Steps to Developing a Healthy, Sensual Body Image
Compare the number of women you know with a healthy acceptance of their imperfect body to the number you know who are scathingly critical of every flaw. Women often have a concrete equation in their heads – sexy does as sexy is. Whether objectively attractive, a partner’s good opinion notwithstanding, a poor female body image slams libido shut.The media’s pervasive presence in our lives makes it impossible to escape the 300 most beautiful women in the world. Beyoncé and Jennifer Aniston regularly show up next to us on the couch while we’re watching television or in the glossy magazines we thumb through when our hair is in Frankenstein foils in front of the harsh mirror of the salon. We’re aware that our husbands have seen more near-perfect, naked, young women computer images than we might really have wished.
Because of the harsh accusations that we hurl at the mirror we become estranged from the body that our soul inhabits. In my office, clients complain about their imperfect bodies as reason enough for their lack of sexual desire. Given the onslaught of media and the resulting self-criticism – HOW do we change the negativity and reclaim our sexual birthright?
- Focus on breath – using meditative deep breathing and practicing mindfulness means allowing multiple realities to exist rather than simply resisting the previously negative self-image. Mindfulness is a practice of being gracefully aware of the present moment in body…mind and soul. Tiffany Stewart, in her paper Light on Body Image Treatment –Acceptance through Mindfulness writes,
“The ultimate outcome [of mindfulness] is the cultivation of acceptance and compassion toward self… These two states of mind cannot occur at the same time. Mindfulness is not compatible with ruminative, destructive thoughts and behaviors.”
- Focus on strength – For most of us in whole bodies, we can appreciate our physical health. Think what you CAN do. Walk, run, lift your baby, enfold your lover in your arms, taste, smell, see. Right now, as you read this article…take one DEEP breath. Be amazed at the physical pleasure of being alive in a body. I work with a number of people with compromised health and more limited bodies. Their courage ever inspires me as I witness their gratitude for what they CAN do rather than grousing over a bodily imperfection. Walking into my office, a woman has such a gift. Good news: almost every ambulatory woman has the physiological ability to have orgasm.
Focus on sensation – anxiety kills pleasure. Anxiety can stop lubrication, arousal, and orgasm. Women tell me that soothing touch can turn to icy prickliness over “unacceptable” parts of their body – their rounded belly, their great ass, their doughy thighs. All erogenous zones, in and of themselves, women will ban their lover from his pleasure of touching these soft, sensuous areas. Stop hovering over the bed and fretting about what you look like, about whether you will come or not, about whether he will find you sufficient. Luxuriate in your lover’s kiss. Let his hands bring you pleasure. If it feels good (in bed), do it. Shut your eyes and feel.
Question for the reader – How do you tune into your body as an instrument of pleasure?