Is A Negative Body Image Interfering with Your Sex Life?
Do you struggle to accept your body?
Have you felt insecure about sex and intimacy because you worry that your body will be judged?
Maybe recent weight gain or being in a larger body leaves you feeling anxious about attracting a partner, and you wonder if losing weight is the only solution (even though it’s never worked)…
No matter what your body shape or size, maybe you struggle with low self-esteem because your body doesn’t match society’s arbitrary standards of the so-called “perfect body.” Perhaps you feel increasing pressure to “lose the baby weight.” Or, maybe a history of trying to lose weight through chronic dieting and excessive exercise has left you frustrated, and the only lasting result is feeling obsessed with food. If this is true for you, then maybe you’re also trapped in a vicious cycle of food restricting and binge eating that only leads to feeling worse about your body.
Your life might be successful in every aspect, from career to family, except for that fact that you wish you had a different body—or, at least, a positive body image.
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably internalized harmful messages that being a larger size makes you unattractive or unworthy of love or intimacy. Maybe feelings of shame come from your own criticisms about your body; perhaps it comes from a loved one who keeps pressuring you to change, or even from a medical professional who won’t take your health concerns seriously because of weight stigma in the healthcare system. You might believe that you can’t be happy unless you change the way you look; maybe you even feel angry with your body itself for not conforming to what you wish it could be.
Perhaps you’ve spent many sleepless nights staring at the ceiling, thinking, “If only I could just lose this weight, then I could be seen as attractive and have the relationship I want. Only then could I finally experience intimacy and be loved for who I am.”
Body Shame Is A Societal Problem
Contrary to what our weight-obsessed culture has led us to believe, we all naturally come in differently sized bodies. Insecurity about body size and shape is so common because society creates unrealistic expectations for beauty and dictates which body types represent that beauty (i.e., thin, feminine, fit, and white). Directly related to this is a commercial element that profits from making the vast majority of women (especially) believe they are imperfect and flawed, and that there is only one “right” way to have a body. Rather than embracing diverse bodies as worthy and beautiful, marketing the “product” of an ideal body brings billions of dollars each year to the beauty, wellness, diet, exercise and health industries. Because this marketing system encourages people to feel body shame so that they buy products and engage in unhealthy dieting and other activities to reach unrealistic goals, scores of people are left feeling like failures when these methods inevitably don’t work. Because of this, many believe they are undeserving of sexual pleasure and intimate relationships because they fear their bodies aren’t “good enough” as they are.
Fortunately, there is a growing body positive movement of people of all sizes and genders who celebrate larger bodies, and some who have reclaimed the word “fat” as a neutral term for their body size. This allows the descriptions of “fat” and “thin” to both be used as socially acceptable, non-stigmatized terms. When marginalized groups “take back” a word that was originally intended to insult them—like the word “queer” has been reclaimed by many LGBTQ+ people—the power to hurt is also reduced. It becomes a way to reclaim your identity, encourage body acceptance, and to promote being comfortable in your own skin.
Many people with larger bodies also have to deal with well-intentioned but ultimately misguided friends, partners and relatives who think they are trying to help by suggesting new diets, healthy lifestyles, or workout routines. One reason this happens so often is because of a misconception that weight is directly proportional to health.
In reality, it’s not: healthy people come in all shapes and sizes. The truth is, there is literally zero—yes, zero—scientific evidence showing that dieting is a safe and effective way to lose weight and keep it off for good. Rather, dieting is most often the culprit for not only regaining the weight that was lost by dieting, but frequently gaining more than one’s original weight. Plus, the yo-yo cycling of weight loss and gain is actually what is shown to harm health, as being “overweight” tends to have more health benefits than other weight categories. If we truly understood these major flaws in thinking about weight, then maybe it would help free us to embrace the important things in life, like living with joy and pleasure. Unfortunately, and because of the world we currently live in, many people feel pressured to change their bodies to get their loved ones off their backs – and to feel loved, respected and accepted.
The good news is that you don’t need to spend any more time and effort trying to change your body in order to respect and accept yourself – you have another option. A positive body image is possible.
Find The Help You Need With Body Positive Sex Therapy
Body positive sex therapy is effective in helping you move towards body liberation and sexual empowerment through accepting your body as it already is. Even if you don’t like your body, the learned process and skills of engaging in body respect is a way to positively transform your relationship with your body and your sexuality.
My goal is to help you uncover and change the negative beliefs and attitudes you may have about your body, which have been holding you back from achieving your sex, intimacy and relationship goals. Using a somatic (body-centered) approach to therapy, I strive to help you connect with your body’s internal messages and sensations, and I empower you to take charge of your pleasure in all areas of life. Together we will focus on body liberation, which includes breaking free from hurtful, body-negative messages and the underlying influences of diet culture.
Compassion and non-judgment are the foundations of my practice. Having struggled for decades with food and my own body image issues, I can empathize with your similar challenges, knowing through experience the profound change that is possible. I work at a pace determined by the client, focusing exclusively on you as an individual, honoring your strengths and history of struggle. With a strong belief in actively working for social justice, I also honor and celebrate body diversity and inclusion across size, age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, dis/ability, and the multitude of ways we identify.
As a sex therapist, I am also a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor and a Health At Every Size® (HAES) practitioner, which means I take a weight-neutral approach that doesn’t consider weight itself as the issue. Rather, I address three core areas: 1) respect, 2) critical awareness of cultural and scientific assumptions about the body, and 3) compassionate self-care. Together, these elements build body-size acceptance, body positivity and sex positivity. For those interested in an Intuitive Eating approach, I apply the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating to our sessions. Through an integrated use of these models, I incorporate a variety of techniques and interventions to help clients change the way they view themselves and overcome barriers to enjoying the pleasures of sex, intimacy, and beyond.
You are not flawed; society’s concepts of sex, pleasure, and the body are flawed. Worth, value, and our capacity for pleasure and intimacy, are not dependent on your weight or size. While you don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy and fulfilled, you don’t have to feel undeserving of one, either. You can feel deserving of a relationship and comfortable and confident in your own precious body.
You May Have Some Hesitations About Body Positive Sex Therapy
All I need is the right diet – if I lose weight, my issues will disappear.
You may believe this, and it makes sense because this belief is deeply rooted in the dysfunctions of our society. However, body issues run pretty deep – even people with smaller physiques can have sexual issues stemming from body dissatisfaction and a poor body image. Regardless, trying to shrink your body to achieve some ideal of perfection doesn’t work because diets just don’t work. Whether we call it a “healthy lifestyle” or “clean eating,” restricting food for weight loss sets us up for failure by working against our biology and increasing our likelihood of gaining weight. Our chances of binge eating and acquiring an eating disorder also skyrocket with dieting, which can create additional pain. Once we accept these truths and let go of dieting once and for all, we are then free to focus on healing and transforming both our bodies and our sexuality.
What if counseling makes me feel worse?
It’s true that many people have had negative experiences with health professionals who wrongly believe and support dieting as a healthy approach to improving your physical and sexual health. But my approach is different – I believe in Health At Every Size (HAES), a compassionate and weight-neutral philosophy that enables me to empathize with your struggles, which I have also shared. Through the normal, expected ups and downs of counseling—and with your firm commitment to the process—profound change can occur.
Is Body Positive Sex Therapy expensive?
It depends on how long you decide to continue treatment; but the investment in body confidence is worth it. If money is a concern, we can consider a consistent schedule that works for your budget. One option is to extend time between sessions by practicing homework exercises. These activities are regularly assigned to do between sessions, which is both practical and therapeutic. Since consistency is key, implementing psychotherapeutic homework into your routine can help extend the time between therapy sessions.
Also, consider how much you’ve spent on diets that didn’t work, wardrobes of different sizes as well as the time, money, and effort pursuing body change that conforms to social standards. Money spent on counseling for body acceptance and sex therapy is a long-term investment in yourself. Getting to the core of the problem is much more cost-effective than investing in another expensive “healthy lifestyle” or “wellness” diet.
Body Liberation And Sexual Satisfaction Are In Reach
To make sure we are a good fit and to get a feel of the issues and goals you have, I offer a free 20-minute phone consultation. Just click the button below and get scheduled today!