If you see yourself to be about as sexy as one of Cinderella’s uglier sisters, then you’re not alone. Sexual self-esteem reflects how you feel about your physical form and today the reality is that women who loathe their bodies way outnumber those who think they are the bee’s-knees. Not only does poor body-image impact upon your wellbeing, it also has serious implications for your sex life.
Standing naked in front of the looking glass usually sets off the ‘sermon of the mirror’ and, in no time this tirade can make you feel more like Medusa than Sedusa. Just a glimpse of your reflected image is enough to unleash invective from the ogre in your head; the one that delights in drawing attention to each of your physical flaws, and then some.
After years of hearing the same old sermon you may have convinced yourself that the mirror’s view is accurate when in fact it has nothing to do with you at all.
Consider that every part of the female form has some product that will ‘fix’, beautify or conceal it and it’s easy to appreciate that the monster in your head is the forked tongue of shrewd marketers commandeering your voice much like a ventriloquist uses a puppet.
The more marketers can get you to spew venom at your wobbly bottom or sagging breasts the more willing you’ll be to empty your purse for the latest miraculous potion making the same old dubious claims.
Not so long ago Oprah Winfrey revealed that each picture on her magazine cover requires the services of 28 professional people and almost as many hours to achieve. Even though most women know better, a costly little jar can still mesmerise some into believing that it will miraculously produce the two-dozen or so genies who will provide that cover-girl look.
Every day urban women are exposed to some 400 images dictating the unattainable ideal the beauty industry would have us strive for. This has convinced many to believe that sexual desirability now means having to scrub, moisturise, tone, wax, shave, braid, tint (top), dye (bottom), deodorise, exfoliate, mask, manicure, pedicure, Botox, fill, shade, conceal, paint, powder, glitter, gloss, perfume, decorate and style. And that’s just on the outside.
What too of the hours spent pounding the treadmill, the pavement or the malls and we shouldn’t ignore the energy lost in attempting to starve yourself to death nor the torturous hours on the Pilates machine.
But if all this prep is just the curtain-raiser to sex, you’d have to be SuperWoman on Steroids to have sufficient energy to play the starring role of vixen by the time you get to the main act in bed.
More absurd is that all this unnecessary kerfuffle is now known as ‘me-time’. Me-time suggests that fussing with your body is a frivolous indulgence to be enjoyed. But given the options I’d rather rest on my voluptuous laurels than spend hours having my zits poked and prodded by a brutal beautician.
Only a masochist would think that waxing or having your cellulite pounded with a rubberised jack-hammer is a fun way to spend a few hours; but for the rest of us this time-wasting toil is just torment.
Me-time also suggests that you should feel better afterwards, and do you? The mere fact that you’re attempting to change what nature gave you will have the opposite effect. Trying to correct your imperfections makes you focus on your shortcomings and this is why most women who are preoccupied with their looks start feeling more and more judgemental about themselves.
For the sake of our species’ survival it’s a good thing that picture perfection is not genetically imprinted on the male psyche. If men were only turned on by cover girl looks then no one would be having sex and humans would soon be listed as ‘endangered’.
Although many women believe that incessant fussing is necessary to retain their allure few appreciate that most males don’t give a damn. Men are so focused on getting their end away that the detail of your preparation is irrelevant. How many men even notice when you change something as obvious as your hairstyle?
Only you view yourself as a series of body parts needing a fix, so you assume he does too. But your imperfections pale into insignificance compared to a man’s obsession with the performance of his member. Initially a heads-up pre-occupies him and once erect he shifts to concerns about it being too enthusiastic.
Although you may have had a fault-finding ex who picked on your flaws as a put-down fortunately men such as this are in the minority. Generally, males don’t focus on your wrinkles or the blackheads on your nose; they view you as a whole person.
Test this hypothesis by quitting your regime for a month and see if he even notices. You’ll soon find out whether the week-old stubble on your legs interferes with his erection or inhibits your ability to have an orgasm?
So consistently is the link made between appearance and sexual attraction that we’ve lost touch with what turns men and women on. One thing that the sexperts agree on is that the primary organ for attraction is the mind. So it’s your personality that turns him on not your freshly manicured fingernails.
Of course this link was made because the initial split-second attraction involves looks but thereafter a spunky plain Jane is as likely to get laid as is a beautiful bore.
Instead of dealing with your body as a succession of defective wobbly bits a far healthier sexual self-esteem can be achieved by turning your attention to the mind. Everything begins in the mind. It creates our self-image which dictates our moods, actions and feelings, especially those involved in igniting libido.
If you are thinking your way through sex then you are using the weakest form of power to fire up this all-important sensory organ. Sex is about feeling rather than thinking and great sex requires the temporary insanity of ultimately losing your mind.
Sex is about your insides rather than your outside and by focusing exclusively on the bliss your body is experiencing you can lose yourself in the pleasurable sensations. The intensity of these feelings will also override the castigatory opinions of the image-police residing in your thinking mind.
If you can’t face what the mirror says about your physical form, start valuing your body for what it does. If year in and year out someone lambasted, starved and abused you, would you be keen to continue willingly serving them? Defend your faithful trooper of a body against the ogre’s attack and slowly you’ll start feeling better about yourself.
Marketing may con you into believing that a new lipstick or a pair of stilettos will make you feel sexier but, from past shopping extravagances, you know that material things don’t have the power to make you feel good longer-term.
The reality is that many men just get aggravated by the time you take to do alo that preening. Instead, drive him wild by swapping shopping for some sensational shagging and his desire for you will make your sexual self-esteem flourish. The benefits are plenty. Safe sex is far cheaper than anything at the mall and it’s the only worldly pleasure that neither kills nor fattens.
Stephanie Vermeulen of The Effective Training Corporation runs practical training programmes on Applied EQ in both business and public forums as well as being an inspiring conference speaker and personal coach. Her books, “Kill the Princess: Why Women Still Aren’t Free From the Quest for a Fairytale Life’ (USA edition)/’Stitched-up: Who Fashions Women’s Lives?’ (SA edition)and ‘EQ: Emotional Intelligence for Everyone’ are available from all leading bookstores and online from Amazon.com and Kalahari.net. She can be contacted on e-mail: email@example.com website: www.eqsa.co.za.