How Negative Body Image Can Damage Your Sexual Satisfaction

Filed in culture, sex  /  September 16, 2021 /

How Negative Body Image Can Damage Your Sexual Satisfaction

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.

Tips for improving body image

  1. Spend time with people who don’t talk about how they look and how others look all of the time. Give your energy to people who discuss passions and interests over physical appearances. Get in the habit of shutting down conversations that are focused on body shaming.
  2. Put your energy into the things that make you feel good about yourself. Are you an excellent painter? Do more of that. Does working out make you feel energized and more positive afterwards? Make time for the gym, even on the days you just don’t want to go. Do you enjoy photography? Hone in on your craft. Build your confidence in other areas of your life, that aren’t focused on physical appearance.
  3. Start telling yourself (internally or out loud) the things about your body that you appreciate. Try going on a walk first thing in the morning and noticing all of the things that your body is able to do for you. Are your legs taking you somewhere, one step at a time? Thank them. Are you inhaling and exhaling? Thank your lungs for doing what you need them to keep you alive and well. Are you to hear the birds chirping and your neighbor telling you Good Morning as she passes you by? Be grateful for those ears. Make it a habit to pay attention to all of the incredible things your body does do.
  4. Unfollow accounts that keep you questioning your self-worth. Are you following tons of models, celebrities, and influencers on social media that you find yourself comparing your body to? Unfollow them. It’s nothing personal – its self-care. It doesn’t have to be forever, but at least until you are feeling more confident in your own skin. Instead, try following accounts that leave you feeling inspired. Artists, designers, creative writers, mental health professionals. Fill your feed with accounts that fill you up.

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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