Rhiannon Harries: What is sexy? Well it isn't kitchen appliances, cars or 'that' word

Share
Related Topics

Victoria's Secret, the American purveyor of scanty lingerie and male fantasies, has just put out a video on the net purporting to answer that question of our time: "What is sexy?" I know, a worry, isn't it? The terminally unimaginative need not fear, however: Brit model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and a couple of her fellow brand ambassadors are on hand to explain.

With all the charisma you might expect of a table leg, Rosie informs us that, this year, it's all about "bumshells". Don't worry, before you disappear into a spiral of insecurity-fuelled Googling as I did, that's actually "bombshells" in a west London-meets-NY drawl.

We then get a disparate list of body parts and personality traits belonging to female celebs that are judged to be superlatively sexy by persons unknown at Victoria's Secret. Cutie-pie country singer Taylor Swift bizarrely gets "sexiest hair" for her twee perm-a-like (if Kanye wants to tell her Beyoncé deserved it more, I'm with him on this one), while Ellen DeGeneres gets a condescending little pat for "sexiest sense of humour".

In two minutes 20 seconds, the word "sexy" or "sexiest" is repeated 22 times – so impoverished is the vocab, in fact, that people are included in the "sexiest" list, because they are "sexy". In fairness, it's hard to avoid the term under these circumstances, particularly given how regularly it now crops up. Cars are sexy, kitchen appliances are sexy. Even the odd sofa is considered deserving of the epithet.

At the root of it is the dubious modern coincidence between sex and consumer culture, but that's another can of worms; my problem is simply with the word itself. In the same way that ubiquitous adjectives such as "cool" and "edgy" limply fail to embody the quality to which they are supposed to refer, to describe something as "sexy" nowadays evokes not even a hint of seduction or sensuousness.

It was a combination of factors that really did for the word in my book. Paris Hilton, on whose tongue the English language goes to die, crystallised its inanity by making it one of her catchphrases. Then there were all those jowly male restaurant critics who began to take a far-too palpable pleasure in lustily describing a plate of offal as such. Cringe.

I think, however, what finally did for it was witnessing a major political scandal unfold around a "sexed-up" dossier and hearing everyone from Blair to Paxman comment, in all seriousness, upon just how "sexy" it really was. Perhaps the Victoria's Secret gals, experts as they are, ought to be the ones to judge?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letters: Electorate should be given choice on drugs policy

Independent Voices
 

Politicians’ actions speak louder then words on a T-shirt

Boyd Tonkin
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes