Critical About Your Body? How Body Image Affects Our Romantic & Sexual Experiences by Dr. Cortney Warren
How we feel about our physical appearance is critical to our sexual experiences. Emerging research has highlighted how sexuality-related body image – the emotions, thoughts and evaluations we make about our body – can enhance or harm our romantic experiences. For those who chronically experience poor body image, it’s common to report lower sexual satisfaction, more difficulty talking about sex and even avoiding sexual activity altogether.
What can we do to develop a more positive body image?
- Appreciate your unique beauty. Remind yourself of your distinct appearance features that make you look like you. Try to love all of your body! This includes any areas that you dislike or aren’t consistent with idealized images of beauty promoted by mainstream culture.
- Value what your body can do. Focus on the positive things your body does for you.
- Critically think about body-related information. When you are being self-critical, refocus on your body’s assets rather than the imperfections. Remember that societal messages about beauty trends and diets are designed to make you feel bad about your appearance, so you will spend money "fixing" a non-existent issue. Critically analyze information about beauty and reject negative information.
- Find ways to feel sexy naked. If you struggle with being naked in front of romantic partners, start by spending some time alone naked. Get comfortable looking at yourself in a mirror, and say self-affirming, loving, noncritical things to yourself while you do! It’s a great way to get more comfortable.
Given how important body image is to sexual satisfaction and general well-being, developing a positive body image is an important part of sexual health and your relationship with yourself and your partner.
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