Many of you have followed me along my body positive journey; have listened to my ramblings about body neutrality, diet culture and respect for all bodies. But there is one thing I haven’t talked about, here we go.
Let’s talk about SEX!
One very positive yet unexpected side effect of my journey towards self-love is a fun and lively sex life. Why is that?
People think of body positivity as “love yourself” quotes on Instagram (nothing wrong with them!) and that is how my journey started. But as I delved deeper towards the land of fat liberation, I realized there was a lot more to it. See, the hating of fat people (including our own bodies that have fat on them) has its roots in white supremacy, patriarchy, and religion.
White women (long ago or maybe NOT so long ago?) wanted thin bodies because they didn’t want to look like the perceived "larger bodies" that black women had. Big bodies equaled less affluence/respect/desirability in society. Sabrina Strings writes in Fearing The Back Body "The fear of the imagined 'fat black woman' was created by racial and religious ideologies that have been used to both degrade black women and discipline white women."
Men in patriarchal societies are taught early on that they are more valuable than women. Women are taught that their main role in life is to please men, to marry and raise a family. To “accomplish” those goals, you must make yourself as attractive to men as possible. And (at this point in history) being thin is the way our society tells us to do that. It is no wonder that millions of women starve themselves to try to reach these thin ideals.
Religion (Christianity is my focus here) supports these ideas and throws some other insults on top of those injuries. Christianity tells us that “cleanliness is next to godliness” “idle hands are the devil’s playground” and sloth is one of the seven deadly sins. It’s no wonder that in our society “clean eating,” over-exercise and relentless hard work are highly praised.
All that to say, my path towards body positivity led me to feminism (oh! the f word!), body autonomy, and equity. My path helped me learn that in order to love my body, I had to understand the messages I received about it every day from a society led by white cis gender men that basically taught me to hate it.
That same society sent me super confusing messages about my own sexuality. The best example of this I can think of is in this video here: https://vimeo.com/393253445
With these mixed messages, it was no wonder that I felt conflicted about my sexuality. Was I supposed to be sexy or cover up? Be desirable or coy? Men were telling me what they wanted my body to be, but their messages were unclear, contradictory. And frankly men (speaking generally here, men as a societal construct) don’t have the right over my body (although we see men fighting vehemently to try to hold on to what control they are losing i.e., the recent Roe decision). NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO CONTROL MY BODY. I had to learn that, internalize it, and start living it in full color.
It wasn’t until I took back control and claimed my body for myself that I began to experience more joy in my sexuality. If I gave up caring what other people thought of my body and instead worked to enjoy my body for my own self, then I got to decide what I wanted to be. Did I want to be sexy or cover up? Did I want to be desirable or coy?
My autonomy was wrapped up in my self-love and in my sexuality. So how did I make this happen?
It was a long journey. I had to start with baby steps. I had to see my body for what it was, a body. Not the enemy. I had to get neutral with my body before I started on the journey of self-love (I say journey because I’m still on it!) I had to start looking at REAL bodies instead of constantly comparing myself to models, movie stars and manic dieters.
I had to get educated. I had to learn about how body positivity is tied up in all that I mentioned above. I had to learn about my own body. What made me feel good. I watched shows like “Pleasure” on Netflix where I learned all about the clitoris! (Did you know that most women will not reach orgasm through PIV sex alone. That’s penis in vagina sex, as described by Dr. Celeste Holbrook. Another great person to follow to learn more about your body!)
I read books like “The Body Is Not An Apology,” “Anti-Diet” and so many more (talk to me about books that you NEED TO READ.) And slowly I began to get more comfortable in my own skin. More ready to ask for what I wanted and needed. More ready to take back control of my body. More ready to have great sex.
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