Our perception of our bodies — whether positive, negative, or complicated — is intimately tied to our sex lives and sexual satisfaction, especially for women. I was interviewed by the folks at Bedsider about how negative body image can impact women’s sex lives…and what we can start doing to turn that around.Read More
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When I was an undergraduate at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, I did a thesis project in Sociology. My study topic was the portrayal of women's bodies in the media and the impact this has on young women as consumers. That was 21 years ago, and I'm still critiquing media and advertising messages.
For the month of April, though, I was given the opportunity to be a part of *positive* media--advertising that makes us feel better about ourselves, not worse. Positive media brings us closer together, instead of creating wedges through insecurity or fear.
I would like to know how you think we're all united? What helps you remember to be compassionate to others? Please tweet, post a photo, make a video, and tag @drjennsden, so I can see what you're creating in #PositiveMedia!
~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego Sexual Health Speaker, Sexologist, Intimacy Sociologist
I've been involved with several Love Your Body Day events in the past few years. Love Your Body Day was created by the NOW Foundation in 1998 to raise awareness about the depiction of women, women's bodies, and female sexuality in the media and popular culture. The NOW Foundation's Love Your Body website explains, "Hollywood and the fashion, cosmetics and diet industries work hard to make each of us believe that our bodies are unacceptable and need constant improvement."
Poor body-image is a topic that repeatedly surfaces with my female counseling clients and college students. It's an insidious weight that seems to follow women throughout their lives. And for many of us, the belief that a large part of our value, worth, and attention is derived from physical attractiveness, is ingrained from a young age. It impacts our ability for self-love, enjoyment of sexual activity, appreciation of our lives, and to know how to really honor ourselves.
What can we do about this? How can we improve body-image and help other women? I think it's a continual, daily process, of improving mindfulness. It's about noticing the negative thought patterns and reframing, finding and concentrating on what you have to grateful for, and creating your own version/vision of sexy. When I guide women and students through this process, I use a holistic approach, meaning we delve into the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual components. And then find a few small steps that can be taken every day to shift the tide.
Learning to love our bodies does not happen overnight, but is a gradual process of raising awareness, redefining, appreciating, and enjoying. This year's Love Your Body Day is on October 19, 2011. If your college, university, or women's organization is looking for a memorable and impactful speaker on this topic, please get in touch with me.