If you’ve ever wondered what the real difference is between that incredibly hot, well-dressed, popular woman with the big nose that everyone wants to go to bed with and the far-more-beautiful girl hiding in the corner, I have the answer: body image.

What we perceive as attractiveness is often less about the aesthetics of beauty and more about an aura of confidence. This goes for men and women alike. One of the most basic parts of having a good sex life is having a healthy and happy relationship with your body. I don’t mean merely understanding how everything works; I mean liking what you see in the mirror. Whether you’ve got a curvy body and want to be more slender, or a soft body you want to be hard, or a thin body you want to be more voluptuous, one thing that most of us (sadly) have in common is a poor body image. We rarely see how beautiful we are.

This is the time of year when a lot of us make resolutions about exercise and diet. Sometimes, however, we lose track of the purpose, of the actual goal. The goal isn’t to have the scale read out a number you like or to be able to run fifty miles – usually the goal is to see something you like when you look in the mirror. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve how you look, but as your mama might have said, it comes from the inside out.

I’ve been struggling with my own body image for many years. Sometimes it waxes, sometimes it wanes. There are several things that help, though, and none of them stem directly from my scale or pedometer readings. A lot of feeling attractive comes from being happy – and one of the easiest ways to change your mindset from negative to positive, to reach for happiness, is the Art of Appreciation. Play the “Five Good Things Right Now” game.

For me, Right Now, five good things are: a nice smelling candle burning on my desk, Mozart playing while I type, my office being fairly tidy, a chat window that just opened up with a friend saying “hi”, and it the sun shining outside after several days of rain. And now I’m feeling a lot more content than I was sixty seconds ago, and I could even list a few more things now that I’m focusing on the positives.

Also important to your body image: clothes that fit well. If you’re an adult and you have a credit card, there’s an easy way to solve the problem of too many clothes that make you feel dowdy or which you suspect are unflattering. Ask a friend or lover to help you sort through your clothes and take everything that’s too baggy, too loose, too BORING, and give it all to a donation center. Then gift yourself a small allowance and go buy four tops, two pairs of pants, and two or three attractive pairs of underwear - and for Aphrodite’s sake, pick some clothes in a color other than black! Vibrant colors, even just small hints of them, will raise your spirits and make you smile. Seriously, it seems shallow, but new clothes will give you an instant lift – and this isn’t just a trick for chicks.

Also, get a new look. Try a different hairstyle. Choose a new shade of lipstick. Part your hair on the other side than usual. Use a new-to-you scent of perfume or lotion or aftershave or shaving foam. Change something, ANYTHING about your appearance. It won’t fix all of your problems, but hopefully every time you look in the mirror, you’ll smile at yourself and think “Damn, I look good.”

Finally, try this exercise: look into a mirror for two minutes. Set your timer or look at a clock or just slowly count to 120, while you stand there and look at your face. Don’t look at the flaws; look at the things you like, specifically. If you’re drawing a blank, recall compliments people have given you in the past. This can be difficult at first, as our eyes are trained to focus on our perceived imperfections. Look at your face as if you were an outsider looking at you. Other people ALWAYS think we are more attractive than we think we are – even supermodels. Do you know why? Because strangers don’t fixate on that pimple on your chin or that tiny wrinkle developing on your forehead or the mole on your cheek. They look at your unusually-colored eyes, your smooth skin, and your welcoming smile. Go on, smile at yourself. Laugh. I double dog dare you.

See how gorgeous you are?

It’s ok if you feel silly or embarrassed. Look at that charming blush as you struggle with it, in the mirror. It’s a difficult exercise, focusing on the positives, but it only take two tiny little minutes and it really pays off if you repeat it daily.

If you are truly struggling with the exercise and need to bring in some outside help to focus on the positives, do that. Ask a friend or your lover to help you with this project and name two or three things they think are attractive about you. Return the favor and do the same for them – remember, you’re not asking for an Ode To Your Cobalt-Blue Orbs here, just a simple “the flecks of gold in your eyes are pretty.”

The next step is, of course, to do the same exercise with your naked body in front of a full-length mirror. Bring along a friend if this is scary territory. I know you can do it though. And don’t be stingy with the self-compliments any time you pass a reflective surface, either – for every “Damn, my bra strap is showing,” I want you to add in a mental, “But this color top sure is flattering to my skin.” Be nice to yourself. Lavish yourself with praise. Love yourself.

And then get out there and strut into that room at the crowded party with your head held high and know that everyone who is looking your way thinks you’re hot.

Because you are.


Would the Wanton Hussy lie?

© 2008 Julianne N. Bentley All Rights Reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Julianne Bentley, the original Wanton Hussy, works with individuals (and couples) who want to bring the passion and joy back into their bedrooms.

Drawing on over fifteen years of experience discussing the ins and outs of sexuality, in all its forms, Julianne brings compassion and energy to the process of supporting you in making the changes you need in order to have the sex life you want and deserve.