Today, while chillaxin’ with some ladies on a Google Hangout hosted by Gigi Ross I heard a question that got me thinking. We all know how dangerous that can be….Before I get into the question, let me give you some back story. I received an invite from my awesome buddy, August McLaughlin inviting me to an event about How Women’s Body Image Affects Sex. As many of you are aware through August’s GirlBoner posts, this is a subject near and dear to her heart, so I wasn’t at all surprised to hear she’d been asked to be a panelist for this event. In fact, her most recent post was entitled Sexual Confidence: How To Feel Sexier Naked. Based on her personal experiences, she was a fantastic selection.
Over the years I’ve noticed just how negative most women are about their self images. Somehow, with the exception of my toes, I’ve escaped many of those problems. Have I always been thrilled with my weight? No, but I also knew that I could do something about it at any time. Even better, regardless of what weight I’ve been, I’ve always felt sexy. I’ve just never felt like my sex appeal was very tied to my size/body weight. In fact, as you can see below, I was probably too confident for my mother’s peace of mind. In fact, if she’d had any idea back then that I’d ask a friend to take “flirty” pictures like this, she’d have probably skinned me alive. Believe it or not, though, the girl in that picture was a virgin!
As you’ve seen in other pictures I’ve shared, I don’t exactly look like that anymore. Despite that, I’ve been blessed with a healthy self image and lots of confidence (Yes, Ladies, confidence is sexy as hell and men notice when you’ve got that going on even more than they notice the “banging” body…at least that’s been my experience).
But let me get back to the question posed to the panelists: Do you think that men struggle with body image? The general consensus was that no, men didn’t struggle with this issue or at least not much. It was the only time in the entire chat that I found myself pausing and thinking that maybe…just maybe…they were wrong about something. I kept thinking back to my husband and some of his issues over the years along with a blog post by Don Of All Trades and realized I needed to write about my take on this subject.
This picture was taken about 3-4 years ago. As you can see, neither of us was “thin”. In fact, we’d steadily been gaining weight for several years. Believe it or not, even then, I never questioned my sex appeal. My husband was a different story. He always seemed surprised when a woman would flirt with him. He questioned his desirability. He definitely struggled with his libido and feeling sexy. He stopped doing things he loved like going to amusement parks, afraid he was “too big” to participate.
I worried about his feelings over even the most innocuous statements. If someone used words like “big guy”, he’d assume they were poking fun at his weight…even if it never entered their minds. He hated taking pictures. He’d get depressed at the thought of going shopping. In fact, when he needed new work clothes in, he found it easier (less embarrassing) to send me to the mall without him when he needed new work clothes. Or he’d buy directly from some Big And Tall store online.
It was around New Years a couple years ago that I decided I wanted to change things up. I wanted to get a little healthier, especially since I was not on the road as much for work. I decided to track my portions and minimize my complex carbs. I also decided to start using the treadmill we bought.
I still remember him coming home that first day to me on the treadmill and the conversation that ensued, verbatim.
Him: What do you think you’re doing?
Me: I’ve decided I want to work out regularly and get healthy.
Him: Yeah. Good luck with that.
And he walked back into the living room where he flopped down onto the couch and watched tv all night.
The funny thing, though? When I got home from work the next day, I had to wait my turn for the treadmill. Why? Because he was on it. He decided without any coercion from me that he wanted to change, so he joined me in tracking food and exercise through cell phone apps.
Within a year I lost 50 lbs and he lost 160 lbs! Pretty significant, right? Slowly but surely his confidence and libido grew. He was happier. He no longer assumes that everything is a dig at him about his physique.
I shared the question of male body image with him and this is what we came up with. The reason most women seem to assume that body issues don’t affect most men is because men aren’t nearly as dramatic about their body hate as women. They didn’t really have “false modesty” bashed into their heads. What they are is more stoic about their lack of confidence.
From what hubby shared with me, where women have often blamed the media and Hollywood for the popularity of unhealthy or unrealistic body images, men have remained quiet. However, media has increased their impact on their negative self perceptions, too. How? He said that washboard abs have always been around, but it wasn’t nearly as threatening to a man’s ego because it wasn’t discussed so prevalently or so blatantly among women as it is now. The change, he said, comes from how more publicized articles based on “what women want” in a man. Now they’re getting a taste of articles that talk about the physical attributes that sexually attract women….and in great detail, leaving some men feeling lacking when being compared to the likes of The Rock or Bradley Cooper…or even Channing Tatum. Yup! They’ve got a pretty good idea about what women find sexy and it can be intimidating as hell.
Pretty perceptive of hubby if you ask me… So why don’t you guys and gals tell me what you think? Do you feel that there’s a tie between your body image and your ability to feel sexy? Do you believe that men struggle with body image issues?
And while you’re at it, I’d like you guys to tell me two things that you love about yourself and/or your body. This was the last question asked on the event and I thought it was a great positive note on which to end the body image discussion.
I’ll go first. The two things I love about my body: My lips and my eyes.
Well? What are you waiting for? An engraved invitation? It’s your turn!!! I’m waiting…..
And for those of you who may have missed the discussion and want to watch it…Here’s the YouTube video for you to watch.