By now I think we are pretty well aware that the media promotes impossibly unrealistic standards around beauty. Every where we click there are celebrities and influencers showing off perfect bodies (and let’s be real honest, perfectly photoshopped or altered bodies), often leaving us thinking “I wish I looked like that, too”. Filters on instagram used to take our images from a normal iphone snap to a sepia toned image or would add cute little floating hearts around our heads. Now filters can completely alter the way we look at just the tap of a finger, often leaving us feeling underwhelmed with our actual faces underneath them, and negatively comparing ourselves to the filtered faces we see on so many accounts we follow.
According to research provided by Nicole K. McNichols Ph.D. in an article on Psychology Today, ” Ninety percent of women and 20 to 40 percent of men report body dissatisfaction. At the same time, there is a significant link between poor body image and low libido, and low sexual satisfaction.” This means that the way we view ourselves, specifically our physical selves, impacts our sexual desire and the pleasure we get during sex. That sucks, right? Now let’s talk about how we can stop that.
When you’re getting busy with your partner, do you often find yourself thinking things like ” I need to suck in so my belly doesn’t jiggle” or “my ass probably looks huge from this angle” and “my cellulite is so gross”. We as women have been conditioned to view ourselves as objects to be looked at. According to Dr. McNichols, this leads to “spectatoring,” which is a fancy word for the act of judging and monitoring ourselves during sex as though we are a fly on the wall looking in. This totally ruins the sexual experience by taking attention away from any pleasurable sensations and causes disassociation from the body and it keeps us from being able to enjoy sex. It also keeps us from being able to truly connect with our partners because we are too caught up in our own negative thoughts to pick up on any of their cues and be present with them in the moment.
During sex the part of your brain that is responsible for thinking, judging, and worrying is meant to be hushed. When we have poor body image, the negative thoughts we are having about ourselves during sex keep that very part of the brain active – which then leads us to have a difficult time connecting with ourselves and our partners by being present in the moment and in our own body.
A lot of times women with poor body image will start to avoid sex altogether. This can amplify the problem by leading to less and less sexual desire, less intimacy with a partner, and the inability to respond to our partners sexually. If we aren’t careful, this can then lead to complete loss of intimacy with our partners and damage the quality of our relationship as a whole. Girl, let’s not do that. Here are some tips for improving your body image so that it doesn’t ruin your self image or your sex life.
Everyone deserves to feel comfortable and confident in their own bodies, and everyone deserves good sex that isn’t compromised due to negative self-talk. Understanding how our negative body image can affect our sexual satisfaction is the first step. So if you’re someone (like so many of us are) struggling with this – you’re not alone girlfriend. Let’s talk about it. Don’t be ashamed. I hope this helps <3
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Kalu Ndukwe Kalu
The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.