You’ve had a great night together, a glass or two of wine. He kisses you, his gaze meets yours. It should be intimate and exciting…yet all you can see is your stretch marks, all you can feel is his hand on your massive thighs. He must wonder why you’re wasting your time at the gym! He’s probably feeling ripped of because you wore a Wonderbra.
Negative body image is an instant mood killer for women and it doesn’t matter how slim, curvy or tone you are; it’s what’s going on inside your head that counts. “When a women of any size or shape doesn’t feel comfortable with her body for whatever reason, it will affect her sex life – possibly making her self-conscious and causing her difficulty in getting aroused and enjoying the experience,” says Vivienne Lewis, psychologist and body image expert.
Body insecurity isn’t just a problem for those on the larger end of the scale. “Women who have always been judged as too thin probably don’t feel ‘normal’ or feel that guys would desire them,” says Dr Janet Hall of sex-therapy.com.au. She also says that petite women can lack sexual confidence if they have small breasts. “I weigh 50kg and have absolutely no boobs. I live in padded bras. When I first met my ex, I wore a push-up bra to bed and it kept riding up. I felt ridiculous; I kept trying to pull it down without him noticing. When he tried to take it off, I rushed the sex to distract him,” says Maria 26*. Then this from Lara, 25*: “I’ve put on weight since I moved in with my boyfriend. I cook more, exercise less and go out to restaurants with him. I feel fat all the time and my sex drive has disappeared. We once had sex every couple of days, now it’s once a fortnight. He tries so hard to get me in the mood, but I just cant enjoy it when I know I look this way.”
Its an all too familiar story, says Lewis: “ If a woman doesn’t feel confident with her body, she won't feel confident being naked, because in this situation you need to relax in order to experience pleasure.” But this perceived lack of sexual attractiveness is rarely seen by the eyes of the beholder. “Body consciousness is a perception of how your body appears to you,” explains Lewis. “Realise that your partner is far less critical of your body than you are. Try to focus on the experience and your partner, rather than yourself – it’ll help you relax and enjoy pleasure much more.”