Can we turn the lights off… Please?
How movement helped me love my body and removed limitation from the bedroom.
Finding body acceptance, confidence and connection during intimacy and sex can be a huge challenge. Not only do we have to become comfortable in our own skin, but we must be comfortable in our skin whilst someone else is well… in our skin.
I asked the following question to a few friends of mine recently:
“What steps have you taken, if any, to become comfortable in your skin whilst having sex?”
To my surprise, many replied with the following statement:
“I Turn off the lights.”
At first, I laughed, thinking they were joking. But the more we spoke about this as a coping mechanism, the more I realised that for many women this is the answer. And though this is no longer my experience, for a long time, I would do the same. When the thought of having sex in a brightly lit room was enough to stop me from wanting to have sex at all, ever.
Whether I was worried about the rolls on my stomach, the size of my thighs when someone’s head was between my legs or the shape of my vulva, the list was endless. I thought more about myself and my insecurities during sex than my partner or the sex itself. I wasn’t in the room, rather I was floating above my body, analysing the way I thought it looked. Certain positions became off limits, I policed sexual acts and dictated the way I had sex due to my insecurities.
By doing this, I’m not sure I was really having sex, I mean I was, but not with the other person, not with my body. I was so in my head and so aware of myself that I could not be intuitive, I could not explore all aspects of my sexuality. Put bluntly, I was limiting myself by standing in my own way.
Turning off the lights, to me, feels like a temporary solution. It can allow you to experience what it might be like to not worry about the way that you look during sex. But sex is touch and touch is physical, and your physicality is your body. If you’re worried about how you look, you’re probably worried about how your body feels to touch.
Turning off the lights does not eradicate all feelings of insecurity. As many of you may have experienced, even with the lights off, insecurities can still sit at the forefront of your mind. Embodiment takes patience, time, and confrontation.
Queue the mirror.
The realisation that your sex life is not as good as it could be, because you’re unhappy in your skin, is a difficult pill to swallow. I’m sure many of us jump to the conclusion that to solve this problem, our bodies must change. But sadly, those hang-ups are not just skin deep. It is our minds and the way that we perceive ourselves which needs to shift.
Dancing naked in front of the mirror has for me, transformed my relationship with my body. For so long, my relationship with mirrors and my reflection was as follows; I was either avoiding them at all costs or standing in front of them agonising over the proportions of my body and the way that my clothes looked. Rarely would I feel confident to be naked in front of a mirror on my own, let alone be naked in broad daylight in front of someone else.
But by watching the way that my body moved, I started to appreciate its curves and edges. I started to think of it as something which wasn’t capable of being tight or statuesque. You can’t emulate a mannequin during sex, and that’s what we’re all trying to do when we breathe in, contort our bodies and resist doing anything which puts us in an “unattractive position”.
I stood toe to toe with the mirror, took off my clothes, played Bob Dylan very loudly and I danced. I put my body into those “unattractive positions” and I realised that they weren’t unattractive at all. It was just movement. All the hatred and judgement had clouded my ability to see that my body was just a living, moving, breathing thing which allowed me to express what was within. It wasn’t made to be still and perfect, it was made to move and feel.
Letting go of my need to look a certain way during sex was like taking off my bra at the end of a long day. Pure relief, release and liberating joy. (I may be exaggerating about the bra but not about the bedroom.)
Suddenly, for the first time since I started having sex, I could hear my body. It was like she knew I finally respected her and wanted her to win. Finally, after nine years of having sex, my body and I were on the same team, and my god what a team we make.
It’s always important to remember that no one is looking at you with the same judgement that you cast upon yourself. We wouldn’t say half the things we stay to ourselves, to our loved ones. And if someone is casting judgement on your body, you probably won’t want to sleep with them anyway.
Create a space that is completely judgement free, by being completely yourself, trusting your instincts and your partners. Communicate, if something doesn’t feel good or it makes you aware of yourself, that’s okay, but why not articulate that, rather than shy away.
Having the lights off removes the ability to communicate clearly, you’ll both be guessing in the dark. Conversation is just as important as physical intimacy; it helps to deepen the trust that you are building and encourages active consent whilst you explore and experiment.
The more you practice letting go of inhibition, the more your body will become a vehicle to connect and feel, and when what you’re feeling is that good, you won’t care that you’ve accidentally left the lights on.
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