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The Fat Girl's Guide to a Shameless Sex Life (Really!)
Posted by Toni in Loving Our Bodies,Sex + Relationships
Above: FGG editor Tee and her husband still enjoy a playful sex life after eight years together, and two kids from a previous marriage


This year my husband and I celebrated twelve years of marriage. Together, we've weathered financial and medical disasters, taken epic road trips to wild places  and celebrated milestone birthdays, including the arrival of our three sons. I've also had to cope with the changes to my body over those 12 years, like the natural changes that come with turning 40 (almost two years ago), developing a new set of stretch marks with each pregnancy, and probably the tackiest baby gift a girl can receive: the belly apron. To make matters worse, my husband, who had also gained weight over the years, recently lost most of it after several weeks of regular exercise and a few tweaks in his diet. I, however, have not. I'd be lying if I said that the collective effects of all of these things hasn't tainted how I feel about romping around the bedroom.

Yet all relationships need nurturing in order to thrive, and when you're in a committed relationship for the long haul, that includes nurturing your sex life. But for those of us with body image barriers, showing up for that kind of nurturing means first nurturing our bruised psyches. Because it's not our bodies that are truly the problem - it's how much we let them get in the way.

We'll cover sex for the single fat girl in an upcoming post, but this week Tee and I have pulled together a list of what's worked for us over the years in turning that around, both from our own experience and through our many conversations with my friends facing the same challenges in their own marriages and long-term relationships.

Toni: TALK

Sounds like a big, fat "duh," right? But talking about sex doesn't come naturally to everyone. Our upbringing and our varied (be they sordid, dull, embarrassing...) pre-committed-relationship love lives can make complicated conversation starters. My husband is my best friend and he makes me laugh every single day, and yet I still feel embarrassed sometimes bringing up the subject with him because . . . he's my best friend. Who makes me laugh every single day. What if he cracks a joke when I'm trying to be serious about being sexy? What if something I say reminds him that I'm just fat and undesirable?

Forget about it. Connecting with your husband or lover (who, it's important to remember, has chosen you out of near limitless possibilities) in conversation about and even during sex is a good way to turn the focus back to all the things that were magnetic to both of you about each other. Besides, we all know where the sensual center of the body really lies: the brain.

Tee: TRUST HIS INSTINCT


When Tee and her husband first met and started dating, she was constantly preoccupied with how she thought he -- a fit, active, quintessential outdoor guy -- would respond physically to her body, which was larger and lumpier than his "type" had been in the past. That hesitation and embarrassment nearly cost them their relationship, but she slowly realized that he was a grown man capable of making that decision for himself...and if he was attracted enough to take the plunge she had to get over herself. Once she let go, she says their sex life took off, and it's been hot-and-steady ever since.

Toni: DO WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL YUMMY

Humans are social creatures, with an innate need to belong and feel like a part of our own tribes. Despite what Hollywood, gossip blogs and many women's magazines want us to believe, our physical appearance shouldn't be our most important attribute. But let's be realistic: it does matter to us, and it's okay to want to feel desired and desirable, no matter our age or size, and no matter how long we've been with our partners.

So go ahead and splurge on sexy, feminine, silky lingerie, flattering (even daring) clothes and yummy, scented lotions and bath oils. Find a few things that make you feel absolutely fantastic, and integrate them into your sex life. And if you haven't tried this in a while, consider the benefits of sex by candlelight; we all look glamorous in it, and I'm able to forget about those stretch marks for a while, which boosts my own libido, which he then picks up on...starting a frisky feedback loop.

Tee: BE TACTILE

Touching is underrated, and Tee picks this out as the number one turn-on she and her husband share. It's hard to feel undesirable and unsexy when your husband or lover can't stop touching you. Invite it, let him know you love being touched even in non-sexual ways. A run-of-the-hands down your body when you're at the sink doing dishes. A thigh squeeze in the car on the way to an event. Be sure to do it in return, because guys love to feel desired, too. Even just making a point to brush against each other when you're passing in the hall can yield a little electricity.

If you're like many of us with body image issues, though, there may be parts of you you'd prefer his hands don't wander - like your belly, or the part of your back where chubby rolls of fat that gather under your bra strap. That's okay. Rather than be fearful or ashamed, catch his hand and guide it to the places you do want to be touched. He'll get the idea.

Toni: GIVE AND TAKE. YES, TAKE.


Never has the phrase "law of attraction" been more poignant when applied to our sex lives. All cheekiness (ahem!) aside, there is something very freeing about being generous and giving to our partners without expecting anything in return. I'm not talking about being subservient, but being generous. And then let yourself be open to that generosity in return.

A good friend recently confessed that the bedroom is the one place where she allows herself to be totally selfish, since the rest of her life involves nurturing and giving, giving, giving. It's okay to receive and it's okay to be selfish so long as it's balanced for you and your partner. My husband knows I'm a sucker for a massage, and often just letting him caress my shoulders, back, arms and legs relaxes me enough to forget about all of the stress and preoccupations that keep me from giving myself up to the mood. And don't be shy: make sure he knows what drives you crazy. Because honestly, with a lover trained at giving us mind-blowing orgasms, who would be thinking about whether we'll ever fit into a size six again?

Tee: GET A LITTLE FREAKY

Different trumps just about everything. Particularly for guys, the unique and unexpected are instant turn-ons that make the bearer of those irresistible. To distract yourself from your imperfections and inject some fresh, sexy playfulness into your sex life, Tee suggests reading erotic stories together, or better yet - writing each other into one and sharing it at an unexpected moment (though she adds to clear your schedule first and be prepared, as it's not likely to end there). Sexy movies and photos work for many couples, but if these exacerbate your negative self-perceptions, ditch those in favor of your own costumes, photo sessions (even if it's you taking sexy photos of him), role playing and other games. Making sex light and playful eases the gravity we assign to it, and, by extension, our place in it when we don't feel great about ourselves.

Toni: KNOW THYSELF

It took me a few years to figure this out, but I've found that my desire tends to peak in the afternoon, when my husband is usually at work and it's lowest by the time we both collapse after wrangling the kids to bed. And I tend to really want it when I'm ovulating and less so when my menstrual cycle begins. And if the kids are awake? Forget it! I just can't get in the mood if I think my five-year-old might burst into our room at any moment. My husband, on the other hand, has none of these exceptions (go figure).

Take the time to know your cycles, your moods and preferences, and then share this with your husband or lover. He might be turned on to know that you're at home feeling sexy when he's at work, or that a middle-of-the-night tryst when the kids are sleeping could be a great time to get some. Bonus: it's extra dark at 2am! And you'll likely make up for the wake up with the deep sleep of a post-coital crash.

No matter what you try, remember this: the more sexy we feel on the inside, the more desirable and magnetic we are naturally. And the more our lovers and husbands express that desire, the more sexy we'll feel. Pretty soon, the habit is formed and our sex lives are changed.

So... why are you still here? GO!