Notes on Body Image and Sex (aka you’re beautiful)

A major theme over the last few weeks has been body love. Between excessive New Year’s messaging about cleanses, shedding holiday weight, and totally overhauling your life,

The start of a new season (or in this case, a new year) abounds with ways to change your life and especially your body. Lose weight. Eat healthier. Shed the holiday weight.

TBH, I’m fucking sick of it all. I’m sick of being told to be less and not more.

And it’s not just me. This last year it felt like people more and more were getting away from new year’s resolutions. or at least switching ot intentions, words of the year, and how we can be more.

Because of all this messaging, I’ve been thinking a lot about the relationship between body image and sex, specifically how i can boost or zap your sexual energy. To summarize:

Your body image affects your sex life.

Being able to enjoy sex isn’t just about getting turned on, it’s also about getting rid of the turn-offs. You can think about it, as Emily Nagoski describes, as having a sexual gas pedal and brakes in your head. They have to work together for you to have hot, heavy, passionate sex.

Here’s how this works:

The gas pedal gets pressed when you think about or experience things that feel sexual and yummy, say getting a sensual massage or hearing your neighbors have sex. The brakes get pressed when you think about or experience things that are the opposite, say worrying about pregnancy, hearing a fight outside, or, you guessed it, hating on your body.

Feeling uncomfortable in your body hits the brakes.

Say you’re kissing your sweetie and they’re massaging your neck and it feels oh-so-delicious. That’s the turn-on or gas pedal.  But say you’re also having a bad body image day.—it happens to the best of us! So when your partners hands start to wander, you freak a little and slap their hands away (this also happens to the best of us).

You hit both the gas pedal and the brakes at the same time. I don’t have to tell you that gets you nowhere.

Feeling good about your body helps you have better sex.

Rather than worrying about how your look or the size of your [insert body part], you relax into the sensations and focus on connecting with your partner.

Feeling uncomfortable distracts you and creates stress. It occupies all that space in your head where yummy sex thought could be. Or focusing on the stroke of your partner’s hands and the softness of their lips and…

Why you may be wondering?  Because rather than worrying about the size of your [insert body part], you can relax into the sensations and focus on connecting with your partner. In reality though, we all struggle with body image from time to time. Even the most body-positive and confident people I know have days where they hate all their clothes or just don’t feel 100% at home in their body. Its part of this great big thing we call the human experience.

Your relationship to your body probably changes all the time, including every time you have sex. So even if you felt awesome about your body 10 minutes ago, if you feel less than awesome about it now, it can be not so great now.

There are many ways to improve your relationship with your body.

There’s mantras and affirmations. Amazing books. Self-coaching and therapy.

And I recommend them all. But there is one thing you can start doing immediately. You don’t need any tools, just a little bit of courage and time. It’s my personal favorite way

Get naked. (Yes, literally.)

I don’t mean simply taking off your clothes or having sex. I mean spending time naked or nearly so. Think:

  • Sleep in your birthday suit.
  • Walk around your apartment in your undies.
  • Air dry after you get out of the shower instead of rushing to get dressed.
  • Cook in only an apron.
  • Watch yourself masturbate.

As we get older, we develop shame about our bodies. But think of it this way: Kids run around naked all the time. In fact, a friend’s nephew insists on having naked time every day. It doesn’t matter where he is or what he’s doing, at one

What happens when your inner mean girl acts up (because she will)? This is where mindfulness works wonders.You can try out these two tips. You also have the advantage here – you’re naked! That means you can focus on the way the air hits your skin. How do you feel temperature-wise? Is there a fan? What do the sheets feel like? Pay attention to the way the air and the sheets and the breeze from the fan feel on your skin.

That being said, some people struggle more than others (again, like with all things in life). If you’re one of them, someone who struggles more days than not, than the practice I talk about below is going to be profoundly transformational for you. And if you’re not? Well it will still help you to develop, maintain, and support a positive body image.

The key to this practice is to do it regularly.

Pick one of the activities above and schedule it. If negative thoughts pop up or you find yourself pinching and poking and prodding and comparing, fight back (mentally, of course). Tell your inner mean girl to shut it. Yes, even if you don’t really mean it. Over time you become more comfortable with yourself, through thick and thin and everything in-between.

It’s also important to do this practice alone, at least at first. This takes away the vulnerability of someone else seeing you and lets you practice having the mental conversation – “ugh I hate how my thighs look” “Shut up no I don’t” – without any pressure. Over time, this talk back response becomes easier and more habitual and is a great tool for those times when Negative Nancy thoughts try to interrupt sexy time.

As a sexy bonus? You’ll begin to ooze confidence, a known aphrodisiac. 😉 Go get ’em tigress!

Before I sign off, I want to leave you with the wish I shared on my personal Facebook recently. If nothing else, I hope this stays with you even on the most difficult of days:

My wish for each of you today is that you can look in the mirror and love at least one part of your body. #bodylove #whatnottowear #loveyourself

Do you know someone who’s struggling with body image? Be sure to share this post! They’ll thank you and so will I.

Until next time…

Your Partner in Passion,

Kait xo