Our society is far too quick to objectify women’s bodies. From pressures to wear full-beat makeup and using the perfect Instagram filters, to “achieving” thigh gaps or slim-thick physiques, we are constantly inundated with beauty trends that demand us to change our body image for the sake of desirability. Having all of this information thrusted at us at once can be exhausting and emotionally draining. Wrestling with body image can have multiple repercussions on various areas of our lives. Unsurprisingly, negative body image is a major disruptor of sexual enjoyment, desire, and responsiveness in women. We may be duped into believing that we have to look a certain way in order to be desirable to our sexual partners, preventing us from enjoying what should be fun, intimate moments. According to one study conducted in 2009, 88 sexually active college-aged white women (which is a very limited sample population) reported that body image concerns most impeded their experience of sexual arousal, which in turn made orgasms more difficult. And having difficulty with orgasms is never a good thing. The participants also reported that their body image concerns were connected to questions pertaining to their sense of self- acceptance. Embracing your own body and yourself as you are is an important part of being able to constructively and healthily be vulnerable in engaging in physical intimacy in any capacity, whether it be in a casual encounter or with a long-term sexual partner. In essence, if negative thoughts about our bodies remain unchecked, they can impede our general self-esteem, career ambitions, and social lives. We need to be intentional in acknowledging that we are all beautiful women in multiple ways and that we can't allow for false perceptions or toxic comparisons of our body images to prevent us from experiencing the good things in life. Experiencing healthy sexual relationships can be considered one of these good things and can play a crucial role in our wellness journeys.
I have to confess that I often endure the dull throb of not feeling attractive enough. As a tall broad-shouldered Black woman, needless to say, I’ll never look like Britney Spears. But with that being said, am I still proud of my body? Yes, or at least I’m striving to be. Our bodies are our unique vessels for experiencing the world, which makes them beautiful in their own right, no matter what society says. Is my body perfect? That’s a subjective and unhealthy question. Standards are constantly changing and so are our bodies. Do I love and appreciate my body as much as I should? Learning to be better to my body as it changes is going to be an intrinsic part of my life-long wellness journey. I know that all of this may sound cliché, but I couldn’t bear ending this post without making something abundantly clear: YOUR BODY IS ENOUGH! You are beautiful today. You are worthy of love and acceptance today. Frankly, anyone who disrespectfully tells you otherwise is toxic and can show themselves the exit out of your life. PERIODT. You are sexually desirable as you are right now. You don't have to change yourself in order to be worthy of other people's attention or affection. You are worthy just by existing as you. Appreciate your body for what it is right now. Thank your body for the ways it serves you. And if you do want to change your body somehow, be in dialogue with your doctor and/or therapist about whether or not that change is healthy for you to begin with and how to most constructively go about making that healthy change. Of course, this is all easier said than done and I don’t mean to be reductive. I hope that even when we struggle to accept these things for ourselves, we will continue to affirm each other in community.