Getting Naked with Negative Body Image

Negative Body Image: Do you feel uncomfortable with your looks? Are you embarrassed about the way you look naked? These negative feelings could be holding you and your partner from good sex.  If this is you, try the following exercise at home…

Getting Naked in Front of a Lover

Some people find getting naked in front of a lover difficult because they feel self-conscious. It is hard to be comfortable naked in front of another person when you feel embarrassed about your body. Many people wonder if their breasts are too small, their testes (‘balls’) are too lopsided, their vulva is too hairy, their penis is too small, or simply if they have too much cellulite. These thoughts are normal. Many people have them. Unfortunately, these thoughts often detract from the actual experience of being intimate with another person. Instead of just being able to enjoy being physically close with a partner, a person may expend energy worrying about if their partner will notice their ‘problem’ areas, or if the partner will find her/him sexually attractive. To decrease the worry, try getting naked in the dark. This way, the two of you will be able to feel each other without the added pressure of eye sight. Now within the safety of the dark, explore your partner’s body. Feel all the curves. Let no inch go untouched. Use your hands to study the changes in texture throughout your partner’s body.

After you have practiced exploring your lover’s body in the dark, and you feel like an expert, you are ready to begin stage two. Stage two, involves getting naked and being in the light. Intimacy involves many aspects, one of which includes feeling comfortable in front of a partner. Ironically, many people who engage in intercourse feel self-conscious when their partner ‘looks’ at their genitalia. Others report that they like being sexual as long as their partner does not view them as sexualized beings. Therefore, when they are in the dark, they feel protected. The dark gives them the illusion that no one can see them. This illusion acts to reduce their anxiety around body image issues.

Part of sexual pleasure comes from an acceptance of self. Allowing yourself to feel vulnerable in front of an intimate partner heightens the experience of connectedness. As said before, many people who dislike the light harbor a fear that if the other person could really see them, they might not be attracted. Yet, for the most part, this fear is irrational. Your partner, unlike you, already likes your body as a whole, or they would not want to be sexually intimate with you. Thus, part of good sex, requires developing a comfort with your own body in front of others. For those of you who feel uncomfortable being naked in front of others in the light, try the following exercise:

WARNING: People who feel ULTRA comfortable being in the naked in the light will learn something from this exercise, so proceed with caution.

Tools: Flashlight & a dark room

Procedure: Using a small flashlight, preferably the size of a pen, quickly turn it on pointing at some portion of your partner’s body. With the focus of the light, examine that part of her/his body. Turn of the light, and take a moment to feel that body part in the dark. What are the differences you notice about it when you loose your sight as a sense? What do you notice when you are able to ‘see’ it. Repeat this exercise until you have examined all parts of your partner’s body, inch by inch. The advantage to this exercise is that throughout it, you still have the privacy of being in the dark, yet the benefits of the lights. After spending several hours exploring each other’s body this way, you could vary the assignment by using the flashlight to play doctor. In this version, the flashlight is used for the examination of her/his body parts. This is important because the doctor needs some way to make sure nothing is ‘seriously wrong’. Lastly, the doctor’s examination tools include hands, mouth and sex toys.

Please note, for some couples this exercise is either too hard or  too simplistic.  Simple behavioral exercises won’t work. In this case, you might benefit from reading some self help books (with or without your partner) or from meeting with a trained professional.