Advice

WAfyWF: Breaking news: Body shame is bad for sex

Question: How can I stop worrying and learn to love my bits?

My partner really likes to 69 and I’m sure he wishes we did it more. I don’t hate it. In fact, I usually enjoy it when we’re actually in it! However… I’m really self-conscious about how I look down there. Enough so that a partner having a front-row seat (and a backstage pass) gives me pause. Sometimes it’s all I can think about and I can’t let go and enjoy myself. How do I get over it so we can both have fun?

Signed,

Shy Between the Thighs

Answer: As with all things, practice.

Dear Shy,

Friend, our culture tells us some toxic lies about our bodies, and so many of us suffer as a result. The world tells us our bodies are dirty, gross, obscene, and shameful, and considering that we have to live in these bodies for our entire lives, those beliefs are super hurtful. It’s not just our sex lives that take the hit, but our confidence in general, and even our willingness to seek medical treatment. When we feel shame about our bodies, the effects reverberate throughout our lives, so the first steps toward learning to love your body is recognizing these lies for what they are. 

The next step is to replace those toxic lies with beliefs that are both true and empowering: Bodies are good and beautiful. They are amazing little machines that do so much for us. They are uniquely adapted vehicles for navigating the world as well as sources of beauty and pleasure. Bodies deserve to be loved, honored, and well cared for. Intellectually, you may already believe that, but it can be hard to apply that belief to your own body. It will take practice and self reflection, literally. 

Practice looking at your body lovingly. Spend some time getting to know your body on its own terms. LOOK at it. Sit or stand in front of a mirror, in good light, and honestly get to know what you look like between the thighs and everywhere else. You can even have conversations with your body. For example, during a workout, tell your body, “You’re doing great! You’re so strong!” and during sensual moments, you can tell your body, “You are good, and you deserve to feel good.” 

Look at other examples. There is so much variety in human bodies, and as a friend recently told me, “The range of what’s normal is not narrow.” If you are a person with a vulva, I highly recommend The Cunt Coloring Book as a source. In a previous post, I recommended a Reddit community where people share pictures of their bodies to help educate one another and normalize all the different types of bodies. There’s also a gallery somewhere out there called “normal nude vulvas,” so you can see some examples of the natural variety that exists. 

You mentioned that your partner loves to 69. Can you ask him to talk to you about why? It’s possible the factors that make you self conscious are the same ones that excite him. I hope he is someone who enjoys validating and complimenting you and your body because a bit of positive reinforcement from your lover can go a long way. 

Try to trust that your partner wouldn’t ask you to do something like 69 if he found your body objectionable. He’s excited about you and the way you make each other feel. I promise, no one asks to get that up close and personal with body parts they don’t already like. Or… if they do, they’ve got some personal stuff to work out, not you. The next time he asks, it’s ok if you say, “I’m not ready,” or “I’m feeling self conscious,” so the two of you can ease into the situation. In my opinion, a good partner will be more than happy to take their time and put you at ease so you can both enjoy being together. 

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