10 Tips to Stop Hating Your Body Enough to Have Sex

photo via Flickr

Dear Em & Lo,

So, I think that I just might (fingers, eyes, everything but legs crossed) get cozy with a guy I’ve been crushing on forever. We’re friends, but frequently get a bit romantic when we hang out and naughty-text once in a while. I would love to have a relationship with him. He’s funny, adorable, and we get along so well. Then there’s the problem…

He’s HOT. I’m talking smoke show. Super muscular and athletic, cute face, perfect teeth — the whole shebang. All of my friends think he’s a babe. However, I am not physically perfect. Far from it. Don’t get me wrong, I think I’m quite pretty, but I have lost 140 pounds, and had a baby. So basically my body is WRECKED. I really need a tummy tuck (or three), but I can’t afford it and insurance doesn’t cover it. And no, it’s not like a little pooch. It’s a big ol’ deal.

I usually have great confidence in the sack because the few guys I’ve been with had their own body-quirks, too. I look pretty decent with clothes on, but I’m afraid that if it ever were to happen, he might get weird. (All of his past girlfriends had good bodies). I know I should be all “girl-power!” but I just don’t feel that I can muster up enough to get nekkid in front of him. I don’t want to not be my confident, happy self. I wish I could just ask him “Hey, would this be a big deal?” but that seems weird. Help!

Please sign me,
ButterBody (everything’s good but her body)

Dear BB,

You go girl!

Sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves: you’re just so awesome. Can we be friends?

You have pretty much summed up the feelings and fears of every woman in this country (except for a few in the L.A. area) when it comes to getting naked in front of someone. Thanks to our lad-mags, ladies-rags, airbrushed, porn-obsessed, women-as-objects, celebrity-uber-fit culture, the female of the species is all fucked up when it comes to body image. The standards are near-impossible to meet, unless you deny yourself all culinary delights, can afford a personal trainer, have the time to work out three hours a day, and don’t age. Bonus points if you have an eating disorder!

Nothing we can say will make you stop hating your body. That’s a thought pattern carved deeply into the crevices of your brain that only years of therapy and maybe a great plastic surgeon could even begin to erase. But maybe we can help you muster up enough to get nekkid in front of him with these 10 points:

  1. Know that it’s not as bad as you think. Yes, we know, it’s bad. But it could be worse (hello, 140 extra pounds!…or a basketball-sized goiter…or a tail).
  2. Do NOT say, “Hey, would this be a big deal?” In a perfect world, we’d tell you to say absolutely nothing and just act like you’re totally comfortable in your own skin. But we understand the impulse to want to publicly acknowledge the disappointment you have in your own body. For this reason, you may make a self-depricating, jokey comment ONCE about you two being in different body classes before you do it. But you may NOT whine, complain, ask for reassurance, or go on and on about your bad body to him. At least not as a part of foreplay.
  3. Just act like you’re totally comfortable in  your own skin. Oh shit, we said it. Well, it’s true. Confidence is sexy, self-consciousness is not, so fake it if you have to. Make like a honey badger and don’t give a shit. Because pretending you don’t give a shit is the best way to come as close as possible to really not giving a shit.
  4. Turn the lights off. Do it at night. Keep some clothes on. Stay under the sheets. There’s no need to hit the overhead florescents and start doing jumping jacks in front of him.
  5. Stick with the missionary position. So you have gravity working for you, not against you.
  6. Break open a bottle of wine. We’re not saying get blotto, but if it’s going to happen, a nice little buzz beforehand may make you (and him) not care so much.
  7. Don’t let your self-hatred make you miss out on life. Even if you do it and it sucks, chances are on your death bed you won’t be saying “I really shouldn’t have slept with that smokin’ hot guy I was really into and who I got along great with.” But it you don’t do it, you might end up saying “I wonder what would have happened if I’d slept with that smokin’ hot guy I was really into and who I got along great with.”
  8. Not to pile on, but remember that there are other things to worry about. Sure, it may not work out. But there are plenty of things besides your less than perfect body that might get in the way, like the fact that he’s not that great in bed, that you have incompatible astrological signs, that it turns out you really don’t like him as much as you thought….
  9. Fuck like a dude. Make like a man and hook up with a hottie if the opportunity presents itself without shame, reservation or (too much) self-reflection. Don’t worry about him and what he’s thinking; instead focus on your pleasure and how pumped you’ll be to be able to tell your friends you did it with a smoke show.
  10. Use sex as a litmus test. If you do it and your body is a deal breaker for him, then consider yourself lucky that you found out what a superficial, shallow prick he is early on.

We know this isn’t ideal, perfect-world, politically correct, aspirational advice, which is the kind of stuff we usually go gaga for around these here parts. But this is one case where we’re willing to come down from the rafters and get our hands in the dirt: women’s body image issues is emotionally messy stuff — imperfect and un-pretty. But hopefully, when we all talk openly and honestly about how fucked up it is, we’ll all be a little easier on ourselves and allow ourselves to enjoy our bodies and their potential pleasures a little more.

Honey Badger Wannabes,

Em & Lo




  1. To summarise:

    1) Just be happy because it could be worse.
    2) Don’t let your new partner know how you feel.
    3) Lie to your new partner.
    4) Hide your body from your partner as best you can for as long as you can.
    5) Lay down on your back while having sex. Even if this is boring, uncomfortable and a turn off to your partner.
    6) Use drugs to lower you inhibitions.
    7) Bad sex is better than no sex.
    8) If it’s bad it’s your partner’s fault!
    9) Be promiscuous.
    10) Blame it on your new partner if the above “strategy” fails to result in self satisfaction.

    Awful, just awful advice!

    1. Well, when you put it that way! We totally get where you’re coming from. And as we admitted above, “We know this isn’t ideal, perfect-world, politically correct, aspirational advice.” Because sometimes people, like this woman in particular, don’t want to hear pie-in-the-sky suggestions. The above was very tailored to her particular experience, her vibe, and to just the FIRST time she was going to hookup with him (not a life-long sexual relationship), which again isn’t great for universal advice. If we had to do it again, we’d be more idealistic.

      But just to defend ourselves:

      1) We don’t see much wrong with trying to keep things in perspective.

      2 & 3) We didn’t say to lie, we simply suggested not being so obsessed with a self-perceived “imperfection” that having diarrhea of the mouth about it ruins the moment (and studies do show the power and effectiveness of “faking it until you make it”).

      4&5) Again, we were just talking about small things she could do to get through this FIRST time until she’s more comfortable with him — this is not advice for a long-term sexual relationship (perhaps that wasn’t made clear enough).

      6) We’re not saying abuse drugs, but if you’re that nervous about sleeping with someone you WANT to sleep with simply because you think your body isn’t perfect, we’re not going to deny the very real world fact that a glass of wine on a pre-sex date can be nice for some people — not necessary, but perhaps nice.

      7) We just happen to think women shouldn’t deny themselves sex THAT THEY WANT simply because they don’t fit some impossible beauty standard — men don’t!

      8) We did not say “if it’s bad, it’s your partner’s fault” — we said that figuring out whether they were a good match was more important than obsessing over her perceived flaws (and there are myriad reasons why they wouldn’t be a great match that aren’t “his fault” but just a matter of chemistry or incompatibility).

      9) We hate the word “promiscuous” — what does that even mean? If you are kind, respectful, honest about your intentions, see sex as a mutual exchange of pleasure (rather than all give or all take), and practice safer sex, it doesn’t matter whether you have 5 or 50 partners. Too often women sacrifice their own pleasure, sometimes entirely, because they focus solely on pleasing their partner because they want to be liked and seen as agreeable. Sex should be a two way street, so we were just encouraging her to get off the one way road.

      10) We didn’t say she should blame it on him if the sex she had using the above techniques was less than satisfactory, we said dump him and don’t sweat it if he says or indicates that her post-weight-loss, post-baby body is a problem for him.

  2. Good points. One other thing that BB needs to keep in mind, he’s interested: “We’re friends, but frequently get a bit romantic when we hang out and naughty-text once in a while.”

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