Image courtesy of Sydney Leathers
In our column My Favorite Things, women tell us about their features that receive the most compliments. In this installment, adult film star turned scholar Sydney Leathers discusses her intelligence and sense of humor.
Politicians love sexting Sydney Leathers. In 2013, she was outed as the sexting partner of former State Representative and New York City mayoral candidate Carlos Danger (née Anthony Weiner). And, just this year, Indiana state representative Justin Moed admitted to being Leathers' "bitch boy" after responding to an ad she posted looking for a submissive.
Post-Weiner, Leathers turned what could have been a tarnished reputation into a money-making opportunity. She worked as the spokeswoman for sugar daddy website Arrangement Finders, and she's starred in nine adult films. Since then she's also had a nose job, boob job, and labiaplasty, and attempted to sell the... offcuts? on eBay. (The attempt was blocked by eBay, which has a strict "no body waste" sales policy.)
But it's not all sugar daddies and strip clubs. The 25 year-old Leathers, who still lives in her home state of Indiana, is in school studying radio and television production. She describes herself as a bookish loner, and said she was initially more interested in politics than politicians. In fact, Leathers first came into contact with Weiner because of a politics blog she wrote and says the ensuing scandal derailed her hopes of becoming a lawyer. Leathers says she's most often complimented on her intelligence and sense of humor.
It's like people are shocked a female could be interested in sex and also intelligent.
Broadly: I feel like a dick for saying that's not really the answer I was expecting.
Sydney Leathers: Being "known" for a political sexting scandal leaves people with the impression that I'm some dumb sex-crazed bimbo. They're right about the sex-crazed stuff, but I am definitely not dumb. And once people get to know me at all they quickly realize that.
What's it like having the public perception of who you are be so different from the truth?
It can be frustrating. It can also be kind of funny. I get this particular compliment almost daily from people online. Specifically on Twitter. They will say things like, "I just assumed you would be a dumb whore but you're actually clever!" It's like they are shocked a female could be interested in sex and also intelligent. The Madonna/whore complex at work!
Does it even count a compliment when people are being so rude about it? What do you think compels people to reach out in that way, to say "I didn't think you'd be smart but you are," instead of just "you're smart?"
I have wondered this myself! I think it just depends on your attitude about it. I'm not easily offended, so I tend to focus on the "you're smart" part instead of the "I didn't think you would be." I think specifically because I do porn, it makes it hard for people to acknowledge my intelligence without acting shocked by it. It actually makes me happy. I enjoy proving people wrong.
I have had people tell me because I do porn I'm "not allowed" to tweet anything political. Because having sex means you have no valid opinions? Yeah, I don't buy into that, and I'll never censor myself or dumb myself down to please anyone. I could have a shitty attitude about it and be angry that anyone would just assume I'm stupid. But I choose to find the humor in it, and I'm always pleased when I prove someone wrong.
When a man compliments me, I assume he wants something.
How do you feel about compliments in general? Are you comfortable giving and receiving them?
I'm a self-critical kind of person, so compliments can be a little uncomfortable at times, especially when someone is complimenting something physical. I would rather give compliments.
What kind of compliments make you uncomfortable?
I think I am just extra protective of my body now. In 2012, when I was sexting with Weiner, I had an eating disorder. Pictures from that time came out in 2013, after I had been through intense therapy and considered myself to be in a better place. Being in a better place included gaining 15-20 lbs. I was happy with myself. But when people noticed I had gained weight from 2012 to 2013, they thought it was a hilarious thing to joke about. I'm glad I'm happy enough with my body to not fall back into dangerous old patterns. But it legitimately scares me for other women who might go through that. Before you criticize someone's body, take a second to consider what they might be going through. I have to make an effort to not let people's words impact me.
How do you feel about compliments now?
I am more comfortable with compliments coming from women. When a man compliments me, I assume he wants something. Anytime I get a compliment about what a big heart I have, that sticks with me. Anyone who knows me knows that I would do just about anything for the people (and animals) that I love. That's real beauty. I'd take a compliment about my soul over a compliment about my boobs any damn day!
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