From the start, Christina Milian and The-Dream’s relationship was a conundrum. After dating briefly, the two announced their engagement and were seen shopping, dining, and holding hands. While the ginormous rock on her left finger garnered its fare share of attention, the man on Christina’s arm did as well. How did he end up with her?

Many said The-Dream was a producer with the clout Christina needed, that she had a thing for that type. That he was going to give her similar sounding eh-laden beats, which would move her career from the Mya and Teairra Mari status to the Rihanna and Bey stratosphere. Some of her girlfriends said she had fallen for The-Dream’s personality, a subtle way of explaining to the confused public why the girl behind “Dip It Low” walked down the aisle with a man the blogs call “The Hamburglar.”

Sure, it’s superficial to wonder how the two ended up together. Looks aren’t everything; people who love each for who they truly are stay together the longest. When you’re old and gray, the person you sit in matching rocking chairs with won’t be the fine man you walked down the aisle with. He may be a sagging mess in Depends, because that’s what love turns into when it’s real and in its golden years.

We can’t fault the onlookers. After all, it seems a clear mismatch. But now a year and change later as his bride becomes Miss Milian again, The-Dream’s cheating has simplified the enigma that was their marriage.

Sexiness has a deceiving power that makes imperfect people seem irresistible. It ropes us in and no matter how hard we deny it, sexy can make even the most intellectual of folks turn into fools. Perhaps this is why, despite not seeking to emulate them in all aspects, many women often use the Kim Kardashians, Lauren Londons, Meagan Goods, and Amber Roses as their muses or why many of the educated brothers we grew up with see “the redbone” before “the one.”

Looks are not all there is to being sexy. There is definitely swag involved. There’s just something about a people who are aware of their auras and the effects they have on others. This explains the fawning over Jay-Z post-Black Album and not pre-Reasonable Doubt. There is something about clout, power and ambition that can make an often passed-over individual a knockout.

Whatever the je ne sais quoi factor is, sexy has become the ultimate compliment among brown men and women. While we despise exoticism from the outside, we pride ourselves in the cursory praises of our own. Since Mike Jones dropped “I Need A Dime,” there’s been little variation of the kind of woman that hip-hop wants. A cute face, slim waist and big behind are still the order of the day. Ladies are by no means off the hook. If many of us had our way, the world would be filled with Morris Chestnut clones (albeit, clones with MAs, so we can take them home come the holiday season).

The latest challenging factor are the pictures of The-Dream frolicking (and groping) on the beach with an assistant that the majority of sight-possessing humans deem less sexy than his wife.

“Why her?” we ask. Why this random, average-looking girl over a bombshell? Maybe her post-baby body doesn’t look as toned as it did in Love Don’t Cost a Thing. But still–Christina Milian post-baby is still a gorgeous woman, so why the assistant with unremarkable looks?

The reality of things is that for all the value we place on sexy, our narrow definitions of the word can often create leaps in logic.  While it can mean more than the physicality and bravado, our current definition of sexy shows a base-level understanding of the laws of attraction.  Without the understanding that true sexiness embraces depth and substance, we can often find ourselves confused trying to evaluate people’s choices from the sidelines.

One of my favorite authors, Jhumpa Lahiri writes in the Interpreter of Maladies that “sexy means loving someone you do not know.” While it is a sparse statement, it sums up many of our approaches to defining not only sexy but love. Looking at women who seek to make themselves into sultry, desirable prototypes that seem to captivate the masses, I shake my head. This is not a call to arms for unkemptness and aversion to hygiene and grooming. But as women, we need to re-evaluate the time and priority we put toward being what a passing-by man may want. It’s often easier to find an audience than it is to find love.

I have for my fellow ladies, a sermon-like appeal: Let’s reform our notion of sexy. Like all reforms, we must change our perception from the inside and begin to look within.

No more will we ask, “Why her?” We will understand there is no amount of analyzing that can answer our longing. We will not wonder why the one in question wanted someone else more than us, and we will stop thinking that we are somehow lacking. We will shoulder our pride to critique and improve ourselves and stop wasting energy trying to demean the next girl. We will point out what we are lacking, what we could have brought more of. Only this time we won’t include anything that will wrinkle or dimple in time.  We will include only qualities that we value and traits we need to nurture more. We will grow within ourselves instead of the blueprints that have failed others. We will accept that we are not meant out-compete for a man’s attention; rather, to draw his devotion with the unfolding complexities of our love. We will stop equating irresistible with unleavable and start trusting our inner beauty to keep a good man.

Because we know as women what girls have yet to learn: Sexy never keeps a good man.

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