Lady Love: When Body Image Conflicts with a Woman’s Sexual Desire by Lady Love

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Dear Lady Love,

For the past couple of years, I have been so uncomfortable with my body that my sex life with my husband has almost completely diminished. My body image issues are actually ruining my life in a sense. Sometimes, I even find it difficult to be intimate with the lights off and my busy lifestyle limits our time together.

I feel that if I don’t change my relationship with my body right now, I may never be able to and my marriage will fail. And unfortunately, weight loss never seems to break the cycle.

I know I can’t simply diet my way out of this one. Lately, I have felt extremely depressed about this self-consciousness. Please help.

Overweight and Feeling Unattractive

Dear Overweight,

It appears that the media’s pervasive presence in our everyday lives has made it nearly impossible to escape the airbrushed and Photoshopped images of porn stars and celebrities.

Sure, your husband may have seen more near-perfect, naked images of women than you might have wished him to, but despite the effects of social change on sexual desire, men are evolutionarily designed to respond to actual female bodies, not retouched images.

If the unhealthy combination of unrealistic expectations about your appearance and increasingly busy life are beginning to take a toll on your relationship with your husband, you need to make time to rebuild that intimacy. After speaking with a few men regarding the issue of confidence and intimacy in the bedroom, they revealed that the single biggest roadblock to having more sex with their girlfriend’s or wives was lost interest in having sex because she felt fat.

Sadly, it seems a very high percentage of women hate their bodies so much they avoid sexual pleasure and have come to believe their chosen partner finds them undesirable. A recent national survey revealed that 50 percent of women have turned down sex–even when they’re in the mood–because they “felt” fat. Of that percentage, thirteen percent said they only had sex with the lights off out of embarrassment of being seen naked, and one in ten would like to be more adventurous in the bedroom but get stuck with familiar sexual positions because they felt ashamed about certain parts of their body.

When you have a poor female body image, the libido door ultimately slams shut.

Psychosexual specialist Dr. Catherine Hood, who lectures at Oxford University, said many women “feel under pressure to live up to a vision of perfection which just isn’t realistic.” Dr. Hood added: “Libido is a mixture of physical and psychological factors–it’s different for every woman, but there are many ways to rediscover it.”

If people were more focused on all the ways to make each other feel good instead of worrying about what they looked like, a flabby mom belly, droopy boobs or excess back fat wouldn’t stand a chance. It’s not like your partner is assessing you and forming a 15 point critique in his head to hold against you. If he is, you’ve got bigger fish to fry.

Now, there’s no doubt that body acceptance is a process. But you have to start somewhere and anything you can do to make yourself feel sexier, more expansive, and empowered in your own skin is encouraged.

If body insecurities are making you reluctant to get down, you’re doing it wrong. Shouldn’t having sex with someone be the perfect distraction from any perceived body flaws? Think about how wonderful it would feel to let yourself enjoy reverse cowgirl without constantly thinking of your cellulite!

Michael Alvear, a sex expert, columnist, author of Not Tonight Dear, I Feel Fat, and host of HBO’s The Sex Inspectors and a few sex therapists offer some advice for women to stop worrying about body image and enhance their sex drives.

Here Are Five Ways to Feel Smokin‘ Hot in Bed (and in life)

Develop Erotic Cues
Finding your body’s cues triggers a response that brings your desires to conscious awareness.

Hit the Gym
Working out is not only a way to slim down, but it has been proven that women who work out feel better about themselves during sex regardless of their actual size. Immediately after a workout, women tend to experience an increase in self-esteem due to endorphins. Just 20 minutes of cardio at 70 percent of your heart rate has been shown to raise hormone levels linked with arousal-estrogen, prolactin, testosterone, and cortisol.

So, before you get it on, try hitting the gym, a yoga class or going for a jog. As a bonus, women who work out are also more easily turned on and have better orgasms.

Play Pretend
What if simply imagining your body as a beautiful temple were enough to get you over that edge? What if your body (just the way it is) is exactly what your man desires? All it takes is a positive mental image of yourself to overcome the hurdles. Does your body still work the same as it used to when you and your partner first met? Then it’s time to hit the sack.

You could even try creating your very own sensual lair. Alvear recommends setting the mood to prep your mind for sex. Add fragrance to your environment, remove unnecessary pillows, and keep lighting soft and low wattage. Think about installing a dimmer switch or even a strobe light.

Build Sexual Competence
Alvear believes women who consider themselves “good in bed” report far less anxiety, even when researchers held their weight constant. Feeling good about what your body can do is the first step to feeling good about your body.

Get Turned On
Allowing yourself be legitimately turned on will make you forget about where your rolls bundle up during sex. Instead, when the juices start flowing–enjoy it! Feel what’s actually happening throughout your body and pay attention to the moment and disregard the double-chin or rolls during particular positions.

Remember: Practice makes perfect. If you’ve been consistently putting yourself down over the years, it’s going to take some time to change your beliefs.

As uncomfortable and awkward as you may feel at first, aren’t you ready to change the thoughts in your head from “I’m really not in the mood right now” to “I want your face between my thighs”?

Lady Love is not a medical doctor, licensed psychiatrist, counselor, therapist, reverend, or rabbi. She has not been evaluated by the FDA, the CDC, or the BBC, and her words are not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. However, L.L. does know a lot about sex, loves hearing from you, and adores answering your questions.

Leave her a comment or send an email to LadyLove@knoworthy.com. Or follow Lady Love on Twitter:@KW_LadyLove.

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