More than half of all women have put off sex — even when they were in the mood — because they felt too fat. A recent study showed that how a woman feels about her body has more influence on libido than even menopause — and we have the letters in our inbox to back this up. (Those rare women who always feel good about their bodies probably stress about how “normal” their labia are!)
A new book, Not Tonight Dear, I Feel Fat, by sex columnist Michael Alvear — he was also the co-host of HBO’s show The Sex Inspectors — helps women get past their negative feelings about their bodies in order to truly enjoy themselves in bed. Here are seven of Alvear’s tips for sparking your libido next time you’re feeling bad about your stomach/hips/butt/insert body part you obsess over:
1. Speak up.
Being still, quiet and passive are ways of withdrawing from activity—leaving nothing left to focus on but your body. The secret to managing your mind is bed is to be active: talk, engage, exchange. Move so you can stop being a sight to see and be a force to be felt.
2. Lower your estimate.
Research shows that women with body anxiety overestimate the size and shape of their body by at least 25%. When you’re focusing on your body, apply the 25% margin of error. Your butt just got 1/4 smaller than you thought.
3. Get active, then get frisky.
Exercise doesn’t just affect your abs. It also raises hormones linked with arousal—estrogen, prolactin, and, cortisol—particularly 30 min. after the workout. Plan your sexy evening before hitting the gym, to make the most of its effect.
4. Sexual competence builds body confidence.
Women who consider themselves “good in bed” report far less anxiety, even when researchers held their weight constant. Feeling good about what your body can do is the first step to feeling good about your body. [Editor’s note: For expanding your expertise, may we humbly suggest our new book, 150 Shades of Play?]
5. Share your fantasy.
Fantasize your way out of your appearance anxiety. Go light or go Fifty Shades of Grey, but go. Inhabiting new people and situations makes you far less likely to focus on your thighs.
6. Develop erotic cues.
From smelling your favorite aftershave to just having a heart-to-heart talk with your guy, finding your body’s cues triggers a response that brings your desires to conscious awareness.
7. Find your best light.
No supermodel can save harsh lighting, so take time to do a room makeover, keeping lighting soft and low wattage. Think about installing a dimmer switch—or even a strobe light.
Not Tonight Dear, I Feel Fat by Michael Alvear is on sale now
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