How I Found Radical Body Confidence Without Changing a Thing
Have you ever been worried about what you look like during sex?
Have you ever been worried about what you look like during sex?
Maybe thoughts have come through like,
“Does my stomach look disgusting from this angle?”
“Oh no, don’t keep the lights on.”
“Ah, in that position my cellulite is definitely visible.”
If you can relate at all to any of these thoughts, you’re totally normal. This is called “spectatoring,” the state of worrying about what you look like during sex, instead of feeling the sensations of sex. As you have probably noticed, spectatoring really limits you from feeling present....and therefore, pleasure and connection.
Unfortunately it doesn’t stop just there, not loving and accepting your body impacts pretty much every aspect of your (sex) life. According to the book “Come as You Are”, by Emily Nagoski, it determines how much pleasure you experience, how often you have sex, what risky behaviors you will engage in, if you use drugs and alcohol, and so much more.
Before you criticize yourself for criticizing yourself, I believe it’s helpful to remind yourself where these body shaming messages come from. Since we were basically babies, we have been bombarded with messages showing us what we “should” look like… typically, a tall, skinny, photoshopped, white woman, made of plastic, with absolutely no visible “flaws.” Our white supremacy capitalistic system fills us with unrealistic ideas of beauty and impacts all of us differently, but the message of “you are not [blank] enough,” can be pretty universal. To sift through the message of criticism, I wrote an article demystifying self love, you can read it here.
Okay, so maybe you see that loving your body is important, but there’s a catch. A common worry is that if we start accepting and embracing our bodies just as they are, right now, then we will never change! Well, there is this insidious belief embedded in our culture about complacency.
Self criticism is seen as this motivating factor and if we just love ourselves, we won’t ever actually change into being beautiful and lovable and desirable. We will never lose that extra ten pounds or get our skin as soft as supple as we would like. That we need to be self critical in order to keep growing...but that’s bullshit. Accepting your rolls, your skin just the way it is, will be excellent for your mental health and your ENTIRE LIFE.
“Beauty must be defined as what we are, or else the concept itself is our enemy.” -Aboutface
5 Things that have supported me in loving my body
1. Feeling Myself. Literally.
From the time I hit puberty up until I was about 21, I was pretty obsessed with my weight. I always thought I would “look better,” “finally be happy with myself,” or “be more attractive” if I just lost some freaking weight. But everything changed for me when I started noticing the pleasure of FEELING and squeezing my own squish (and also calling it squish.) Now, it didn’t happen overnight, but one huge shift was when I experienced a foursome with another woman, who I was enamored by and totally attracted to. I noticed how erotic it was to feel her skin and how beautiful she was above me... and she was very squishy! Seeing beauty in her, radically helped me flip the switch and see it in myself. I went from obsessing about having a flat, rock hard stomach...to enjoying rubbing aromatic oils on my perfectly squishy belly.
Not touching myself to massage my body or my clit, but to take pleasure from my own through my own. Have you ever put your face in a furry kitty’s belly? Just because it felt good on your face? Or wanted to touch a flower just because the petals looked silky? I started doing this with my own body. Touching my belly, my face, my hair, without thinking what it looks like or “doing anything”, taking pleasure in all of the textures of my form. Fat feels so good in my hands! My skin and hair feel so good in my hands. When I pair this practice with dancing, my body feels like the most sensual place in the world. I feel soooo good being me.
I share all of this because I want you to feel good being you, just as you are.
2. Being Naked Outside.
I can recall clearly the first time I was with friends who wanted to swim naked in the river. I was a freshmyn in college and I remember thinking “I don’t do that. I don’t want to lose respect.” I shake my head and roll my eyes at that younger me. It took a few years of consistently being around people who liked to skinny dip to finally try it myself. At first, I felt so exposed, but then I realized swimming naked just felt pleasurable. I couldn’t deny it! Not having a bathing suit between my most sensual parts and the water, allowed the water to make love to me. I can’t emphasize that part enough. It just feels so natural. I feel like “I return to the earth” when I am naked outside. I feel like I am back where I should be. I feel so natural and sexy. My pubic hair, my cellulite, my chipped toe nails all feel so obviously beautiful when surrounded by luscious forest and flowing water.
3. Seeing Art & Beauty that Represent Me.
I grew up believing my nose is too large and crooked to ever be beautiful. It was always something I needed to “work around” and take attention away from. I believed in order to be beautiful, I needed to “make up” for my nose with my actually nice physical attributes and with my personality. My nose and face just looked so different from the little button nose models I would see gracing magazine covers, commercials and billboards everywhere. I thought “how could my nose ever be considered beautiful or desirable?”
What actually helped me start loving my nose was seeing myself in art. Was seeing it in renaissance paintings, seeing it as royalty. My point here is, FIND ART that represents YOU. It is so, so, so important. If your social media feed is only skinny white women, symmetrically faced women, and that’s not you….find and follow people that create art of YOUR body type, humans with stretch marks, cellulite, no make up, smeared make up, body rolls, whatever it is! Seeing art and beauty depicted in forms that represent me and my reality has helped me so incredibly much! It has helped me see my uniqueness as beautiful. Which brings me to my next point..
4. Erotic Photography.
If representation helped me see myself better, seeing my ACTUAL self as art was absolutely life changing. Before, when I saw myself in photos, it was hard to picture myself as sexy. I knew I could be sexual at times, but I didn’t really consider myself as sexy. It started with a friend who asked me to model for them. I had never modeled before, but because I trusted them, it allowed me to be curious and to just try it.
It didn’t happen with the very first photoshoot. During the first one I felt awkward and therefore looked a bit awkward. But then we went to Burning Man together and did another photoshoot. At this huge albeit problematic and also liberating festival, I actually felt myself! Being around so many people feeling free, was an invitation for me to feel myself. Seeing these photos helped me see myself as a sexual creature, just for me, just for my own gaze which was incredibly empowering.
5. Turning Myself On.
I didn’t always know how to turn myself on. I used to think that my sexuality had to be in association with another person to even exist. I’ve been dancing since I was a kid and leared young how to be sassy and sexual, but it was still a performance. It was for someone else. Only in the past few years have I learned how to dance for MYSELF. I’ve learned how to dance in a way that feels good rather than “looks good.” When I tap into the space and feel good in my body, I feel confident. Sometimes I even turn myself on...which is probably the most empowering thing ever. Not sure how to turn yourself on? I wrote something to help you here.
There are many paths to start loving our bodies, I’ve created a ritual to support you loving your body and experiencing more pleasure in your life. If you feel that’s what you need right now, you can claim your guided ritual below.
Release Shame & Reclaim Your Sexuality
Not loving and accepting your body has an impact on pretty much every aspect of your (sex) life: it determines how much pleasure you experience, how often you have sex, what risky behaviors you will engage in, if you use drugs and alcohol, etc..
I’m here to help with that!
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