Saira Khan on feeling sexy

When we invited TV personality Saira Khan to join our ‘what sexy means to me’ campaign we never imagined she would embrace it so wholeheartedly with a whole ‘sexy week’ on her social. And she never imagined it would spark such a fruitful conversation around why many women feel uncomfortable with the subject. Here we share some of her insights and observations.

Why do women feel uncomfortable talking about sexy?

“Sexy week is throwing up some very interesting conversations. Some of you are finding it very difficult to appreciate and accept the message of sexy week. You’re being very honest and saying ‘I applaud you for what you are doing but why as a woman do I feel embarrassed to see you in your underwear’. I can tell you why. I was one of those women. It’s because for generation upon generation the narrative of sexy and sensual has been owned by the male perspective and also the media. When a woman starts to own her sensuality she’s branded as loose, cheap, stupid. There are many words. But for me as a modern day woman sexy is about empowerment. It’s about saying this is what sexy means to me. This is how I feel. I’m 50 years old why should I not feel sexy. It’s not just something that’s applicable to young people. I’m 50 and I feel very, very sexy.”

So sexy is not a look, it’s a mindset?

“I’ve rarely met a woman to date who was fully happy with her body and looks. For a long time I was one of those women – I never felt sexy because I hated my curly hair, short chunky legs, wonky teeth, big nose, bushy eyebrows, small boobs and my damaged skin. But with age I’ve realised that these are not what others see when they are with me. No one is looking at my scars – unless I point them out. I’ve learnt to just be grateful for what I have and not to compare myself to others. People like you for your conversation, personality, talent, skills and what you offer as a human being – that’s what you should focus on… Sexy is not a look, it’s a mindset.”

“Sexy to me is wearing a bold colour to express yourself. Red is for passion, love, heat, activity, sexuality and joy.”

“Sexy week is so important for my daughter to understand that ultimately wanting to look good for yourself and feel good for yourself is the most important thing.”

So, you’re saying that asking ‘what does sexy mean’ turns out not to be a trivial question?

“When you’ve been brainwashed for years and years it’s hard to start to unpick all those negative messages that you have been subconsciously absorbing. For me it took a while. I think many of us as intelligent women have an unconscious bias about seeing other women embrace their sexy sensuality… I hope that sexy week helps us as women to stop and think about how we judge each other. I used to judge people a lot…. But when you stop doing this it really is very liberating and opens up new opportunities.”

You can see Saira on Loose Women and follow her at @IAmSairaKhan

Jo Jeffery

Jo Jeffery is on a mission to spread the message that every body fits at Figleaves - through content and PR that celebrates inclusivity and diversity.