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Body Image In The Bedroom

Today we are going to talk about sex. (cue Salt-N-Pepa).

My poor body image was wreaking havoc on my sex life. Okay actually, it was creating a war zone in my entire life, which absolutely included my relationship with my significant other.

I used to never want to have sex with the lights on, would have to be under the covers, and would never try certain positions because being squished into a pretzel makes your body look different. And although I was partaking in the actual act of sex- I was very much not present.

I was spending more time in my head worrying about what my body was looking like, than being able to just let go- and receive (I am leaving those last two open to a variety of interpretations…).

Let’s be really honest here- having sex, and being naked- can be one of the most vulnerable things we ever partake in. We are not only showing our physical self, but we are showing someone our souls. We are putting ourselves out there in a variety of ways.

One of the biggest things that I had to work through was reclaiming my sexy. I dreamed of just being a sex goddess who just got lost in the pleasure of her partner, but for some reason I just couldn’t get there. And this had a lot to do with what was going on in my head, and around my issues with my body. Your body image  can bleed into every aspect of your life, including your sex life.

Let’s take a look at some things in regards to sex…

Sexiness- without a doubt- has a very specific look in our culture. However, that illusion of what is sexy in our society doesn’t have to be the

reality of your own life. Cultivate and understand every body is able to be worthy, enjoy sex, and feel sexy. One thing that absolutely helped me was to challenge those ideals set forth by our society, not to mention realize that sexiness, for me, was all about how I was feeling.

Sex really is a lot more than just a physical look. It is highly based on chemistry with your partner. From hormones, actions, and connection with the individual you are going to play naked wrestling with.

And above all else- it starts in our mind. Can we be honest- as long as I was hung up on the fact that my cellulite and belly rolls were going to be seen I was not going to be able to have the Big O. However, when I finally got the hell out of my mind, and really focused on the actual physical situation going on, I was able to finally—um…let goOOOoOOOOoOoOOO.

But, even with that there is something incredibly important that plays a role in the whole sex and body image thing. Are you ready?

When we have a poor body image, and especially if we have a emotional eating in our lives, we have a really difficult time with partaking in pleasure. Pleasure in the sense of food, connection, dancing, and yes—SEX.

This is a such a huge factor in getting your sexy back, realizing that you are worthy and able to receive pleasure.  Having fun in life, which can and does include sex, is so important. Ya know what I was doing when I was not having fun in my life? Weighing my food to place in tubberware, or the later, binging on pizza at home completely disconnected from everyone.

I know you are probably thinking- but, if I just lose a little bit more weight, if I didn’t have cellulite/rolls/stretchmarks/imperfections/insert whatever here then I know I will feel sexy.

This is a big myth. You can, and will feel bad in your body at any shape, weight, or size if that is what the mental space in your head is. Your sexiness is not based on some external thing, it is solely based on what you allow to occur between your ears.

Which brings me to the next topic. The narrative we tell ourselves that even though our partners desire us, love us, and want to partake in pleasure with us (or give it to us)- we just can’t seem to believe them.

This was me, especially when I was breaking free of the diet cycle and my body was finally stepping into its happy place, which happened to be about 30 lbs more than my ‘ideal’.  How could he love me and want to have sex with me looking like this?

Simple- because they do, and honestly,  they are not even paying attention to that. They are being intimate with you, and they probably want more connection FROM you.  You just need to believe that. You need to accept that as the truth. Just because you don’t quite love yourself fully yet, doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t think you are the most amazing thing to walk this earth. And just because you don’t see your own beauty or sexiness yet, doesn’t mean that same person doesn’t see you a smitten sex kitten.

How do you feel about your partner? Does their body actually play that much of an impact on your intimacy with them? Probably not, sure there is some physical component to being attracted to someone, but usually it is more than just what you are looking at.

Here are some things that can help you Reclaim your Sexiness:

  • Self pleasure. Yep, you heard me right. I am talking about learning how to just embrace pleasure for the pure fact of enjoying your body and pleasure. This is also a really great time to explore your body. Firstly, for the sole purpose of connecting with yourself. As Erin Brown says it is literal self-love. Plus if you know what you enjoy, you can better relay that to your partner. Contrary to Cosmo(and misogyny), we are not for the sole purpose of our partners pleasure. It takes two to Tango.
  • Get Vulnerable. Again, learn to be vulnerable with yourself first. This can be partaking in the previous topic, dancing naked in your body, wearing something that makes you feel sexy, whatever. Even deeper than that, get vulnerable with your partner with your clothes on first. When we are having sex, we are totally exposed. And if we haven’t truly exposed our soul to our partners it can put up a mental mind fuck (ha) in being able to let go in the bedroom.
  • Rebel Against the Norm. Remember that your sexiness is not based on your weight, size, or shape. It all begins and ends in your head, and contrary to our society, anybody can be sexy.
  • Have a discussion with your partner. If you are struggling, it may be worth opening up with your partner on this topic, which of course, requires vulnerability. This was really scary when I said to my partner: look, I am not comfortable in my body. With that conversation he understood, and was able to help me, help us. Which by the way needed patience and compassion on both parties.
  • Fake It Til You Make It. Now I am not talking about faking the big O. Because you are completely deserving of having yours, but I am saying fake your sexiness. You know those lies you tell yourself: that if you were smaller, had less/more curves, and didn’t have cellulite that you would rock the shit out of sex? Great- now embody those emotions of when you are in that body, and go have sex now in this body. As I stated before, changing your body is NOT going to help this topic.
  • Treat Yourself. Do something that does make you feel a little better. It could be movement (um…endorphins are a hell of a drug for the good feels), putting red lipstick on, putting on a sassy robe, getting your hair done, whatever.
  • And above all else remember it is okay to NOT feel sexy. It is okay to not be ‘there’ yet. There is a ton of pressure on women to be/feel/and act in a sexual manner. I just want you to know what you don’t have to. Your sex and intimacy is completely up to you. Yes, it can be very empowering to take pleasure in your body with (or without) a partner, but if we are being completely honest – sometimes our head space isn’t wanting to go there, and that is okay. There is no need to feel guilty or shameful about it. If you do rock the hell out of your sex life; don’t feel guilty and shameful about that either. It is YOUR life.

When you let go of the baggage around your body image, you are going to be more ready to let go in other areas in your life. Yes- orgasms. Which are AMAZING, and you deserve to have them.

Before we put an end to this conversation, I asked some of my favorite body image badass sisters what they had to say:

Anastasia Amour:

When you boil the issue down to its very core, it all comes from fear (fear of judgement; of our partners seeing us at an “unflattering” angle; of them feeling about our bodies the way that we feel about our own). And so we take what we think are appropriate measures to protect ourselves against that – sex with the lights off, covering ourselves with a sheet, refusing to try certain positions. But ultimately, all that time spent up in our heads worrying about arbitrary social measures of attractiveness (like if our cellulite is visible or if our boobs look big enough or if our partner has suddenly become aware of the magnitude of our thighs) keeps us from fully letting go… and THAT is what stops us from experiencing the full extent of pleasure that we deserve to feel. Body image in the bedroom is not divorced from body image overall – to truly let go and feel sexy, empowered and like the goddesses that we are, we need to do the work everywhere else; we need to work on cultivating a mindset of positivity and self-love. The results of that flow on into our sex lives!

Kaila Prins:

The hardest—and most important piece—of my recovery, was learning how to make peace with my sexual body. Because I spent years trying to erase any evidence that I was a grown woman, capable of sex—get rid of the hips, the breasts, the tummy. Stop the period; erase the evidence.

We grow up in a world that tells us that the female body is worthless. That sex is disgusting, painful, and shameful. That we should be focused on punishing our bodies into submission through starvation and overexercise, not learning how to be empowered to feel and give pleasure in the bodies we have right now.

I reconnected with my body—or perhaps connected in the first place—when I started pole dance (and later burlesque). Sensual dance and striptease gave me a safe space and an outlet to explore my agency in this developed, sexual body. I’m slowly unlearning all of the lies we’ve been force-fed about our bodies by literally stripping them away. For the first time, I feel at home in myself, and sex is no longer a trigger.

Summer Inannen:

Never underestimate the power of flirting and foreplay to get in touch with your sexiness. When we hear ‘sexy’, we automatically picture ourselves getting buck naked and getting it on. If you’re having a hard time connecting with your inner sexy because of your body, go back to the basics: flirting and foreplay. There is so much pleasure and love to be felt in a little kiss on the neck, a foot poke around under the table or cuddling on the couch. This is also a great way to loosen up your self-judgment and have a sexual experience in a more playful way.

I am not a sex expert by no means, but I am someone who has went through the struggles of body image seeping over into my relationship. The internal work you do with yourself goes far beyond just yourself. Be gentle with yourself, you are undoing a lot of bullshit that you have been believing and living for a really long time. You can always see a therapist who specializes in sex as well.

And of course sex and/or intimacy can be super challenging if there is a history of sexual assault, which I would urge you to work through as well with someone who can specialize in that area.

No matter what – you deserve to enjoy this body that you are walking around in this world in. In sexual and nonsexual ways.

Cheers to sex, orgasms, body positivity, and letting go in more ways than one.


Copyright © 2018 Sarah Vance  |  Designed and Developed with    by

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