Sex and Your Body Image

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Sometimes it's tough to feel good about your body

How comfortable do you feel with your body? Do you like it? How comfortable are you with letting your husband or wife see you nude? Is it "all lights off, please!" during sex?

Many of us would like to change or improve those parts of our bodies with which we are not happy. I'm not talking extreme makeover, just a few changes to areas we find we'd like better if they were improved.

While we may wish for slimmer hips, a flatter stomach, a tighter butt, more muscle tone, most of us will, either be happy with, and accept, ourselves the way we are, or work on improving those areas through exercise and diet. There are some of us who may take the desire for "perfection" to a whole new limit and go for plastic surgery.

Some allow the perceived "disaster" areas to ruin their lives. Women in particular have a distorted image of what the female body should look like (distorted body image) and obsess about their own lack of perfection. Society and the printed air-brushed images we see every day have lead to this obsession. This unhappiness with body image can ruin not only a person's self-esteem but the sex life in a marriage.

Let's face it-we are likely to be undressed in front of our spouses every day. They are able to see us in any stage of dress or undress at various times of the day or night. Not feeling comfortable with our own body takes away not only our pleasure at being seen but their pleasure at seeing us. Sex is a tactile and visual act.

Our view of our own body is influenced by many factors, starting in childhood. Your parents' ideas about sexuality and the body make a deep imprint on young minds. If the nude body was a taboo subject in your family, then you may feel the need to "cover up" even in front of your spouse. If your parents' religious beliefs lead you to believe that a naked body and its natural sexual feelings were sinful before marriage, it is difficult to change your ideas after the wedding.

Other factors that influence our attitude towards our bodies come from how we viewed adults in our lives. Did we admire them? Were they fit and attractive? Did we want to be like them, or did we secretly hope we wouldn't look like them when we became adults?

One woman I know says that her mother's obesity had a tremendous impact on her view of the female body. A man told me that the memory of the way his father and uncle looked at the beach with their "beach ball" stomachs makes him obsessive about doing sit-ups. What we found unattractive in a parent, especially if we resemble that parent, can make us feel unattractive also.

If showing your body to your husband or wife is embarrassing to you, you need to do some mind-searching and find out why. Is your body really so horrible? Take a realistic, not emotional, look at yourself.

Do you see a need for improvement? Do something. If weight is an issue, join a weight-loss organization and an exercise class. Understand that, besides time, it will take daily effort to lose weight. And please, set a "normal" goal weight for yourself; don't just look at the goal weight charts.

Every body is built differently. I know very few women who are a healthy 118 pounds, and very few healthy overly "bulked-up" men. Remember, you not only want to look better, but, feel healthy and vital.

If you were taught to be ashamed of your body you must "unlearn" this attitude. Again this will take effort and time. Remember: the human body is a beautiful machine, perfect in every way. "It" eats, talks, hears, sees, moves, repairs itself, feels pleasure, and has the ability to create life. View your body as a wonderful gift.

Have realistic expectations of what you want done and seek a reputable board certified doctor if you opt for plastic surgery. This is major surgery you're contemplating, not a day at the spa.

Above all remember, everyone's idea of beauty is different. Even before your spouse-to-be ever spoke to you, he or she was attracted to you because you fit his or her idea of beautiful. To your spouse, your nude body is "eye candy." The look you receive is not a critique; it is pleasure and desire.

Body image and sex are eternally entwined. Love your body as your spouse does.

Enjoy the pleasure your body can give and get. Be proud of the greatest machine ever created-your body.

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2021, December 31). Sex and Your Body Image, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 22 from

Last Updated: March 26, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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