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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Bodies » Wigged Out By My Sexual Body? (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Wigged Out By My Sexual Body?
turtl3lady
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Just as the title says...

I think this has only come to the surface just recently. I often consider myself to be insecure of my body and the fact that I am overweight but I know that doesn't mean I should stop myself from loving every bit of it for how it is right now. But still something is in the way...because I see other plus sized girls doing sexy things and I think it's great so I don't think being overweight is the problem...

An example of this being wigged out by my body/face would be when I went on my honeymoon and my husband and I took a video of our sexual encounters. After seeing a minute of it, I was totally mortified and disgusted by it. I hated it. I wanted to cry. Not because I was heavy (actually I was thinner on my honeymoon) but I think my face or my voice or mannerisms...something threw me off.

My friend is going to be doing a boudoir photo shoot of me soon. I find it very difficult to consider myself...sexy. Maybe cute or pretty in the right circumstances but never sexy. One thought is, maybe I look too much like my dad...or I hate the shape of my head or dislike the look of my face...so I could understand being down about not totally loving my body...but completely wigged out? Like it's so gross, it's almost like seeing my parents do something sexy? I don't understand and it's making me quite frustrated. I grew up in a very open family when it comes to sexual discussion and joking around about it etc. so it's never be an awkward topic...yet I get uncomfortable thinking of myself being sexual with my husband and being sexy in this upcoming photo shoot. What else could it be?

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Sam W
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Hi turtl3lady,

Unfortunately, we can't really say for certain what might be making you feel this way. But, it sounds like you've actually got a few ideas as to what might be going on. I will that it's not unusual for people to not like looking at images of themselves in sexual situations (I mean, some people don't even like looking at pictures of themselves period, because their eyes tend to zoom in on what they perceive as flaws).

So, it might be that you're just someone who doesn't like seeing yourself in sexy images, and that's totally okay. If you're feeling uncomfortable with the idea, is there any reason you can't call off the boudoir shoot?

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turtl3lady
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I don't want to call off the shot because I WANT to be proud of my body despite the fact of what it looks like...I love seeing the confidence in other women despite their size.

For as long as I've known my husband too, he had always grown up with the notion that "sex is bad" and something to be ashamed of (and had a history of pornography abuse). Could that have rubbed off on me? It makes things awkward (although he's getting better) but I have never felt this way about sex before. It makes me want to cry...

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turtl3lady
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And I mean when most people have sex, they don't think about how they might look from a distance or from their lovers view, they're most often enjoying the experience.

Doesn't help that my husband thinks I don't ever want to do it because just...afraid and I don't know why. Sometimes I cry at the notion of being close to doing it yet I want to so badly. I blame myself for all the axe we don't have. It's only ever twice a month that happens. That's so bad!! [Frown] I'm so lost...

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Heather
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I would suggest that rather than trying to do something that asks you to feel a way you do not right now, especially if it makes you really uncomfortable, you instead think of some things you can do to help with your body image that do not feel so terrifying. Baby steps, in a word, not leaps off a cliff. [Smile]

What do you do so far to support positive body image for yourself? For instance, most often that will be based less on being sexy, and more on what we can do in and with our bodies, rather than how they look.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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turtl3lady
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Thanks Heather

I have before thought of what I could do now to make me feel more comfortable in my skin. I have tried getting healthier with what I put in my body, tried exercising, going to body positive websites to gain insight and feel encouraged...unfortunately, I become easily discouraged...I attend Over Eaters Anonymous because I know that I use food to medicate myself and exercise becomes overwhelming and a frightening thing to me...not that I don't enjoy it, because when I do exercise I love it, but I think the thought that it makes no difference or tha I look stupid doing it takes over. And then I forget the encouraging words from the websites and the loving and affirming words from my husband.

I may have come to realize too that since sexuality for my husband had always been a huge struggle, it may have transferred to me. When he was hooked on masturbation and porn (more than average at the time), it left a great scar on my heart and sent the message that I wasn't good enough even though his usage is not a problem anymore (and I know it's not personal, addiction means nothing more than a hunger to fill a void that can never be satisfied). And he was always a little quiet about his desire for me and...really, we don't often talk about sex for how much we both want it but are insecure about it. And so sometimes I was afraid of making him feel uncomfortable...and then all of the sudden when he's not shy and desire me sexually, I feel caught off guard and I want to recoil. We have discussed this...still it's all so strange.

It feels hopeless though I know it's not. Between my failed attempts at trying to love my body and my husbands dark sexual past...it makes for something difficult to work out.

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Heather
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Honestly, this, and some of the things you have posted in the past, sounds to me like something where couples counseling is probably a very good call.

Have you two ever talked about exploring that?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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acb
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Hey turtl3lady! I'm feel like I'm not able to comment on your relationship issues but reading about how you feel about your body felt very familiar to me so I thought I'd share some things that worked for me when I was trying to learn to love my own body.

To start with, one or two of the things you're saying about feeling comfortable in your own skin (dieting, exercising) sound a bit like you're trying to change your body into something you'll like rather than liking the one you have. If you want to lose weight and get fit and you think that'll make you happier then go for it! But it's not an instant process (starting out with getting fit I felt a bit hopeless, it took me about two years to make exercise a regular part of my life) so maybe to start with you could try focusing on good things about your body as it is? One thing I do is whenever I feel particularly rubbish is that I make a list of all the things my body can do and remind myself that that's what it's there for, rather than to stand in front of a mirror and get sadly stared at (eg. walk through forests, hug friends, draw pictures etc.). To start with, I would forget it all the time and go back to hating myself so I would write it again, and again, until now I know the list so well that I can stop and reel it off to myself in five seconds. Thinking of my body as a thing that does rather than a thing that's observed really helped me break through my insecurities about being seen exercising too (as well as realising after loads of sneaky checking on other people in the gym that no one was looking at me anyway).

I also read something on a blog a few years ago which I think should be printed on every mirror everywhere ever, and really stuck with me which is : 'there is no wrong way to have a body'. I find that quite a comforting thought, that everyone in the world has their own body and each one is different but none of them are right or wrong, they just are.

I don't know how useful or relevant that will be for you, but I hope some of it helps and I hope you start to work some of this positively. [Smile]

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turtl3lady
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Heather--thank you [Smile] we have discussed doing counselling and we did some pre-marital counselling as well. It's a matter of being timid going up to others to discuss this. Like where the heck would we start? Also, it can be very expensive and we don't really have the funds for it [Frown] also I apologize if my same issues pop up all too often...don't mean to burden everyone with that.

[ 05-21-2014, 07:22 AM: Message edited by: turtl3lady ]

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turtl3lady
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quote:
Originally posted by acb:
Hey turtl3lady! I'm feel like I'm not able to comment on your relationship issues but reading about how you feel about your body felt very familiar to me so I thought I'd share some things that worked for me when I was trying to learn to love my own body.

To start with, one or two of the things you're saying about feeling comfortable in your own skin (dieting, exercising) sound a bit like you're trying to change your body into something you'll like rather than liking the one you have. If you want to lose weight and get fit and you think that'll make you happier then go for it! But it's not an instant process (starting out with getting fit I felt a bit hopeless, it took me about two years to make exercise a regular part of my life) so maybe to start with you could try focusing on good things about your body as it is? One thing I do is whenever I feel particularly rubbish is that I make a list of all the things my body can do and remind myself that that's what it's there for, rather than to stand in front of a mirror and get sadly stared at (eg. walk through forests, hug friends, draw pictures etc.). To start with, I would forget it all the time and go back to hating myself so I would write it again, and again, until now I know the list so well that I can stop and reel it off to myself in five seconds. Thinking of my body as a thing that does rather than a thing that's observed really helped me break through my insecurities about being seen exercising too (as well as realising after loads of sneaky checking on other people in the gym that no one was looking at me anyway).

I also read something on a blog a few years ago which I think should be printed on every mirror everywhere ever, and really stuck with me which is : 'there is no wrong way to have a body'. I find that quite a comforting thought, that everyone in the world has their own body and each one is different but none of them are right or wrong, they just are.

I don't know how useful or relevant that will be for you, but I hope some of it helps and I hope you start to work some of this positively. [Smile]

ACB--
Thank you for your input. These are good suggestions and I think I have hear them before. And yeah perhaps I don't like my body in a form this rolly and jiggly...but I admire other women on their curves. I have lost weight before and it did feel great. An I've tried looking at what I do like but...I don't think parts make up a whole. Sure, I like some parts of me but it doesn't account for my whole. I've been doing exercise and diet off and on for years and years and I still haven't gotten the hang of it [Frown] fear always comes back to say "you'll be like this forever, it doesn't make a difference!" It's dumb. I can get the hang of saying these thing and doin these things knowledgably but it doesn't register in my heart...know what I mean? I am all for body positivity...but somehow I don't think I count. It's dumb I know. It doesn't make sense to me...I can always try but I always seem to back what I thought formerly. Thanks everyone.

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Heather
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In terms of the counseling, do either or both of you have any health insurance? If so, chances are good it covers at least a few sessions of counseling a year, enough for you both to try it and see if you think it is something that can work for you and be worth the expense of continuing.

With the body image stuff, it sounds like you might be missing something vital, which is that doing something like exercise to help with body image is NOT really about, or mostly about, what you weight or how your body looks. Rather, how that can mostly help is by showing you what your body can DO, and letting you experience feeling good and strong in it. And dieting is actually not something that tends to support positive body image; quite the opposite, really.

So, when you say you have tried these things, have you tried them without any focus on what you weight or how you look? Or picked ways of being active where you can just enjoy yourself that do not focus on weight loss or looks, or where you forget about those things for a bit? For example, being in the gym might not be the best way to go about that for you, but maybe taking a long hike somewhere beautiful, dancing or taking a boxing class might be?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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turtl3lady
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quote:
Originally posted by Heather:
In terms of the counseling, do either or both of you have any health insurance? If so, chances are good it covers at least a few sessions of counseling a year, enough for you both to try it and see if you think it is something that can work for you and be worth the expense of continuing.

With the body image stuff, it sounds like you might be missing something vital, which is that doing something like exercise to help with body image is NOT really about, or mostly about, what you weight or how your body looks. Rather, how that can mostly help is by showing you what your body can DO, and letting you experience feeling good and strong in it. And dieting is actually not something that tends to support positive body image; quite the opposite, really.

So, when you say you have tried these things, have you tried them without any focus on what you weight or how you look? Or picked ways of being active where you can just enjoy yourself that do not focus on weight loss or looks, or where you forget about those things for a bit? For example, being in the gym might not be the best way to go about that for you, but maybe taking a long hike somewhere beautiful, dancing or taking a boxing class might be?

Unfortunately, neither of us are covered under any plan. Our pre-marital Counselling was great but it was $100 per session. That's quite a lot and my husband is in school right now. I'm the only full time worker and don't make much. It's reality but it's sad that we must pay to get the help we really need. We can visit a pastor who has experience in this area, I'm sure, but it's difficult to find and meet and trust a stranger for this particular area (especially of they're not geting paid and some religious organizations are biased).

I suppose my view of body positivity is rather flawed. It's difficult to imagine what a healthy and confident body looks like without exercise or proper diet. I like going for walks but not all the time, the gym was an awful experience...but I looove dancing, I dance around like a fool all the time [Smile] I feel good about myself when I create. Crochet, paint...but if that made me feel good all the time and solely, my body/self image wouldn't be so skewed. I'm just not sure how to feel good about myself when I am not thrilled with how it looks. If I liked my personality as well I'm sure it would help but I annoy myself often. I believe I am intelligent and creative but sometimes ignorant, can never get the right words out that I want to say...and that I'm often unsure about so many things and that I try to be so unbiased that I sometimes portray myself of phony or too much of a people pleaser. It's all so complicated. It's quite unfortunate.

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Heather
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Here's a hint: a BODY cannot be confident. Only a person can be. And a healthy body can look any number of ways: there's no one way it looks.

It really sounds like a big part of the issue here is you being so focused on looks, and it also sounds like your self-esteem, too, isn't so hot.

Per getting counseling, for yourself or as a couple, if you are not insured, have you looked into what public health in your area might cover? You also said your husband is in school: are there student health services there?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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turtl3lady
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He just finished taking full time courses and so I think that time frame for being covered is expired. He is doing part time now so I'm not sure what health is covered under him but it's worth looking into. In regards to public health, I have no idea where to start looking...I used the sexual health clinic downtown to help with more affordable birth control...I suppose I can I've them a call and ask about any advice they cans provide on giving me the correct tools or people to see.

You're right...it is a mind over matter thing...and I know it's vain to be focused on looks but it is something that gets in the way of being a fully real and happy me. Isn't it important to feel pretty or sexy? It's not the most important and it's not like I can't go out because I'm not thrilled with my body. I don't loathe or anything...just not loving it. I try to ignore it...often try to avoid mirrors etc.

Yes I am a person and this person isn't completely happy. I am content but I know it can be better. I'm just not sure how. I guess that's where more is needed than a quick fix from a message board.

I will look in depth into my local options. Thank you so much for being helpful and patient.

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Heather
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I'd say that clinic is likely the perfect place to ask. What I'd just ask them about is what, if any, counseling services may be available for low-cost to no-cost for uninsured people in your area.

You know, my thing with talking about your focus on looks isn't about critiques around vanity. rather, it's that that focus makes it really hard, sometimes impossible, to really develop a positive body image, because how a body looks is not only just one part of having a body, it's also the part that tends to be the most shallow end of the pool, if you follow me. Not shallow per "Oh, you shallow person," but shallow per not offering people very much that's positive or enduring. (I am just finishing a blog about some of this, actually, that might help you out a bit, I'll pose the link for you when it is live.)

Is it important to feel pretty or sexy? Well, that's not universal. It is for some people. It is not for others. And for a lot of people, it is sometimes but not other times. But when it comes to some of what you are talking about with sex, I'd say feeling pretty or sexy -- again, based on looks -- isn't going to offer you very much. That's not the stuff that makes for a rich, rewarding sexual life, for instance, especially all by itself without much bigger stuff underneath, like the courage to, say, explore something sexual where maybe you are NOT pretty on purpose, or it might not be sexy; where you are just in the experience so much that how anyone looks just isn't that relevant, especially since sex is multi-sensory, so what's visual is only one of many parts of that experience. Make sense?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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Here's that link: http://www.scarleteen.com/blog/heather_corinna/2014/05/16/letters_to_mybodyofyesteryear_and_to_yoursofrightnow

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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turtl3lady
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quote:
Originally posted by Heather:
I'd say that clinic is likely the perfect place to ask. What I'd just ask them about is what, if any, counseling services may be available for low-cost to no-cost for uninsured people in your area.

You know, my thing with talking about your focus on looks isn't about critiques around vanity. rather, it's that that focus makes it really hard, sometimes impossible, to really develop a positive body image, because how a body looks is not only just one part of having a body, it's also the part that tends to be the most shallow end of the pool, if you follow me. Not shallow per "Oh, you shallow person," but shallow per not offering people very much that's positive or enduring. (I am just finishing a blog about some of this, actually, that might help you out a bit, I'll pose the link for you when it is live.)

Is it important to feel pretty or sexy? Well, that's not universal. It is for some people. It is not for others. And for a lot of people, it is sometimes but not other times. But when it comes to some of what you are talking about with sex, I'd say feeling pretty or sexy -- again, based on looks -- isn't going to offer you very much. That's not the stuff that makes for a rich, rewarding sexual life, for instance, especially all by itself without much bigger stuff underneath, like the courage to, say, explore something sexual where maybe you are NOT pretty on purpose, or it might not be sexy; where you are just in the experience so much that how anyone looks just isn't that relevant, especially since sex is multi-sensory, so what's visual is only one of many parts of that experience. Make sense?

I will definitely do that with my sexual health clinic [Smile] hope is in sight! Thank you!

I don't necessarily think that you must physically be pretty or sexy in order to feel pretty or sexy. I don't think it's the most important but I want to feel good about who I am what I do in my bed. At least it's important to me. Even when my hair is all askew and I haven't showered for a couple days and I have morning breath, my husband is more than happy to be intimate with me and call me beautiful at the same time. And sometimes I do feel sexy in that moment even thought physically I may look ridiculous hehe.

But then I really must have no idea about what it means to be beautiful if it has absolutely nothing to do with looks. I have no idea what sexuality means or represents to me if it has absolutely nothing to do with how either one of us looks. This disheartens me...because I understand that media doesn't portray it properly and porn and other sexually charged media easily distorts he reality of what sex is like or what it's about. Men are visually stimulated. Almost all guys are. So isn't it important to want to play that usual alluring part of sex? I mean when I have sex, I'm not just having sex with my husband's physical body...it's being vulnerable with him and showing him I love him. But I would be strange if I wasn't physically attracted to him. It's not first, but it is important. So what am I missing?

I agree that looks is not the most important part. As you said:

"That's not the stuff that makes for a rich, rewarding sexual life, for instance, especially all by itself without much bigger stuff underneath"

I 100% agree. But where do looks fit in? Is it important at all? "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Beautiful is subjective. I have my own standard. From what I understand, I know it takes a positive self image to really enjoy a sexual life...but how can I achieve that image when I know I contribute to my own problems? How can I achieve that positive attitude without looks being involved?

Yes if you have any articles, please link me. This is very new to me...I grew up my whole life with the notion that physical appearance is very, very important. It's stressful. I want to FEEL great about who I am on my own and in my bedroom. So if looks aren't important in the feeling sexy for my husband...and personality/self confidence is...how do I get that? I want that

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turtl3lady
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(Most important question in all that--how can I have a rewarding and fulfilling sexual life without being worried about how I look?)

[ 05-22-2014, 07:44 PM: Message edited by: turtl3lady ]

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Heather
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The idea that gender dictates what senses people connect most with is totally broken, and has been disproven by study again and again. So first up, I would let that idea go. All it is founded in is gender stereotypes, not reality. In reality, what sense we connect most with varies among individuals all across the gender spectrum.

In terms of what beauty, and sexuality, can all mean beyond looks, have you read things like our pieces on the main site defining sexuality, as a start? And outside our site, can I ask what you have been exposed to just in terms of literature? I ask because places like classical poetry and most great works of literature actually tend to address the bigger picture of these things. I am an art and lit geek at heart, so if you have not really read the classics, I would be happy to suggest a few good places to start on these themes.

Looks can matter, and looking absolutely can be, and often is part of sex and sexuality, and again, this is not about gender. But ideas like that men look and women are for looking at sure is, but again, this is not about biology, this is about a chosen, but sometimes externally enforced (and often internalized deeply if it has been) set of gender roles. And that is the stuff of feminism, really, so if you want some book suggestions around all of this, I would be glad to share some of those, too.

In fact, it sounds to me like a rich and engaging reading list, if you dig reading, is probably just the thing for you right now.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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Per that question of yours I missed? Long story very, very short: by not worrying anymore about how you look. In fact, while you keep being so worried about how you look, you can be sure your sexual life will not be very rich. It only gets the chance to really be so, especially over a whole lifetime, is if you can let a lot of that go.

And that really is it: we do not give ourselves these ideas, but we do choose to hold on to them or not, or how much we do. That part is totally our choice, and you, like anyone, gets to choose if you stay signed on to that or ditch it.

But that is often something that takes time, because it takes work. But we have time and can do that work if we want to. [Smile]

[ 05-22-2014, 08:06 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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turtl3lady
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Love engaging and broadening my knowledge! I love learning. So totally up for some good reads, especially regarding sexuality. It's always been a huge topic of interest since I was little...even desired to be a sexual therapist once upon a time.

Some churches I went to suggested some books on sexuality and womanhood. I never read them fully but I found them a little too...I dunno. Sex as totally sacred (which it is) but didn't focus too too much on the fun parts or exploration part or anything. Read books on "waiting til marriage" (that didn't help one bit--perhaps guilt and shame has a tiny part on some of this too...who knows). One book I enjoyed reading but never finished was called Captivating. John and Staci Elderidge. Interesting. Should finish that too.

I minored in English Lit and Language in my Bachelor of Arts program so I've had some exposure to some classics. Nothing too profound. However...hubby and I loooooove Pablo Neruda. Very sensual and beautiful imagery [Smile] I also enjoy e.e. Cummings.

I think it's time for some new literature. Please list it off [Smile]

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turtl3lady
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Oh boy. To not care anymore about how I look. That's a whole paradigm shift. I don't want to make it so I don't shower and I'm smelly and I don't shave or do my hair or or wear dirty or mismatched clothing. That to me represents insecurity to the point of warding people off. But that's not the kind of "not caring" you mean is it? Even I I don't dress the nicest, I feel good being able to put some pride and work into how I present myself to the world...saying I value myself enough look professional at least. But how can I separate that from being desirable? How can one simply just...not care without being sketchy?

[ 05-22-2014, 08:20 PM: Message edited by: turtl3lady ]

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Heather
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I need to head off of work for the night, but I am more than happy to keep talking about this tomorrow if you like.

This is big, important stuff, and I also feel like in the time you have been a user here (long time!), this is a really great potential turning point for you. Glad to pitch in for that!

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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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turtl3lady
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I am very grateful for your help [Smile] and the help from your staff as well. This forum has been a godsend for all the questions I've had about sex and sexuality.

I feel that gaining an adequate knowledge about the importance of sex as a part of ones identity is essential to having a fulfilling life. More than just how it works biologically. This really could be a turning point for me...getting the help I need from my community and the support from my husband and websites like this. Would happy to discuss this further tomorrow [Smile]

Have a lovely night. Thanks again

[ 05-22-2014, 08:38 PM: Message edited by: turtl3lady ]

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OhImpecuniousOne
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To take a punt at one tiny, tiny, tiny part of this big discussion: physical attraction, in my experience, isn't all about looks at all. Just as much of it is about body language, and the emotions you can see in someone - I could write a short list of the facial and body expressions that turn my head (and not in a "strip slowly with bedroom eyes" way, in a "sincere laughter, someone smiling at their own happy thoughts..." way). In a long term partner, one of the sexiest things about seeing your partner naked, in my opinion, is that it sets you imagining all the wonderful things you could (and hopefully will!) do together - and that, really, is physical attraction growing out of tactile and emotional enjoyment. I'm sure that people who've thought more about this have come up with a tonne more examples, hopefully some of which will be in books that Heather can recommend - I just wanted to sort of point out some of how physical attractiveness doesn't necessarily mean looking sexy and sly and well-groomed.
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Heather
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Well, I appreciate the trust you put in me, or us, with something so big and so personal. Glad to be of any help. [Smile]

I want to start with books and literature -- and this is just a start, so barely -- and then I'll make another post addressing your last bits about bodies and appearance.

There is so much great work in the history of the world about big things like Beauty and Sexuality (capitalized because they really are giant concepts, and so not things that we can simplify without losing their richness, IMO).

But some favorite places I can think of to start are:
- Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
- All things W.B. Yeats
- Lady Chatterley's Lover, by D.H. Lawrence (and all things Lawrence, honestly)
- The Awakening by Kate Chopin
- Adrienne Rich's poetry

For instance, this one from Rich (The Floating Poem, Unnumbered) is one of my personal favorite, particularly per expressing how even sexual pleasure and the physical parts of it are so layered and so much more than just visual:

"Whatever happens with us, your body
will haunt mine -- tender, delicate
your lovemaking, like the half-curled frond
of the fiddlehead fern in forests
just washed by sun. Your traveled, generous thighs
between which my whole face has come and come --
the innocence and wisdom of the place my tongue has found there --
the live, insatiate dance of your nipples in my mouth --
your touch on me, firm, protective, searching
me out, your strong tongue and slender fingers
reaching where I have been waiting years for you
in my rose-wet cave -- whatever happens, this is. "

And Neruda was going to be on my list to suggest you you! But you read him, so can I ask if you don't see, there, SO much sexuality and sensuality, that is about so much more than just looking?

If you want to peek at something more contemporary, you might try Milan Kundera's "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," Sarah Waters' "Tipping the Velvet," or Jeffrey Eugenedies' "Middlesex." Those books, and some other things I've included here, I think are particularly helpful if and when someone is kind of locked into a heteronormative framework, in the sense that gender norms are really limiting their understanding and experience of themselves and others in regard to sexuality (like what we talked about earlier, for instance, the idea that men look and women are for men to look at). Sexuality and sex are so much bigger than gender and orientation, so stepping outside those frameworks can, I think, help open up minds a bit, especially if being outside that framework is far outside a person's personal experience.

In terms of non-fiction, I'm thinking Thomas Moore's "The Soul of Sex" might also be a good bridge for you, based on what you said you have read before. It isn't churchy, but it does address the spiritual, but in a very big, open way, and specifically addressing how our view and experience of sex and sexuality gets very limited if we limit things to looks or appearances.

There's are also two older (from the 70s) sexology classics that I think still endure, despite being fairly outdated in their gender frameworks) and you might find very illuminating. Those are Shere Hite's "The Hite Report on Male Sexuality," and "The Hite Report on Female Sexuality." These, too, might kind of illuminate more of the layers of sexuality that there are, and help undo some of the gender constructs it sounds like you have around it that might be limiting you, and causing you to suffer emotionally, no less.

Do you ever visit art museums, by the way?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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quote:
Oh boy. To not care anymore about how I look. That's a whole paradigm shift. I don't want to make it so I don't shower and I'm smelly and I don't shave or do my hair or or wear dirty or mismatched clothing. That to me represents insecurity to the point of warding people off. But that's not the kind of "not caring" you mean is it? Even I I don't dress the nicest, I feel good being able to put some pride and work into how I present myself to the world...saying I value myself enough look professional at least. But how can I separate that from being desirable? How can one simply just...not care without being sketchy?
Well, it's okay to be "sketchy," you know. Just like it's okay to skip showers or be smelly sometimes. It's okay not to shave or to wear mismatched clothes (and I'm not sure where the idea those things must be about insecurity is coming from, but we can talk about that if you want.) In fact, if that stuff seems really scary to you, I'd suggest doing it for yourself as en exercise at least every now and then so it isn't so scary. Going camping for a few days, or to a festival, can be one good way to experience that.

But really, this is about balance. Someone who has been as concerned with appearances as it sounds like you have most likely does not have to worry about magically becoming a total slob.

The balance is about doing what makes you feel GOOD in terms of appearance, and basic hygiene so, you know, no one makes themselves or the rest of the world literally ill, and balancing that focus and time you spend on this so it isn't taking up your whole life and head and heart, and isn't, instead, making you feel crummy, or like if you don't think about how you look for two seconds, the world will come to some sort of crashing end.

Sex is usually one of the places where we can find a haven so be so in the moment, we forget about looks or how we look, or at least, step out of the kind of looks-framework that comes into play with things like how people present themselves at work. But it sounds like sex isn't -- yet -- that place for you.

So, I'm wondering if you have any places that ARE those kinds of places for you? For example, personally, doing things like getting filthy in the garden or on a hike or bike, playing with my friend's kids, hula-hopping or boxing, cooking an amazing meal, making music for myself: these are some places, outside of sex, where I find I not only tend to be or become a big messy mess, but where I even relish that when it happens, and find it fun and freeing. Anything like that in your life?

I also wonder if you and your spouse (or with any lovers before your spouse, if you had them) ever engage in kinds of sexual play or exploration that take AWAY the ability to look, like play with blindfolds? Or in ways of engaging in sex where everyone can still see, but they are more focused on exploring other senses, like taste, for instance, touch or smell?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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Additionally I think Naomi Wolf's "The Beauty Myth" might be one good contemporary feminist classic for you on some of this.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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turtl3lady
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Thank you all so much for your replies and suggestions!! All this is so wonderful, I cannot convey my gratitude for the amount of effort you have put into this for me [Smile]

I'm sorry I have been MIA, it's been a very crazy busy week and a bit with some travel and work and being super tired and such. But I am very excited to read through everything again and continue this conversation and look into all the literature that was suggested to me [Big Grin]

I will respond to everyone's posts more in depth when I have time to take a sit and read through everything more thoroughly. Thank you, again!!

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Heather
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It was my pleasure, no worries. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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ralphie41
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I have just one thing to add to your ever growing reading list! This first answer in this rookie article is a great (but fairly short) rumination on beauty and what it means and how important it is in different ways (or not as the case may be) that I personally think is great (made me cry, but in a good way!) and that you may find helpful [Smile] http://www.rookiemag.com/2014/05/oh-you-pretty-things-4/

Also with regards to the exercise thing, i find that the 'exercise' i enjoy the most and that makes me feel the best about myself and my body is the type where the fitness is sort of incidental, rather than the end goal. Some people may love running but I am just not that girl! However things like Horse riding, cycling as a means of transport, and a type of drumming I do called taiko are all very physical things, but it is also learning a skill, or getting from A to B that motivates me to do them.

Also thanks to Heather for the reading list, i will most definitely be checking some of those out!

[ 06-03-2014, 02:54 PM: Message edited by: ralphie41 ]

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turtl3lady
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quote:
Originally posted by Heather:
Well, it's okay to be "sketchy," you know. Just like it's okay to skip showers or be smelly sometimes....In fact, if that stuff seems really scary to you, I'd suggest doing it for yourself as en exercise at least every now and then so it isn't so scary. Going camping for a few days, or to a festival, can be one good way to experience that.

But really, this is about balance. Someone who has been as concerned with appearances as it sounds like you have most likely does not have to worry about magically becoming a total slob.

The balance is about doing what makes you feel GOOD in terms of appearance, and basic hygiene so, you know, no one makes themselves or the rest of the world literally ill, and balancing that focus and time you spend on this so it isn't taking up your whole life and head and heart, and isn't, instead, making you feel crummy, or like if you don't think about how you look for two seconds, the world will come to some sort of crashing end.

Sex is usually one of the places where we can find a haven so be so in the moment, we forget about looks or how we look, or at least, step out of the kind of looks-framework that comes into play with things like how people present themselves at work. But it sounds like sex isn't -- yet -- that place for you.

So, I'm wondering if you have any places that ARE those kinds of places for you? For example, personally, doing things like getting filthy in the garden or on a hike or bike, playing with my friend's kids, hula-hopping or boxing, cooking an amazing meal, making music for myself: these are some places, outside of sex, where I find I not only tend to be or become a big messy mess, but where I even relish that when it happens, and find it fun and freeing. Anything like that in your life?

I also wonder if you and your spouse (or with any lovers before your spouse, if you had them) ever engage in kinds of sexual play or exploration that take AWAY the ability to look, like play with blindfolds? Or in ways of engaging in sex where everyone can still see, but they are more focused on exploring other senses, like taste, for instance, touch or smell? [/QB]

OK, here we go!

I am mortified at the fact that one might think it's ok to go out into public on purpose without showering for several days with noticeably dirty clothing! It's a sign that this person does not respect themselves or others [Frown] (I have had quick smelly people around me before, sometimes by choice, and it makes me feel bad because other people look down on them...and I have myself as well. It's just...so not right). But that's the EXTREME of not taking care of oneself. But I'm also not the extreme in terms of appearance and hygiene either.

I'm about normal when it comes to hygiene. I usually go every other day to shower and I don't put make-up on every day either. Sometimes I go out to the grocery store in my pajama bottoms...talk about not looking your absolute best. But that's ok. But I try to take care of myself well enough not to offend people or ward them off. Plus I physically feel gross and stressed out if I don't have a decent appearance or hygiene. I have gone camping, had sex with my hair lookin' wild and not showered for a couple days...so I have no problem doing that...I just don't particularly like it [Razz] I enjoy being clean and try to look my best. But I'm not immaculate in my cleaning and physical appearance habits (compared to the rest of my family!!). keep in mind, I come from a Portuguese family...you don't understand the meaning of cleanliness until you've entered a Portuguese household [Razz] And I have come to the conclusion that most people don't give a rat's *** about what I'm wearing. They probably won't remember. But I do love buying a pretty dress and showing it off once in a while ^_^

But yeah...when it comes to sex...I just can't take my mind off of how I might look really stupid or awful from a certain angle. It's difficult to get to that safe haven. It's only recently that this has happened too. Well, in the past 5 or 6 years. I've gained 60 lbs in those years. Before I never had a problem enjoying myself...I was so horny all the time!! I may have just realized how awful I felt after seeing myself naked in the mirror as someone who was not always this size. University coping mechanisms was food and I guess it never stopped. Or it was always there, it just intensified during my university years. And marriage put an extra 20 lbs on over 2 years! That's a heck of a lot [Frown] luckily I have hit a plateau for now...lost a little bit in the winter...but my husband got me a bicycle for my birthday [Smile] I plan on riding it everywhere!!! <3 I remembering riding around everywhere when I was a kid...it felt so nice. So that counts for the fun in exercise...I also LOVE to dance [Smile] Dancing, I forget about all things and just go with it ^_^ I wish I was there with sex [Frown] it's like a performance...although I have no reason to perform. I have never had such an accepting and loving partner.

In regards to activities with my husband and past partners...well we used to engage in intercourse and other foreplay at my parents' house or theirs with people around...there was always a chance of getting caught...and pretty sure we've been caught a couple times (without anyone saying anything of course hehe--always an awkward situation). But when I got an apartment with my husband when we got married, we had sex with the blinds open (on the 2nd floor)...but now that we live on the ground floor with our bedroom looking to the parking lot...husband wants the blinds closed ALWAYS...and I don't usually like the lights on during sex either...but sometimes we leave the window open [Razz] I'll bet ppl could hear us from outside...

But yeah...those are the components of good and bad in terms of not worrying about appearance in my life...is that helpful?

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turtl3lady
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"Also with regards to the exercise thing, i find that the 'exercise' i enjoy the most and that makes me feel the best about myself and my body is the type where the fitness is sort of incidental, rather than the end goal. "

Yes ralphi41, I love to dance around and I just got a bike for my birthday so I hope that will work out [Smile] I look forward to it.

Also, I'm super excited to look into all the literature everyone suggested [Big Grin] Since I took English university, I am familiar with many of the poets and I'm excited to read them again ^_^ yay! I love little projects.

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Heather
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More from me a little later, but I wanted to add a book to the list by one of my oldest friends - and one of the smartest people I know - that may help a lot. It is "Big, Big Love," by Hanne Blank, and it is expressly a sex book for people of size. She also has a new exercise and body book for women of size that may appeal, too.

Really, Hanne is queen when it comes to body positivity, period, but especially for people of size. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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Okay, here for more! There's a lot here, and a lot in what you posted, so am going to have to take some baby steps here, and chop up my responses so it's not too overwhelming for either of us!

You know, I'm not personally offended by the statement you made about not showering and dirt, but it takes a lot to offend me. Just for future reference, because everyone isn't so resilient here, when you make statements like that -- about lacking self-respect -- do us a solid and start it with an "I think that." That can still land a little rough, but nothing close to as rough as, well, just telling people reading you may be describing they don't respect themselves. I'm sure you get me, so thanks for that in advance. [Smile]

But to start with that, you know, there are a world of reasons someone bathes when they do and presents the way they do, in public or private. Some of those are even out of people's control, like what their access is to those things because of their economic status (been there, done that). Other people simply choose to present in the ways you're describing as offensive to you because they simply feel differently than you do about this stuff. For example, coming of age in the punk scene, we were all about expressing, though how we presented, that we disagreed that looking "dirty" said anything about our self-worth or respect. Some east Indian mystics, certainly hippies, a lot of second-wave feminists, some monks as a spiritual exercise...there are other groups or cultures that, like you, have very strong feelings about appearance, they're just different than yours.

Doesn't make you or any of them or the rest of us wrong or right: just means how people present and groom their bodies is often value-neutral, save for our own personal options, and the ways we find we feel best, physically and emotionally, per what, if anything, we do to our bodies in that regard. [Smile]

When you say you don't like it, having your hair a mess from sex, or being out muddy when camping: I wonder if you might be able to pinpoint more of why you think you don't?

Just thinking it might give us some good inroads here to the aspect, or level, of presentation you're feeling you have to have that's limiting you (including because I think I am also hearing you express that you may feel being a certain weight means not presenting properly, and given how much you've brought it up, it seems clear your weight is part of what is making you feel uncomfortable about your body), rather than what of this actually makes you always feel good.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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