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Body Talk: Women, Body Image and Sexuality

Body Image Struggles

Do you ever feel out of tune with your body or your sexuality?  Do you struggle with your body image?  These concerns are common among women of all ages, particularly because we live in a world that puts so much emphasis on physical appearance.  Rather than focusing on truly understanding our body’s needs, society tells us to eat less and exercise more as this will surely improve our overall health and our sex lives.  Unfortunately, women have been fed the wrong messages for so long that we have become out of touch with our bodies, as well as our sexual needs and desires.

Between the internet, television, and magazines, women are bombarded with media telling us how we should look, act, feel and conduct relationships.  This flurry of messages does a disservice to women, as it misinforms and confuses us.  Celebrities are airbrushed from head to toe on magazine covers; stars have teams of staff ensuring they look perfect in every scene of tv shows and movies, teaching us that our natural imperfections are undesirable or even shameful. Many women cannot turn on the tv or flip through a magazine without feeling self-conscious or inadequate.female empowerment image

Becoming One With Our Bodies

Women often feel as though their bodies and minds are two separate entities.  You may dislike or neglect your body, assuming that there are more important things to focus on such as your job and family.  However, neglecting your body or having poor body image greatly affects your mental and physical health, as well as your ability to care for others.  The saying that you can’t love others until you truly love yourself has so much truth to it.  The mind and body are intrinsically connected and neither can function fully if the other is not cultivated.

Understanding Our Sexuality

Both society and body image affect a woman’s sexuality.  Just as society sends women messages about how we should look, it also sends messages about our sexuality. Many women feel pressure to look like a lingerie model and have higher sex drives, even if this is not fulfilling for them.  Conversely, some with naturally high sex drives feel embarrassment or shame due to the media’s portrayal of sexually charged women as promiscuous or antagonists (i.e. the villainess in a James Bond movie).  Again, this is confusing and causes us to feel disconnected from our body‘s needs.  Being sucked into the pressures of society prevents us from working toward a healthy body image and a healthy sex life, which requires us to accept our needs and desires and to communicate them to our partners.  This is a skill that many women lack, but is necessary in order to build healthy, satisfying relationships.

Tuning into Our Body’s Needs

Now that we’ve identified these problems, how do we start to solve them?  First, it’s important to be aware of the negative messages we have internalized about our bodies and our sexuality and to understand that these are only messages and not truths.  If we can acknowledge this, we can begin to understand  the real feelings and needs of our bodies instead of just attending to our judgments of  our bodies.  We can then have a real opportunity to nourish ourselves in areas such as food choices, exercise, and communicating  sexual desires .

Please keep an eye out for an email we will be sending soon about a new Body Empowerment group for women only that one of our therapists will be starting in January .

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