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
- 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.