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.

Va-va-va-GINA! 10 Fab Facts Worth Celebrating

Lieutenant Professor Olga Rockenstein (name changed, but barely) stood before the Sexuality of Women class like a bulldog personified. “Here we are going to talk about SEX!” she said. “Vaginas. Clitorises. Ovaries. STDs. Bisexualism. Lesbianism. Female sexual pleasure. Gender bias. Sexism. Sexual violence. Rape. And we are going to talk respectfully. If you can’t handle it, there’s the door.”

Let's Talk Sex - Chalkboard

The small-town college classroom fell silent, including the formerly snickering male I’d heard reference the “easiest A” and “best class ratio” ever. Of the forty-plus students, females outnumbered males three to one the first day. By the second class, two guys remained. (The professor later admitted that she plays her “militant lesbian card” on day one to intimidate weed out the non-serious.)

Before that class, I’d never spoken openly about sexuality or heard another speak so candidly about issues I quickly deemed vital. Unlike my grade school sex ed. classes, which emphasized erections, menstrual cramps, intercourse and abstinence, Rockenstein taught us to respect, understand and celebrate our bodies. It was about dang time.

Early in the semester, she assigned Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues. After paging through the poignant true story collection, I went home and decided to check out my own vagina—as in look at it, for real.

I sat before my bedroom wall mirror, legs open wide, dumbfounded; I nearly had to force my gaze “down there.” Once I did, tears filled my eyes; I wasn’t horrified or awestruck, but sad. Had I really gone nearly two decades of life without so much as a glance? My gyno and boyfriend knew more about what laid beneath me than I did…

Thankfully, I’ve learned a lot since then.

Vagina derives from the Latin word for sheath, or the case for a sword. Some women are understandably offended by the term, taking vagina to mean a case for a penis or harmful object. (There’s nothing wrong with housing a penis, obviously—but our lady parts are so much more than that!) I personally feel that vaginas encase our female sexual pleasure centers, and there’s a lot of power there.

Whether we call them vaginas, va-jay-jays, pussies, coots, twats, boxes, girly bits, lady parts or nether regions, our vaginas are beautiful components of our bodies, sexuality, relationships and health. With Valentine’s day approaching, I thought it was an ideal time for Girl Boner to pay tribute.

female reproductive system

10 Fabulous Facts About Vaginas

1. Vaginas facilitate pleasure. The clitoris, a tiny organ just inside the vaginal lips, has over 8000 nerve endings exclusively dedicated to female pleasure. (We gals luck out in this regard; the penis only contains 4000.)

2. Va-jay-jays are resilient… “The vagina has an incredibly rich blood supply which promotes rapid healing, even after injury or childbirth,” Dr. Alyssa Dweck told Shape magazine. The same goes for the insertion of large penises and sex toys.

3. …capable and strong. Vaginal muscles are our reproductive system’s quads, supporting everything from the ability to tighten during sex to urinary control. While they gradually weaken with age and childbirth, we can keep and regain strength using kegel exercises and sex-ercise (routine sexual play).

4. Excited vaginas grow. Vaginas average 3 to 4 inches in length but can balloon out to up to twice the size when sexually aroused, according to Dr. Lissa Rankin.

5. Vaginas love healthy food! A diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats helps keep the vagina healthy, while preventing dryness. (The same foods make way for a healthy libido.) Dr. Laura Berman recommends drinking plenty of water and limiting alcohol, soft drinks and coffee for added perks.

6. Pussies appreciate play. Sexual play solo or with a partner helps minimize stress, vaginal dryness and libido lulls. Masturbation is particularly important for managing menopause symptoms, says Berman, as well as for learning what we most enjoy.

7. Vaginas self-clean. Consequently, physicians discourage douching, which can disrupt the balance of healthy microorganisms that protect against harmful bacteria and infections.

8. Each vagina has its own unique smell, based on a variety of factors. For the most pleasant aroma, practice positive hygiene and eat namely healthy foods, including sweet fruits. Cranberry juice and probiotic sources, such as yogurt and kefir, may be particularly helpful.

9. Vaginas house the G-spot, the area known for the producing the most powerful orgasms. “The G-spot can be found by inserting your index finger into the vagina with palm facing upward and making a ‘come here’ motion with it,” says Dweck. “It may take some practice to connect with your G-spot, but it’s so worth it.”

10. Routine coot stimulation helps us think sharper, according to Dr. Patricia Bloom. It’s also linked with boosted longevity. (Long live Girl Boners and all who embrace them.)

Girl Boner Challenge:

Whether you’ve done so before or not, take time to observe your vagina in a mirror or camera image. Journal about your thoughts, or write it a love letter. V-day is near, after all.

Have you observed your vagina lately? What terminology do you prefer? Which fact strikes you most?

If you haven’t yet signed up for the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest II, which takes place next week, you still can. I’m also happy to announce the brand spankin’ new Girl Boner Facebook page! Pop by and “like” it to stay fully in the GB loop. The vagina party’s already begun…

Do Guys Care About Female Sexual Pleasure?

One Experience Gone Wrong

Welcome to Girl Boner Monday, where we embrace and explore female sexuality. Today we’re going to focus a bit more on guys, who we adore here at GB Central. This post isn’t meant to be accusatory—not to the many great ones out there. I hope those of you reading will chime in.

During Fantasy-palooza Part II, Kristy K. James posted a comment that stirred up discussion. This bit sent my thoughts whirling:

“I’m sure there are men who want to please their partners, but I think the majority of them would prefer to not work that hard. At least not often. Maybe I’m jaded, but that’s just my opinion (based on experience and chats with other women).”

Huh? That’s not true, I thought. Men I’ve known intimately have all prioritized my sexual pleasure, in some cases more than their own. Had I merely been lucky? Or ugh, delusional?

Couple in bed, men sleeping and woman lying disappointed

Then I remembered Drew, the man who helped prompt the end of my sex as a single girl spree, made me want to phone spectacular guys I know to thank them for not being similar, and who I’ve continued to block and ignore on Facebook. (Yes, that bad.)

I was an actress then and my agent had invited me to an industry party. Beforehand we would dine with another of his clients, an actor named Dog Doo Drew. As I prepped for the evening, I made like a typical Hollywood-ite and IMDB-ed him. He’s cute, I told my roommate, and had some impressive acting credits under his belt. Feeling playful and poignantly single, I wondered what else hid under there.

“Be careful,” my male, protective apartment-mate warned. I should have listened.

After a flirt-filled evening, Drew became the first person I slept with within hours of meeting. Thanks to Captain Morgan, I barely remember it—something about a cold bathroom floor in the Hollywood Hills… We ate bagels the next morning in silence, two strangers eager to get on with their days. As he drove me home with the top down on his convertible, I thanked God for the wind. We had stunningly little to discuss.

Days later, Drew called and asked me to dinner, referencing the “great time” we’d shared. Was I there? He seemed sincere… I figured, Why not?

He picked me up in his Porsche, drove too fast to the trendy Beverly Hills restaurant then made like an ostensible gentleman—opening doors, pulling my chair out to seat me and ordering wine for us both. There were no prices on the menu, a clear sign of ultra-expensive food. Did we really need to order in courses? I tried to recall which fork to use when, feeling as unbefitting as Anne Hathaway’s character on The Devil Wears Prada.

Funny geek glasses

Over appetizers Drew uttered romantic quips: I’ve never met anyone like you. Something about my sparkling eyes and the obvious fire between us. Was he serious? Regardless, I found it oddly charming and began wondering what sex with him sober would feel like. After dinner, while waiting for valet, he leaned over and whispered in my ear, “You know you give the best head, right?”

What happened to Casanova?!? Surely I’d heard him wrong. Before I could respond, a pair of giggling girls appeared, requesting his autograph. One mouthed to me, “You’re so lucky.”

Was I? If I hadn’t had a glass or two of wine or paused to analyze, I might’ve requested a cab home. Instead, I ignored a subtle get-outta-there feeling and found myself riding to his place, numb and compliant. You’re young and having fun, I told myself. A hot guy wants you. Enjoy it. You’re so lucky—the groupie’s words…

At his place, Drew lit candles, played classical music and led me to his bed, setting a drink on the nightstand: “For you.” For a moment, I thought he’d planned to give me a massage. If only… He donned his position, flat on his back as though awaiting his own spa treatment. “Come on, baby.” Long pause. “Now.”

Soon clarity struck me like a splash of chilled water: Drew didn’t want me, but what he’d whispered in my ear. And I wasn’t lucky, but foolish.

Fearful and alone in a twice-the-size-of-me stranger’s home no loved ones knew about, I wondered what the hell I’d been thinking. Seeing no easy alternatives, I did as he expected while he just laid there. When I raised my head to stop, he forced it back down. I gagged but kept on, for the sole sake of finishing.

As I waited for the cab to the sound of his sacked-out snore, I spotted papers on the floor. It was an audition scene, featuring his romantic proclamations of earlier verbatim. Your eyes… The fire between us… He’d used me for audition prep and personal pleasure. (Funny, the scene didn’t contain the head quote he’d probably used a hundred times.)

I ignored Drew’s calls until they stopped. Months later, I ran into him at a party. “Busy later?” he asked. “I’ve missed you.” Thanks to ample reflective time and sharp hindsight vision, I replied, “You mean you want me to service you. Go fuck yourself.” He obviously didn’t want a partner anyway. Then I turned and addressed his circle of puppy-eyed swooners: “Don’t let him flirt you into bed. You’re better than that.”

Though the assertions felt empowering, I lay in bed later that night, shedding tears. How could I have been so foolish? The situation could have been far worse; I’m lucky in that regard—sadly, many women are not. While Drew went well beyond disregarding my pleasure, I consider myself fortunate that he’s my sole example. Looking back, I realize that we’re all capable of such mistakes, particularly when we guide with our Girl Boners, or heart-boners (emotions), alone.

Whether we’ve known a partner for days, months or years, we don’t deserve to be treated like trash.

I feel sorry for Drew, and others like him. If he’s still in that headspace, deeming it acceptable or ideal to use women, he’ll never know the beauty, eroticism or profound gratification that can derive from a mutually respectful relationship.

As any woman in a healthy partnership will tell you, fantastic men value female sexual pleasure and intimacy. 

I believe that finding such partners and reaping those experiences requires valuing ourselves, our bodies and our sexuality. Then, we’ve got to communicate. Many men want to please their partners sexually but don’t know how, according sex expert and author Dr. Laura Berman. For many males, partner pleasure is an intense turn on. Male or female, we shouldn’t merely give or receive sensual pleasure, but share it.

I’ve yet to find detailed analyses regarding effects female sexual pleasure has on men. As my research continues, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Have the men in your life embraced your sexual pleasure, or have you felt slighted? Any happy or Drew-like stories to share? Guys: How do you feel about female sexual pleasure? What has experience taught you? Any Drew-ettes in your history? As always, all respectful thoughts are welcome. 

On a related note, submissions are still open for the Beauty of A Woman BlogFest II! I hope you’ll consider joining us. It’s open to all, and you’ll have chances to win a Kindle Fire and to connect with fabulous, beauty-celebrating readers and writers on February 22nd.