One of the biggest barriers to great sex stems from anxiety and shame surrounding our bodies. Think about it, if your mind is consumed with thoughts like “my thighs are too big” or “what does my ass look like in this position” or “my vulva is smelly, hairy, deformed” there is no room for you to let go and allow your mind to help you achieve orgasm. And it’s not just about orgasm – poor body image may prevent you from having sex in the first place. Or if you do get that far, maybe you make your partner keep the lights off so you feel less exposed. Or maybe you avoid different positions because of how a body part may appear from a certain angle.
The most powerful, and quite frankly unexpected, benefit from my first Bodysex experience was the normalization of these body image concerns that most women share. And then the ease with which we were able to open up about them and realize how unnecessary these fears and anxieties are. How much they limit our ability to experience pleasure. And how much beauty and uniqueness we all bring to the world. Seeing how beautiful and different all of the women were, yet the similarities in what we worry about was incredibly healing. I found myself in a sacred space that normalized real women and real bodies – not the air-brushed images that are constantly invading our reality.
An incredible sense of pride emerged for me as I drew attention to the parts of my body that I like the least and then (while witnessed by these other women) learned about, owned, and explored why and how they are a part of who I am: where I’ve been, the struggles I’ve overcome, the strength and power of my body. The circle helped me to re-frame my negative thoughts and turn them into statements of pride. For example, instead of viewing stretch marks from pregnancy and breastfeeding as ugly scars, I now see them as beautiful representations of the sacrifices I made to bring life into this world and provide daily nourishment to my thriving children. My hips allowed me to carry and deliver a baby, which I may not have been able to do with smaller hips. My thighs, which supported me during both of my pregnancies, enable me to dance and walk and run.
These re-framed positive thoughts emerged during the workshop, but that was just the beginning of my journey towards self-acceptance and self-love. It is not easy, but I frequently reflect upon that experience of being witnessed and celebrated by other women, without any masks to hide behind. When I find myself slipping back to negative perceptions of my body, I remember the courage that I summoned during my Bodysex experience, the unconditional acceptance I felt in that circle of women, and I’m able to re-frame my thinking.
Imagine how your sex life would be different if you re-channeled the energy you spent on negative self talk into being more present in the moment with your partner. If you could fully surrender to the experience and let go of anxiety and fear and shame. If you were kinder to yourself and appreciative of all of the “flaws” that make you beautiful just the way you are.
Photo credit: Meghan Mickelson