Almost 3,000 women, aged 18-40, were polled. And get this: Three out of four said that their body image woes—be that stretch marks, sagging breasts, too few curves, too many bumps or lumps—prevented them from being intimate, according to the survey. (Oh, also, three out of five ‘fessed to faking the Big O!) Agh!
In reporting these disheartening facts, The Mail hopes to assure readers by quoting a sexpert who basically says, Pat, pat, don’t worry, chickadees. Men aren’t looking at your full-fat cottage cheese thighs anyway! They’re just happy to be getting laid.
This is not helpful. We’ve all heard these stale words of wisdom since we were thirteen. Just stop fussing over your saggy, wobbly, chunky, curvy or non-curvy parts, because hey, he—or hey, maybe it’s she—doesn’t care. (Worse yet, we’ve also gotten really self-loathing advice like, “Just turn off the lights.”)
But trying to eradicate the problem by focusing on how our lover doesn’t care does nothing to address the core issue. So what? We still care! And it’s causing us crazy stress and costing us pleasure and intimacy. So, I think the solution, instead, is loving and accepting ourselves more, and kicking that negative self-talk to the curb! Yea, yea, it’s not that easy. I know.
Board-certified sex therapist Dr. Diana Wiley elaborates, “When a woman becomes fixated on the girth of her thighs or tilt of her breasts or cellulite, she can become unable to communicate what she wants, about her own pleasure. It can be a huge distraction, because you’re not present.”
To axe your Mean Girls inner monologue and get out of your head in bed, Dr. Wiley suggests:
- Thought-stopping. Consciously identifying that you keep thinking to yourself, “Wow, my butt looks so big!” Sometimes, once you’re simply aware that you’re mentally beating yourself up, you can curb it. It also helps to replace the negative self-bullying with positive self-talk. For instance, “My hair looks hot!” or “I really rocked those sexy black heels today.”
- If you’re “spectator-ing,” i.e. mentally sitting on the sidelines and giving yourself a hard time about your appearance, it’s impossible to enjoy yourself. Get out of your head by focusing on the sensations you’re feeling and your breath.
- Still having trouble? Try sensate focus, exercises developed to encourage partners to take turns paying increased attention to their senses (versus a mental thesis on your muffin top).
It’s not easy, I know, but it’s definitely worth it to be kinder to ourselves, especially in bed. Our bodies will thank us.
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