Does my body image affect my sex life?
The way we perceive ourselves and our body image has a direct impact on the way in which we interact with the world. So many women have a poor body image, which is directly affecting their sex lives. What we see in the mirror makes us cringe and in turn makes us shy, ashamed and inhibited. It’s safe to say it’s the reflection that needs fixing.
Having fun in the bedroom tends to involve baring all in the most literal sense. It requires that we feel completely comfortable in front of our sexual partner. If a woman is not comfortable in her own skin, she is not likely to be comfortable getting nude with anybody. This does not bode well for intimacy.
Studies have shown that shame and anxiety about one's body leads to the avoidance of physical closeness and reduced sexual satisfaction.
"Women with poor body image don't initiate sex as often, and they're more self-conscious," says Ann Kearney-Cooke, PhD, director of the Cincinnati Psychotherapy Institute.
If you’re thinking, how do I look? Do my thighs look big? Is my belly hanging out? Can he or she see my cellulite on my butt? If you’re asking yourself these questions in the bedroom, then you’re really not present in the moment. Not only will you not be focused on your own desires, but you certainly won’t be focused on his or hers.
I recently asked a friend if she was seeing anybody, to which she responded, “Oh no! My body is not looking its best at the moment. It needs a bit of work. I’ll get back in the game next year…. NEXT YEAR!!!??? Is that what it’s come to? We’re avoiding sex and intimacy because we’ve become so brainwashed by what we see in the media? What book of rules is this that she speaks from?
“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” - Marilyn Monroe
Let’s look at Marilyn Monroe for example. She was not considered skinny. She had a few lumps and bulges here and there and her hips were wider than most. Marilyn Monroe was fondly known as one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s and early 1960s and was emblematic of the era's changing attitudes towards sexuality. Monroe knew her body wasn’t perfect. She was unable to do anything about it so just embraced it, and women all over the world thought it was beautiful. So where did it all go wrong?
It's not entirely our fault that we have these warped perceptions of how women should look in the modern-day world. There are a number of factors that have influenced this train of thought, media being the biggest culprit. We are bombarded on a daily basis with a distorted ideal of what a beautiful American woman should look like. A light-skinned, blonde, blue-eyed woman in her early twenties. Most of us don’t conform to this ideal at all.
Who told us we were undesirable?
The problem with this sort of dialogue or poor body image which becomes ingrained in our consciousness is that it is far more difficult to discard it than it is to attain it. Unfortunately for women, this narrative is taught to us at an early age. Research shows that if your mother didn't like what she saw in the mirror, you probably won't either. Projection! The offloading of undesirable feelings or emotions onto someone else. A psychology used by so many, but understood by so few. How were we to know any different?
Are you a “lights out” kinda gal?
As previously mentioned, women who are more satisfied with their bodies might be open to initiating sex more often, or using their imagination to make their sexual encounters far more exciting. Sexually free if you will. Having sex with the lights on is a great way to enhance intimacy between you and your partner. Men like what they see. They’re just grateful to be getting naked with the opposite sex for the most part. By the time you get to the bedroom, they’ve sized you up and are very happy with what they see. Has a man ever asked you to put your clothes back on after you’ve taken them off?
On the contrary, women you are less satisfied with their bodies may even have problems communicating altogether with their sexual partners. This not only leads to more unfavourable experiences, but in some cases communication can become so bad that women may be susceptible to unsafe sex practices.
The European approach
Here’s a thought, the more confidence you exude the sexier you are. Regardless of your appearance. Fact! There’s really nothing less sexy than a woman who is constantly worried about her appearance or wearing baggy shirts to hide her perceived flaws. Take European women for example. It’s no surprise that European women are more comfortable with their bodies. Could it be because their attitude towards food and wine, and le good life is more of a ritual rather than just a gathering of friends? Regardless of their shape or size, European women would quicker where a snug, body hugging outfit which accentuates all the curves that women were blessed with.
As clichéd as it may sound, beauty is in the eye of the beholder… not the beer holder. I believe that a rewarding, positive sex life is worth striving for, even if it means a bit of work on your part. When a woman feels comfortable in her skin, she is bound to experience greater enjoyment and engagement in physically intimate acts. So go on then. Banish that negative voice in your head, and start having great sex!