• Devyn Molina

Does sex help body image?

Your body image might be what’s preventing you from enjoying sex.

Image courtesy of Daily Xtra.

The way we feel about our bodies is contingent on so many factors in our lives. Sex is one of them. Our perception of our bodies can be our worst enemies when it comes to feeling sexy and truly enjoying sex. It’s that voice in our heads that tells us we’re not good enough or that we have to look a certain way to be sexually attractive.

For women especially, having a poor body image that effects their sex lives is actually more common than you think. While the thought of stripping down in front of your sexual partner might make you uneasy, experts say that sex can not only boost your confidence but aide in changing your overall body image.

Before you can start changing your negative body image, it’s imperative to know why you might be feeling this way. For starters, the media often portrays women as sexual objects rather than real people. It’s rare to see an add that hasn’t been touched-up, creating a standard of what is deemed as sexy. Women are expected to have tight bums, perky breasts, a small waist and be free of all body hair, stretch marks and cellulite. It’s no wonder that they end up carrying this impossible beauty standard into their sex lives.

Inspired by her experiences as a dating expert, Gillian Myhill, co-founder of the new app, BARE Dating, was determined to create a space that would allow women to feel safe revealing themselves emotionally and physically. She noticed that poor body image was one of the biggest problems in the dating app culture as most interactions are based purely on looks.

Conventional dating apps and social media feeds have definitely clouded our judgement. With that being said, it’s no wonder that women already feel judged by their physical appearance, basing it entirely off what other people might find sexually attractive.

Gillian says, “A lot of us struggle with body image, I think it's safe to say that most of us have areas of ourselves that we would like to change or improve in some way. These things can often impact our sex lives. Women feeling uncomfortable with their bodies is a big thing, as women we tend to view our body’s in comparison to others.”

This toxic comparison can follow you into the bedroom, making you develop habits like only having sex with the lights off or under the covers so your partner can’t see your body. Being stuck inside your head, constantly worrying about what your partner thinks of you will ultimately hinder your sexual performance and might make it even harder for you to orgasm.

While Gillian recongizes the negative link between sex and body image, she, like so many other experts, believe that sex can actually help rather than hurt your relationship with your body. She’s constantly encouraging her clients to have more sex in order to feel sexy, saying, “To be looked at in a certain way, to be desired sexually, to be touched, kissed and tasted, it’s a very powerful thing. When a partner does get it right, sex can and does make a women feel incredibly sexy and confident.”

On your journey to bettering your body image and feeling your most sexy, you can enlist the help of your partner. Gillian suggests, “Partners need to be aware of how their other half feels about themselves. It’s not always as easy as it sounds, so many of us are not honest about the way we really feel about our bodies. Be attentive, reinforce how beautiful they are in your eyes, and try and work with them on how to dispel the negative feelings that they potentially have”

Image courtesy of Heathline.

It’s important to feel comfortable telling your partner what you like when it comes to sex, but you should also be able to tell them what bothers you. Being open with your partner about your insecurities with your body can bring you closer to them and create a sense of intimacy as they help you see yourself the way they do.

“When you have your partner looking at you in all your glory and telling you how much they desire you is a wonderful thing. When those lumpy bits or scars or marks are held without judgement and you are embraced and truly desired exactly as you are, the negative feelings that you have been harboring will melt away,” explains Gillian.

But if you still find yourself focusing on how you look during sex, there are other ways to feel comfortable while improving your body image. One of the strategies that you can try is to practice positive affirmations. Start by finding things about your body that you like and that you find sexy. Believe it or not, positive affirmations are actually backed by psychological theory. However, it doesn’t happen overnight. Practicing positive affirmations long-term can have an effect on how you think and view yourself.

Gillian adds, “Confidence comes from within so I’d suggest ensuring that working on your views about yourself first before looking to the exterior. This a personal journey each woman needs to go on alone, reminding yourself that beauty is not skin deep but is far deeper, surrounding yourself with those people that make you feel confident about yourself, who make you feel empowered as well as beautiful.”

Most of the time, your perception of your body is really just all in your head. Outside factors like societal standards and the media we consume might not make it easier but when you can change your relationship with your body, your relationship with sex will follow. You should try to remember that your sexual partner, regardless of the relationship, is having sex with you because they find you sexually attractive. They’re most likely not thinking about any flaws you think you have and are merely enjoying having sex with you.

Getting yourself out of your head and allowing yourself to be in the moment can have a huge impact on your sex life. Don’t feel pressured to love every little part of yourself because let’s be real, that’s not realistic. There is no such thing as the “ideal body” and every body, including yours, is worthy of feeling sexy.