Help me not hate my tummy!
December 13, 2012 8:19 PM   Subscribe

Practical advice for accepting a part of my body I hate?

I'm a woman in my mid-30s, tall (5'9") and overweight but proportionate, with lots of good attributes: I have a very pretty face, nice hair, and long legs. I know my breasts and hips aren't awesome, but I'm okay with them. What I really, really, really hate is my stomach.

My stomach is big and round, with an exaggerated upper "muffin top," a droopy lower section, a fair amount of pink/white vertical stretch marks from two pregnancies, and various spots and scars (I've occasionally gotten cyst-type inflammations in the stretch marks which have left darker marks, and have a few marks from insulin needles from while I was pregnant). My whole stomach is soft and jiggly, and when I suck it in, it looks a little lumpy like cellulite (which I am guessing is sagging skin that is usually filled out a bit by fat).

I'm in a new relationship with a kind, accepting. sex-positive (and kinky) man, who happens to be tall and athletic. He's expressed a tremendous amount of interest in seeing me fully naked -- I've always worn a camisole or tank top while we've had sex. He's touched me all over, and while I don't love having his hands on my stomach (because I know he can imagine how it looks based on how it feels), it's the visual that bothers me most. I just feel like my stomach is gross compared with the rest of me, and I feel like I have enough hangups about self-image and sex that I don't need this adding to them.

Thing is, I want to be comfortable being naked, and so I'm hoping for some advice on how to get there. I feel like I *should* be there already. I'm proud of what my body has accomplished in terms of having babies. I spend a lot of time looking at naked images of not-perfect people (photos on Fetlife have shown me that people of all shapes and sizes have no problem with getting down in the buff) and I don't feel nearly as judgmental of others as I do of myself. The man I'm with has given me no indication that he finds me anything but beautiful. And, again, I feel good about the rest of me, relatively speaking.

Still, though, I can't seem to forgive this massive imperfection, or let go of the shame I have about it. I really want to move past this. I do plan on engaging in some additional physical activity to at least try to tone my stomach a little (though the aforementioned sagging/dimply skin makes me nervous about losing the underlying fat, in case the whole thing gets droopier), but in the meantime, I wonder if anyone can help to psych me out of this loathing and help me to feel more comfortable in my skin. With my stomach concealed, I feel pretty, I feel sexual, I feel confident. I don't want to feel vulnerable and flawed and "oh he's being so nice about my hideous stomach, aren't I lucky he's still having sex with me." I want to feel awesome.

Throwaway email: Thanks in advance.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (34 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
You know what's objectively, inarguably, Platonic-ideally beautiful?


This guy finds you beautiful. That means you are, because that's all "beauty" is -- you are aesthetically pleasing to someone. He's not pretending to be attracted to you because he wants you to feel indebted to him. He's actually attracted to you.

And that's pretty great.

It's okay to worry. It's okay to freak out a little about how you look sometimes. But close your eyes, take a deep breath, and recall that someone thinks you're pretty hot. He must be right.
posted by Etrigan at 8:30 PM on December 13, 2012 [12 favorites]

There's surgery to improve this kind of problem. Save up?
posted by zadcat at 8:34 PM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

I feel like I *should* be there already.

Well, this is your first stumbling block. You're piling self-judgment on top of self-judgment. First let go of this - that you have to feel a certain way - and it will make it easier to accept yourself as you are.

With my stomach concealed, I feel pretty, I feel sexual, I feel confident.

Why not embrace that? You're kinky, there are a million corsets out there that would flatter you. Why pressure yourself? If he's pressuring you to be fully naked, then he's a jerk. You should be with a guy who likes you as you are - whether that's fully naked or dressed to the nines. You choose how you feel sexiest.
posted by desjardins at 8:35 PM on December 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

I vote for getting a great corset, too. Camisole or tank top feels kind of makeshift, whereas a corset feels fun and sexy.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:42 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would say he deserves at least one chance to show you how HE feels about your body. Hold your breath and try not to influence what he's already thinking and feeling about your beautiful, capable body. You can do whatever you want later, but please give him the opportunity to show you how he feels about something you literally can't see the way he does, and never will. He can see you from head to toe; he can see you with the wondrous thoughts in his head that tell him already how much he cares about you.

The sexiest attribute to just about everyone I know? Confidence.

Just give him a chance.
posted by Madamina at 8:44 PM on December 13, 2012 [12 favorites]

I agree with Desjardins that it's ok to take your time with this. But one thing that occurred to me - allowing him to touch your stomach might actually go pretty far in helping you feel better about it. Watch this great monologue by (the kinky and hilarious) Mollena about this very topic (NSFW). Because it's likely he'll like how it feels just as much as he likes how the rest of you feels.

Also, one thing you may or may not realize: SO MANY WOMEN feel this way about their stomachs. It's super common, and your feelings, while understandable, are not facts.
posted by the essence of class and fanciness at 8:46 PM on December 13, 2012 [23 favorites]

This is a new relationship and I think your insecurities are completely normal. The belly is a sensitive place, in more ways than one, for many women. I think the longer you know your boyfriend, and the closer you become, it will get easier. Right now, practice letting go, relaxing, and enjoying your body fully, little by little, moment by moment. You may not feel 100 percent confident the entire time you are between the sheets. This is okay. You'll get there with practice. I wouldn't rush it. Don't feel discouraged if you aren't completely liberated by next week. Keep working on acceptance and concentrate on your pleasure. I find that when I'm focused on letting go and enjoying fully, I worry less about my body.
posted by Fairchild at 8:54 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Watch the essence of class and fanciness' video link. It Is Fantastic.
posted by thrasher at 9:01 PM on December 13, 2012

My wife recently had a liposuction because she didn't like the way her belly looked (it had nothing to do with me, I never commented on it in any way). She's very happy with the result, although I think she wishes she also got a tummy tuck because there's some droopy skin. So as zadcat said, surgery is an option, but obviously a consultation with a plastic surgeon would be the first order of business so that you know what surgery can and cannot achieve.
posted by Dansaman at 9:37 PM on December 13, 2012

I can tell from your story that you know this wonderful person will find you attractive and sexy when he sees you naked. He will tell you that you’re beautiful and perfect and if you spoke to him about the issue he would do whatever he could to assure you that your tummy is not an issue! I don’t think that is the problem here at all. What I read as the issue is that no matter what he says, YOU will still feel uncomfortable about it, and you know what…? That’s ok. Most people have body hang-ups! The key may be not to start loving your tummy but just become indifferent about it. Take a Band-Aid approach, rip your cami off and let your partner bask in your full glory, he’ll love it! Hopefully once you get past that initial reveal, you’ll start to feel more and more at ease being in the buff.

For the record, my partner has a few body hang-ups and I genuinely have no idea what he’s on about. He has the most perfect body I’ve ever seen, covered in scars, love handles, jiggly belly, I love it all! I do try not to worship him to the point of mentioning those parts every 5 minutes though, which I think would make him even more self-conscious about them. You can talk to your man about it but I would make sure he knows that you don’t want him to make a fuss and draw your attention to your tummy.

It sounds like you are in a very healthy place in terms of love for the rest of your body! Just set some goals, as you have done and in the mean-time embrace the parts you do like!
posted by Youremyworld at 9:45 PM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's just annoying to have that kind of dissonance in your (one's) self-concept. A few ways to go, I guess, not necessarily exclusive.

1) Work on accepting the perceived flaw as it is. I think Fairchild's advice is great.

2) Reduce it by closing the gap a bit between the disturbing thing and your ideal, to a level you find acceptable. I've done this, and found it worthwhile. I remember sauntering out of my final laser appointment (for rosacea) at my dermatologist's. I've conformed to type in other ways, e.g. by losing weight. (NOT saying you should - I wanted to for other reasons, and my doctor didn't mind it either). The payoffs were greater than the risks here, which is not at all the same with surgery. But if something bothered me the way my weight and dilated capillaries did, and I a) had the $ and b) was highly confident the surgeon was skilled, had slept well, etc., I probably wouldn't hesitate too much. It was empowering, actually - life feels less annoying absent those niggles I found bothersome.

3) Art it up. Sketch yourself, take photos, learn your own topography, get the corset, get tatts; impose control over your lovely belly by making it absolutely yours.

4) Use your body, as a whole, as a tool for doing things. Working out helped me with this. At a minimum, for a few hours around a workout, I'm focused on external goals, like how much weight I can lift, or how long I can stay in a pose, or what I need to do to improve my breaststroke. Obviously there are benefits to well-being. I feel more settled in my skin generally, and my body's again a vehicle, rather than an object of preoccupation. (Mostly. Not saying I don't have days.) edit: maybe this is a version of what Fairchild said. Anything that helps you stay in your body more than out of it's good (which is the opposite of heightening & aestheticizing difference - whatever works!).

I don't think you should judge yourself harshly for not being 'past' something as 'petty' as what you look like. Most of us have one thing or another, especially women, which is so, so unfair (& a question of sociology, not pathology).
posted by nelljie at 9:45 PM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you do eventually decide to get naked, candle light is quite flattering...
posted by Specklet at 9:47 PM on December 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

I can't seem to forgive this massive imperfection, or let go of the shame I have about it.

As a man with more than my own fair share of "flawed" and "imperfect" body parts, I am often distressed by the extent to which so many women seem to have bought in so very deeply to the relentless media-created lie that Photoshop created Woman in His own image, instead of rejecting it out-of-hand as the outrageous and disgusting scam it so clearly is.

My own instant reaction to the sight of a soft, flabby, interestingly textured tummy on a beautiful naked woman (and if we're naked and I'm into her and she's into me, that automatically makes her beautiful) is a strong desire for some serious face time with that beautiful naked woman's beautiful naked tummy.

I really want to move past this.

Take the risk.

Let him help.

Because, you know what? He's not going to be holding his nose and going "ewwwww." He's going to be burying it in there and going "blblblblblbl."
posted by flabdablet at 9:50 PM on December 13, 2012 [11 favorites]

I have a flabby butt for some ungodly reason and it took one boyfriend who hated it to make me believe it was the ugliest part of the body I otherwise loved.

But you know what?

It took just one one-night stand with a guy who thought my round and somewhat out of shape ass was the sexiest thing in the whole world for me to realize that I was out of my mind to believe the first guy. I think your guy thinks you're freaking sexy and nothing is gonna change that for him -- so indulge yourself in that kind of amazing affection and appreciation because holy crap is it healing.

But yes, this has gotta come from within eventually, and it will. Maybe you could meet yourself half way -- do a little to make your tummy somewhat different from what it is now if you really can't stand it, and then let go of the rest. Or you could just know that your tummy now represents years of life and two children you love and forget about it.

To echo the above: take the risk. You will be surprised at what you find.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:17 PM on December 13, 2012 [5 favorites]

I've heard that taking up belly-dancing can do wonders for self-belly appreciation and acceptance, with an added bonus of toning some of those muscles too.
posted by platinum at 11:26 PM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Since you say looking at pictures of real women helps, have you seen the site "The shape of a mother"? (Link goes to their "belly" category). Warning: many of the pictures look to me like young beautiful women and I don't see why they are unhappy with their bellies. But there are also some people who have obvious stretch-marks and pudges and muffin tops (and who are actually perfectly normal looking and not unattractive, by the way.) So looking at those pictures and reading what they write about themselves might help you to some extent.

I know you say you don't feel as judgemental of others as you are of yourself (which great, by the way!) But because these pictures have text with them where the writer describes how they feel about her belly, you might find it helps you to make the connection between them and you in a way that looking just at pictures does not.
posted by lollusc at 11:53 PM on December 13, 2012

Ugh. This is my least favorite part if me (and I'm tall too, like you). I think partly it looks big because *everything* is big at this size. But I'm chosing struggling to accept because all the other shit isn't worth it. Even when I'm skinny I have a tum and this is my own little cross and no one cares but me. So I have some good undies and cute clothes and every day I work on thinking its ok. I read curvy Tubmlrs and work out and just try. Because we all get old and imperfect and fuck it. Let this dude find you hot and try to be happy. Good luck.
posted by dame at 12:44 AM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

I can't think of a reason in the world why you would need to have surgery to address the perfectly normal evidence of two full-term pregnancies. Creating another human isn't a no-impact endeavour. I also think it's pretty ironic and moderately rage inducing that you specifically asked for advice on body acceptance and people came back with suggestions for cosmetic surgery. There is nothing to fix; your body is normal for women who have given birth, and indeed for many nulliparous women who just have low skin elasticity, especially if they've gained and lost weight.

I'm in a new relationship with a kind, accepting, sex-positive (and kinky) man, who happens to be tall and athletic.

Awesome. You are probably not his first rodeo. The chances are that he's seen a full range of women, including women with stretch marks and deflated breasts and muffin tums because there are a ton of us out there. I am constantly brought up short by the fact that the average sexually active hetero man has seen a wider representation of healthy women's bodies than the average hetero woman. That is fucked up, and it's even more fucked up because what we do mostly see is, you know, bullshit media. Bullshit media does not mean that average women and their perfectly normal, changing bodies are a shameful dirty secret; it means that the media is bullshit.

Additionally, I would encourage you to treat shared nudity like the Academy Awards. We only want to attend with partners who's attitude is "it's just an honor to be here." Anyone who doesn't have that attitude towards you and your body and your sexuality can get the fuck off the booty train.

Finally, if you have a daughter, I would encourage you to consider what you would want for her. She may one day give birth. Her body is likely to weather this body change in a similar way your body has. Find the courage to be what you would want for her in her own post-childbirth sexuality: be joyful and bold and wear your body with love.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:00 AM on December 14, 2012 [40 favorites]

I just want to point out, as a kinky person, that just because (and I know I'm about to make a huge assumption here, please forgive me if I am wrong) this guy is a dom and you are a sub doesn't give him any right to pressure you into doing things that you are uncomfortable with.

It is totally great that you want to feel better about your body. It is wonderful that you have a partner who finds you beautiful, flaws and all. I understand that you both want to accept yourself and want to please your lover, and that's a fine thing and I hope you get that. However, don't let this guy get away with pressuring you to go faster than you are willing to go.

On the other hand, I do think that the fact that you are in a kinky relationship could help you here. Kink involves a lot of boundary pushing, and a good dom can really help a sub stretch themselves and grow in positive ways. Does your guy know how insecure you are about this aspect of yourself? If so, perhaps you and he can deliberately work on this through kink.

You could look into some "nice" clothed-male-nude-female play for instance, which typically involves intense positive affirmation of the beauty of the woman involved. Or you could build some other kind of scene, whatever is appropriate for your relationship, in which your partner undresses you and then provides the aformentioned affirmations of your beauty. Or maybe you'd rather go totally the other way and work it out through shame and humiliation play -- a significant minority of kinky people find that that kind of roleplay helps them understand and face and work past negative emotions that they had previously been avoiding working on. Those are just a few examples of ways in which you might employ kink to help you deal with your difficulty here.

In short: be aware that just because you're in a kinky relationship doesn't mean you should let people pressure you. Also, remember that if someone thinks you are beautiful then you are beautiful to that person, and hopefully you can use that to help you feel beautiful to yourself as well. Finally, think about ways that you might use kink to help you here, because kink can really give you some options to play with and work on these kinds of issues.
posted by Scientist at 2:03 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, another kinky way you might work on this issue would be through a variation of a "dirty talk" scene except that rather than your dom making you shout out "I'm a whore", "I'm a dirty little slut", etc he could compel you to shout things like "I'm beautiful" and "I'm sexy" and "I love my body". Just another thought; there are probably hundreds of ways you could play with this issue through kink.
posted by Scientist at 2:08 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am constantly brought up short by the fact that the average sexually active hetero man has seen a wider representation of healthy women's bodies than the average hetero woman. That is fucked up, and it's even more fucked up because what we do mostly see is, you know, bullshit media. Bullshit media does not mean that average women and their perfectly normal, changing bodies are a shameful dirty secret; it means that the media is bullshit.

This ought to be taught in primary school.
posted by flabdablet at 3:59 AM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]

I have a jiggly, droopy, cellulitey stomach that visibly bounces when I jump and muffins out if I have anything tighter than a hula hoop around my midsection, so I know that stomach self-consciousness all too well. And I've never been pregnant, so I can't even view it as a mark of accomplishment.

I don't think I'll ever learn to like it, but I have learned to live with it. I've decided there's just no use in feeling bad about it, because there's nothing I can do to get rid of it, short of surgery. And I can't afford surgery, and even if I could I can think of a hundred better ways to spend it than a tummy tuck. So I'm stuck with Ol' Pudge for the long haul.

It's not easy to turn off self-consciousness, but you can start by noticing when you're feeling gross and telling yourself something like "this is a part of me and there's no sense in feeling ashamed of it." You don't have to find it sexy or beautiful, as long as you find it acceptable.

Also, there's nothing wrong with wanting to present yourself in a way that minimizes your stomach. You don't have to wear bikinis or take up bellydancing. Flaunt the many parts of you that you do find sexy, and you'll be more likely to forget about the parts you don't when it's time to get naked.

One last thing: when your partner runs his hands over your stomach, it's because he finds it sexy. Sexy in its own right, or as part of the complete sexy package. If he's touched your stomach more than once, he knows it's soft and he's fine with it. It's okay to tell him not to pay a ton of attention to it because you're self-conscious, but he already likes it enough to touch it, so don't hide it for his sake.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:08 AM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]

I can't think of a reason in the world why you would need to have surgery to address the perfectly normal evidence of two full-term pregnancies. Creating another human isn't a no-impact endeavour. I also think it's pretty ironic and moderately rage inducing that you specifically asked for advice on body acceptance and people came back with suggestions for cosmetic surgery. There is nothing to fix; your body is normal for women who have given birth, and indeed for many nulliparous women who just have low skin elasticity, especially if they've gained and lost weight.

I just want to nth this. Surgery is not a risk-free process, and even if it removes the 'problem area', it might not remove the problem and the self-consciousness you're feeling. From the wording of your question I don't get the impression that surgery is an option you're considering for whatever reason. I get that many women have surgery and feel great to be able to correct something they feel needs correcting, but 'have surgery' should never be the first automatic answer to 'I'm not happy with my body'. For straight women at least, it's hard to remember that very few actual real people look like the underwear models we see on billboards, and harder to remember that there's nothing wrong with that.

Could you try wearing a basque? It's more naked than a corset, but it will minimise your stomach without strapping it in, and it might be a middle ground so you can start feeling more comfortable without your clothes on - it is, after all, underwear.
posted by mippy at 4:32 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

The thing that has helped me most with body image stuff is surrounding myself with a wide range of healthy body types. Somebody upthread mentioned that's not something the average het woman sees a lot of. I love going to a community gym or pool and seeing the 70 year old women come in from swimming laps, or the middle aged women walking on a treadmill, etc. There is nothing like a community recreation changing area to make you appreciate the range of healthy women's body types from young to old. I find I got a similar exposure by following this body positive board on pinterest. Even though I don't tend to read fashion mags, etc, as a US woman, I'm still swimming in the stream of pop media, and I have found the pictures of women of all sizes, shapes, disabilities, etc, looking powerful and beautiful is a nice antidote.
posted by instamatic at 4:57 AM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]

You know what, you're awesome.

What I'd do is: in a non-sexy situation, just say, "Partner, I'm really self-conscious of my stomach. I have a real hang up about it. Although I think it's imperfect, it housed my babies, and is a part of me, and I want to share it with you." Then show him your tum.

Now it may start off as a non-sexy time, but don't be surprised if it turns into sexy-times.

There are so many dudes out there who either love us in spite of our imperfections, or even love us FOR our imperfections. Every pot has its lid.

Your guy will more than likely show your tum the appreciation it deserves.

No matter what though, just know this. All women are amazing, and we get better and better as time goes on.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:47 AM on December 14, 2012

Practical advice for accepting a part of my body I hate?

Start making a regular practice of looking at yourself naked, and exploring your naked self with eyes and hands, while deliberately refusing to think of your body as "parts".

Really, there are no parts. It's all you. The whole package deal.

You are not a collection of "good parts" and "OK parts" and "bad parts"; that's media bullshit. Don't let the bastards break you down that way. Don't break yourself down that way.

You are a whole person whose whole shape, inner and outer, reflects her heritage and life history.

Tat tvam asi.
posted by flabdablet at 5:53 AM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]

My advice to women who are feeling insecure about their bodies is to go hang out in a locker room at a public pool. (Probably you should go swimming, so as not to be creepy.) There is such a huge range of body types it really helps give some perspective.

For your belly in particular, I recommend giving yourself belly massages. Get some nice smooth cream or a light oil, scent it, if that's your thing, and rub your belly. Close your eyes and really feel how awesome your belly feels. Because no matter what mass media tell us about how fat looks, it feels fucking AWESOME. Just give your belly some loving, really get used to how it feels, so that you can at least call a truce.

I have belly issues, too, and body issues in general, of course, because who manages to escape that? I think for women who have had kids, there can be a real feeling of disconnection with the post-baby body. I liken it to puberty, actually. How you have this certain kind of body for 12-13 years, and then suddenly there are breasts and hair and hips! Which can be kind of traumatic, as I remember it. And then you have that body, more or less, until you get pregnant, in my case it was twenty years, and then things change quickly and dramatically. And then when that's all over, you (I) kind of expect things to go back to "normal." I have found it very hard to get used to having this entirely differently shaped body.

One thing that I have found helpful is looking at myself in a full length mirror, naked, every day. It helps because it lets me see what I really look like. I don't always love what I see, but if I try to picture myself in my head now, I see myself more or less as I actually look. Whereas for the first few years after my daughter was born, I still had an image in my head of my (perfect) 28 year old body (that I hated when I was 28) and looking in the mirror was always kind of a shock and a letdown.

As for time with your new guy, maybe you want to be totally naked with him in the dark, first. Let him touch and feel the awesomeness of your belly for a while. Maybe his touching but not looking will be a good first step? Let him love and appreciate it before he looks at it. Then move on to less dark, more looking.
posted by looli at 7:50 AM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

One of the best feelings in the world is a full body totally naked skin to skin hug with your partner. Standing up, lying down, one of you lying flat on top of the other one... I think it feels heavenly. This is a really pleasant very low pressure thing that you can do, in the dark if you prefer, to start getting comfortable with being totally naked with your partner. He'll be touching your belly, but not with his hands, and he doesn't have to see it with his eyes either if that makes you uncomfortable. Maybe start there?
posted by telegraph at 8:08 AM on December 14, 2012

In my experience, insecurity is a huge turn-off, much more than any physical deformity that you could possibly have. No exaggeration.

Confidence is what will make you sexy. You could be the prettiest girl/guy in the world, but you would appear unsexy to me if you were constantly trying to hide yourself and put a negative spin on your body. When you do this, you end up focusing more on your body than you do on giving and recieving pleasure, which takes away from the whole sexual experience.

I'm absolutely certain that your guy will love your body when he sees it, but you will definitely need to work on loving your body just has much as he does. I'm sure you would be just as accepting of his body if the situation were reversed, right?
posted by nikkorizz at 8:15 AM on December 14, 2012

I'm proud of what my body has accomplished in terms of having babies.

This. That belly that you're so angry at pulled off the most miraculous thing in the entire human experience. It is straight-up beautiful. It is beautiful!
posted by jbickers at 8:39 AM on December 14, 2012

My belly is the part of my body that I work the hardest to love - it's big, real big, and there are stretch marks and it hangs...and now that I've been gone into menopause, oy vey. But the thing is that it started to get this way right out of high school, which means that I've been dealing with it for more than half my life now, and I have more or less worked out regularly during that whole time. It's genetics, nothing more.

Something that I love to do that has really helped: here in Chicago, there are several spas where the norm is to be naked. One is a lesbian owned, woman centered, new-agey kind of place, and the other is a massive Korean spa in the suburbs. And when I go to either of them to relax, I notice that there are many different kinds of women in them, and we are all there in all our different kinds of bodies for the same exact thing: to chill the hell out. Although sometimes my belly is the biggest in the room, just seeing the variety of other real women's bodies has helped me accept mine much more readily. So maybe there are places like this where you are too?

I've been in and out of love with multiple men, and have had *really* hot sex with others that I cared about but not in a committed this belly that I fight with hasn't been an impediment to me conducting normal relationships, and it never will be. Being cool with (or at least gentle with myself about) who I am physically, and knowing that I bring my A game any time I get naked with someone and am an excellent lover, is what I concentrate on. I KNOW that my lovers are pleased by me and if they aren't, they aren't good enough for me anyway. (Wish I had really understood that in my 20s, but at least I got here eventually!)
posted by deliciae at 1:44 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

This ought to be taught in primary school.

Said he, mouthing off late at night. But this question just wouldn't leave me alone, and this morning I actually had a really good conversation with little ms. flabdablet (nearly eight, just finishing up Grade 2) about whether she and her friends ever talk about hating parts of themselves.

Turns out that a few of them do.

Turns out that those she mentioned as doing that frequently are the same girls who I know full well are behind most of the underhanded clique-forming and exclusionary behaviour that I know goes on at her tiny (~50 students) school, and who I also know full well are steady consumers of emotionally toxic little-girl-oriented glossies, a few second-hand copies of which little ms. f has occasionally brought home from garage sales. Colour me unsurprised.

What made it a really good conversation was the part where she, absolutely unprompted by me, launched into a passionate exposition of how crazy it would be to hate parts of herself because it's all just her and what's the point of hating that?

I love that kid.
posted by flabdablet at 1:53 PM on December 14, 2012 [9 favorites]

My therapist has taught me that the best way of resisting negative self-talk is to get really pissed-off with it. And really, I think you have a lot to be cross about here. Why the hell shouldn't you get to enjoy being naked? Why shouldn't you get to be as sexual as you want to be? Whatever is telling you you can't is bang out of line. Fuck that. Everybody in the whole world should be allowed to enjoy their bodies, whatever shape they are. Be angry at the thing inside you holding you back, and tell it to piss off. And be angry at the society which has decided that the best way for a stomach to look is like it's never been pregnant. Your stomach skin is a little loose? Of course it fucking is. You had to fit people under there, for crying out loud. You need to start defending your fabulous body against the part of you that is doing it down. Defend it like a tiger. Your body has given you orgasms and kids and decades of wonderful life and has changed and grown and healed itself. What has the negative voice in your head ever done for you? Fuck all. Pick a side.
posted by Acheman at 2:03 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

The sexiest attribute to just about everyone I know? Confidence.

This. Absolutely. I used to feel similarly about my breasts, as they're pretty small in comparison to the rest of me, and a bit tuberous. I felt they spoilt the rest of my body, and was considering surgery for quite some time. However, I decided to try a 'fake it til you make it' attitude, being outwardly confident about my body when naked with other people, making the most of my 'good' bits and not making a fuss about my flaws. It was pretty scary at first, but I soon realised that, in general, the guys I was with totally believed I was sexy-as-can-be, mostly (I think) because I acted like I was sexy-as-can-be, and they barely noticed what seemed to me to be such a massive turn-off. It was quite a revelation to be honest. When I have talked to some of these guys about it later on, they've pretty much all said that physical 'quirks' don't matter hardly as much in terms of sexiness than whether someone is confident and obviously enjoying themselves.

It's also helpful to remember that everyone has bits of themselves that they don't like so much, and they're probably a lot more focused on thinking 'I hope she hasn't noticed my spotty bum!', than worrying about your not-so-perfect bits. And that if someone really is judging you for the physical reminders of making whole new people in your body (how amazing is that?), then they are really really not worth your time. But I really think that most decent people will just be happy to be in bed having fun with naked you.
posted by amerrydance at 7:21 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

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