I want to talk to you about the big “F” word.
No, I’m not talking about that “F” word – I’m talking about the other “F” word.
Did you just get a twinge reading that word? If so, you may have equated the word “fat” as synonymous with the word “bad”.
We live in a society that is constantly telling us our bodies are not good enough. Over time, we may start to internalize those feelings, which often makes us want to change ourselves in order to meet the societal standard that “good” people should be thin and anything but FAT.
If you grew up in America, you may believe the message that fat = bad, but I would like to offer an alternative viewpoint. Fat is not bad. Fat is just a description. Fat, tall, short, “my shoes are red”, and “the sky is blue” are all descriptions, and nothing more.
You are not bad for the body that you have.
I am passionate about this topic for many reasons, but today I want to talk about how buying into the belief that your body is “bad” may be killing your sex life.
You read that correctly.
Having a negative body image may be killing your sex life.
Negative body image can affect how you act in your sexual relationship. You may want to keep the lights off during sexual encounters. You may have sex with your clothes on in order to hide your body. You may be someone who uses a number on a scale to dictate what sexual positions you can try and enjoy.
Becoming disconnected from your body is a coping strategy that assists in avoiding painful and uncomfortable feelings. You may numb yourself emotionally and avoid noticing physical sensations in your body. But disconnecting from your body can have a significant impact on your relationships, self-esteem, and sexual desire.
If you can’t feel sensations and emotions within your body, you are depriving yourself of the wonderful feelings of pleasure, arousal, and joy your body has to offer! Over time, you will lose your sense of sexual desire entirely. If we don’t allow ourselves to enjoy sex, our body stops craving it.
Even though you may have lost desire for sex, you’re probably still trying to have sex to please other people. Unfortunately, when you can’t feel desire within your own body, it may be difficult to be vulnerable and relaxed during times of connection and intimacy with others. You may find that you tense up, give in to others, or give up entirely. It is emotionally painful!
I want to offer you suggestions for overcoming negative body image so you can enjoy your sexuality to the fullest.
We all deserve to feel confident in our sexual bodies. Follow these steps to begin your journey to self-acceptance and sexual pleasure!
#1 – Tune in to what your body wants and needs in this very moment
This is a type of mindfulness practice that will help you reconnect to your inner feelings and sensations so you can access joy and pleasure.
If you do not know what your body needs, ask yourself:
- Have I eaten?
- Have I hydrated?
- Have I connected with friends or family members that bring me joy?
- Have I journaled about my feelings?
- Have I played with my dog or cat?
- Am I getting enough sleep?
- Have I contacted my therapist?
- Do I have a therapist?
#2 – Embrace self-care
Self-care is incredibly important in the beginning states of overcoming negative body image. It is not selfish to care for your body and your mind. You are the most important person that you know, and creating space to tend to your basic needs is the first step to reconnecting with your body.
Meditation is a great tool to create more peace with your body. A simple practice of meditation consists of sitting in a quiet place with your eyes closed. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. While you do this, you can create a mantra that you say to yourself. You can create any words of empowerment that you want, but an example of this could be:
- My body deserves nourishment.
- My body is love.
- My body enables me to run, walk, laugh, swim.
- My body is just a vehicle to get through life.
- My body is sexy.
- My body is desirable.
#3 – Practice, Practice, Practice!
When you create mantras like this, you are learning new ways to talk to yourself. The more you practice, the stronger these messages become. The brain holds on to messages that you tell yourself. So instead of focusing on the negative, try talking to yourself like you would talk to your best friend. If you practice this just five minutes a day, you may start to make shifts in how you see yourself. If you feel a negative message coming in, check in with yourself and ask “is that really true?”, and then replace that negative message with a positive one.
Telling yourself what you like about your body and what it affords you each and every day can lead you to a healthier body image. This technique creates shifts in the brain with how you see yourself. Once you start believing that you are beautiful and desirable, you may start to prioritize your needs by creating new pathways to self-discovery and pleasure.
I know this isn’t easy, but if you commit to practicing these steps, you can experience real results. Here are a few benefits you may experience after starting this practice:
- You may find yourself wanting to create more connection with others.
- You may find yourself having a deeper understanding of your value and worth.
- When you start to place value on yourself and your body, your brain starts to believe it.
You may start to see yourself as a sexual being who is worthy of desire and pleasure… which will lead to more great sex in your life!