Get your guide for how to leave the Mormon Church

Get the complete manual for rebuilding after losing faith. Alyssa Grenfell's book is filled with poignant anecdotes and first hand advice from a girl who went from temple ceremonies to tank tops and lattes. In his forward, Dr. John Dehlin said, “This book is an essential companion for those who feel lost, alone, and confused once their Mormon shelf breaks.”

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Feb 13

Exmormon Chronicles: How I Came to Embrace My Sexuality

Unpacking my Mormon past, I’ve decided that I’m taking charge of what sexy means to me. Finally, I feel sexy because I am the object of my own desire.

Being Sexy is Bad; Modest is Hottest—But Don't be Hot Either

When I was a kid, sexy was a bad word. Britney Spears was sexy. The Spice Girls were sexy. (I didn’t know what that meant besides that they wore revealing clothes and danced in a certain way.)

I knew it was bad to be sexy. Sexy meant short shorts, low tops, and girls who talked to boys too much. If you were sexy, you were dirty in a used-up kind of way. When I heard someone say the word “sexy,” their voice took on a half disgusted — half intrigued tone of judgment.

In Mormon Sunday school, my teacher explained, “You don’t want to be sexy; you should be pretty, you should be beautiful, you should be virtuous.”

I knew about being sexy before I knew what sex was. And when I did discover what sex was, it was wholly and completely different from being sexy. To be sexy was to be an object of desire and to be a sexual being was impossible outside of heterosexual marriage.

In high school, I started to experiment with being "sexy." I wore makeup. I googled how to flirt and how to get guys to like you. I learned that being sexy was to be viewed. To be sexy was to be for someone else — to learn to catch someone’s eye.

I could barely put in a tampon without blushing or say the word “vagina” out loud (much less look at it) — but I hoped the guy in my biology class noticed the tiny bit of cleavage peeking out of my shirt. To be sexy had nothing to do with being a sexual being, but to be an object of sexual desire.

Fuck that.

For the first time in my life, I am starting to comprehend what it means to be sexy and to be a sexual being.

When I was in Spain last summer, I saw women much older than me who were sexy out of their minds.

They were incredibly healthy — laughing and dancing and living and breathing. When they became mothers, or when they became older, they didn’t give up their sexuality, they seemed to feel it more deeply than ever. They loved their bodies and lusted after living so deeply that it oozed out of them. It was a shock for me to see a group of women who were at an age that I had been told “could not possibly be sexy” embrace sexiness more fully than I ever had in a single moment of my life.

If they loved their bodies so intimately and fully — maybe I could too. When I would finish a run down the streets of Spain, heaving and out of breath, I would feel so vibrantly alive. I stood strong and confident; not an object to be viewed. I was and am incredibly sexy to and for myself.

I’ve wrestled with confidence and happiness for much of my life. I’ve struggled with self-harm and depression. Every summer, I’ve chosen bathing suits that would cover my scars and cover my body because I was ashamed of my mental health problems and ashamed of the evidence on my body. The white-slit scars combined with the fear of my own body combined with the body-shaming I brought out of my Mormon childhood was too powerful to overcome for years and years.

This summer is the first time I’ve been able to wear a “normal” bikini. I have not engaged in self-harm for +10 months, and I’ve been meeting with a counselor often to work on my mental health. I’ve unpacked so much trauma and baggage from my Mormon past, and I am starting to feel free. I can finally wear the clothes I want to wear because I am proud of the progress I have made and I am proud of the body I carry with me.

For the first time, I feel sexy.

I’m not trying to be someone for anyone else. I am not trying to conceal the parts of myself that I don’t want others to see. I feel sexy because I am taking charge of who I am. I feel sexy because I love living and being alive.

I feel sexy because I am the object of my own desire.