Are Sex And Body Issues Limited To Women?

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!

Me At Nineteen

Me At Nineteen

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.

Hubby And I When We Were Bigger

Hubby And I When We Were Bigger

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.

Us After the Weight Loss

Us After the Weight Loss

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.

Hubby At Tough Mudder

Hubby At Tough Mudder

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.

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57 thoughts on “Are Sex And Body Issues Limited To Women?

  1. Jessi Gage says:

    I’m glad you shared this, Kitt. Your pictures are beautiful. I love how open you are, and I think you’re making a difference for women AND MEN:) I’m curious. What does your husband think of your blog?

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      Thanks, Jessi! As for my husband’s thoughts? He doesn’t actually read my blog, but he feels that if it makes me happy, I should do it. He’ll also contribute his thoughts whenever I decide to share or I pick his brain (like yesterday).

  2. Stephanie says:

    Great post. And I agree that body issues surely can’t be just a woman thing. I know my husband also gives these things a lot of consideration. That said, in movies and TV, average-looking guys get hot women. I can’t really think of an example of it going the other way. So I don’t think it’s an equal thing.

    I do think body image affects sex as well. It’s not directly linked to my weight though. It’s a day to day thing. One day, I’ll feel good about myself and one day I won’t, even though nothing could possibly have changed in that one day. Generally I wouldn’t let it stop me from enjoying sex, but it might make a difference to whether the lights were on or whether I decide to wear a negligee thing to cover my belly rather than being fully nude.

    And two things I love about my body (I’m skipping the self one, because that’s less challenging): I like my boobs. They’re small but perfect. I also like my hands a lot. They’re kind of elegant.

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      I really appreciate your candor. As for the “average” girl getting the hot guy? The first two movies that come to mind are Hairspray & Strictly Ballroom….but you’re right, that happens more to guys than girls.

      I love your body parts answer (and I feel the same way about my boobs). 🙂

  3. August McLaughlin says:

    Such an honest, insightful post, Kitt. Thanks for the awesome support!

    As far as guys and body image issues go, I’ve noticed a significant upswing in the correlation in recent years. I’ve met a fair number of males with eating disorders, and there’s more pressure for them to bulk up and shed fat than ever before. I find it really sad, which is one reason posts like these are crucial.

    Hmm… Tonight I’m digging my smile. 🙂

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      I think you’ve got a great smile, August!

      It saddens me, too, to hear that male eating disorders are on the rise, yet it also cements exactly what I’ve suspected. I think we, as women, often get so caught up in our own angsty & insecurities we miss the signs the men in our lives are sending us about their physical concerns.

  4. ramblingsfromamum says:

    I like Jessi admire how open you are with your topics. Secondly, I had to scroll up and down several times to look at the pictures of the pre-weight loss – post loss weight – oh lordy what a difference! When I was your age – I was damn hot! (well I thought I was) I still had particular parts of my anatomy that I did not like, but I felt sexy within it. As I have ‘aged’ sadly I do not really feel that sexy anymore. The lights are off or at the very least a dim glow, I am more conscience of how I look to my man and the world, covering up bits of me that I think have gone south. Mr. S stopped smoking 2 years ago and gained about the average 5kg, he like my goodself are watching what we consume (not being over the top) and exercise to avoid the middle aged blimp-i-ness. I think some men have issues or are wanting to keep attractive and look/feely sexy within themselves and there are those sadly that just say f@@@ it I am what I am. My best assests at my age – my eyes and lips and hmm doesn’t that look familiar! 🙂 Good post (as you can tell, because I rambled on yet again)

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      I LOVE when you get “ramble-y”! As for the self image, I truly encourage you to check out August’s page. She has several educational and well thought out posts designed to help women. She truly is a fount of knowledge on women’s health & body issues as this is a cause that has strongly impacted her on a deeply personal level. Also for “maturing” women and keeping the intimacy of the bedroom alive (both emotionally & sexually), visit my friend, Ande Lyons, bringbackdesire.com site. I promise, you won’t regret it & you’ll come to adore these women the same way I do.

  5. renxkyoko says:

    I have no clue, but I have promised myself to maintain my figure… I will never let go. I don’t know what’s good in me physically.They say I have pretty eyes and lips. Oh, and I won ” the best smile ” in high school.

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      I could see that! As for your promise to yourself? Good for you. If, by chance, you become like me, though (I also promised myself that I would never get fat, but obviously, it still happened), don’t let it hold you back from believing you can fix it.

  6. Professor Taboo says:

    Kitt, a most excellent well-informed fearless post! YES, of course men have image problems (as we chatted about days ago on Little-Man Napoleon Syndromes!) and it definitely includes looks, weight, muscles, & libido/sex-appeal! Any man who tells you otherwise is lying through his teeth! Unfortunately, our antiquated patriarchal society & media (which is changing thank the stars!) projects MOST of the attention onto women. Yuk.

    Bottom-line: it is really a matter of health. Our bone structures ARE NOT designed to be carrying so much extra weight, which also puts extra strain on our cardio-system, which in turn puts strain on other systems. However, going to the other extreme (anorexia) is wrong too. Kelly Ripa is a great example of borderline anorexia for the sake of “image” rather than ultimate health.

    The middle, moderation without impulsiveness, or gluttony, or needs based on or motivated by consumerism — a MAJOR problem in America! Often I think we Americans need to return to the days of farming & gardening our own diets/meals, not all restaurants or manufactured foods/meals. Think about it.

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      Thank you! I’m so glad to have a man chime in on the subject, and I suspect you won’t be the only one.

      You’re definitely right about our bone structures being unable to handle the weight and the cascading effects on the other systems in our bodies. I’m sure you can imagine my relief at his weight loss when last year on Valentine’s Day he had to have an emergency appendectomy….followed by 2 surgeries within a 6 week time (hernia & pilonidal cyst). The docs couldn’t believe he’d lost all that weight without any “help” and the anesthesiologist said he’d definitely made things much less dangerous.

      I also think you’re probably right about how we eat. We, as a country, are not really great at impulse control. As for going back to the old ways, that, too, is a great idea. My mom & stepdad are working on growing their own veggies now. 🙂

      • Professor Taboo says:

        You mention your husband being ‘saved’ by weight-loss & its complications, BOTH my children (7 yrs apart) had to have appendectomies before age 12. When my son (the youngest) had to have it too, I thought that unusual & began researching the probable causes. No surprise, most medical research (WebMD to name 1) points to a diet VOID of or insufficient in fiber, i.e. fruits, vegetables, etc., which assists intestines in the “removal” or excess of unnecessary junk in our digestive system; in other words, what gets put in the appendix is unwanted/unusable. If it gets blocked (by junk, infection)…obviously emergency surgery. Here’s my point: I was the chef/cook of our marriage. Being a former pro athlete I am VERY health-diet conscious! After the divorce, they both got appendicitis’. I had always known that I had to often almost force-feed them a good diet of fruits & vegetables — that declined (or stopped?) when I was no longer the chef/cook.

        We are/become what we eat/consume! And yes, American consumerism, in all of its forms, is probably already an epidemic & COSTLY to say the least. 😦

        • Kitt Crescendo says:

          Too true. What’s funny is that husband’s diet wasn’t really “horrible”. He eats fruits and veggies…always has. He, too, was an athlete in his younger years. What got him was the larger portions and the inactivity. I actually think the fact that I was a vegetarian for the first 10-11 years of my life has probably helped my body over the years…and the fact that even when I put on the weight, my jobs were not completely sedentary.

  7. Laura Hilger says:

    Awesome Kitt! It seems to me like men are more concerned about it than they use to be, but then again, I’m older now. I think that once men begin aging, they notice the comparison in the media more often. I guess I feel like it’s more of an overall aging issue. The guys I hang around with talk about their weight way more than they use to when they were in their 20s.

    To me, sexuality and feeling sexy have a ton to do with body image, but I’d agree with Stephanie-it changes depending on what is happening. Emotional stability is aligned to it as well, at least for me.

    Happy Thursday!

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      Thanks for your feedback, Laura! I really appreciate hearing what everyone has to say. I’m also glad to know that I’m not the only one who’s been noticing the shift.

      Sadly, especially after the stunt that Abercrinbie & Fitch pulled, I think the wrong message is getting sent to our young people as a whole that “skinny” is everything…causing unhealthy eating habits with teenagers who are already in a tough situation. I’ll take healthy over skinny any day. (And I don’t think it helps that their generation’s “teenage” dreamboats include guys like Justin Bieber in skinny jeans.)

      • Laura Hilger says:

        Yes, so true! I work with teens and its a tough world down there; lots of pressure, but unfortunately, a lot of them are very unhealthy due to their lifestyle factors, which only persists the low self-esteem and media comparisons. Whenever I’m counseling, my first few questions are about life habits because those are aligned to everything-our emotions, our coping, our positive resiliency, etc. Your blog, in part :-), should be read by them! When you look at Marilyn Monroe’s time, and compare, sexy in the media has certainly changed.

        • Kitt Crescendo says:

          Great point. What’s really unfortunate it that we propagate the changes we’ve seen in the media. Ugh. If we’d stop buying the crap, they’d start changing. As one woman mentioned in the panel yesterday…if we didn’t have so many people rushing out to buy the latest on how fat or ugly whatever celebrity who was unfortunate enough to land on the cover of whatever magazine, maybe they’d stop putting unrealistic and unhealthy body types in everything.

  8. Emma says:

    I think your hubby is right. Men struggle too but most of the time they’re not as vocal/passionate about it. Congrats on the both of ye for the weight loss/lifestyle change. I know it’s tough to get started. I need to walk a good bit more than I currently do, as much for a healthy mind as well as a fit body.
    I definitely don’t feel sexy if I think I’m having a bad body week/month/year. 🙂
    I like my eyes and my hands.

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      Emma, I think you have lovely eyes, too… I haven’t really seen your hands, so I can’t speak to it, but I will say, your hands help you write, so of course they’re beautiful. 🙂

  9. Masala Chica says:

    Kitt – I love this post and applaud you for losing the weight in a healthy way with a healthy perspective. You are beautiful, no matter what your weight, but I am glad to hear of both of your amazing accomplishments.
    My knees are really hot. Ok, they’re not, but I’m learning to love them ;-).

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. As I’ve already told you, your post shared at August’s party was so moving! I’m glad you enjoyed mine as well. I’m glad you’re learning to love your knees. 😉 From your picture, I think you have a pretty awesome smile as well.

  10. blowingoffsteamandmore says:

    Great post!! I suffered from bulimia during high school and in my 20s and it took me a long time to separate my body size/shape from my general happiness. Unfortunately for me, feeling sexy for me is one of the few things left that seems to be directly affected by how in shape I am at any given time. Thankfully though, more often lately it’s been connected to my feeling of accomplishment (i.e. completing a long run or making something delicious for the family). It’s a long journey but well worth the effort! Two things I love about my body: my leg muscles and my hair! The hair might be cheating a little but I like it! Two things I love about myself: my integrity and my passion for exploring new things.

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your personal experiences! I can only imagine how long and hard you worked at overcoming your illness. I’m glad to hear that you’ve found other ways to channeling your inner sexy. I love that you love your legs, and you absolutely get to take credit for your hair. As for the two things you love about yourself…those don’t surprise me in the least. (Do you know August McLaughlin? I suspect you may find you have a lot in common with her.)

  11. donofalltrades says:

    That’s some nice work you and your husband did losing all that weight! Holy smokes! Men are just like women to some degree, but maybe we just feel as though women are kinder so we let them see us brush our teeth in the nude every morning with all the lights on where my wife would never do that! lol. My little weight loss quest isn’t going great yet as we’ve eaten like crap all week because of our busy schedule. It’s a terrible excuse, but with the kids being so small, it is what it is. I’m encouraged that I can do it. I look at my kids and notice that they’re all thin because their parents are “meant to be thin” genetically, if that makes sense. My wife and I have had to work at gaining weight by being extremely lazy and eating out way too often for over a decade. I think because of our body types that we’ll both lose the weight with a little commitment. Thanks for the discussion!

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      Don, thanks for chiming in. From what I understand, having small children and constantly running around behind them means that to eat healthier, a lot more planning and pre-prep has to go into it. I wish you only the best in your quest to become a healthier you for your kids. I have no doubt you’ll get there. 🙂

  12. brickhousechick says:

    Great questions and fantastic weight loss by the two of you! I feel that t
    here is a direct correlation between body image and sex appeal. The better I feel about myself the “hotter things get in bed. 😉 My hubby is on a program lately and looks great. I on the other hand end up eating the calories and carbs he skips. I can’t get motivated, yet want to keep things steamy in the bedroom. Hmmm….he hasn’t complained yet. Great post. Oh, my fave body parts are my eyes and lips as well…and ok, my ta tas are pretty good too (says the mister).
    I

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      Thanks! If hubby isn’t complaining, then why should you? You know what you need to do for yourself if you’re truly concerned/unhappy with how you look. Based on your Gravatar, I’m not at all surprised that you like your eyes…;-) And as long as the mister is happy about your tatas, so should you. 🙂 Thanks for chiming in!

  13. filbio says:

    Believe it or not many men have body issues just like women and it affects how they perceive themselves in the public eye, and private lives. I grew up as a chubby kid, then got super skinny in junior high, and always had body issues. In high school I discovered sports, and the gym. Weight training and changing my body did wonders for my confidence. Still, I have a few issues to deal with as I am sure we all do!

    Phil
    blog.theregularguynyc.com/?p=3411

  14. Lance says:

    I appreciate the honesty, here. You and your husband look great.

    This past year, I put on 20 lbs while writing my first book. I’m at 186 on a 5’8″ frame and I’d like to be 165. It’s a matter of prioritizing diet and exercise as you’ve done. Thanks for the kick in the slightly fatter ass.

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      I hear ya. I’ve actually put some of the weight back on since I lost my job and hubby and I decided to let me stay home and try my hand at writing… Fortunately, all I had to do was lean over and ask him for a little support/help. We’re back to taking long walks around the neighborhood with the dogs after he’s done with his workouts. And on days where we can’t do that, it’s 30 min to an hour on the treadmill for me. 😉 If you want it, you can make it happen.

  15. Jean says:

    This was a great read! Congrats to both of you! Body image / sex appeal… well, it’s tough. I feel like in person, people hide a lot when they speak, so it’s tough to know if they are being open about their own insecurities. I know when I am working out and eating better, I feel sexier. That might have more to do with my endorphins and general better mental health, as not looking like a super model doesn’t stomp my feelings of sexiness. At the same time, when I can zip up a dress I haven’t been able to wear in a few years, that makes me feel sexy, too. So, I guess there are multiple factors.

    I do think men struggle with body image and sex appeal. When they are in better shape, they probably feel better. I know people who have lost 50+ pounds or have grown a lot of muscle mass and you can see their confidence boost. What I don’t know if exactly how bad they felt before the transformation, because I have never had that conversation before — I’ve just witnessed the effects of their hard work.

    My two favorite body parts: My eyes because they are a pretty shade of sea green… and, honestly my ass, because I have put a LOT of work into that thing at the gym lately 🙂 Lol, it deserves some praise, even if it’s just from me! Thanks, Kitt. Fun read.

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      Somehow, I doubt that you’re the only one who thinks you’ve got a nice ass. 😀 All that work pays off…and more power to you!

      I agree with you that there are multiple factors that go into whether or not a woman feels sexy, but I do believe feeling good about herself physically and mentally are a huge part of that. Confidence is one of the sexiest things a woman can put on….so whatever she does that helps her to feel that way is key…and the answer doesn’t always have to be “lose weight”. It’s whatever makes her feel better. With some women it can be gaining weight. With others it can be working out certain body parts.

      Talking to my husband and a few friends, I’ve found that the same is actually pretty accurate for them and their confidence. In fact, sometimes, for some men…it’s not about their body, but their self image… I’ve got one friend who began to feel better about himself once he got a degree (a little later than many of his peers)…and another one who felt better about who he saw in the mirror when he got a really well paying job. It’s funny how the person you see in the mirror isn’t always tied to physical fitness, but confidence…

  16. L.J. Kentowski says:

    I absolutely believe that men struggle with this. I work in a male dominated profession and these men are on diets and exercise programs way more than the women I know. Great post Kitt. And congrats to both you and hubby!

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      Thanks, LJ! I really appreciate you sharing what you’ve observed. I think the age of men not really caring what they looked like a la Al Bundy is a thing of the past.

  17. Christy Birmingham says:

    You are right that men do have body issues, although many of them won’t admit it. I think woman are more outspoken on the topic. Perhaps the images of stick-thin women on magazine covers is fueling the gender differences? What a great discussion you have generated here, Kitt! Oh and hello I am on G+ too and how have we not connected there yet?!!

  18. rebecca2000 says:

    You and hubby are smoking. 🙂

    Honestly I like my body, big or small. I like sex big or small. Women bother me. My birth mom and sister-in-law were here for the weekend a couple of weeks ago. They both were not going to go swimming because of their bodies. I told them that they were beautiful and stop caring so much. I said our daughters were going to pick up on our behaviors. They felt better and went swimming. We need to empower ourselves.

  19. sydneyaaliyah says:

    What a great post. I have struggled with my weight all my life, but I try and remind myself daily the things I love about my body. I have really cute wrist and great legs. Hence the placement of my favorite tattoos. 🙂 Thanks for sharing. Yep, noticed the Cowboys Stadium in your photos. haha.

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      Haha! Well, I’m a die hard. In fact, I’ve been going to the Big D every year for about 6 years or so. I’m glad you’re finding ways to overcome your body issues. 🙂

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