10 Body Image Boosters for Satisfying Sex

Based on research, who do you think is most likely to have a gratifying sex life?

Amy: a slightly overweight American

Beatrice: a lithe Brazilian supermodel

Cassandra: a post-menopausal American with saggy breasts and cellulite

Deirdre: a post-menopausal Parisian with saggy breasts and cellulite

Erica: a healthy mid-30s American of average build

Fannie: a Vegas stripper

I’ll start with the wrong answers. For Amy, like more than 50% of adults, self-perceived unattractiveness distracts her in many facets of life, sexuality included. Beatrice, like many models, is anorexic—a condition that starves the body not only of nourishment, but sexual function and libido. Cassandra deems her aging body un-sexy, therefore non-sexual, and may be experiencing unaddressed hormonal imbalances that worsen matters. Erica sees more flaws than fabulousness in her body, holding herself up to ideals of pop culture and weight-fixated friends. So while she may desire sex, insecurity often minimizes or prevents her pleasure. Fannie has lost sight of what sexual intimacy truly is, and likely suffers complications derived from sexual trauma in her youth.

Before we all start mixing valium with vodka or punching walls, meet Deirdre. Older French women’s confidence, sexual beliefs and cultural philosophies regarding beauty and aging make Deirdre deLight the clear winner, suggests research.

Va va va VOOM.

Viva la VOOM!

In France, women consider themselves sexy as they age, says John H. Gagnon, PhD. A study he headed showed that French women, including those with sagging parts, continue to have sex routinely after age 50, significantly more than American women.

I certainly found this to be true. When I moved to Paris during my modeling days, I expected photographers and clients to impart more physique-related pressure than I’d experienced in Manhattan. At my first shoot, the photographer said, “Stick your belly out. I want you to look more natural.” Unfortunately, it was too late for me to look natural or embrace the French notions of embracing one’s self more so than Western culture encourages. But I’ve never forgotten that.

It would be easy to fill this post with reasons we tend to feel insecure about our bodies–a primary reason female sexual pleasure and desire dwindle. Research in the U.S. has shown that women’s body dissatisfaction has more than doubled since the 1970s, according to Katharine Phillips, MD, director of the Body Image Program at Butler Hospital. From the $40-plus billion dieting industry to the media’s unrealistic portrayal of beauty, the contributing factors are as innumerable as they are severe.

Here at Girl Boner Central, we prefer to focus on the positives. Why? Because there are plenty to be had. Confidence is one of the biggest, most valuable turn-ons for women and men, and it’s more attainable than you might think. While the notion seems sweet, we need not move to Paree

10 Realistic Ways to Feel Better About Our Bodies (And Savor the Satisfying Sex Lives We Deserve)

1. Focus on Pleasure. We all have gas pedals (things that entice us) and brakes (things that trigger inhibition), according to the dual control model of sexual response. The feel of your partner’s arms around you or the smell of his cologne could push your gas pedal, for example, while pondering recent weight gain or an acne flareup might activate the breaks. “By being mindful and learning to enjoy the way your body responds to touch,” writes sex educator Emily Nagoski, “you can train your ‘brakes’ to ignore body image and other thoughts that can impede sexual arousal and orgasm.” In other words, focus on what excites you.

2. Know that he probably loves your breasts. Research shows that up to 70 percent of women worry about breast size. Research also shows that while men indeed love breasts, they tend to most enjoy their partners’ most, regardless of size. Women often assume that bigger and perkier are better. “This tells us that a lot of people are worrying about their appearance for no good reason,” says Justin Lehmiller, a Harvard University social psychologist and sex columnist. (The same applies to men; they tend to worry about penis size, while women seldom do.)

3. Masturbate regularly. Sexual pleasure and orgasm are powerful stress reducers, and poor body image can be a mega stressor. Masturbation allows us to experience sensual pleasure without fear of others’ judgment or watchful eyes. It also increases sexual confidence by allowing us to learn more about our bodies and what makes us tick. Watching ourselves self-stimulate can be powerful, particularly if we learn to embrace what we see in the mirror.

4. Exercise regularly. We don’t need to be triathletes, but the Mayo Clinic recommends routine cardiovascular and strength-training activity for boosted body confidence and sex drive. Focusing on what our bodies can do and the benefits of increased health, fitness and energy make way for all around improvements. Exercise also increases the metabolism and burns excess calories, staving off excess pounds that often fuel insecurity.

5. Steer clear of toxins. I’m not talking about nicotine or air pollutants—though those won’t help either. Airbrushed magazine images, fad diets and relationships with people who judge us by our appearance or fixate on their own are proven body image zappers. Surround yourself with uplifting books, magazines and television. Aim for a balanced diet, based on whole foods, and choose your friends wisely.

6. Address underlying issues. Poor body image often derives from issues more significant than our waist size, breast shape or skin tone. Looking inward, making efforts to address life dissatisfaction and seeking professional help when necessary can go a long way toward resolving underlying causes. The more we stifle them, the more damaging they’re likely to become.

7. Respect your insecurities, and change gradually. If only we could click our heels together and POOF!—no more problems. (Even Dorothy had to work for improvements.) Small, gradual efforts add up over time, and every one counts. Amy Levine, sex coach and Ignite Your Pleasure founder, recommends wearing lingerie that covers body parts of concern at the start of sexual play, then gradually removing it as our comfort increases. The same can be done with lighting, going from dark to dim.

8. Communicate. Talking to our partners about how we feel about our bodies can provide perspective and enhance intimacy. In many cases, our partners aren’t concerned about our bodies the same way we are. They may also have insecurities of their own. If they love and respect you, they’ll do what they can to support you and your growth.

9. Try something new! It’s easy to get so wrapped up in our insecurities that adventurousness falls to the wayside. Exploring new sexual experiences, such as new sexual positions, pleasure toys, background music and role playing, however, can distract us from body angst, rev our sexual engines and provide a sense of empowerment. Need some ideas? Check out Cosmo‘s 31 Ways to Spice Up Your Sex Life.

10. Crank the tunes. No, that isn’t bizarre sexual slang—that I know of. A study commissioned by Spotify found that 40% of people value music over their partner’s physique when it comes to sexual arousal. Create playlists for your varied sexual moods then get the party started.

How do you keep body insecurities from hindering your sex life? Which of these tips appeal most to you? What songs make your GB-turn on list? I love hearing from you, and welcome all respectful thoughts.

As a reminder, signups for the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest II have begun! I hope to see many of you there.

Leave a comment

26 Comments

  1. Awesome post. It’s odd, but when I was in my bikini-body youth, I was a total insecure mess. I was convinced I wasn’t too appealing and acted accordingly. One baby and several sagging parts later, I enjoy the naked part more. It’s a relief to find that the only one worried about stretch marks was me 🙂

    Reply
    • So glad this struck a positive chord with you, Tori! Body confidence and being present in the pleasure-seeking moment go much further than “perfect” physique, however we define it.

      Reply
  2. I read in a magazine long ago that when things heat up, men are a lot more fixated on the fact that they’re about to get some, than they are about a few extra pounds on the woman’s thighs and belly. And if my husband’s anything to go on, it’s absolutely true! 😀

    Reply
    • Interesting, Jennette. That ties in a bit with an upcoming topic. 😉

      Studies have shown that guys are often as concerned about their bodies, namely penis size, as women are about breast size and such — in both cases, needlessly. We humans sure are a wacky bunch, right?

      Reply
  3. One of the things that I think helps both men and women is to not eat garbage.

    While that is a natural and obvious point, the secondary point is what actual wise choices do for your self esteem. You can approach the bed as a bad-ass much easier if you feel good about your daily health choices in general, on top of the physical benefits that affords. The mental confidence factor is key, and that come much easier if your confidence is there for good reason, rather than because you had to psyche yourself out

    Reply
    • As a nutritionist and recovered anorexic, I hear you there, Samuel. Emphasizing healthy, whole foods helps a ton — mood, physique, energy, confidence and brain function wise. Same for finding enjoyable ways to eat namely healthy fare.

      Totally agree on the mental factor — more powerful than many of us realize, in potentially positive and negative ways.

      Reply
  4. Love it, August. And it’s super true. Also, the regular exercise helps the blood flow in all the right areas *if you know what I mean*…

    Reply
  5. mgmillerbooks

     /  January 28, 2013

    How dull I feel today. No problems with body image or penis size, and I have a great sex life. Guess I’ve been doing something right all along.

    Reply
    • Dull? I think not! Very happy to hear that.

      Reply
      • mgmillerbooks

         /  January 29, 2013

        Oh, yes. And Delibes’ “Viens, Mallika” usually gets my motor running.

        So, last night, I was kissed by someone who said they’d been wanting to date me for over a year, and for the first time, a kiss alone made me discharge. That was one fine kiss.

      • Love. Sounds like soul and story fodder to me. 😉

  6. First, it did not surprise me that the middle-aged Parisian had the most satisfactory sex life.

    These are powerful ideas; many of which I’ve learned since you began this series. Today’s bonus? You provided more reference material.

    [There are some whose eyeballs might literally pop should they look at my Internet trail. Ah! The places I’ve been; the things I’ve learned. ;-)]

    In my newbie-despite-years opinion, both exercise and masturbation increase blood flow to important areas. I’m beginning to understand why some women experience orgasm during exercise.

    I still struggle a bit with body image despite the fact that I weigh less than I did in High School and exercise regularly. It takes a while to exorcise old images and skewed perceptions.

    The other “self nurturing” thing I began about a week ago was to properly hydrate. Yeah, I know. “Duh.” I am an iced Tazo Zen Green Tea junkie, and thought I got enough water in the copious amounts of tea I drank. Since it has a wee bit of caffeine, I have actually been dehydrating my body. Now, it’s 2 waters for each tea. My skin is much softer and pleasing to my touch. I’ll let you know when I get that wickedly wild second opinion. IYKWIM.

    It takes little effort, and offers huge payoffs to stay properly groomed & moisturized.

    Reply
  7. The other day I thought “What irony that just when sex is kickass, my orgasms more intense than ever, when I’m feeling strong and confident and sexy, when I feel I could do just about anything, when I’m damn near purring, that, well, dang, my body is beginning to show signs of aging . . . .” But right when I thought that, I laughed at the absurdity of the thought. . . yeah. I’m feeling pretty damned sexy even at 55, and why not allow myself to feel, and be, that way? Better than slumping around sexless and out of shape with my confidence left on some dusty old shelf.

    WHAPOW!

    Reply
  8. Raani York

     /  January 28, 2013

    I have to admit: it’s easy for me to fully enjoy my intimate life: I do have a partner who admires me and tells me how much he loves me and he thinks I’m gorgeous and sexy. What better is there than this to just enjoy and feel instead of “hide and think”?

    Reply
  9. journalpulp

     /  January 28, 2013

    I recently read about an exhaustive study which after months concluded that indeed “heavier women have more satisfying sex.” The only possible downside, the study reported, is that when these women are done having sex, they like to roll over and smoke a ham.

    I sometimes think the most remarkable thing about beauty — which is so closely connected to sexuality — is that it’s not just any one thing physically. The beauty of a woman? It’s multifarious, manifold. All women are beautiful. Stretch marks give me a boner, to be perfectly honest. Big breasts, flat chests (“little breasts are better in the long run,” wrote James Salter), cellulite thighs, almond eyes, tall women, little women, tight, curvy, heavy, thin — it’s what’s within. Cliche, I know, and I wince myself to say it, and yet the ones that have meant most to me are the ones who are more or less comfortable in their own skin.

    Reply
  10. Even though I think my stomach lacks definition, hubby is very appreciative of all my soft curves and that makes me feel more sexy.

    Reply
  11. Excellent post! I am adding it to my page of “Intriguing Posts I have Found” if that’s all right by you.
    Thanks,
    Scott

    Reply
  12. melanietoulouse

     /  January 29, 2013

    Hi from Toulouse, France, “old Europe”! 🙂 super-post, glad I’ve come across your awesome blog! I’ll try to surf over asap…
    – – –
    @”In France, women consider themselves sexy as they age, says John H. Gagnon, PhD. A study he headed showed that French women, including those with sagging parts, continue to have sex routinely after age 50, significantly more than American women.”

    I do agree and I do confirm, as I lived in the US for 5 years… 🙂 Guess my age! 😉 NO lifting, no botox, no face job, no lipo, no other “chemicals”… 😀 Healthy food, no snacks, sports and… last but not least: love, of course! 🙂
    – – –
    My very best and good luck in all your endeavours! 🙂 A bientôt!

    Reply
  13. Hollywood, magazines, and clothing designers do tend to make ‘real’ women fell less than their best, or worse than they should. Unfortunately it also causes many men to judge real women as lacking because they can’t compete with celebrities and models who wear 0-5. To that I say screw it. I will always work on ‘me,’ because I know I can always be better…but in the words of Popeye, “I am what I am.” Okay, so maybe he says, “I yam what I yam,” but I’m not gonna say that because (sorry) I’m not a huge Popeye fan…and I think it sounds silly. Everyone needs to embrace that attitude and not care what others think…and then maybe they will be more accepting of themselves. (sleep deprived again, so I’m rambling)

    I love your suggestions, although I’m still going to keep clicking those heels. One of these days they might finally work. There’s no place like RDJ’s… Um, never mind. 🙂

    Reply
  14. Maggi

     /  January 30, 2013

    I get the award for self deprecating queen every time. I can’t wait to be like Oprah and just drop out of the race already. I’m working on this and have seen improvement over the recent years. My self consciousness is definitely to blame for much but, my partners lack of education is another issue. How does the self proclaimed WIP encourage her partner to educate and take a more active role in making it better?? Numbers 3&4 are the only ones I’ve got under control.

    Reply
  15. Reblogged this on The Sexy Cynics.

    Reply
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