Fifty percent of British women have put off sex – even when they’re in the mood – because they felt too fat. “Bedroom body shame is ruining sex for an alarming, growing number of women, from the petite to the plus size,” says Michael Alvear, the author of Not Tonight Dear, I Feel Fat. “It’s irrelevant what size you are because body anxiety has nothing to do with being fat, it’s about thinking you are.”
Do you spend every sex session paranoid your partner’s going to touch some part of you that isn’t quite perfect?
Here’s how stop worrying about your body and feel fabulous about yourself!
Losing weight isn’t the answer to feeling more body confident
Why not? You feel better for about ten minutes and then start honing in on other faults.
The trick isn’t to change your body, it’s to change the way you feel about it. If you want to lose weight for health reasons, go right ahead, but don’t think that’s going to change how you feel about your body.
“The perception of your body has little to do with your actual body size,” says Alvear.
I totally agree. I know just as many size 8-10 women who think they’re ‘fat’ as women who are size 18 or over. In fact, my friends who are smaller sized, are less satisfied with how they look, not more.
Accept that men like curves
Kim Kardashian’s made millions from hers and (finally) not all models are size eight anymore.
‘Amateur porn’ – real women and couples, rather than the big-breasted, big-lipped, tiny waisted women who are porn stars – is one of the most popular categories on most porn sites.
These are real women with real life bodies – hardly any conforming to society’s skinny norm of ‘sexiness’.
Thank – or get cross with – your parents
Negative body image thrives on several factors – and growing up in a judgemental family that prided looks or being ‘slim’ over personality or intelligence, will invariably produce a body-conscious adult.
If your Mum was on the small side and constantly on a diet, it’s not the best training for growing up to love a healthy body that’s not reed thin.
If your parents gave healthy messages, make sure you pass on the favour to your own children. If they didn’t, be on the alert for any behaviour or negative comments you tell yourself that came from them.
Don’t be brainwashed by society and the media
“The extent to which you buy into, compare yourself to, and try to achieve the media’s ideal of feminine beauty” is the biggest factor contributing to body anxiety, says Alvear.
This is the conclusion of nearly every academic study ever done on the issue of body image.
Who says thin and tall is sexier than curvy and short?
Have sex more, not less
Great sexual experiences make us feel better about our body, which in turn, creates satisfying sex and satisfying sex strengthens our body image.
“It’s a win-win cycle,” says Alvear.
Women who have body anxiety, tend to avoid having sex, waiting for that magical day when they’ll feel good about their body. Waiting for ‘perfect’ sex conditions means you’ll never have it, so adopt the ‘Nike approach’ instead. Just do it.
When you’re not doing it, spend the time you would have spent looking critically in the mirror, looking up some good sex websites (this one for instance or the excellent goodinbed.com) to hone your lovemaking skills.
Research shows the better lover you think you are, the less likely you are to worry about how you look in bed.
Be more active in bed
Instead of lying in bed worrying about what you look like (or what your partner’s thinking about what you look like), start actually having sex.
Less lying back and thinking of England, more moving around in bed, being the instigator of sexual activities, talking about what you like and don’t like, talking dirty and generally taking a more active role.
The more proactive you are in bed, the less you’ll stay in your head, fixated on negative thoughts, says Alvear.
Shift the focus from you to them
If you’re intent on obsessing about a body, how about making it theirs instead of yours?
Keep your gaze focused outwards during sex – looking at the areas of your partner’s body you find a turn-on – rather than inwards. Stop sneaking paranoid peeks to see how many rolls there are squashed in between you or how your thighs are looking in that position; do have a good look at his biceps, muscular shoulders and other interesting parts of him.
Fantasise your way out of it
Sexual fantasies don’t just lift libido by turning us on, they allow us to be people other than ourselves. “Act how you want to feel,” is a favourite piece of advice from Alvear.
If you’d love to be a body-confident, saucy seductress but are too self-conscious or shy to be one in reality, close your eyes and pretend.
Fantasise about being that woman when you’re in bed then simply act the part.