5 Things a #GirlBoner Isn’t

As y’all know, I spend a lot of time exploring what Girl Boners are and why they matter. I discuss them here and on my show, in articles and at events and have even asked strangers in LA what they think a Girl Boner is. (For a recap of that adventure, listen to my first Girl Boner® Radio episode or watch this video.)


Yes, I adore all-things-Girl Boners! Today I thought I’d clarify a few things a Girl Boner isn’t.

1. An invitation. As with all genders, being aroused doesn’t necessarily mean a gal wants or deems it wise to act on it sexually. If you want to know if a woman is turned on and sex-ready—a question I hear often—feel the situation out. Pay attention to her words and body language. When in doubt, ask her what’s she’s up for. Don’t assume.

*Related: check out this awesome video: Consent and Tea.

2. A flaw. Sexual shame is pretty universally common, but women are particularly prone to it for all sorts of reasons, from religious influences to societal messaging. And that shame hurts everyone. There is nothing shameful about your sexuality. 

3. Only, or mostly, for others. I hear routinely from women who were taught early on that sex is something we give men. What year is this again?

Sexist 2

Our sexuality is our own, first and foremost. If we decide to share it with another/others of any gender, great. If not, great.

4. Necessary. Yes, I LOVE Girl Boners with a passion—but I also realize that how often or intensely one experiences them has no bearing on her worth. If you’re asexual, for example, you’re just as valuable and embraceable as anyone else.

5. One-size-fits-all. Like our bodies, Girl Boners come in a whole range of—beautiful—shapes, sizes and styles. All folks experience turn-on uniquely, physically and emotionally. That is a seriously groovy thing.

Now THAT's better.

Now THAT’s better.

***Stay tuned for details about Embraceable‘s virtual release festivities, taking place the first week of February! ♥

Sexual Confidence: How to Feel Sexier Naked

Watching a partner undress is one of the sexiest turn-ons for many couples. For the countless women with low body image, sadly, the “birthday suit” can feel more like “oh, crap!” attire. The result? Anxiety, stress and reduced sex drive. To further complicate this catch-22, sexual activity and intimacy can enhance body image, self-esteem and emotional health. In other words, the very thing that causes many women personal strife can help prevent and potentially cure the flareup triggers. Turning this snowball (pun embraced!) in the right direction is well worth it.

Signs That Your Body Image and Sexual Confidence Could Use Boosting

body image sex

If thoughts of baring it all makes you feel like this, you may want to change your tune…

  • You’re uncomfortable undressing before your partner.
  • You demand “lights off,” or to be covered by blankets, during sex.
  • You contemplate your body’s “imperfections” during sex.
  • You frequently compare your physique and appearance with those of other women.
  • Swimsuits and lingerie—shopping and wearing—tank your moods.
  • You wear oversized clothing and avoid skimpy threads.
  • You often weigh yourself, diet or experience food-related guilt.
  • You have difficulty believing or accepting compliments on your appearance.
  • You’d go a year without sex, if it meant you could be thinner (or otherwise physically altered).
  • You spend more time and energy worrying about your physical “flaws” and attractiveness than you do desiring, fantasizing about or initiating sex.

If you’ve been following my Girl Boner series or caught last week’s post on “female viagra,” you know that I attribute most problems with female sexual desire with poor body image and self-esteem. Fueled by media’s representation of women and sexuality, the $40+ billion dieting industry and other factors, such as our personal role models and upbringing, body image pitfalls can seem impossible to overcome. How can we feel sexy naked when the whole darn world seems to tell us we’re anything but?

Maintaining positive body image in, and outside of, the bedroom is not only doable, but vital, in my opinion. Comfort in our own skin is associated with increased physical attractiveness and sex appeal, heightened sexual satisfaction and frequency and relationship contentment. And it doesn’t take raising our self-perception to arrogant heights. When we develop sexual self-confidence, we don’t make like Narcissa, gazing admiringly into mirrors. We care less about what others think about our bodies, ponder our physical appearance less, and invest more time and energy into worthier pursuits: living and loving, to name the biggies.

In addition to the tips I shared last week, on ways to boost body image and libido, the following steps can help us feel more confident naked while we work on the deeper issues in our lives (which tend to take time). If your body image and sex-drive are severely low or simply seem unmanageable, I hope you’ll consider professional help. There’s no shame, and plentiful empowerment, in that kind of work and healing.

10 Ways to Feel Sexier Naked

1. Spend more time naked. If we’re only naked during sex, we’re more likely to feel uncomfortable. Sleep naked. Spend more time clothesless before or after showering. If you have the privacy, heck, clean the house naked.

2. Dim the lights. Dim lights are romantic. They also tend to be flattering. Cosmo photographers, Chris Clinton and Alexa Miller, suggest sex by candlelight, which softens our features, adding a sense of mystique.

3. Exercise. Exercising, preferably in a way we find enjoyable, staves off depressive moods and stress while helping us feel fitter physically. We shouldn’t exercise to slenderize, in my view, but to feel capable, healthy and strong.

4. Masturbate. I know, I recommend this for just about everything. If the habit fits… 😉 Seriously, self-stimulation increases sexual confidence, which helps us grow more comfortable with our bodies and sexuality.

5. Trash magazines and images that makes you feel bad. Even swimsuit models wish they looked precisely like their heavily airbrushed photos nowadays. Artwork of women of all shapes, ages and sizes often present, encourage and celebrate real beauty. The same holds true for publications that empower us, rather than instruct us to diet or cleanse our way “fit.”

6. Turn on the tunes. As we discussed back in March, music turns us on—40 percent more than touch, according to a Spotify study. Choose music you find alluring, or work together with your partner.

7. Emphasize your favorite features. A poll conducted by Gfk/MRI showed that women feel sexiest when they doll their faces up before a night out. The confidence boost can carry us through the night, prepping us for steamy bedroom fun later.

8. Stand at a 3/4 angle. According to Clinton and Miller, facing a partner straight on can make us look a bit square, while angling slightly accentuates our sexy curves.

9. Wear heels. No, they aren’t the healthiest shoes on the planet, but they sure can help! (If you feel sexier in flip-flops or other flats, though, by all means, wear them!) Taller shoes engage leg muscles in a complimentary way, and raise confidence. This is why models often wear heels during photo shoots, whether their feet show or not. I just think it feels sexy—being naked, except for heels.

10. Tell yourself you’re beautiful, just the way you are. We might feel a little cheesy-motivational-speaker-y, but you know what? Affirmations work. Negative self-talk does the opposite, so do your best to swap self-bashing for self-love. Then report back, so we can celebrate your Girl Boner journey. 🙂

Are you comfortable naked? What has helped or hurt body image-wise? Which tip strikes you most? I love hearing from you. So much so, that I’m also going to invite you to a SPECIAL EVENT!

For more on these issues, join me this Wednesday at 12pm PST, for a Bonfire Chat hosted by Gigi Ross: How Body Image Affects Sex. I’ll be appearing on a live, online panel with a group of groovy gals. To join us, visit the event page and RSVP.

#GirlBoner: An Introduction

I’ve been contemplating girl boners for years.

Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

It all started in 1990. My family had moved from a very diverse St. Paul area to the safer, if eerily homogenous, suburbs. On my first day of school, I wondered if my mostly Scandinavian could-be-my-siblings classmates derived from Stepford parents, which made my own existence much more interesting.

Before that school year started, I was confident of three things (four if you include my Stepford hypothesis): Paula Abdul rocked. The strict teacher I’d been cursed with didn’t. And soon my classmates and I would learn all about S…E…X.

Little did I know then where that class would lead. Based on my memory, here’s what happened:

I was sitting amidst a sea of students, some pale and fidgeting, others pink-cheeked and snickering, when Ms. Cloke,* aka Cruella Deville, started the projector.

“Welcome to sexual education…” Her frog-tone words blurred like the teacher’s voice on Charlie Brown in my horrified brain. “Wah-WA-wah-WA-wah…” Here I’d been hoping to learn the truth behind soap opera steam and all things hush-hush-adult. But Ms. Cloke’s voice was so…teachery.

“Wah-WA-wah-WA-wah,” she continued. “…erect penis.”

Huh? Muter mechanism, off. Now she had my attention. My eyes must’ve widened at the scientific drawing of a naked man on the screen, his penis pointing upward in firm salute.

It looks painful, I thought, keeping my view peripheral.

“It actually feels quite good,” said Cruella.

Jesus! Could she hear my thoughts?!? I stared at the floor, resisting the urge to scope the joint. Was that hidden in all the boys’ pants? This was sex ed, after all. Our bodies were changing…

Don’t look, don’t look! I scolded myself, my brain conjuring images of boys’ bulging crotches beneath neighboring desks. I shot a glance toward one. No bulge.

As I reviewed Ms. Cloke’s explanation, my nervous self-coaching took pause. If men had erections… What felt “quite good” for ladies?

Calmed by curiosity, I honed in on the lecture: More about erections, the triggers in boys and men, what men do with their standing penises during intercourse and something about women’s vaginas. That part, I’d heard.

Thank goodness we were on to vaginas. Surely Ms. Cloke would answer my pleasure question soon. So I waited. And waited. And…waited.

“When women begin adolescence…” she began.

Here it comes! Another click. A new slide, featuring—

Maxi pads. Tampons. Discussion of womb-shedding, bleeding, swelling and cramps. A week every MONTH?!? Fantastic. One quarter of the rest of my life would consist of bloody pain.

Class ended, leaving me in a state of crestfallen confusion. Not once throughout sex ex did Ms. Cloke mention female sexual pleasure. Not that I was longing for it then. I just deemed the whole thing unfair. Guys gained fun special effects. Gals? We bled. (Was that what drove my girl Paula to sing Cold-Hearted Snake?!?) The one takeaway I’d hold onto for years: Never wear white pants. Ever.


Not bold enough to pose my questions to anyone, particularly Ms. loved-to-punish-kids Cloke, my curiosity accompanied me through puberty. While men all around the world had bulging, feel-good genitals, I bulged with curiosity constipation. Anytime someone spoke of sex at school, in public or on TV, I listened—not in a sick way. I just wanted to know, without being deemed crazy, idiotic or un-Christian for wondering. The first time I heard an erection called a boner, I wondered, “What about girl boners?”

It would be years before I had an answer. Since then, girl boners have gone from perplexing puzzles to a passion, and not just for me personally. I want every woman to experience, embrace and celebrate her sexuality, and feel deserving and confident about doing so.

The truth is, there is no broadly used term specific to female arousal. (Think how many we have for guys. My slang thesaurus lists 22 synonyms for the male boner alone.) Multiple websites and thesaurus searches for ‘female sexual arousal’ draws up Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome, as in a disorder, as a top hit.

On some level, I understand why there isn’t a universal word for female turn-on. It’s not as though women experience one primary or obvious change. But words hold power. Giving a positive term to female sexual arousal and pleasure makes both more probable, making the whole world a better place, IMO.

I believe that women would experience less depression, better body image, a lessening of relationship strife and greater personal security if we were taught to cherish our girl boners. While we’ve come a long way in these regards as a society, significant work remains.

I could go on and on (and on…) about girl boners and my journey from sex ed to the present, which is why I’ve not only decided to trademark the term, but make it an ongoing series on my blog. I’m committed to keeping the tone and information upbeat, and hope you’ll all engage in equally fun and respectful discussion. And yes, guys and gals are equally welcome.

I should also mention for any newbies that I’m not a sex therapist or doctor—simply an empowered woman who embraces her sexuality and uses her professional health writing and researching skills to dig deep and relay what she learns. I’m also quite fond of blurting everything out sharing, so more personal stories will follow. (Fear not, exes. I’ll change your identifying details as I did Ms. Cloke’s.*)

I hope you’ll join me next week as we discuss girl boner physiology: what actually happens when we get turned on. Until then, I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts. Do you remember your first sex ed class? Any funny or interesting stories to share? Are you as stoked about girl boners as I am?!?

**If you’d like to share this post without the #GirlBoner hash tag, feel free to omit it or use an alternate.