Sex and Body Image

Did you know I have a live weekly show on Facebook with my brother Kyle Andrew? We’re on every Wednesday at 9:00 pm EST to talk dating, relationships, healthy living and sex. You can find us right here. On last night’s show we tackled sex and body image with our special guest co-host Nekky Jamal. Nekky is not only one of my life partners, he’s also an amputee who wears a full leg prosthesis. Some really interesting stuff around disability and sex came up, of course.

Here are some links to some fascinating articles on sex and body image:

A Psychology Today post on Understanding Core Erotic Wounds

A Huffington Post look at Body Image and Low Sex Drive

A post on How to Love a Sexual Partner with Body Image issues over at Ravishly.com

Tips For Overcoming Body Image Issues in the Bedroom:

1. Stop looking only to celebrities and online personalities for beauty standards. These people are ‘professional beauties’ who devote their working hours to looking a certain way, and have a team of people to help them with that. They also have retouching.

2. Social Media isn’t much better. I definitely use selfie filters to get the best lighting and to create photos I feel good about posting. Most of us only post the very best highlights of our life. Social media isn’t any more real than other types of media, even if you know your contacts IRL.

3. Look at real people, in person, who are in your age demographic (or beyond) and start to really notice what you find attractive about them. Sit in a cafe or other busy public place and people watch.

4. Take note of how your standards of attractiveness compare to how you feel about yourself? Are your personality standards realistic considering your lifestyle?

5. What kind of messaging do you giving yourself when you’re in front of the mirror? I can be pretty brutal on myself. Work on changing the message by replacing a negative thought with something you like about your physical appearance or your personality. This will take some practice, but try to keep things in perspective. Get rid of the notion that self-love should be easy. It isn’t. Our bodies aren’t perfect, but we can move from brutal self-criticism to gratitude for our health, our safety, our privilege.

6. Take better care. First take a look at how you feel about your body and work on changing your messaging. Then start to approach any physical lifestyle changes you might wish to make, like healthier eating or more regular exercise. Without changing the way you think, changing the way you behave will be much harder.

7. Talk about it with your partner. Be as open and vulnerable as you can. If negative body-image is affecting your sex drive, this will help illuminate any challenges you might be having in the bedroom. Think of ways you can both help to make you feel more confident and comfortable.

8. As you’re learning how to change your self-image, take stock of what does make you feel more comfortable sexually, and implement these things. Do you feel more confident with makeup on? Dim lighting? Lingerie? Music? Run with these ideas so you are creating a comfort zone for yourself that feels safer while you work on healing

If your negative body-image issues are tied to disordered eating, please know that without professional help, these behaviors are nearly impossible to change

The National Eating Disorder Information Centre

Eating Disorder Hope Resource Page

Some Awesome Books About Body Image
Here are some books that I can recommend about body image. If you purchase these via the links below, you’ll be helping to support my writing.

How To Start Loving What You See In The Mirror

Oh, my heart. Today’s post is a beautiful and raw look at body image from our incredibly radiant holistic nutritionist Jackie McCaffrey. What’s more, Jackie includes another gift at the end of this post with her FREE e-book of her latest gluten free, vegan mason jar recipes! Read on as Jackie shares her tips for how to start loving what you see in the mirror.

How to Start Loving What You See in the Mirror PIN

Body image is a subject that just never seems to get old, no matter how tired we get of hearing about it. More and more, those who are considered plus sized models are being featured in the media and the call for super thin bodies is less pronounced. Conversations about bodies are very important to have, however they are still placing emphasis on the need to define a body type in the first place. For me, this is okay if the conversation is around the health implications associated with a particular body type, thin or overweight. What I find difficult however; is when the focus around bodies is simply about the way we see each other.

It may surprise you to know that I struggle with my own body. I always have. I’m not sure what, if any one thing, has contributed to this. I have no doubt that years of gymnastics, dance and well, high school, where the shape of a body seems to have such massive importance, had some influence on this. I can’t remember a time in my life where I was completely comfortable and happy with what I saw in the mirror. There is a constant feeling of room for improvement that gnaws at me. The ritualistic ‘untagging’ of photos of me on Facebook because you can see a little cellulite is exhausting.

I’m a nutritionist but I’m also a performer who has worked in the burlesque industry which celebrates all body types. My comfort on stage is why many are surprised when I open up about my struggle. And believe me, it doesn’t mean that because I can’t seem to look at myself without judgement, that I am judging others. I truly love all the forms the body takes. I covet the curves as much as the long legs or ripped back muscles of those I see around me. A close friend was part of an interview of women in their 30’s for a Canadian magazine and was asked if she likes the way she looks naked. She answered with an enthusiastic yes, which I’m sure she assumed I would have done as well, but the sad truth is while I may have said yes because it is what I should say, internally I would have been screaming NO!

My background in nutrition allows me to be more logical about why my body is different than it was even five years ago. I started training in aerial silks during that time, which has greatly increased my muscle mass and thus the number staring back at me on the scale is the highest it has ever been. So while I can reason why I weigh more it doesn’t explain why my clothes fit a little tighter or heck, why my breasts have become a cup size bigger. What does explain this is my age. I’m on the cusp of 40 and our metabolism changes because our energy expenditure tends to decrease, as we get older. In fact, the volume of skeletal muscle in the body decreases and the percentage of fat tissue increases with age thanks to age-related decreases in basal metabolic rate. What does this mean? It means that I am normal. It means that I eat really well, I get regular exercise including weight bearing and cardiovascular activities, and I add supplements and superfoods to help keep my body working optimally. I am doing everything I should be doing. (Check out this post to learn more about metabolism.)

My logical self can look in the mirror and say, you are 38 and you look great! You have no physical barriers that stop you from doing anything you want! So why, can’t the rest of me look in the mirror and LOVE what I see? A friend of mine recently posted this to Facebook: I have a rare mental disorder. It causes me to look in the mirror every day and think – This is the best I’ve ever looked. Hope I’m never cured. How you perceive yourself (inside and out) is one of the few things you have control over. You might run out of lipstick on any given day, but self love can be a bottomless resource.

I love this so much and want so badly to have this rare disorder as she puts it and I am sad that she is right, it likely is a rare disorder. How wonderful for all of us to look in the mirror and see ourselves as the best we’ve ever looked – every damn day. How amazing to have that bottomless well of self-love to draw from.

I want it! Do you want it? What can we do to help us find acceptance and self-love?

Meditation

A chance to find space to focus on only yourself. Time to look inward and work through the important questions and issues that you may face. There are a number of great guided meditations online like this one from Louise Hay or look within your local community to find a mediation center to join.

Check Yourself

Change the conversation with your inner voice. Each time you begin to criticize or ‘if only’ yourself, stop and force yourself to think instead about the things you love. For me, I like to flex my badass biceps and remember that I worked hard to have those pipes! That helps to quiet the naysayer hidden within.

Journal

Writing in any form can be cathartic but I find allowing myself to sit in my cosiest chair and put down in writing 3 things I am thankful for can be a great help. I can then go back on days when I am feeling down and read what I have written. Putting the judgemental and critical thoughts down on paper can also be a good way to get them out of your head – and then I like to rip the page of the journal out and do a good old fashioned burning, dancing in my underwear with sage, ritually cleansing away those thoughts. Away with you!

My intention for spring is to work on my own body image issues. I want the blooming of the flowers to inspire openness within myself that will celebrate my body and I want to spend all that critical energy on the amazing and positive ideas and plans I have brewing in my pretty little head.

References:

http://www.louisehay.com/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8361073

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Jackie McCaffrey
Jackie McCaffreyHolistic Nutritionist
Jackie is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and runs her own holistic nutrition practice online, focusing on the needs of artists. She works to help her community find balance and understanding about which foods and supplements can help them with injury prevention and repair, stamina and overall longevity in the arts world. Jackie also works with clients who are looking for more general health and wellness help along with those who are looking for some more intensive protocols to help manage chronic disease.

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The World Isn’t Hard for Beautiful People

I have a weekly date on Periscope with my brother.

We are live every Wednesday at 9 pm, EST and we answer dating, relationship and sex ed questions. I happen to think it’s a lot of fun, and I’ve been honored to speak to a lot of really interesting personal matters via this format. We get most of our questions via Ask.fm because it’s easy to post anonymously there. Last night, I woke up to this question, which isn’t in fact a question at all,  and I knew it was going to end up becoming a blog post:

When I encounter women such as yourself, who are beautiful and appear to have it all together, I go deaf. It’s difficult to hear you because I assume you have no idea how hard this world is as a less than beautiful person. I know I am kind and smart, yadda yadda. Beauty is skin deep. I am sexist!

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What Size is Sexy?

Madmen's Christina Hendricks

Dear Mommy,

I’m a 20-something female who feels sexy even though I’m well above a size 8 and have no trouble waking up beside a handsome fella. Feeling sexy or just feeling good about myself has been a constant struggle since childhood, but coming into my full-bodied adult life I now see that skinny doesn’t always mean sexy. 

A very single, very sexy guy I was talking to the other day said that short dresses and model-bodies aren’t sexy if the personality wearing them is that of a house fly, but a voluptuous woman, confident and comfortable in her own skin, can be nothing but sexy.

Ladies and gents are just as insecure as the other, so please, Playboy Mommy, do what you do best and give us a taste of what’s sexy, the unconventional way.

 

Ms Loves Her Lady Lumps


Dear Lady Lumps,

This note gave me pause. Have I been doing a bad job representing the women I’m hoping to inspire and empower?

So many of the photos I choose for my Freaky Friday posts feature model-types. I love fashion, and fashion photography, and want to celebrate the talented artists who shine in that industry, but sadly that industry is still in the habit of perpetuating entirely unattainable, false beauty standards. It’s no secret that very few people are actually able to be so thin by nature’s own hand, and I want this blog, and all of my work, to really resonate with everyone who visits here. It should be said that by no means do I think that only a women who can fit into a size 0 is attractive, or sexy. In fact, I think it’s truly fucked up that size 0 even exists. Why would anyone aspire to NOTHING?? I feel confidant that the rest of the real world feels that way too, and I hope that this particular post inspires an interesting dialogue here.

I’m not talking about perpetuating a society that promotes obesity either. Either end of the scale (pardon the pun) is too extreme and both need to be painted as the unhealthy, seriously physically and psychologically damaging lifestyle choices that they are. The fact is, real women come in all shapes and sizes, and even when we take measures to eat healthy and exercise regularly, a size six might even be impossible for some of us. Does that mean we should sacrifice our sensuality or sexuality? Absofuckin’lutely not. In an ongoing effort to acknowledge and celebrate every reader’s sexuality, here are some Internet finds that are for bold, bodacious, real-figured women and the people who love them.

Thank you Lady for speaking up!

Sizzling Lingerie Sites

Shockingly, this ad was deemed too risque for a host of networks. The same networks who air Victoria’s Secret ads without hesitation. Makes you think, doesn’t it? I think the gal in the ad is scrumptious.

The web is a sea of resources, but after an afternoon of careful poking around, here are some of my favorite lingerie sites for women with serious curves:

Secrets in Lace

Angelique

Hips and Curves

Sites with great “plus-size” sections:

Oh Cheri

Trashy (only up to size 14)

Further Inspiration

Here are a few additional resources, tidbits, and morsels from the web:

This compelling segment from the Ellen show features four of the most popular plus-size models in the fashion industry, and some really promising words from Glamour magazine. This popular fashion magazine has made a pledge to its readers to feature a real variety of body types in it’s pages. It’s about time someone did.

The Curvy Life is a blog I stumbled on that I think is really brilliant. It’s good reading for any woman, and a really positive, beautifully laid-out site. Here’s their mission statement:

It’s The Curvy Life’s mission is to empower women to stand in the full power of their bodies and to embrace their beautiful curves, no matter the size. It’s time to create a culture of body love, so GET YOUR CURVE ON!

Plus Model Magazine is the premiere magazine celebrating and inspiring the plus size fashion, beauty, arts and plus size modeling industries. Check out their blog and subscribe online here.

 

Gallery of Gorgeousness

Finally, here are some smokin’ hot pics of some of my favorite buxom beauties. For more incredible beauty, check out Plus Models

Natalie Laughlin

Maggie Brown

Barbara Brickner

Crystal Renn

Kate Dillon

Mia Tyler

Toccara Jones

Whitney Thompson

Christina Hendricks

There’s so many more gorgeous curvy women in the media! Tell us who your favourite buxom babe is.


Kinder, gentler

A plastinated human from Gunther von Hagens' Body Worlds

If I don’t include the horrible way I’ve been eating over the holidays, I’ve made some pretty excellent changes in the kinds of things that I eat, and was doing really well with going to the gym fairly regularly.

This is a slippery slope for me, because it kick starts some serious body-image obsession, and some not so healthy patterns of thinking. I’m consumed with guilt because I’ve been “bad”, even though it’s the time of year when everyone does this kind of thing.

I never weigh myself, but over the holidays I got on a scale, and though I was happy to see that I’ve lost about ten pounds since the last time I’d weighed in, I still have about ten to go before I’m happy with the numbers. Next, I will measure myself and compare to some earlier measurements.

Rather than feel proud of my success, I start to think about how I can axe those last ten pounds quickly. Anyone who knows anything about nutrition and health knows that there is no healthy way to quickly loose weight. I know this too, but sometimes I just don’t care.

I see photos of myself, and can see the difference, but all I fixate on is how much further I have to go before I’m satisfied.

New Year’s Resolution Number Two:

I will treat my body beautifully, and stop comparing myself to other women. Nutrition will be important, and exercise, and I will know that I look the way I’m supposed to because I am mindful of these two things. I will not do stupid things to myself for the sake of being smaller than I currently am. I’ll check in daily with my journal to keep myself on track – not weighing, measuring, or listing food that I’ve consumed, but writing about how I think and feel about my body.