I recently got a question from a reader about body image. It went like this:

I am the first fat woman my boyfriend has ever had sex with. I may even be the only fat person that he is close to; being an athlete and physical trainer, most of his friends have no body fat. I have a lot. He is what society would call perfect and I am so far from perfection. No matter what he says, I can’t be convinced that he likes my body and it’s starting to cause an issue in our relationship. I don’t want to be that girl who can’t have sex with the light on. I hate myself for hating myself, but I do. I never had this problem with the people I dated in the past, but they were all larger. He is a great guy who treats me really well. I don’t want to throw this away just because I can’t accept my body. I saw your interview with Dr. Doe on Sexplanations on YouTubeand you seemed so confident in your bikini body. We’re about the same size. How can I be confident naked and love my body as well?



Dear Alicia,

My first advice to anyone looking to love their body more, is to fake it until you make it.

You and your partner are fighting against an $85 billion industry set on convincing you that you need to lose weight, a $175 billion industry determined to convince you that you need to cover your face in cosmetics and a $1.2 trillion fashion industry convincing you that you need the right clothes to be sexy, accepted, lovable even.

Your partner is never going to be that convincing.

But your subconscious brain might be.

Instead of relying on your partner to convince you that you’re all the things you want to be - beautiful, sexy, attractive, sensual, desirable, stunning, successful - what about trying instead to take matters into your own hands and just be those things.

Everything you want your partner to make you feel is subjective. You are the subject. Pretend you are all of those things. Pretend you are everything you’ve ever wanted to be. Fake it until you make it so.

I used to pose nude for art classes. While up there, I pretended I was one of those Rubenesque women I’d seen in museums, a piece of art on display, a muse offering my body up for the higher artistic good.

"Three Graces" by Peter Paul Rubens, Google Earth

I used to dance burlesque. While on stage, I’d pretend the whole place wanted to have sex with me, like there was nothing anyone in that room desired more than to see my naked body revealed to them under the bright lights.

Every time, before I took my clothes off, I had a moment of hesitation, a worry about what people would think of my back fat rolls, my cellulite, the scars from my childhood, the wounds of my past. But I knew that my life depended on me no longer hating myself, so instead of disengaging when I disrobed, I stayed present, I watched my audience. And you know what? I saw no disgust, only awe, of my body, the way it moved, of my ability to simply be naked in front of a crowd.

They looked at my body as a piece of art, a thing to be desired, and I pretended I saw what they saw in me. I faked it until one day it made me.

It’s exciting to know that make believe can become reality, that our images of ourselves can shift until one day you look in the mirror and focus on the good instead of the bad. Our subconscious is a powerful thing. If we rewire it to think highly of ourselves, it has a fighting chance to overcome the negative images others feed it. (Get some inspiration on how to feel sexy in 5 Nice - and Naughty - Ways to Satisfy Your Inner Exhibitionist.)

Second, if you’re going to judge yourself or others, focus on the positive.

There was a point in my journey toward self-acceptance when I felt disheartened by the fact that I couldn’t stop tearing apart every photo I saw of myself. I still do it, to this day. My proclivity to judge, both myself and others, is deeply engrained in me and not something I can easily stop any time soon.

So, instead of trying to stop judging, I tried to change the way I judge. I’d see a person walking down the street and instead of picking out the things I didn’t like about them - something I was always taught to do by friends, family, society - I started pointing out the things I did like about them.

Where I used to tear apart the hairstyle of the person standing next to me in line, now I tell them "hey, I really like your jacket." I find something I genuinely like about them and say it out loud, right to them if the situation allows it. It's about taking a moment to genuinely compliment other people without expecting anything in return. It’s about knowing that everyone has something beautiful, stunning and commendable about them. Because they do.

Eventually, this will help you believe that there’s something beautiful, stunning and commendable about you.

Third, stop feeling guilty over not liking yourself. Hating yourself for hating yourself is counterproductive.

Be kind to yourself every step of the way up this difficult mountain, even the times where you slip and fall back down into the depths of self-hatred.

Fourth, find a porn star who looks like you.

Seriously. Watch all of their porn. Find another. Watch even more porn. Find all the positive images you can of people your size and consume them like an all-you-can-eat buffet on Thanksgiving Day.

And try to stay away from images that fetishize fat people. You are not a fetish. You are a sexual being who is gorgeous, especially while fucking. Some of my favorite larger sized porn stars include Kelly Shibari, April Flores, Courtney Trouble, Busty Cookie, Michelle Austin, Bella Bendz, Betty Blac, Kitty Stryker and Peppermint Fatty. (On the fence about pornography? Read Porn: Love It Or Leave It?)

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I’m not as familiar with larger sized male porn stars, so I asked around. As it turns out, there aren’t that many and most of them are in the alternative porn world. I’m told Kelly Shibari’s partner Tim Von Swine is husky and was also suggested to check out Juba Kalamka. The meagerness of this list makes me sad. Men are often left out of the body-image conversations, but they are just as bombarded with images trying to change them as women are. And they don’t have as many larger, positive roll models in the media as women do.

Fifth, be honest about where you are, with yourself and the people in your life.

One of the biggest problems I have when I start a relationship with someone (either romantic or platonic) is that they see this strong, confident adult I attempt to portray myself as and are confused when the insecure child inside of me lashes out. Let people know that you are trying your hardest to love yourself, but that your inner child still needs recognition, comfort, support and reassurance.

Hold your head up high, but let those around you know that occasionally you’re going to need them to remind you to keep your chin up.

Sixth, and most importantly, know that no one is perfect, not even that boyfriend of yours.

Holding him on a pedestal above you is doing no one any good. Relationships in which one person is worshipped are unhealthy and unsustainable. Let both of your insecurities be cared for and reassured. Seeing him as someone who is also vulnerable will help you feel better about your vulnerabilities. Support each other as you both are right now, right here: human beings in flux, flawed but working toward bettering yourselves.

No one is perfect, no one is better than anyone else, we are all just different. Bring him down off the pedestal, bring yourself up off the ground, and meet each other eye-to-eye.

With love and light,

Queerie Bradshaw

How are you learning to love your naked body? Share it with us in the comments!