We’ve all been there at some point. You’re getting it on with your date, it’s getting hot and heavy. But just as things are about to go further, a faint voice in your head distracts you. He’s going to see your belly. Your stretch marks are going to be exposed. You try to shut the voice out and get your head in the game, but it becomes louder. Then, before you know it, you’re asking your date to put the lights off because you ‘like it better’ that way.
Body image issues can dampen one’s spirits.
No thanks to toxic beauty standards and our neighbourhood uncles and aunties staring at us a little too hard when we wear the clothes we want to, we’ve been conditioned to hate our bodies, or at the least believe that our bodies are a work in progress.
This insecurity follows us into the bedroom, where we think that a protruding belly and body hair can turn our partner off. This isn’t just hearsay – studies have shown that women who struggle with negative body image also tend to suffer from insecurity in their relationships, a part of which is apprehension and under-confidence during sex. Where does this shame end?
Well, it ends with you beginning a healthy relationship with your body, ‘flaws’ and all.
How to have good sex when you have body image issues
Let’s be real: body image issues aren’t easy to forget overnight. It takes ample time, deliberation, and practice to embrace the physical aspects of your body you dislike. And we aren’t promising that you’ll start thinking of yourself as a supermodel in 10 days; we’re merely here to help you begin that journey to confidence.
Whether it’s a relationship or a one night stand, here are some ways you can keep your body image issues aside during sexy times.
Spend time with yourself
Before spending time under someone else’s sheets, spend some quality time with yourself. Observe your naked body in the mirror, but instead of looking at it as a project you need to work on, try looking at it in a non-judgmental manner. Touch parts of your body with mindfulness; pause in places you particularly dislike.
For instance, if you hate your tummy, run your fingers across it and pause there, without holding it begrudgingly or saying something awful about it.
To change the narrative outside, you’ll have to change the narrative on the inside (read: your head).
Communicate your insecurities
There’s no harm in bringing a little bit of vulnerability into the bedroom. Sometimes, even in happy relationships, one can feel shy and awkward about bringing up their issues with their body. But doing so is healthy.
Talk to your partner about how you feel about certain parts of your body and how you think it affects your performance in bed. A good partner will help you overcome those insecurities, most often by showing you how little they care about the issue you’ve inflated in your mind.
Similarly, if you want your partner to do something specific to minimise your insecurity about a certain body part – such as refraining from touching it or switching the lights off – tell them about it. It’ll help ease your troubles.
Do something that makes you slightly uncomfortable
Yes, you read that right. While coddling yourself every now and then is important, sometimes tough love works better.
If you’re afraid to keep the lights on during sex, do it – start off slow, maybe with a small bulb instead of a table lamp. But do it without fail.
If you’re afraid of being on top because you’re insecure about your weight, try it out more often and talk with your partner through it. Focus less on the action and more on how it makes you feel. Putting yourself in an uncomfortable position more often will help you become comfortable over time.
Identify your triggers and own them
What is it that makes you feel less sexy? Whose voice is it that’s telling you your body hair is ugly? Is it something your grandmother used to tell you as a kid? Or was it your first boyfriend who refused to go down on you because you had hair ‘down there’?
Identify your triggers and work through them. Once you’ve done that, try to own your choice.
If you want to keep your body hair but are scared to because of impending judgement, tell your date/partner straight up that it is your choice, and they are free to accept or reject it. Owning your choices regarding your body is empowering; think about whether your choice is making you happy.
Fill your feed with people who look like you
What society deems normal is often reflected on social media. Our feeds are mostly filled with models, actors, and influencers who try their hardest to fit the conventional norms of beauty; this adds more pressure on all of us to look and be a certain way. But the good thing about social media is that you can modify the algorithm to work in your favour.
Diligently unfollow all accounts that make you feel crappy about yourself. It could be an influencer, a model, a fitness instructor, or even a nutritionist that dispels advice that makes you feel guilty about eating.
Instead, follow body positive, fat positive, and inclusive accounts that will adorn your feed with a more diverse idea of beauty.
As many as there are people who struggle to fit the conventional standards of beauty, there are several more who openly defy them. Choose wisely.
There’s nothing like spending a little time with yourself to know your body ~ like that ~. Masturbation is a great way to feel sexy, as it requires that you focus on all the pleasure points on your body. Take your time to touch your body and get in tune with it, for it will help you understand what gets you going. Don’t be afraid to add toys to the mix!
Not only will it empower you, but it will also help you communicate what you want in bed, thus increasing your level of confidence. And confidence is always sexy.
Body image issues during sex can really harm your self-esteem as well as your relationship. The best way to address it is to face it head on – understand what hurts you and why, and work on it one step at a time. Once you know your triggers and work towards them, it will unleash a level of confidence you have never known before. Then, sex will be what it has always meant to be: fun and beautiful!
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