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  health > women > story page AIDSAlternative MedicineCancerDiet & FitnessHeartMenSeniorsWomen

Love your body and feel sexy, too

August 16, 1999
Web posted at: 12:04 PM EDT (1604 GMT)

By Deb Levine, M.A.

(WebMD) -- Most women can remember an instance of making love in the dark, wearing an oversized T-shirt to bed, or otherwise turning sex into an exercise in camouflage. When the lights go down, sexual passion ends up replaced by anxiety and self-loathing.

In a 1997 Psychology Today survey of women in America, more than 85 percent of the respondents were unhappy with their appearance. And almost 35 percent had significant problems with the way they looked.

Women's self-contempt is the anti-aphrodisiac, sure to nip any arousal in the bud. Ironically, while women punish themselves for the disgust they imagine that their partners feel for their bodies, the men in their lives are more turned off by their sexual inhibitions. In general, men's sexuality is not negatively affected if a woman has a little bit of a pot belly, or thick thighs. Most men say their biggest turn-on is a woman's responsiveness in bed, not a particular body part.

How can women get beyond physical insecurity to enjoy sex? Here are five tips to help women learn to love their bodies and feel as sexy as they want to:

  • Look around you. Go to places where you'll see real people, naked and uninhibited. Spend a little time in your local YMCA or community-gym locker room, where you'll have a chance to see beautiful women in a variety of sizes and shapes.
  • Gain perspective. Visit an art museum, or spend some time with a tabletop art book. Notice how different body sizes have been celebrated throughout time -- how dimpled thighs, large buttocks and round bellies have been exalted not just by individual men, but by entire societies.
  • Be kind to your body. Replace your negative thoughts about your body with compliments. Every time you think, "My thighs are too fat," replace it with a thought like, "I have beautiful hips." At first it might feel forced, so you'll need to keep at it until it becomes second nature.
  • Ask for compliments. Ask your partner what he loves about your body. Ask him to be very specific and to repeat it to you often. Write down his comments. Read them every day until you believe them.
  • Keep the lights on. During your lovemaking, observe the beauty of your own body without self-loathing. Try to let go to bring your passion to the surface.
  • Ultimately, the struggle for a woman's self-respect is more worthwhile than the struggle to lose 10 pounds, or prevent wrinkles, or whatever else the current fashion demands. And a woman's newfound comfort with her body will fire up her and her partner's sex life in potentially delightful ways!

    Deb Levine, M.A., is an author, health educator and social worker who gives sexuality and relationship advice on several Web sites.

    Copyright 1999 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.



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