I’m gonna ask y’all a favor, go online and find a picture of someone you think is handsome or beautiful or a person you’ve always idolized or admired. After looking at the picture see if you notice any flaws. Are their ears too big or their eyes too far apart, do they have an undesirable gum-to-teeth-ratio (it’s a thing)? You probably don’t see anything wrong with them. Now, pull up a picture of yourself, if you’re not a millennial and you don’t have 1,000 selfies on your phone, go find a mirror. I bet you notice your own flaws before anything else, right? I can name at least five things I don’t like about myself without looking at a picture, just some on-deck imperfections I’m ready to list at a moment’s notice. Yet, if you were to ask me to identify five things I love about myself, almost none of them would be related to my physical appearance. I don’t know why, but it’s so much easier to believe the bad stuff. Insecurities are loud and sometimes they’re all we can hear. However, I have found that thankfully my internal issues don’t translate to how I view others.
When I was at the beach a few weeks ago, I saw a girl who was at least 100 pounds heavier than me rocking a string bikini. Based on how I feel about my own weight, I was actually surprised that my gut reaction to seeing her was “get it girl, you look great” and not something judgmental. (I feel like this should be a real learning moment with self-reflection and awareness but maybe I’m not ready to go there yet.) What I also thought when I saw her was “how does she feel having sex” because that is something I constantly wonder whenever I see a girl who is heavier than me. Now, before anyone starts attacking me saying that I’m judging big girls or implying that only skinny people can have sex, I’m absolutely not doing that so please chill. I have so many friends who have slept with guys smaller than them and they don’t feel insecure about it and I think that’s great, more power to ya, honestly, I just can’t get to that place. I haven’t had sex in a year. What’s more shocking is that I haven’t wanted to have sex for a year (ok there was literally one time I wanted to with a guy I’ll probably never see again but that’s a different story). Sex is such a taboo subject so some of the more conservative eyes might want to stop reading, but for the rest of you rebels, I’m gonna dive in. Maybe I’ve been brainwashed by society telling me that I can’t enjoy sex unless I’m thin? Think about how many sex scenes you’ve seen in a movie or show where the people are overweight, it ALMOST NEVER HAPPENS. It’s not mainstream to show two chubby kids going at it on the beach unless it’s the punchline. There is lingerie made specifically for women who want to feel sexy while covering their stomachs. I worked at Victoria’s Secret and let me tell you that women want their belly rolls covered more than they want their cleavage on display. Sex is everywhere- advertisements, media, politics, music it’s hard to escape and even more difficult to understand.
Do I really think Oscar Wilde was right when he said “Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.” Yes, I do. Sex can mean something different for everyone, but it all comes back to power, whether you’re asserting or relinquishing, there will always be a power dynamic. Sometimes sex is love, intimacy, safety, or comfort. Sex can be rough, animalistic rounds for pure pleasure. It can also be a job, a chore, or an obligation. In the worst scenarios it represents control, abuse, fear, or trauma. Sex can also be different depending on your partner, environment, state of mind, or blood alcohol level. Each sexual experience is unique. Before last year I would have said I had a pretty healthy appetite when it came to sex. Anyone reading this who has dated me, slept with me (you’re welcome) or is a close enough friend to know my sexual history- knows what I mean. I was drugged and raped in college and I still had sex with my boyfriend the next week. I read somewhere that rape survivors become sexually active again as a way to regain control over their body. But that was trauma; this is different. I haven’t lost my sex drive; I’ve lost my body confidence. The idea of someone looking at me naked sends waves of panic down my spine. My most recent boyfriend used to reassure me how much he loved my body and tell me that my stretch marks and stomach flab didn’t bother him in the least, I believed him, but it didn’t matter. Confidence is internal, no matter how many times someone else tells you you’re beautiful- until YOU believe it, those compliments are falling on deaf ears.
The demand for human connection is one of our strongest, basic human needs to survive. Believe me, I know it’s pretty fucked up to let my weight interfere with my responsibility to pass the redhead gene onto future generations. But sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t be chubby and sexy, like who am I to be out here with an active sex life and all these extra pounds. I struggle with choosing just one identity, but should I, do I have to pick? Think about when you read an obituary, the point of the column is to make the person sound as dynamic as possible. Their entire surviving family is mentioned, hobbies and interests are listed, every job title they’ve ever held, volunteer work, pets, plants, everything. When we die, we want to be remembered as modern-day Renaissance men, but we live our everyday lives as though specialization is the holy grail of happiness. I think that’s bullshit. I know it’s possible to be both a serious scientist and a stand-up comedian, a great mom and a fierce lawyer, a muscular mechanic and a sensitive poet. We don’t have to choose. Variety is the spice of life! I don’t know if I believe that yet, but I’m getting there 🙂