Take charge of your body image

If you avoid stomach-exposing sexual positions or insist on making love in total darkness, it’s time to take charge of your body image, says Dr Pamela Connelly


Take charge of your body image

Do you avoid getting on top during sex because of the risk of ‘spare tyre’ exposure? Do you make love in total darkness? Do you forgo your favourite sexual position because it means presenting your partner with a clear view of your despised backside?

If your answers tend to be ‘Yes’, you are missing out on some of the pleasures of sex, and denying your partner as well — and for what? Are you actually willing to sacrifice full-on, fabulous sex because of the way you regard your body?

The truth is, your partner cares far less about the size of your body than about your overall enthusiasm, lustiness, and ability to please him or her while also having a great time yourself. Confidence and gusto make a person sexy, while inhibition does the opposite. Repeat after me: ‘My partner couldn’t care less about my thighs/tummy/back hair/bald spot!’

Now, one important element of our sexuality is autoeroticism — in other words, others do not turn us on so much as we turn ourselves on in the presence of others. Some women are cued to feel sexier when slimmer, so when they drop a couple of dress sizes, their libidos often soar.

But we don’t have to conform to elusive standards of size or shape. We can change our autoerotic triggers. That is achieved by cognitively training ourselves to be far more forgiving about our bodies, by letting go of our need to hide, and by focusing on our pleasure rather than our self-disgust.

Some people suffer from a psychological disorder called Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) in which they experience a disparity between the way they perceive their physical selves and the reality. People with BDD do not need to lose weight, they need help. In fact, many people are obsessed with weight and constantly compare themselves unfavourably with others. This tendency increases our self-loathing, and consequently reduces our sexual pleasure.

There are two ways to resolve this — change your body or change your mindset. The latter will produce the best, most long-lasting results. By all means take steps to improve the health of your body by safe weight loss or gain and exercise — after all, we know from studies that looking healthy makes us attractive to others, and the added confidence could certainly help create that surge in autoeroticism that comes when we feel good about ourselves.

But you can immediately increase your self-confidence, attractiveness and libido by becoming more cognitively accepting of your physical self. Take steps today to change the way you think about your body. Remember, the big bonus is that if you make peace with it, it will repay you with far better sex.

Here’s your homework:

• Standing naked in front of a mirror, deliberately generate loving, accepting thoughts about your body. Do this every day.

• The next time you make love, instead of hurriedly undressing, undress slowly and seductively in full view of your partner.

• Try a sexual position that you have previously avoided and focus only on giving and getting more pleasure.

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