident in her own skin.

The truth: sexy is not a costume you pull on to play some seductress role. It is not uniform. You can't wear someone else's label of who you should be and expect to feel authentic and empowered. Sexy is an outward expression of your inner feminine confidence, which makes it an attitude, not a style or a cup size. True sexy is your sexy -- fluffed and shaped in any form you choose.

And be aware that there is no cutoff point to being sexy. No age, body shape, weight, height, hair length or bank balance can ever truly dictate what sexy is. Why? Because sexy is as sexy does.