What Does Sex Have To Do With Body Positivity?
I remember this very specific moment from childhood. I was hanging out with my mom and her best friend. I don’t remember what they were talking about. But I think it was something about weight loss. My mom’s friend, who didn’t know my experience with sexual assault, told us that Oprah said that after being raped as a child she gained weight, purposely. She thought it would protect her from future rapes. My mom’s friend told us that Oprah hated her body, and gaining weight was a punishment. I never found that quote so I don’t know if it’s true. But I don’t need to. I know it’s true.
From being sexually abused as a child, twice, mildly compared to most, I can tell you that it does kill your relationship with your body. You learn to see it as an enemy. Not everyone who has been sexually abused gains weight. Or even hates their body. But I assure you there is a disconnect that happens, between your mind and your body.
I grew up hating my body. I hated that my body was violated. But I also hated feeling bigger than girls. I hated when my mom was mad that we had to buy Old Navy Husky jeans. I hated that she threatened to take me to Sears the next year if I continued to gain weight, because that’s where the big girls shopped. I hated my dad catching me warm up pizza at midnight, and telling me I wasn’t allowed to eat that (mind you, I was 26 years old when that happened).
I also hated that I grew breasts before most girls my age, because my teachers shamed my outfits for being inappropriate for my body type. I hated the feeling of wanting to be sexy. I hated the feeling of wanting boys’ attention. I hated liking my breasts and the feeling of confidence it brought to have them. I hated the feeling inside of me, the yearning, thinking about touching boys, and being touched.
I hated everything my body felt and represented. It made others uncomfortable. The feelings growing inside of me made me uncomfortable. I felt like the worst human. For a long time. It took many years to look at my body with love. Eventually, I learned that my purpose in life is not to make others comfortable. I know that’s traditionally the woman’s role. To care for. To heal. To help. But it’s not my purpose. My only purpose is to be me.
My high school friend, Marcie, reached out to me a few months ago to be on her podcast about fitness, nutrition, weight loss, etc. When Marcie sent me her pre-interview questionnaire, she asked what I’d like to talk about. I responded by explaining that I don’t have a lot of experience with nutrition or weight loss and can’t speak to exercise much. I said, I am most familiar with talking about body positivity in a sexual framework, i.e. reclaiming my body and sexuality through boudoir photos or sometimes having amazing consensual sex. It wasn’t something I had ever thought about before writing out my responses to Marcie’s email. But it made a lot of sense as I wrote it out. So, I kept thinking about it. In the weeks leading up to the podcast and throughout my conversation with Marcie, I realized that so much of my body positivity and self-love comes from owning my sexuality and sensuality.
I found that by doing boudoir photoshoots and sharing them on Instagram, I gained so much self-love and body positivity. Since my first shoot, I’ve stopped trying to suppress something inside of me that is a huge part of who I am and always has been – my sexuality. When I got my boudoir photos back, and I looked at myself unapologetically as a sexual being, I felt like I was seeing myself for the first time. These photos helped me fully connect with my sexuality and sensuality. I’ve always loved my curves, yet I always felt fat. It took photographing my curves to see them in a way that made me stop hating the fat on my body. But the photos are just one part of my revelation. To really own my sexuality, and ultimately love my body, I had to own the part of me that craves and loves amazing, consensual sex.
Amazing, consensual sex feels great. Physically, it is the best feeling that humans experience, sans heroin injection. The pleasure we derive from sex is what we are all chasing. For some, it’s the orgasm itself. It’s the release we feel when we feel reach the point of orgasm. It’s the feeling of our muscles tightening and toes curling, right before we release into an orgasm.
For some, it’s the intimacy we feel during sex. The feeling of closeness with your partner. The feeling of their touch. The feeling of their damp skin. The feeling of their heart racing underneath you. The feeling of them inside of you. The feeling of being wanted.
It’s the release. It’s the closeness. It’s biology. We all crave that. I crave that.
I’ve always been a sexual person. I’ve always felt free to have sex with whoever I want, whenever I want. Never because I wanted someone to like me, but because I genuinely wanted to feel the release and closeness at that time. I was never ashamed of this part of me. I’ve always shared openly about how I do not track the number of people I’ve had sex, because I believe it is a tool to shame women’s sexuality and to promote toxic masculinity. I’m fairly open about my sexual side. But I never connected my sexuality with body positivity.
When I spoke with Marcie, I realized that owning my sexuality is a form of body positivity. I started to think about what made my body feel good. What made me feel comfortable. And I thought about how the curves of my breasts and hips and stomach made me feel sexual. I thought about how I feel about my body when I’m having consensual sex. I cultivate confidence and love for my body from feeling sexy from being a sexual being, from owning my sexuality. I don’t get confidence from the attention I get from it; I get it from the empowerment I feel by reclaiming, being in control of, and celebrating my sexuality, sensuality, and feminine energy. Sex connects me to my body. A part of being in control of my sexuality includes, mind-blowing, fabulous, consensual sex.
I really can only speak to my own emotions and experiences. It’s really the only thing I know how to write about. So, I am not telling you or anyone what to do with your body. I don’t know your body. And I don’t know what makes you feel good. It could be a thousand things. I don’t want to tell you what to do. I just want to say, for some of us, we feel good by being sexual. So, the next time you see a lady on Instagram posing nude, or find out a friend from high school has a VIP snapchat account, just remember that they could possibly be doing this for themselves.
Looking at sex and sexuality as a way for me to love my body, I stopped thinking I had to look like an Instagram influencer to be beautiful. I stopped thinking that I had to be a certain weight to be loved. I stopped believing that my worth was defined a number on the scale, or a number on a dress tag, or the fat on my stomach.
Maybe this isn’t the case for everyone. Maybe you love your body by being an athlete or being creative in the kitchen to make beautiful healthy meals. It truly does not matter how you come to love your body. But I believe body positivity is more than saying, “I love my body”. Its engaging in acts that make you feel good about your body. When I think about what makes my body feel good, it is owning my sexuality.
Stephanie DeLacy unapologetically shares what it’s like to navigate the world as 20-something white girl, with humor, profanity, and raw vulnerability. Stephanie recounts stories of her travel, mental health, and the journey to loving her body. Her descriptions of dating are bawdy but incredibly relatable. She courageously describes her dysfunctional childhood, healing from trauma, and how she’s evolved as a survivor of sexual assault. At times, heart wrenching, her stories will evoke raw emotion and connect to you on the most guttural level. She hopes to inspire authentic living and human connection. Stephanie lives in Cleveland with her dog and two cats.