Episode 162 – Attraction & Self-Objectification

Objectification

Someone shared with me recently that their friend says she has a great sex life, but she won’t let her husband watch her undress because she doesn’t like her body after having a baby. I want to talk more about that in this episode. Can you really have a great sex life while hating your body? No. As much as you can’t hate yourself thin, you can’t be fully present in your sex life while hating how you look. It’s time to be your own best friend. Are you ready? Let’s go!

Objectification
Objectification

Show Notes:

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Show Summary:

Thank you to all of the reviews that have been coming in.  I read every single one and it just makes me so happy!  As soon as we get to 200 reviews on Apple Podcasts I will do another drawing for a $100 Amazon Gift Card.  So if you’ve submitted a review, take a screenshot of it and email it to me Amanda@amandalouder.com with Podcast Review in the subject line and you will be entered to win!

I got a ton of feedback on last week’s episode.  It seems you guys loved hearing an actual coaching session with a client and you saw the power that personalized coaching can have.  

I mentioned a scenario at the end of that podcast that I thought we could dive into deeper.  Someone recently shared with me that she has a friend who says she has a great sex life, but also admits that she won’t get undressed in front of her husband because she doesn’t like her body after having a baby.  

Physical attraction (whether it is to yourself or your spouse) is a hot topic.  One of the biggest Google searches that leads people to my website is “I’m not attracted to my spouse.”  That brings them to Episode 72 of my podcast, which happens to be in the top 20 most downloaded episodes.  So let’s talk about it.

Physical attractiveness is the degree to which a person’s physical features are considered aesthetically pleasing or beautiful.  The term often implies sexual attractiveness or desirability, but can also be distinct from either.  There are so many factors that influence one person’s attraction to another, physical aspects being just one of them.  

But, attractiveness is completely subjective. And is greatly influenced by the “norms” and culture of the day.  In the 1500s, artists often exaggerated body proportions (hips, butt, and thighs) for an effect considered attractive. Women wore corsets and added padding to their hips to have a larger waist to hip ratio because that was attractive.  Traditionally, in many Polynesian cultures, body fat was acceptable and considered most attractive.  

Today, the media and corporations define what sexy is. Sexy is young, and tight, and perky. They tell us what is sexy and attractive and tell us that we aren’t sexy unless we purchase their product.

I recently listened to an interview with Lexi Kite, PhD, one of the founders of BeautyRedefined.org. In it she talked about her dissertation and what she calls self-objectification.  She defines self-objectification as “a constant state of picturing yourself living, instead of just living.” That through our constant exposure to media that we see our bodies as the most important thing about us. That our value comes from how we look. And our sexuality will be experienced through how we look.  

She goes on to say that we perform poorly sexually when we are in this state of self-objectification.  It lowers our sexual assertiveness and is linked to poor sexual functioning.  She said “If you believe your body is the most important thing about you, you will do whatever he wants you to do because you believe that is your value.  We are just grateful that someone is attracted to us, so instead of looking out for your own wants and needs you’ll do whatever it takes to keep his attention.”

I see this happening all the time with women that I work with.  They are so consumed with their body and how it looks that they aren’t present in the sexual experience.  They are worried about making sure their stomach is pulled in, that their thighs don’t look flat, that their boobs look ok, that they become an observer of what is happening instead of experiencing the connection, the pleasure, and the joy with being intimate with their spouse. They aren’t just living.  This keeps them disconnected and from truly experiencing what the sexual experience could be for them.

Lexi Kite said that with self-objectification, even if you have the “ideal” body, you don’t feel like you do.  You believe that “only a few people reserve the right to be and feel sexy.”

Our idea of sexuality is how we are looked at by others.  How we are consumed or valued for others pleasure.  But sexy isn’t about how others look at you.  It’s about how you feel about yourself.  How you feel from the inside.

We actually need to be attracted to ourselves first.  We need to see our worth and our value as more than just our body and what it can do.  But we also need to love our body, as it is now.  And that doesn’t mean that you don’t want it to change a little bit (or a lot).  It doesn’t mean that you are happy with things exactly as they are.  But it does mean you choose to love yourself and love your body as they are now. And then from that place of love, you can make changes.  So many times we try to hate our body into changing.  We punish ourselves.  We talk badly to ourselves and about ourselves.  You are NEVER going to make the changes you want to make from a place of hate.  When you choose to love yourself, exactly as you are, then from that love you will want to care for your body and take care of it.  You can not hate yourself thin.

And let’s face it.  Bodies are weird.  And awkward.  And things are not going to be young, tight, and perky.  We age.  And that is normal!  No one’s body is perfect.  And even those with really nice bodies have things THEY are insecure about.  So why not just choose to love your body as it is…and from there, then you can make changes if you want to.

Most spouse’s (especially husbands) unless they are mean or abusive love your body just as it is too.  They see their beautiful wife, who has borne their children.  They just want you to love yourself as much as they love you.  They really could care less if you have some weight to lose, have a tummy that’s bigger than it used to be.  You are beautiful to them, just as you are.

Now, we do have a few of those spouse’s who aren’t that way.  And for those of you who have a spouse who maybe isn’t as loving and kind as you hoped they would be, I’m sorry.  I’ve been there. Remember that their words are their thoughts.  They aren’t true.  And they are usually a reflection of their own insecurity and not truly about you.

Now, let’s say your spouse has maybe gained some weight, and you aren’t feeling as attracted to them as you used to.  Instead of judging them, I want you to get curious about what could possibly be going on for them.  So often weight gain (when not associated with pregnancy or something medical going on) is a sign that someone is struggling with something.  Not always, but this is the case a lot of the time.  What could possibly be going on for them?  Are they stressed?  Are they struggling emotionally?  Are they not feeling good about themselves?  Are they not feeling connected to you?  By getting curious, this opens the door to connecting with them.  Judgment creates disconnect.  Offering them compassion and grace can give them a way to express what they are feeling and maybe get some help with whatever it is.

Now, let’s talk about some beliefs around our bodies.  What do you believe about your body?  Do you believe that it’s bad?  It’s ugly?  It’s fat?  Do you believe that it’s gross or the things that come from it are gross?  Do you believe that to be sexy, your body has to be perfect?  Really take a look at what you believe about yourself and your body.  How do you talk about your body? How do you talk TO your body?  Would you say the kinds of things you say to and about your body to your best friend? 

It’s time to be your own best friend.  It’s time to talk to yourself like you are.  This is one of the things we work on in group coaching.  Our relationship with ourself is the first piece in having a truly great intimate relationship and sex life.  You can not have a good sex life (even if you think it’s good) without it.  

In my coaching program, we work on the key pieces to having a good sexual relationship over the 12 weeks that we work together.  But it doesn’t end there, because it takes time to implement the changes you want to make and to undo everything you’ve been doing for so long.  So that is why you get an additional year in my membership program afterwards.  So I can support you as you continue to learn and implement the changes you want to make.  In the next few months, I am going to be implementing a weight loss program in my membership to support those who want to work on this part of themselves as part of coaching.  Did you know that I am a certified weight coach as well as a certified life coach?  So yes, I want you to love your body just as it is, but then we will work on things to lovingly get you to where you want to be.  

I know for me, working on my beliefs about my body has been one of the greatest blessings of coaching and my sexual relationship.  I spent years in an abusive marriage where everything revolved around my weight, my size, how much I ate, and how much I exercised.  But I’ve learned how to change that inner dialogue so that I am loving and compassionate with myself.  I fuel and move my body because I love it and want to take care of it, not because I hate it and I’m punishing myself.  And yes, I eat ice cream and oreos and anything else I want.  But I honor my body.  I listen to my hunger and fullness queues.  And because I love my body, I can show up better in the bedroom.  Be present with my husband instead of my mind thinking about how I look and how I am performing.  I want this for you too.  And I can teach you how.  Are you ready?  Let’s go!

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