Clara, she/her.

I identify as a tragically straight and monogamous (my best friend's words) celibate cis-woman. To be honest, I've never thought much about gender with regards to my own presentation, despite growing up in the Land of Gender Roles. I wear what's comfortable and appropriate for a given situation. My hair is long and I have curves now, but I went through a skinny, short-haired, hobbit-elf lovechild phase in my early teens where I wore cargo shorts and t-shirts and got referred to as "son" all the time. (It didn't bother me to get misgendered. I do understand why it would be hurtful to others, and I try to be sensitive to that.) Some days I want to wear lipstick (because I look amazing in red lipstick), other days I wear flannel (because it's comfortable and warm), other days I wear both. I find that I'm happiest when I dress like me, whatever that happens to mean at the time. I know who I am and live fully in my own body.

I feel sexiest when I am capable. The power of knowing I can do this thing is downright intoxicating, whether the thing is an intricate pattern on the social dance floor, or solving a challenging problem for grad school, or even something as small as putting together a stunning outfit for a dance event; and the rush of knowing I did it well is almost as good. Sometimes I forget to give my body credit for what ten years of martial arts and three years of dance have built. It’s strong, and quick, and flexible...okay, less flexible now than it used to be, but I can still kick above my head without pulling a muscle.

Of course, "capable" can also mean the ability to drop jaws when I walk into a room, or to render someone breathless when I lean in close. Which I also enjoy. I don’t generally go for blatant sexiness. Elegance and suggestion are underrated. (So is teasing.)

My favorite part of me...probably my collarbones. Or my legs. Or my waist. Or my lips. Or my hair. Or my eyes. get the idea. I'm lucky enough to be pretty fond of my entire body.

Slow down. Stop seeing sex as the ultimate goal. Make out like teenagers. Enjoy nonsexual contact for what it is: strengthening the bond between you and another human being. I choose to remain celibate until marriage, and regardless of why I made that decision, I think it makes romantic interactions and relationships much less stressful. Not just for me, either: the last person I dated told me that because he knew we weren't going to sleep together (I had told him this before we started dating), he felt a lot less pressure to hit relationship “milestones” at a certain rate. Of course, this means a lot more talking to the other person to begin with. Once I got over the initial awkwardness of saying, “Hey, I like your face, but I’m not taking my clothes off or sleeping with you,” to start with, I found myself relaxing and enjoying the moment more.