Body Image: The Benefits to Positivity for All
Oh bodies – where would we be without them?
They help us regulate our internal temperatures and combat disease and infections. We can parkour through city streets in them, touch and feel through billions of nerve cells, and let us experience the all-pleasurable orgasm.
And so much more, of course. So where did the notion of a negative body image originate from?
Or better yet, how can we learn to appreciate our bodies through every phase or stage of transition?
A BRIEF HISTORY ON WAVERING IDEALS OF THE FEMININE BODY
Ideals of body image have metamorphosed throughout time. For instance, (as I’m sure many of you woke people know) the ideal body shape for women has been constantly changing over the last 23,000 years. For whatever reason, our society – especially in America – is obsessed with size. We, as a society, even believe something like size is connected to our identity.
Thousands of years ago, prestigious art pieces and sculptures adorned curvaceous and full bodied silhouettes. For example, the “Venus of Willendorf,” a figurine that dates back to the paleolithic era (around 25,000 BC). It’s believed that the statue is representative of the ideal female body of the time; a voluptuous pear shaped and large breasted female. In Greece, Aphrodite, goddess of sexual love and beauty was often depicted as curvy. Historians estimate that curvy was the hot commodity all they way through the 17th and 18th centuries. Even the early 20th century revisited curves as portrayed in art from Matisse to Picasso.
Then, came the rise of the “flapper” in the 1920s, with the slender physique becoming all the rage in the Western world. When magazines started to highlight these body types, a rise in eating disorders came along with it. In 1997, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison published a paper in the Journal of Communications, stating eating disorders and the thinnest ideal image of the female body points to the 1920s and the 1980s.
Shrinking & Growing & Shrinking
Waist to bust ratios displayed in prominent magazines like Vogue and Ladies Home Journal went down 60% from 1901 to 1925. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the waist to bust ratio increased again with the rise of the pin up and personas like Marilyn Monroe.
Come the 1960s, female birth control was legalized, The Feminine Mystique was published by women’s rights activist Betty Friedan, and the National Organization for Women was founded in the U.S. It was believed that women were freed from societal shackles. However, body image kept fluctuating.
Physical & Mental Damage
The start of the ’80s brought along supermodels, but also a rise in obesity that carried into the ’90s – with a lack of confidence that continued well into the new millennium. Common Sense Media published in 2015 that children (regardless of gender), when presented with images, will select an ideal body shape that is thinner than their present perceived shape. Even worse still, hospitalizations among children younger than 12 for eating disorders rose by 119%.
These body confidence issue trends are depicted in other countries like the UK and South Africa as well. Presently, media has taken some actions towards inclusion of size and race representations and although the disparity is still obvious, they are stepping stones towards a stronger future.
BUT WAIT! WHAT ABOUT MASCULINE BODIES?
Body shaming isn’t anything that’s gender exclusive. Often times, society pressures men to look a certain way as well. From their height to not being muscular enough to being too skinny, and size – people with penises are more likely to be criticized for their genital size. So much so, it can affect their level of confidence.
As I’m sure many of you lovers already listen to the podcast, genital size for men is a recurring email concern received at Sex With Emily. It’s a total myth that size is correlated to pleasure, and is debunked time and time again on the show. It’s all about HOW YOU USE IT. Hopefully you’re aware of this already, but there are many pleasurable ways to enjoy sex that doesn’t involve penetration. Take a step outside your comfort zone and maybe even get inspired to try something new! Checkout some tales from years past.
ALL THE PRETTY GENITALIA
Another keynote – no one’s genitals look the same. One more time for the people in the back: we all have something else going on under the hood. Yes. It’s true! You’ve heard Emily say it, ask your Gyno or Urologist: No. Vulva. Is. The. Same. No testicles, penis, or perineum look the same. Some have foreskin, some don’t (both fun for getting frisky). Neither is “dirty or unclean” if the user takes care of themselves the way a shower owner would.
So why do some people expect your genitalia to look the same as those depicted in porn? It’s all just a mild form of subconscious brainwashing. (If you really struggle with your vulva image or are just curious, check out our reposted pic from the Vulva Gallery and even read some of the anecdotes behind various amazing vulvas that once struggled with their image)! So hair or no hair, beard or no beard – you do you for you.
So much of body insecurity comes from businesses preying on societal insecurity that’s in play. Love your body, play with your body, be kind to it and confidence will continue to build with time.
Tips to Loving Your Body & How it IMPROVES Your Sex Life
Make a gratitude list! Does your body allow you to walk to get ice cream, lift x amount of weights, run in general, fight off disease, alert you when you have to pee, enables you to feel pleasure, etc.? You place the limit! Reading off your list in front of a mirror and looking at your beautiful self is a sweet place to start (fun list of ideas here).
Walk with confidence, exude it. Treat yourself the way you’d treat your best friend – be kind to yourself.
Additionally, therapy is a great healing tool, and not something you should be ashamed of needing. Everyone at some point in their life can benefit from a little outside help.
Also, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself or remove toxic friends/lovers from your life. No one should be feeding you negativity. Instead, cultivate a positive friend group and just do things you love. You might be surprised at the wonders it can do for your confidence and your health.
Treat yourself to a sexy gift! Whether it’s the Intensity to get your Kegels stronger than ever (with extra pleasure), DeoDoc that makes you feel fresh all day, or the Aneros Helix prostate stimulator, adding some extra pleasure to your life actually helps your view on your self-image.
Love your body every step of the way, through every phase. Life is already complicated enough. Really, though. Why make life harder than it has to be? Be good to yourself. Loving your body not only benefits you, but your partner and even better your child(ren)! When you love you for yourself first and foremost, that energy will carry over to all aspects of your life.
People are attracted to confidence and when you feel confident, you’re more willing try new things. Not to mention, sexual confidence is all about being adventurous in what you’d like to try and being sure in yourself. If body image or stress still has you pinned, focus on sensation during sex. Emily swears by staying present during sex. Instead of focusing on your insecurities, stop yourself and focus on the sensations of your partner’s touch, the scent of candles in the distance, or your breath!
We view people and the world around us based on our own personal self-construct. Why not break the cycle and acknowledge that we all come from different walks of life and not hold people to our personal views? In a society that is built around extorting us for our insecurities and imperfections, it would truly be a rebellious act to love ourselves.