Sexy for the longest time has been viewed in the eyes of patriarchy whereas it could be classified as humanity’s superpower. When you feel sexy, you show up differently and project at a greater level than you would have when you do not feel sexy.

What does sexy mean to you and how do you maintain it for the long term?

We asked phenomenal women who have impacted the world not only in our communities, but globally. They share their definition of being sexy and how they maintain it for the long term.

Zoe Modiga – Singer, Songwriter and Performer in her 20’s

Sexy is… the energy of creation, sexuality, and creativity. It is ironic for society not to value the matriarchal perspective of what being “sexy” is as life in and of itself expresses duality of both the masculine and feminine, both the patriarchal and matriarchal and as we have come to appreciate, all the grey area that comes with that.

“Sexy” can take on so many meanings, it can be alluring, arousing, provocative and it can be unassuming, wholesome and effortless.

What I do doesn’t necessarily require my “sexy” to be… a commodity or a selling point. I’m glad to be able to curate the experience of my brand in such a way that I very much own my sexuality, my superpower, I just choose a demurrer way of wearing that power. As far as being on my “A-game” I think I aim at taking care of my body, mind and soul which are the vehicles that allow me to experience life.

I don’t feel sexy when I am… uncomfortable, restless, unconfident, and uninspired.

My advice to women who feel out of place is… societal standards unfortunately influence so much of how we see ourselves and that isn’t always avoidable, however, societal standards are a narrow perspective for us to define our whole beings by. We are a lot more expensive than that and should be kind to ourselves and curious to find and define what our own sexy is.

Refilwe Modiselle – Award Winning Actress, Africa’s first Model with Albinism and Media Personality in her 30’s

Sexy is… being completely comfortable in your skin and allowing your sensuality and essence as a woman to shine. This should echo deeply in your spirit, which then transcends to how people will receive you. Sexy is your essence and how that translates beautifully to something that oozes and attracts people to you.

For the longest time, men created the definition of sexy and very often, we were led to believe these standards set by patriarchal views as opposed to setting those standards for ourselves. Sexy is our superpower. It is the essence we hold within ourselves. It is that extraordinary thing that allows us to be sensual as women.

What makes me sexy… is my sense of self-confidence, how I love and my personality. There’s a lady essence in me. I carry myself as a true queen. My intelligence is what makes me sexy. In terms of looking and feeling good, I feel sexiest when I’m on my A-game. This is when a girl just got herself together – nails done, hair done, lashes done – the works.

I don’t feel sexy when… I have not bathed. There’s something about bathing that leaves you feeling amazing. I also don’t feel sexy when it is that time of the month and I’m caught up in my emotions.

I maintain being sexy for the long term by… being authentic to self and constantly oozing that light. My light is my sexy. Sexy should be an effortless thing. It should not be something you really work hard for. Being true to self, being honest with who you are, loving the woman you are and oozing that, constantly works for the long term in terms of keeping that standard and knowing, having that sense of self and affirming that – it will help you remain in your sexiness and just loving yourself. This means you are able to groom yourself and allow yourself to consistently take care of yourself – emotionally, mentally, spiritually – and in all other aspects – everything else trickles through.

Yvonne Chaka Chaka – Award-winning Music Icon and Humanitarian in her 50’s  

Sexy is… feeling comfortable in your skin, who you are, how you look and how you dress.

The idea of being sexy should not be from men. It should be about how you carry yourself and how you feel. A woman isn’t supposed to be an object of desire for men. It’s okay for a man to look and appreciate your beauty but it should not be derogatory. We have to admire each other as people but not in a way that is always sexualised.

I’ve maintained my sexy by… ensuring I work on my weight and cut off the toxic foods. I wish I listened to my mom when she would tell me she was once a size 30. I laughed at her because she had umkhaba (a pot belly). I’ve always been skinny and never thought I would reach a time where I would gain weight as well. Even with that, she had a beautiful body with no stretch marks and that’s one good gene she had given us. As I’ve matured over the years, I learnt that when I am not at my best, I do something about it. Hiking is something that is currently keeping me sexy. We live in a world of social media, and we are exposed to too many opinions and standards. As we grow, our bodies change but it does not mean we sit and do nothing about it. There’s a lot that one can do to look good, to feel sexy and most importantly, to be healthy.

I don’t feel sexy… on days when I’m too tired and think twice about even bathing. Days when I just want to wear tights and an oversized shirt.  

To that woman who is engulfed in self-doubt… You are the master of everything that you have. You give people the permission to doubt you. Whether you are a dark-skinned woman, or you have the biggest nose – look in the mirror and tell that nose that it is exactly where it needs to be. Be comfortable with yourself. Dress up to suit your body and show up. The radio show I host on Women Radio aims to have these conversations that inspire women, recognise their worth and celebrate the amazing work they are doing.

Connie Chiume – Award Winning Actress in her 60’s (Popular for Starring In Black Panther, Gomora, Black is King and Queen Sono)

The problem with the word ‘sexy’… is that it tends to be associated with sex. Personally, I think sexy is aligned with your gifts and purpose. We were all created for a purpose and that is what we should find and nurture, internally.

Women should define sexy for themselves because… sexy is viewed in the eyes of patriarchy. Women know themselves. They know their capabilities, gifts and why they are here on earth. Being sexy doesn’t just pertain to how you look – it pertains to what is inside of you, what your goals and dreams are and what you want to contribute to the society you live in.

Looking back from my 20’s to 60’s… that’s a book on its own that my journey and experience has written for me. I have learnt to be confident. I know exactly what I want. I’m comfortable with knowing who I am, what my purpose is, and what I have achieved. For me, that’s my internal and external sexy.

Maintaining sexy for the long term is… work! You work towards your goals, you work towards how you feel, how you look, how you project yourself to your community and the people around you. Maintaining your interpersonal relationships with people matters. Being calm and knowing my destiny is how I’ve managed to maintain sexy for this long.

A message to a woman who doesn’t feel sexy… firstly, you must remember that you are special. Each person that has been created by God is special. You are here for a purpose. We are all talented and we all contribute something meaningful to this earth. Tell yourself that ‘I’m not here by mistake, I deserve to be here’. You were blessed long before you were formed in your mother’s womb. Remember that you are God’s creation and He blessed you even before you were born. Now that is sexy! Do not listen to dream killers. Don’t be discouraged when faced with the obstacles of life. Stand up and start afresh. Those are the lessons of life. It’s the journey that will make you strong and wiser. Keep on walking until you reach your dreams. You are beautiful and wonderfully created.

What I’ve learnt from these women and legends that I consider so sexy and alluring, in their individual ways, is that being sexy has more to do with the external than what societal standards have defined being sexy as.

And in the words of Miss Universe 2011, Leila Lopes, nobody knows what a really beautiful person is, so don’t worry. If you have pimples today, it’s nothing. If you have a bad hair day, it’s nothing. Feel beautiful. Feel sexy, and it will shine. It will show outside.