Q. I’ve lost a lot of weight in the past year. I mean, basically the net weight of a couple of pre-schoolers. I’ve got a little ways to go to get to my goal (which is whatever weight I land on while I train for a couple of half marathons). As I am impressed with my ability to essentially leap tall buildings in a single bound, I am utterly miserable with how I look without my clothes on. My sex life with my SO wasn’t great over a year ago, and now it is basically nonexistent. I am terrified that he sees what I see: loose skin”¦everywhere. I feel less sexy now than I did before, which is unexpected. It is to the point that if he catches me getting out of the shower or mid-dress, I cry. I know that he loves me and is proud of me (and would very much like me to be naked all the time), but I am struggling even being seen in my underwear. With my clothes on, I feel strong and pretty badass. Without, I am a self-defeating pile of sobs and misery. I feel like I am living two realities defined by a few swaths of fabric. What can I do to get to a place where I can be comfortable with having sex and maybe, I don’t know, enjoy it again?
A. Life is strange, isn’t it? We think we know exactly what we want and how it will affect our lives, and then we get there and realize we weren’t prepared at all. Which is not to say that these types of decisions, and certainly your decision, are bad decisions. It only means that sometimes when we are goal oriented towards a “positive,” we can be taken for a loop when that “positive” can bring a few negatives. It’s a little bit of that old saying – the grass is always greener on the other side. Which for you kitten, sounds like you did reach a bit of a greener grass. Just with conditions unexpected.
There are all sorts of conversations around the experiences of when your body, whether on a mission for the positive or fighting off a negative, betrays you. It becomes this foreign object, a stranger looking back at you from the mirror – a place of shame. The body becomes a scapegoat for weakness and failure. Ask any pregnant woman, breast cancer survivor, people who have lost or gained weight, people who have dealt with serious illness, and even those who have just gotten plastic surgery. Most of these folks will say that while they were trying to get to one place or another, they felt like their body betrayed them along the way.
While I am certain that there are some out there who would proclaim that you should be proud of your body, and yes, they are absolutely right in practice, if you do not feel even the slightest bit of tolerance to your naked body, it can be hard to accept a mantra that is a radical practice for most to follow. I do think you should love your body, but sometimes, we just aren’t there yet. Seriously: raise your hand all out there who love their body, and if you do, raise your other hand if it took a long-ass time, sprinkled with some disordered eating, self-hatred, undoing internalized notions of beauty, and whatever was your poison of choice.
And loves, the battle does not stop.
I want to suggest a mantra that has stuck very close to me, one that comes from an amazing performer and person – World Famous *BOB*. BOB teaches a radical self-confidence class that I had the privilege of attending a while back. Now, while the details of this class are to be kept on the down low, one of the things I took away from her teaching was that if we cannot love our bodies, let’s tolerate them. It is so easy to carve out a negative space and feed that hunger that it requires. Sometimes we get to a point where you’ve got nothing but negativity and the idea of viewing your body in a light that’s positive seems impossible, unheard of, and while we know that it’s not impossible, it can feel impossible. So instead of trying to battle the looming, huge impossible, try tolerance. Tolerance is a middle ground, tolerance has no feelings, only facts. Grab your stomach and say, “You know, thanks for digesting food.” Just realize that it, whatever it may be, whether stomach, arms, or thighs, is there. Let it be there. Acknowledge it for what it does and that it does have a purpose. The idea is that you are looking for the middle ground, a place where you can begin to feel a bit more balanced about your body.
But also, look at what you have, because that is the thing that may ease you back into feeling good about your naked body. You say you feel confident, beautiful, even free with clothes on. So why not consider this a time to explore pieces of lingerie that bring the same type of confidence you have in the streets to the sheets? The idea is not to cover you up because you are not worthy of being seen. It is to highlight the parts that you love, while giving you a set of mental training wheels until you can feel more and more comfortable with your naked body. One place to get you started? The Lingerie Addict. Not only will you find some amazing pieces that are just screaming to grace your body, you will also find people who have also been down the road of, “My body has betrayed me.” You don’t have to spend gobs of money or deck yourself out in only the finest pieces, but find things that you think will make you feel good and make you feel sexy. The only way sex is going to happen on your terms is if you feel good about your body and yourself and that you want sex. When you go into sex feeling insecure or ashamed, it can lead to some really awful feelings that you don’t deserve to be having. Frankly, I don’t think you even have to go directly into sex – fooling around, sex toys, mutual masturbation – these are just baby steps to take off the pressure and will help you get to what can seem like the larger, looming place of, “Official sex and my naked body, do it for America, do it because it’s gone and I have to”.
As far as your skin, I am honestly not sure how to guide you. There are resources upon resources, and they can all give you the practical advice you may need for snapping your skin back to where it once was. The solutions and suggestions range from cocoa butter to surgery to gaining weight back, and I can’t be certain which one of those methods is right for you. But the truth of the matter is, you are not alone (Links NSFW). How and if you choose to deal with the excess skin is not anyone’s business but your own, and in the end, it is only about what makes you happy. As a half-naked lady on the internet, writing an online sex column, I wish I could offer you a more clear-cut solution that would instantly fix your dilemma. But alas, I am only a half-naked lady on the internet, writing an online sex column. My hope is not so much for skin, but that you find the oomph that you need to make you okay with your naked body again, because it’s not a source of shame or just loose skin. It’s yours. You are a person who deserves love and adoration and orgasms no matter what. Give yourself at least that, no matter what you think the mirror is telling you, because that mirror? It fucking lies sometimes. It reflects back at you the thought, “You do not deserve nice things. you do not deserve love,” and that couldn’t be further from the truth. But getting to that place of truth is going to be a hard climb, so start small – start with tolerance. The second you accept tolerance, it’s a second closer to reclaiming your body and your sex life. Everything else is just in the details.
Got a question to ask, subject you’d like us to discuss, or myth you’d like us to bust? Keep “˜em coming ! You can send us an anonymous message via the Ask Us! feature here. We love to see a full inbox of sexy sex and not so sexy sex questions.