Hiding saggy breasts
March 13, 2007 9:55 PM   Subscribe

Should I blindfold my partner or never take my clothes off?

I’ve lost a lot of weight, and I want to have sex again. But the years of decadence and gravity have taken their toll. When I was younger, and firmer, a little poochy tum and cellulite on the thighs never bothered me. I was all for energy and experimenting and just have a damn good sexy time with my partner(s). Now, however, my breasts are wrinkly sacks (at some angles similar to scrotum skin), they’ve deflated enormously and the nipples point down and no amount of exercise can fix that. Surgery might, if I had the money. I don’t. I look mostly fine - with my clothes on. With a new partner, would it be bizarre if I keep my bra on, or is there something else I can do to avoid the inevitable horror of my naked body?

Other info: I'm intelligent, independent, kind, 40+, with a friendly (but not pretty) face and a keen sense of the ridiculous.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (33 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

I wouldn't worry about it. Anyone who cares is probably not worth caring about. Anyway, the guys may have their own reasons for wanting the lights low/out. Dim the lights if it makes you feel better. Just have fun.
posted by caddis at 10:08 PM on March 13, 2007

Someone who cares about you won't care about the state of your breasts and won't be bothered if you're more comfortable keeping a bra on (and might like having a blindfold on from time to time). Just be up front about how you feel, etc.

And if you don't particularly care about your partner what difference does it make how they react?
posted by aladfar at 10:10 PM on March 13, 2007

I felt like the world was playing a cruel joke on me after I lost so much weight. I actually felt worse about my body than I did before I lost the weight. I was much less confident in intimate situations and it started to bother me in other areas of my life.

However, my sexual partners (all much smaller than I than I) were all fine about it. One of the women was even very tactful in wanting to know what that sort of transformation was like on my sense of self, etc. It was a hard conversation coming from a size 2/4 who didn't know the meaning of the term "fat jeans".

I kept the lights low to allow myself to be comfortable, but my partners *never* made an issue out of it.

The surgery you speak of is, often, surprisingly affordable. It's not for everyone though.

If you want to talk about it with someone please feel free to drop me an email. Congratulations on losing the weight.
posted by FlamingBore at 10:11 PM on March 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm also in the caddis camp of "if they care about you, they won't care about that" but if you'd feel less self conscious wearing some clothing, how about something that's supportive + enticing such as corsets (which come in a wide variety of comfort, coverage, and support)?
posted by jamaro at 10:18 PM on March 13, 2007

Wow... I thought about asking a very similar question just last night.

I'm a guy who weighed 360 a few years back, lost down to 195, and now i'm hovering around 250. I too know what it's like to look better fully dressed.

Like FlamingBore said, it feels like a cruel joke.

MotherNature: You're healthier, you're thinner, you're ready for the beach... but you'll look like a Shar-pei!

I've had a couple of chances since I've lost weight... but I've turned them all down, mainly because my body still doesn't look like I expected it to look. Obviously these are my hangups and I'm trying to work through them.

Hey... maybe you could become a dominatrix... they get to stay mostly dressed during sex!
posted by aristan at 10:25 PM on March 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

Most people over 20 have bodies that they don't generally want seen in bright light, so your hangup is common, even with people who haven't lost weight.

The most beautiful woman I ever dated never let me see her naked. Which was acceptable (if weird) at first, but after a month or so it just was awkward and pointless. We had full access to each others bodies with touch, taste, smell and sound, but not visually. Seemed to make little sense when we were sharing a toothbrush.

If someone is comfortable enough with you to want to have sex with you, they'll be comfortable with whatever you have to offer. Especially if you have a "keen sense of the ridiculous" They'll be fine with what you're fine with. The more obvious you try to hide or show embarrassment, the more attention you'll draw to it.
posted by Ookseer at 10:54 PM on March 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

i think it's reasonable to say "listen, i like keeping my bra on; i find it sexy. is that cool?" (obviously wear a nice bra- not some band-aid coloured granny number).
when you get to know someone and decide you care about them and trust them, go nudie- but in the meantime, if you're just having casual sex, by all means, i think it's very ok to make *yourself* comfortable first. you don't owe them anything yet.

i know a man who at 6'2", 140 lbs, never takes his shirt off in front of another human being- even long-term girlfriends. the girlfriends don't actually like it, but they deal with it. i guess they figure it's better for him to feel comfortable and be able to get intimate, than to try to force him into a very uncomfortable state of exposure.

for what it's worth, though, an acquaintance lost about 120 lbs and had similar body issues as you, and she still managed to hook up with quite a number of men, and all of them kept coming back for more. she made a point of buying lots of great lingerie, and kept the lights low- and i know she felt self-conscious- but her beaux really didn't care at all.
posted by twistofrhyme at 10:55 PM on March 13, 2007

caddis got it in one. Anyone who cares about that isn't worth your time.
posted by Effigy2000 at 10:59 PM on March 13, 2007

Yeah, can't you just go all out buying a stack of beautiful lingerie?? If you will feel more confident about yourself in it, then it stands to reason you will be more turned on if you're in "costume", so to speak. Then once you get closer to the person anyway, you'll inevitably trust them enough to take your bra off, but until then, why not have a little fun with it?
posted by mjao at 11:17 PM on March 13, 2007

"Someone who cares about you won't care about the state of your breasts and won't be bothered if you're more comfortable keeping a bra on (and might like having a blindfold on from time to time)."

Man, that's some internet sensitivity training bullshit. You can simultaneously care about someone and still find parts of their body gross or weird, and pretending otherwise is clapping to keep Tinkerbell alive. Often, askers get advice based on what we'd all like to pretend the world is like, where all people care about is what's inside, but that's simply not true.

That said, that doesn't mean that there aren't guys who won't care and who will care about you. Further, since this is really more about you than any hypothetical guy, I'd work on getting comfortable with your naked body first, without the pressure of someone else standing there, regarding you. Confidence can be a lot sexier than perfect tits, and if you feel more confident in a bra, leave the bra on. In fact, that lends itself to the hot, half-dressed spontaneous sex.
posted by klangklangston at 11:39 PM on March 13, 2007 [14 favorites]

"Cares" is relative, not absolute, yes, but it has been used absolutely not relatively. Perhaps economy of words should have yielded to universal understanding.

nah, most people got it
posted by caddis at 11:46 PM on March 13, 2007

I think the Universe just might be doing you a favor. You're in your 40s which ostensibly means you desire a relationship with a grown up. A man who falls into this category will be drawn to your charm and intelligence and not care about some loose skin. If he is, then you've got your answer about his level of maturity right away. No guessing.

Also, a few years back, Real Simple magazine (which is pretty lousy now but used to be decent) ran an essay by a Buddhist woman...I think the name is Pema Chodron but I can't say for sure. The gist of the essay is that you should sometimes be thankful for things that on the surface seem not worth being thankful for. One of the things for which she said she was thankful is that she is just plain ...not beautiful or stunning. She said that because of this, she knew that when a man said he loved her, it meant he loved her, not the fact that she looked good in a bathing suit or caused jealousy among his friends.

Enjoy your body and the new men in your life will too. Good luck!
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 11:50 PM on March 13, 2007 [4 favorites]

I'm the, uh, victim of weight-loss boobie side effects, too. As well, I have birthed a child and nursed him for a good long time. That was ten years ago. With the right bra, I've got me a nice rack! Without... well, let's say that I could act as a compass to South America.

Some suggestions:

1. Get over it and be confident. This one took me a while, but in the long run, I feel it's the best way to go. You can do all sorts of "letting them dangle over his/her face" things that lesser women cannot do. Oh, and try dragging them over a torso, front or from the back. It's a good feeling, I'm told.

2. Get front-closing bras. Then open up, but don't remove the bra. Ta-da, you have some exposure, but you still have some support.

3. Some lingerie is better left intact even during THE ACT. Try a well-fitting under-bust corset, if you'd like. Again, exposure, but some support.

4. Has gotten rave reviews: a fishnet nightgown. It's tight-fitting, so however I arrange myself is how things will stay, unless the gown gets removed.

5. A responsive breast is better than a perky breast. Really.

Now, then, I'm hoping for a "best answer," since this is my username on many a site, and Google will not be kind, I don't think. ;)

Good luck!
posted by houseofdanie at 11:52 PM on March 13, 2007 [3 favorites]

By the way, I have a friend who, upon deciding she was going to finally sleep with the man who was to much later on become her husband, turned on ALL the lights and took off ALL her clothes. She stood there before him and showed him exactly what she looked like in the nude. She's a big women. Beautiful, definitely, but not by your typical standard of beauty.

That's one of the bravest things I've ever heard of. I'd love to be able to do that sometime.
posted by houseofdanie at 11:58 PM on March 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

In the 10+ years since my mastectomy, my body and the way it looks has never been an issue for any sex partner – except for my ex (note the word “ex”) husband. This extends from casual sex to committed relationships. Being an engaging, interesting sexy woman is far, far important than the condition or lack thereof of any body part.
posted by peace_love_hope at 2:05 AM on March 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

You can cover it up for the shallow. But remember to show it for the serious, as they will appreciate your reality. Besides, magazines are full of shit anyway. "Beauty" is in the eye of the beholder, and some men appreciate the whole deal, wrinkles and all. They are part of the difference between "woman" and "girl".
posted by Goofyy at 3:26 AM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

I guess I fall somewhere between caddis and klangklangston. Whilst it's nice to think that a special guy will be totally accepting of you the way you are, that sort of state might not, you know, be instantaneous. And expecting you to miraculously develop confidence about your naked body is perhaps just as unlikely, in that it so disturbs you now that you see only remaining dressed or a partner blindfold as a solution.

So, as is often the case in the amorous arena, some level of compromise is going to be needed. If you have to keep some clothes on to feel comfortable enough to have sex early on then you're going to have to tell the partner that you have some issues of self confidence. I mean, they are going to know pretty well straight away, but if you say something - that you're sexually very shy or the like - then they're perhaps less likely to have an untoward response (such as asking embarrassing and/or pointed questions or making a snap judgement about your 'oddness' or the like).

But it's going to have to come through communication - you can't simply bind you up or blind him and expect that will solve everything for all time. You don't have to blurt out the fact that your shape has changed such as to cause you to feel really uncomfortable right away, but you'll have to get into it somehow the longer you stick with him.
posted by peacay at 5:25 AM on March 14, 2007

I feel your angst.

Over the course of my 52 years, I figure I've gained and lost a total of 500 pounds. What were once - many years ago - beautiful natural 34DDD breasts now are soft and pointing south.

I used to be terribly embarrassed of the "girls", but I guess age took hold of me and now I'm only very slightly embarrassed. It took me a while, but I finally realized that men past a particular age don't really care what your body is like - they realize babies and age take their toll and they're just glad for the opportunity.

Also, not meaning to sound crude, but most men would be thrilled to have your pendant breasts dangled over their faces. Large breasts also offer alternatives such as breast-sex - he'll really love this.

If you can get past your embarrassment, you'll feel a sense of freedom that will enable you to really enjoy your encounters.
posted by luckyshirl at 6:06 AM on March 14, 2007

All good advice here. For starters until you're more comfortable, what about a babydoll chemise-y type thing with a built in bra? Can stay on through sex but keep everything in place. Could be even sexier than being nude.

After that - well, few of us are sleeping with Giselle Bundchen or Brad Pitt, and we love our partners - both in and out of bed - just the same.
posted by walla at 6:15 AM on March 14, 2007

most men would be thrilled to have your pendant breasts dangled over their faces

At our general age, many of those men could accomplish the same thing by doing a handstand.

My only advice to anon: concentrate on your accomplishments. In the big picture, it sounds like you're doing great.
posted by gimonca at 7:10 AM on March 14, 2007

My partner had a similar issue when we first met. She kinda solved the problem by jumping on me so quickly we barely had time to take off most of the clothes. Just the essentials. So that's one solution.

if you need to, throw on a flowing loose T-shirt, or a bra. Men like bras and lingerie for a reason.

But as has often been pointed out here, men aren't that shallow. Especially the ones you'll be dating (unless you're lurking around colleges and high schools these days). So the only one who's worrying about it, really, is you. And most men like dangling fullsome breasts, so I wouldn't worry about it!
posted by aprivateperson at 7:41 AM on March 14, 2007

Most guys I know would rather have sex while the woman is wearing lingerie than when she is fully naked (no matter what her physical appearance). I'd go the full nine yards - bra, panties, garter, hose, heels - and I bet he won't even notice your "flaws."
posted by desjardins at 7:48 AM on March 14, 2007

In the ideal world your lover will love you just however you are. But no-one lives in an ideal world. I don't recommend the idealistic route, suggested by some here, of giving the bum's rush to whoever bats an eyelid at you in your unadorned glory: after all, you are batting an eyelid at yourself. So I second houseofdanie: investigate various items of lingerie to expose your breasts without letting them hang-low-sweet-chariot. No reason why that shouldn't be fun as well as functional. With the right guy you will no doubt arrive at lingerie-free sex (should you want it) in due course.
posted by londongeezer at 8:14 AM on March 14, 2007

You don't say where you are, but if you are in the UK you may be able to get surgery on the NHS on the grounds that it's effecting you psychologically.
posted by twine42 at 8:34 AM on March 14, 2007

Men like bras and lingerie for a reason.

If the guy cares for you he'd much rather be touching skin that scratchy material. I hate bras and know many guys that do.
posted by justgary at 8:51 AM on March 14, 2007

It's the contents - not the package. That work?
posted by Freedomboy at 8:58 AM on March 14, 2007

All I can say is that I would be far more disappointed in a partner whose breasts I never got to see or touch naked than a pair of saggy breasts. We are all getting old, generally not that gracefully. Anyway, it is the nature of this visually stupefied society of illusions to zero in on the worst angles. Nobody measures up. Reasonable people do not expect perfection, superior people find beauty wherever it resides. You find someone you feel comfortable talking to about your insecurities before the fact, chances are you are dealing with a better class of person anyway. Leave the need for visual perfection to the kiddies and superficial jerks and just get on in there.
posted by nanojath at 10:33 AM on March 14, 2007

I am very self-conscious about my belly, which was stretched out by a big pregnancy and c-section; the skin is loose no matter my weight. I have little interest in most cosmetic surgery, but am saving for a tummy tuck because I hate the way it looks so much. So you're not alone.
posted by theora55 at 12:15 PM on March 14, 2007

Everyone is being really nice and giving good advice, but perhaps a little too nice, as no one has yet mentioned having a surgical breast lift.

Are you totally opposed to surgery or is this a possibility? Learning to love yourself for who you are is one thing, but being open to the options that are out there which can help to fix a real problem is also something to consider if it really bothers you that much.

I lost over 100 pounds, and my boobs were already saggy before the weightloss. After the weightloss it was disaster zone. No amount of positive thinking or learning to accept myself or being happy about my weightloss was going to make up for the fact that I was 30 year old single woman living with the breasts of a 90 year old grandmother of 12.

The surgery did not cost as much as I thought it would. It didn't hurt as much as I thought it would. I didn't take as long to heal as I thought it would... and the results are that I love my breasts and body more than I ever thought possible. It's been like a miracle to be able to have normal breast after years of suffering what had become a very really deformity. They were so bad that I really didn't believe that the surgery would be able to make a difference. Well... it did.

Living with this problem is not something that you have to suffer with for the rest of your life. I'm quite certain that some people will be offended by what I'm saying to you... but those people have probably never had to live with something like that themselves and will see this as a matter of vanity. For me it was well past being a matter of vanity and it was about being able to live a normal life, free of the embarrasment, free of the pain (yes, having long empty sausages hanging from your chest can hurt, and cause major skin problems too), free from feeling that I had to find a way to hide myself every time a naked situation came around.

I realize surgery isn't an option for everyone, but if it's never crossed your mind before, it's something to consider and discuss with a qualified surgeon. The few weeks of pain I went through healing from surgery managed to do away with for good the decades of pain I had previously felt I was stuck suffering with in silence while hiding naked in the dark.
posted by RoseovSharon at 1:13 PM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Gosh darnit, I only now saw where you mentioned you don't have the money for surgery.


Like I said above, my surgery was not as expensive as I thought it would be. It's possible that it's more affordable than you realize. Also, some insurance companies and hmo's will cover this surgery if you can get them to accept this as a corrective surgery. For example, many breast reduction surgeries are totally covered by insurance because it's corrective rather than cosmetic. Large breasts patients often have back problems, headaches, skin rashes and other such complications. Super saggy breasts can cause these problems too... and if you can get your surgeon to go along with it... you just might be able to get the surgery at a reduced cost or totally covered by insurance.

There's always saving up for it too... if you want it bad enough.
posted by RoseovSharon at 1:21 PM on March 14, 2007

Didn't read a word anyone wrote I apologize. I'll be quick. Ok beginning of relationship,it's dark things are getting interesting and sorry but this is my best sexy Italian type voice impersonation...damn can't remember what he said but it was along the lines of 'don't you love it when you just don't have time to take your clothes off properly' and I'm thinking you know what I do like that, sometimes I do have more important things to do than mess around with stupid clothes. From this day forward I shall focus only on the important things. And so months down the track it occurs to me. He just doesn't like to be naked. And I don't care I love him it makes him comfortable and it was very clever (and he was rather persuasive). Proof smart is sexy.
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 3:54 PM on March 14, 2007

The best advice would be to combine all of the advice and then you just couldn't go wrong. Love this place :-)
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 4:10 PM on March 14, 2007

I have had similar concerns because I have extensive psoriasis and have for my entire adulthood. I don't know what it's like to have sex and not worry about how my partner will react when he sees it. It is easy to say "oh well then he wouldn't be worth your time" but it is not that simple, I know from experience. You may know something intellectually and still have the insecurity. The only thing I can tell you is that I invariably forget within minutes of getting turned on. I get so into it that it disappears from my mind almost entirely until the afterglow fades. Maybe it will be the same for you.
posted by loiseau at 2:11 AM on March 15, 2007

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