Feeling confident and attractive in today’s world is a huge challenge for all of us. Images, voices and messages from mainstream media can get in our heads, holding us up to impossible standards. Self-acceptance and healthy sex after trauma can be even more challenging for those with a history of sexual abuse. Add those unrealistic ideals to past abuse or trauma, which lends itself to a negative self-concept, and a person can be left struggling with a very painful self-image.
So much of what we see in the news, culture and life works against self-compassion. Yet self-compassion and self-acceptance are a huge part of being able to have healthy relationships! Healthy relationships include being able to have a healthy sex life you want and enjoy.
Meeting author educator Emily Nagoski at a conference highlighted for me the need for better information about healing the trauma of sexual abuse. We need to talk more about the difference between sex and abuse and how to safely enjoy sex for trauma survivors.
I want to help trauma survivors gain a better understanding of their past trauma, and find more compassion towards themselves as they work towards healing and healthy relationships. Know that pleasurable, consensual, meaningful sex (without shame!) is a healthy part of life, no matter what you find to be pleasurable.
Consensual, Meaningful Sex After Trauma Is Possible
Every person, regardless of their history, deserves a life with healthy relationships and sex that they enjoy.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if each of us—regardless of gender—just felt confident, beautiful or handsome and sexy—just the way we are?
What if we could manage the voices and pressure (especially from mainstream media or from families of origin) that told us we needed to be, look or act a certain way?
Imagine empowering self-acceptance and self-love so that we can bring that confidence into all of our relationships.
I want to help you forge this path.
Whether you’re a trauma survivor or not:
- You can feel confident, attractive, sexy and worthy.
- You can have and enjoy healthy, satisfying, connected relationships with meaningful, pleasurable sex!
A positive sense of self and healthy sex are closely connected. It’s incredibly hard to experience the second without the first! The good news is, you are the one who can make feeling confident, worthy, attractive and sexy possible.
Feeling Confident, Beautiful, Sexy and Worthy
At the conference, I loved hearing Emily Nagoski talk about the impact of what she calls the “Bikini Industrial Society.” It’s a source of false beliefs that everyone has to look “perfect” in a bikini to be beautiful. That is so not the case!
Emily put up 50 pictures of different people with different body shapes. She went around the room and asked us to say, “She is beautiful.” The exercise was moving and empowering.
This isn’t just happening in Emily’s conference room. The Dove Real Beauty Pledge and other body positive campaigns are bringing a fresh perspective to media. It’s a start — but these ideas aren’t yet widespread enough to change the landscape. It’s one thing to appreciate that other people are beautiful in their unique, interesting and real shapes and sizes. It can be so much harder to do this for ourselves.
Changing How We Think About Beauty
What if we saw beauty in a person’s confidence, smarts or kindness? What if we saw our beautiful bodies for the amazing forms they are, that allow us to engage with the world? What if we all appreciated our bodies for the unique ways they allow joy and sensation —like what it feels like to walk or run, or hold a baby, or feel a crisp cool day or the warm sun—instead of what they look like?
Health At Every Size
I believe you can be healthy and beautiful at any size. Nobody has to be a size 2. Nobody has to have six-pack abs or thigh gaps. You can accept the body you have today, and invite yourself to explore better self-care, beginning where you are. This is why I love the Health at Every Size community.
Health at Every Size® principles help us advance social justice, create an inclusive and respectful community, and support people of all sizes in finding compassionate ways to take care of themselves.
Over 13,000 people have taken the ‘Health at Every Size’ Pledge! Check it out.
The Beliefs You Bring With You Allow You To Enjoy Connected, Pleasurable Sex
Remember, the beliefs you have about yourself as a person are the same beliefs you bring to relationships and to sex. So if you don’t believe you’re attractive or worthy, how can you accept love and kindness in a relationship? How can enjoy a meaningful, joyful sex life?
Start with this video from Emily Nagoski, The Keys to a Happier, Healthier Sex Life.
And then read her book, Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life in which she shows how, scientifically, “Stress, mood, trust, and body image are not peripheral factors in a woman’s sexual wellbeing; they are central to it.”
Your wellbeing — including sexual wellbeing — starts by being kind to yourself — no matter what. You are born to enjoy love. You deserve respect and kindness. Though trauma may block your view at the moment, the incredible beauty of you is still there. You can begin healing by giving yourself permission to hold space for yourself and all you’ve been through —- and welcome the person you see.
Healing means asking false self-beliefs to step aside, to be replaced with the truth—that you are beautiful, unique and worthy.
You can accept and love yourself just as you are.
You can accept and love your partner just as they are.
You can be present and confident, and enjoy sex with your partner — just the way you are.
Health At Every Size: https://haescommunity.com/
Nothing is wrong with your sex drive, Emily Nagoski
The truth about desire, Emily Nagoski
The World Cup of Women’s Sexual Desire, Emily Nagoski
Do You Understand Female Sexual Desire? Pamela Madsen