What is ‘sexy’?

That may sound like the opening to a Victoria’s Secret commercial, but that’s not what I mean.

What I’m asking is really, what is sexy?  As in, who defines what exactly falls into that classification?

In today’s society, the decision makers are almost always at the top of the corporate pyramid.  They are the executives at entertainment and lingerie companies, and the producers of mainstream movies, music videos, and big brand commercials.  These people have typically worked for a long time in their respective business, and after many years, finally have the control over what is approved, produced, and released for public consumption.

The rest of us didn’t just all collectively wake up one day believing bedroom hair and long tan legs were the epitome of sexiness.  We are spoon fed these ideas in a very specific, intentional fashion.

This has been the norm for a while now, but times, they are a changing.

Amanda Micallef is a fascinating, confident, and innovative woman who wants to flip the traditional pyramid on its head.  Her company, Arsenic, gives the control and power of creativity back to the real decision makers . . . the audience.

By 2013, Micallef had been working in the entertainment industry for over a decade.  She’d worked with some fantastic teams and found great success, focusing primarily behind the camera as a producer.  Yet as in most industries, the more successful you become, the bigger the projects get, and the more time (and resources) they typically take. Micallef found herself missing the day-to-day thrill of creating and collaborating from the ground up.  And so she decided to set up some independent shoots on the side.  As she explains, some people read, some people surf, this would be her ‘hobby’ on the side.

Almost from the get-go things started to go differently.  There is a now-famous Arsenic story where, in one of the very first shoots, Micallef recognized the photographer doing the standard ‘directing’ of the models: Stand here.  Do that. Be sexy like this.

It felt forced and templatized and . . . obvious.  Everything Micallef is not.

On a dime, she made the decision to switch it all up.  She asked the photographer to leave and spoke directly to the models.  To them, mind you, not at them.

Do you have your own ideas, she asked?  Do you want to put them out there?  Now’s your chance.

And thus, the seeds of what is now Arsenic, were born.

The way Micallef describes her company is this:  “Arsenic is a crowd-sourced, crowd-curated, media company.”

It’s the people actually doing the creating – not the executives at the top – that get to make the decisions on what art is put out there.  They get to decide how they look, what they wear, how they act.  In her mind, it brings the power back to the audience.

I’d take it a step further.  The reason I’ve fallen in love with Arsenic as a company is because it opens up the ways in which art and beauty are defined.

Arsenic is a perfect illustration of how different perspectives affect different perceptions

Because Arsenic is a crowd-sourced platform, there are people and perspectives coming from all over the place.  By using social media as their sole distribution mechanism, Arsenic has enabled, and in fact insisted, this all be accessible to the masses, regardless of class, race, or geography.  As Micallef’s co-founder, Billy Hawkins, put it – “What came before this – printing presses, radios, and tv – they were all great, but also cost a lot.  It was expensive to communicate a new idea.  Now, using a device millions carry in their back pocket, everyone can showcase their creativity in an instant.”

And with so many points of view – you can’t help but be exposed to different things. Participating as an artist or a viewer, we can’t help but open our minds to different ideas.  Think of the power to which that leads!  The power to create and grow.  The power to impact and change.

Arsenic may be starting with the question of ‘What do you think is sexy?’ but the real question they’re asking is ‘What do YOU think?’  You, as in ‘us’.  Each of us.  And with that, the possibilities are endless…

*Check out the interview I did with Micallef above.  Her vision and her energy are infectious.