Sex is an act that is commonly performed naked — therein lay my initial issue. I’m unashamedly and undeniably fat, and it’s taken me a good few years to embark on my own personal, Tolkien-like quest to learn to love my body. (In this analogy, Smaug is the fat-shaming media and broader society.)
I finally reached a place where I could look at my reflection and say a) ‘I’m awesome and beautiful’ and b) ‘My appearance doesn’t define my worth’. I then spent most days feeling pretty darn bulletproof against all the crap that used to get to me… until it came to letting someone else become involved with my body.
In retrospect, the first person who I was sexually involved with had a lot of his own issues that were perpetuated directly onto me. It’s a pretty common story, actually. The reality is that your partner is not there purely for your pleasure, and the odds are that you aren’t going to be James Deen or Sasha Grey. Hair grows in many places, and no, it’s not dirty — it’s just hair. Not every person has the sex drive of a randy teenager, and some people just won’t bend certain ways.
There’s a quote from Margaret Cho that sums up my feelings about bodies during sex: “If they care what you look like when they’re fucking you, they shouldn’t be fucking you in the first place.” There’s something to be said for the old standard of loving yourself first, accepting your wibbly-wobbly bits, hard pointy bits, and spotty and scarred parts. But it’s another thing entirely to hold your partners to that same standard, and to learn to appreciate their fabulous bodies as you have your own.
When it comes to loving your body, it needs to be said that if you ever want to alter your body in any way, then let it be your choice. I have a friend who convinced herself that getting laser surgery on her pubic hair was essential to keeping her boyfriend happy. She didn’t have a problem with her own hair, but felt she had to do the (expensive and painful) treatment because, hey, “The things you do for love!” Yeah, no.
I’m strongly of the Roald Dahl belief that “the people who mind don’t matter”. Not just regarding body hair, but every part of the human body. If you are invested in altering another person to please yourself, you need to step back and look at what you’re doing. The same belief applies to sex. Fucking is primal and sweaty and kinda messy. It’s not pristine, and it’s definitely not proper. Even the Queen of England has done it multiple times(feel free to thank me for that mental image later).
During sex, bits that you might not normally pay much attention to can wobble far more than you’re used to. Things make noises upon impact, and yeah, sometimes bits don’t do what they’re supposed to or automatically go where you command. This does not mean there’s anything wrong with you.
Porn-worthy sex is not a mandatory requirement of life. TV and movies present skewed images of sex: a simple example being that images of women receiving pleasure are widely considered as more obscene than similar footage of men. The double standards of censorship also become more incredulous and offensive as soon as you stray from the heterosexual representation of sex. Check out This Film is Not Yet Rated for more.
These various factors have contributed to the creation of society’s expectations of what sex should be. Just think of all the conventionally attractive heterosexual couples we see depicted. They’re flexible and firm, always have the time of their lives while looking impeccable in a full face of make-up, and make all the right noises.
This image is damaging to our social mentality. It’s usually a subconscious, un-investigated habit to visualise what you must look like during the act. We have become so accustomed to viewing sex from a third person perspective (as the camera) that we’re actually concerned about how we would appear to a voyeur in the room.
Here’s a newsflash: if you’re only having sex with one person, odds are they aren’t viewing the scene in wide-angle panorama HD, and nor are they zooming in and out of focus on your various bits. They’re probably focused on the parts of you they can see and feel, and focused more on the act itself rather than mentally writing a critical essay about all your flaws.
If they are critical, however, then they simply don’t deserve access to your body. If someone treats you cruelly because of your appearance — or makes you feel less worthy because they think you’re too big or small or too anything — then they don’t deserve you and you definitely don’t deserve their mistreatment. Part of loving yourself is surrounding yourself with people who love you too and pushing away the toxic ones.
Originally published at hijacked.com.au.