Problem: Negative Body Image
I'm certainly not suggesting that fat people are the only ones with body image issues, but fat people are often told how unacceptable they are by parents, siblings, teachers, doctors, classmates, friends, enemies and even total strangers. Whether it's done in the course of bullying or out of feigned concern, being told that your body is unhealthy, ugly, or wrong can make anyone feel decidedly unsexy. Because we don't tend to take good care of things we hate, bad body image can become a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Solution No.1: Pampering. Stress and negative body image go hand-in-hand. We tend to be less patient and accepting with ourselves when we're under stress. The first step in feeling better about yourself is to relax. Whether this means deep cleansing breaths, a few minutes of Mozart, or a nice foot massage, less stress leads to better body image. (Sex is also a great stress reliever. Read more in Skip the Gym, Get In Bed: 7 Health Benefits of Sex.)
Solution No.2: Realism. Everybody knows someone who hates to be photographed because they never like how the pictures turn out. But being fat isn't like having a zit on your nose. You can't hide it. What's more, everyone with working eyes can already see what you look like. So who exactly are you hiding from? Whoever they are, they can already see you. And they're wondering why you're trying to disguise curvy hips under a giant T-shirt, or hide a double chin behind a carefully placed thumb-and forefinger.
Aside from all the puritanical attitudes people have about nudity in general, fatties have an even bigger problem. They've been told that no one wants to see them naked. If you grew up believing that everyone thinks fat is ugly, taking your clothes off in front of another person is not so much sexy as it is heart-stoppingly terrifying.
Solution: Befriend your body. If you don't already do this, spend some alone time walking around your home naked. Do the things you'd normally do. Make some tea, read, fold laundry or just take a nap. Take a few minutes to really look at yourself in a full-length mirror and marvel at just how amazing your body is. Being naked with yourself will help you be more comfortable being naked with a friend. Befriending your body also means being honest about what it looks like. Fat women in particular are more likely to engage in fat-denying gymnastics during sex. They keep their arms tight at their sides or twist their backs like a pretzel doing yoga, all in the hope that they'll look a little slimmer, their stomachs a little flatter. Your partner can see you, and he totally wants to have sex with you. Accepting that upfront makes it easier to relax and have fun.
There are different types of shyness. The shyness I refer to here has to do with not speaking up about your needs, fears, likes and dislikes, or generally being too nervous to discuss things openly with your partner. This type of shyness doesn't just lead to bad sex; it can be crippling to the whole relationship. While shyness can seem daunting, it can also be overcome.
Solution: Talk it out. Many of us have been taught that it's romantic for our partner to magically understand our needs without being told. Unless you're dating a wizard, that's probably not possible. You don't have to wait until you're in the throes of passion to discuss sex. In fact, many couples find it less awkward to talk specifics at non-sexy times, while doing the dishes or relaxing in front of the TV, for example. The timing is less important than the openness. If your fear of crushing your partner (not a realistic worry, say the experts) makes you not want to avoid being on top, say so. If you burst into uncontrollable giggles at the sight of a glow-in-the-dark condom, say that too. Levity is great for diffusing awkwardness. (Get some tips on how to communicate better in Talk Dirty to Me: The Why and How of Hot Aural Sex.)
Focusing on fat can leave fatties feeling so ugly that we develop our own confirmation bias. But come one. Plenty of other things that come in all shapes, sizes and colors are called beautiful every day. Is a sunflower less beautiful than a peony because it's so much bigger? Of course not. Why should it be any different with human beings? It shouldn't, especially when you consider that the most powerful sex organ in humans is the brain. That means that spectacular sex - at any size - is really all about putting mind over body mass. (For more great info, check out "Big, Big Love: A Sex and Relationship Guide for People of Size.")