Our contributor is a student at an East coast university. And that’s all she’s willing to say. Except this…
There’s something about the heat of the summer sun that makes everyone a little more frisky, a little more excited, a little more promiscuous — it’s the season of bathing suits, little clothing, late-night dates, sex on the beach. I used to be into all this. I used to look forward to whipping out the ripped jean shorts, the sexy summer dresses, the skimpy tank tops. I used to take every opportunity to go to the beach. I used to enjoy sex. But things have changed. It’s the tired old campus story: too much booze, too little exercise, too much late-night junk food, and all of a sudden I’ve gained 27 pounds and am no longer comfortable getting naked with a guy.
I have let the weight completely alter my lifestyle. When asked out on a dinner date, I kindly decline. When invited to the beach, I say I can’t. Shopping? Clubbing? Forget it. I’m inside reading books about how to lose weight.
This is by no means the first time I’ve suddenly withdrawn from society out of weight-gain embarrassment — but it is the first time it’s happened since I started having an active sex life. Now I’m discovering how the extra pounds affect my sex life, too.
When you’re in a steady relationship, a bit of unwanted flab isn’t the end of the world. The two of you are comfortable in bed together, you have seen one another naked, you have established a sexual routine or understanding. But when you’re single and considering getting naked for the very first time with someone? My extra heft is something I just can’t get past.
I was in bed for the first time with a friend-turned-hookup a few weeks ago (turns out, in college, forgoing dates and clubbing doesn’t stop you getting laid: I met him playing pick-up basketball at the gym) and it was horrible. Not only did we have to work on establishing a rhythm together, but I was too self-conscious and uncomfortable to let loose. I refused to go on top, where I was certain my flab would flop around in his face, and I barely put any effort into being on the bottom, where I was afraid I was displaying a multitude of chins. Forget trying unconventional positions, he was just lucky I was out of my sweatpants.
Needless to say, the sex was the worst I have ever had, and I was so ashamed at my lackluster behavior. I often wonder how men deal with this. Do they get self-conscious in the sack if they pack on some pounds? Or does their pride in their dicks simply override any embarrassment of the gut? In my experience, women are much more likely to beat themselves up about a jiggly belly, cellulite-y thighs, or flabby arms. And even if a man does feel self-conscious about his weight, it’s not something that’s going to occur to him — or distract him — in the middle of sex. Perhaps it’s not dick pride so much as an ability to focus.
Whereas a woman’s body insecurities can give her the attention span of a gnat during sex. You look down at your belly and become convinced that your partner is trying to avoid looking at the rolls of fat, and suddenly all you want to do is close your legs and throw on a shirt. And don’t even get me started on Hollywood’s (or Madison Avenue’s) narrow-minded concept of “sexy.” All the Dove commercials in the world can’t make up for what that does to a woman’s body image.
In the end, I think it comes down to confidence. My problem is not that the extra flab is affecting my physical ability to perform in bed; rather, those couple dozen pounds have decreased my self esteem. A woman can be attractive at any weight if she radiates confidence. And body confidence means you’ll be able to focus on what’s really important during sex: a happy ending — for both of you.
I’m still trying to figure out my own personal route to body confidence. I know that happiness will have a lot to do with it — cliche as it sounds, that tends to shine through. And I also know that unsatisfying casual sex isn’t exactly a recipe for happiness. So I have vowed not to even consider having sex again until I feel better about myself — whether I lose the weight or not.