Posts Tagged ‘body image’
Miriam Kura’s Advice for Shy-When-Naked Women
Miriam Kura wrote me about her experience posing nude for photographs at age 60. Her experience was so empowering and delightfully sexy that I encouraged her to share it with you, along with the steps she followed to become comfortable enough to embrace this racy adventure.
I invite you to post your comments. Enjoy!
For my 60th birthday, I asked my sex friend if he would take nude photos of me — this was the youngest I was ever going to be again! We set a date to do it two weeks out.
During that time I looked on the Internet under “nude photos” and got ideas about props and poses, picking out what I thought fit my style – natural and elegant. I collected scarves, pearls, a white boa, a leather jacket, a man’s crisp white shirt, translucent white curtains, gold lace fabric.
When the day came, we had three hours of creative and collaborative fun. He took over 700 pictures! It was like adult arts and crafts. I felt beautiful, sensual, comfortable, sexy, at ease, and appreciated.
It was a gift I gave myself, and he gave to me. And we both enjoyed it immensely. I never could have pulled it off if I hadn’t prepared the year before to fully occupy my nude sexiness in these nine easy steps:
1. Believe your lover when he says that he loves the way your neck/ breasts/ waist/ legs/ butt/ hair/ face/ feet/ whatever looks.
2. Just do it. Look at yourself naked everyday, while you’re doing something else, like brushing your teeth. Get used to it. Blow-dry your hair while naked. Put on your makeup while naked. Make it part of your routine.
3. Go naked until it’s so normal that you don’t cringe any more.
4. Do it until you get curious about how you look at different angles.
5. Look at yourself in the mirror naked and try to see what he sees.
6. Do it until you sincerely enjoy looking at some part of yourself, with pleasure.
7. Walk naked around the house as you do some little chore, like put the wet towel from your shower into the dryer, or when you go to put some music on, or lay out your clothes. Work up to spending more time naked around the house.
8. Take time taking your clothes off when your lover sees you do it. Practice doing it in an unhurried manner. Then practice as though you enjoy him looking at you. Then start to actually enjoy it. Then flaunt it a little while he looks. Then give him a sly, proud, slow smile while you do it.
9. Ask him to take your clothes off – slowly.
This experience showed me that every body looks good from some angle. You just have to find it. Some pictures were totally not complimentary. But overall we found the angles that worked. It was surprisingly fun to see myself as the art subject.
Miriam Kura, 61, is a business owner who lives in Portland, Oregon. She contributed to the anthology, Ageless Erotica, edited by Joan Price. She is delighted to learn that sex in late mid-life is a whole lot more fun and meaningful than it was in earlier decades.
Things You’ll Never Hear Him Say When He Sees You Naked
|Photo by Ruth Lefkowitz|
I discover it’s not just single women: I had a conversation with a man about my age who is no longer having sex with his wife because she’s too embarrassed about her weight gain to be naked with him.
Other men tell me similar stories — that their wives hide their bodies, and the men miss the sex and the intimacy, but don’t know how to ease their wives past their distaste for their bodies.
I’d like to talk to both genders here:
Finally, after meeting so many frogs (and not even tempted to kiss any of them), you’ve met a man who makes your heart flutter big time. You’ve flirted, you’ve gone on a few dates, you’ve talked half the night, you’ve laughed at his jokes and he at yours. On your last date, you kissed… and kissed. His hands went exploring, so did yours, and you know that on the next date, more than your lipstick will come off. You’ve even had the Condom Conversation.
But, your inner worrier keeps asking you, what if he sees your body and heads for the hills?
You’ve got to trust me on this, he’s not going to say or even think any of the following:
- “Oh, gee, you have so many wrinkles!”
- “You’d be so pretty if you lost weight.”
- “Huh—I thought you looked younger with clothes on.”
- “I like firmer butts and perkier breasts.”
- “Uh, I gotta go now.”
No, whether or not he voices it out loud or conveys it with a smile or melting eyes, here’s what he’s thinking:
Partnered women: Does your husband have the same body as when you first dated? I doubt it. Realize that your man wants you, wants the bonding with you, wants the sexual pleasure with you. Instead of asking him, “Do I look fat?” try asking, “What do you find the sexiest part of my body?” His answer might surprise you, and I’ll bet he’ll be delighted that you asked.
Men: You may not realize how insecure we women are about our bodies. We need to hear from you that you find us sexy, alluring, beautiful. If you think our breasts are gorgeous, or our rear view turns you on, please tell us. Even an “I could gaze into your eyes forever” will make our hearts flutter. We need you to help us affirm our bodies. A hefty dose of romance does wonders for us, too!
We women are our own worst critics, always have been. Remember those teenage pimples? Those worries about our shape and smell? Let’s decide, once and for all, that our bodies are just right, capably of visually delighting a partner and of bringing us both great pleasure.
If we can’t do that at this time of life, when can we? Even if we don’t fully believe it, acting “as if” we’re proud of our bodies will help make it so.
So when it’s time for that get-naked date, prepare with some gorgeous lingerie, dim the lights if you feel the need, but don’t black out the view (candles are sexy and flattering), have lubricant handy, and enjoy.
I’d love to hear from both women and men about this topic! Please comment.
This post was originally published in a slightly different form 11/8/11. I expanded and updated it 11/20/2012.
Momentum 2012: Part 1
|Dr. Joycelyn Elders|
I want to quote all the bon mots, tell you about the presenters and their topics, rave about the exhibitors, describe the awe I felt meeting and learning from the amazing Joycelyn Elders, former Surgeon General under Clinton (yes, the one who was fired for advocating teaching young people about masturbation) — and eagerly describe my own presentation and the response I got.
I’ll start with that, and write more posts later.
I spoke on the topic “Senior Sex Out Loud.”If you worry (as I often do) that we have a long way to go before senior sex is accepted as normal and wonderful, a sex-positive conference like Momentum is the place to recharge! I’ve been speaking for years, and the Momentum audience was the most enthusiastic ever in my career. They not only applauded, they cheered!
The loudest cheers came when I removed some of my clothing.
I’d better explain that.
I had been recounting some of the highlights of my 6-year journey as an advocate for ageless sexuality, and I was telling the audience some of the things I’d been called. When I got to “wrinkly sex kitten,” people laughed, as I did, and I added, “I’m still trying to grow into that one… not the wrinkly part — I’ve got that down — but the ‘sex kitten’ part. But I’m trying!” With that I removed my polka dot jacket and presented the rest of my speech in a red camisole.
I then explained, “I’m not doing this to show off. It doesn’t matter what my body looks like. What matters is that this is the body I live in. It gives me pleasure. I own it.”
I talked about much more than body image, of course. No, we didn’t make a video. But I’d love to come to your area and give this talk for you live! Contact me if you want to talk about that.
Instead of trying to pack in far too much information in one post, I’ll call this one Part 1 and write again soon about more of Momentum.
If you work in any area of sexuality, I hope you’ll make a point of going to Momentum next year. I’ll be there for sure.
See my interview with the organizers of Momentum here.
“Getting Older, Getting Better,” guest post by Charlie Glickman, PhD
One of my favorite sex nerds, Dr. Debby Herbenick, recently retweeted something that I’ve been thinking about for a while:
True. @hotaction: “Everyone should spend some time looking at photos of naked old people because that’s what the future looks like.”
— Dr. Debby Herbenick (@mysexprofessor)
Today is the 20th anniversary of the date that I met my partner. In the last two decades, we’ve both changed a lot. We’re both much more secure and solid in who we are. We’ve grown and challenged each other to overcome many of the habits that caused friction in our lives and in our connections with other people. We’ve learned many, many ways to support our relationship. And yes, our bodies have changed, too. While I’d love to have the physical resilience that I used to have, I wouldn’t trade my current life for the one I had back then. I needed that ability to bounce back- without it, I never would have survived the drama I caused myself and others.
After two decades with Elizabeth, I think she’s more beautiful than ever before and I’m more drawn to her than I could have imagined when we first met. And I think about the many people who stop being attracted to their partners and trade them in for someone younger. This seems to be more common for men, but I’ve also seen women do the same thing in increasing numbers. While I’m fully supportive of people creating the relationships they want and ending them when they no longer serve them, I can’t help but wonder about our tenacious grip on the idea that younger is better and how that affects things.
In a world that only presents the latest 18-25 year olds as sexy, it’s a challenge to not compare oneself or one’s partner with that fantasy. Personally, I’ve found that became easier when I stopped watching TV and reading the drivel that passes for news (and don’t even get me started on popular magazines). But it takes more than that. Every time you compliment someone’s appearance by telling them that they look young, you’re reinforcing the idea that we lose value as we age. I feel sadness around that because it encourages us to deny our histories, to pretend we’re something we aren’t, and to create an image of who we wish we were rather than celebrating who we’ve become. And let’s not forget that many of the cosmetic treatments to make us look younger don’t work all that well and are promoted with ads that are photoshopped like crazy. My willing suspension of disbelief snapped a long time ago.
Maybe I’ll have something different to say in another 20 years. But right now, I think that the physical expression of experience and growth is incredibly sexy. It’s an outward manifestation of the individual’s evolution. Personally, I find that much more attractive than someone who strives to look like they’re still 23. This is something that many of us have to practice. When the only images that we see define attractiveness as equivalent to youth, it can be difficult to not make comparisons.
I’ve spoken with quite a few people who are convinced that nobody will want to have sex with them because they have grey hair, or wrinkles, or scars, or stretch marks, or health concerns, or any of the other effects of age. I feel sadness that they’re so sure that they’re unattractive to others because they’re unattractive to themselves. I wonder how much of that comes from never having thought of people over a certain age as desirable. I wonder how much of that comes from the fact that so much of the breathless commentary about attractiveness (especially female attractiveness) is tied up in how young someone looks. What a waste of the incredible beauty and wisdom that surrounds us, if only we could see it.
If Elizabeth and I are fortunate, we will have lots more time together. And someday, we may get to be like the people in this photograph. I look at it and see something to be celebrated. I also know that many people will look at it and feel disgust, shame, or squicked. So what are you going to do when you get to be that age? How are you going to feel about yourself or your partner(s)? Will you be able to be naked with your partner without feeling self-disgust or shame?
The time to start thinking about older people being sexy is right now. This is the time to stop shaming elders who express desire or who want to have sex. This is the time to stop mocking their bodies or describing them negatively. When you get older, you’ll be struggling with a lot of cultural momentum and the longer you go along with it, the harder it’ll be when you finally get around to resisting (if you do). That’s especially true for women and their partners, given the extra pressure and judgement attached to youth and attractiveness for women. But really, we’re all affected by the idea that younger is better.
Instead of thinking of someone as “looking good for their age,” how about simply letting them “look good”? Instead of telling someone that they look so young, compliment them on something specific like their hairstyle or their outfit. And instead of saying insulting things about older people’s sexuality, acknowledge the feeling as your own judgment. There’s a huge difference between “that’s gross” and “I feel discomfort.” The more we can change how we think and feel about elders and sexuality, the better off we’ll be if and when we get there.
I also highly recommend Joan Price’s book Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud About Senior Sex. Even if you’re not there yet, there’s a good chance that you will be and many of the sexual concerns that can arise are much easier to deal with when you aren’t surprised by them. Joan interviewed and quoted lots of medical professionals, sex educators, and therapists, so it’s like you’re getting the benefit of a whole panel of experts in one book. It’s amazing.
Good Vibrations, an occasional university professor, and a sexuality educator. He teaches and writes about sex-positivity, sex & shame, sexual practices and communities, relationships, and other related topics. Check him out at his website, twitter, or on Facebook.