I talk a lot about the impact of negative body image on one’s relationship with oneself but I don’t often discuss how it impacts our relationships with others.
Loathing our bodies has many detrimental repercussions on our willingness to get out in the world and connect.
Before I walked The Deeper Cravings Path™ and learned to love my body how many social gatherings and family events did I dread for fear of someone noticing I had gained weight? How often did I want to stay home rather than go out because nothing fit right? How often did I meet someone with a guard up because I was afraid of being judged?
…and then there is the bedroom…
Most of the women I see in my coaching and therapy practice lament about how their sex lives are suffering due to the way they view their body. When we battle our body we tend to project our negative beliefs on to our (often patient and bewildered) partners, robbing ourselves of the joy of one of life’s most exceptional gifts.
To help discuss the issue I asked Micheal Alvear, former host of HBO’s The Sex Inspectors and author of the new book ‘Eat It Later‘ and ‘Not tonight Dear I Feel Fat’ to share some of his perspectives and advice for moving beyond body image issues in order to boldly bare it in the bedroom.
Peggy: What advice do you have for a women that can’t put her body criticisms out of her mind and what practical steps do you recommend that can help women to better prepare themselves to take it to the bedroom?
Micheal: First, stop valuing your appearance so much and start valuing competence. Research shows that women who consider themselves “good in bed” have the most positive body images. Sexual competence creates body confidence. Second, stop putting conditions on sex—turning the lights off, wearing camouflage clothing and only getting in positions that “hide” body parts you don’t want your partner to see. These ‘solutions’ only make the problem worse because they force you to pay more (not less) attention to your appearance. The answer to self-consciousness isn’t presentation; it’s participation. Be active in bed. Move so you can be a force to be felt, not an object to be looked at.
Peggy: Do you have any suggestions to help women move through their fear when they’re in the moment?
Micheal: Pay more attention to his body than yours. Learn how to take pleasure by giving it. That will go a long way to take the focus off your appearance. You also need to stay present so you can attend to your own pleasure and engage with your partner. You can do this by asking yourself three questions: How can I get more physical pleasure out of what I’m doing? How can I make my body feel better? How can I enhance the physical sensations I’m experiencing? Don’t just ask these questions, answer them and take action.
Peggy: Final thoughts?
Micheal: Don’t hold sex hostage to your weight. Remember this always: Sex is not the reward for losing weight; it’s the reward for being human.
Learning to feel at home and free in your body is a complex and long-term transformation. Perhaps experiencing more satisfying and more frequent sex is just another in a long list of your compelling reasons to form a healthier relationship with your body. What I know for sure is that it is possible regardless of weight loss. What I also know is that you deserve it.
Your body longs to be seen in the world now, to experience the world now, to live in the fullest expression of yourself; not only when it conforms to your ideal, but NOW. Taste, see, smell, hear and feel your life. Move through your life with joy and ease. Claim your space and celebrate…in the bedroom and beyond.
Try this exercise: Mindful Kissing – Next time you are kissing try to suspend all thought and mental chatter and instead become fully awake to your senses. Bring all your attention to the sensation in your lips. Feel the softness of your partner’s skin. Be fully present to the joy of the moment…and see where it leads you :-).
Wishing you much joy and peace (and fun) in your beautiful body,
Listen as I tell my story and provide an introduction to the program.