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Understanding Women's Body Image Issues
Our sex experts face off and argue, "Is zero percent body fat on a woman really what men are looking for?"

Trevor Howell, www.323photografix.com
Dr. Trina Read and Dr. Brian Parker discuss the issue of women's body image perception.

Dr. Trina’s Point: Us women will always find something wrong with our body image.

How do you men put up with this? Brian, what can I say to women about their body image that hasn’t been said a thousand times before? Women have been there, done that, worn the t-shirt.

Women resonate when Joy Davidson, author of Fearless Sex writes, "Eighty percent of women are dissatisfied with their bodies. Five to ten million adolescent girls and adult women struggle with eating disorders in the United States alone. Almost half of all American women are on a diet any day of the week."

Women nod their head with recognition when they read that their sexual function and satisfaction is affected more by their body image than by menopause—backed up by a recent Penn State study published in The Journal of Sex Research.

Women understand how the multi-billion dollar fashion industry promotes every second of every minute in how their body is inadequate. You men are probably scratching your heads wondering: If women know all of this, why are they paralyzed at the thought of letting loose in the bedroom and shaking what their mamma gave them?

Why is it so hard for women to be empowered by their body? A woman’s body is as unique as her fingerprint—the yummy bits as well as the rolls, sagginess and cellulite.

Well men, here’s the long anticipated answer: Women use a hated body part as an excuse to manifest all of their non-body related insecurities. In workshops I ask women, "If you were able to take an eraser and wipe out the body part you don’t like, and poof, like magic, it became perfect, would you feel more sexy?"

The women immediately answer, "Well, yes of course." I look them straight in the eye and reply, "Are you sure about that? I think you would merely find a new body part to start hating."

As we are now witnessing Brian, plastic surgeons must put a limit on the amount of procedures women can have. The more obsessed women become with their bodies, the more they bleed away their personal power. Obsession usually masks as indifference or control—three ubiquitous qualities that completely smother the spark in the bedroom. It’s the truest way to selfishly push your partner away.

Tell me Brian, what do men think of all this body image craziness?

Dr. Brian’s Counterpoint: Newsflash, most men don’t care about their woman’s body issues or understand why they have them.

Men can’t figure out what the big fuss is about. Contrary to popular belief, most men don’t get excited over zero percent body fat. Most men prefer women to be curvy and voluptuous.

Men and women often argue about having sex with the lights on or off. Men are turned on visually. They love to see their partner’s naked body in sensual acts. Many women, however, prefer sex with the lights off. Sure you females are not as visual as us men, but the reason you’re always turning out the lights is most often because of body image issues.

Most men don’t care what they look like in the bedroom. Hello Trina, how many men have you heard brag about how much money they’ve spent developing their beer belly? Of course, some men wish they were more Adonis and less Homer, but us men are generally more concerned about things like height and baldness.

You women are so hard on yourself when it comes to body image. While you don’t like what you see in the mirror, your male counterpart is likely to be pleased with what they see. In fact, men often over-estimate their attractiveness, while women seem to obsess about their own lack of perfection.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do that extra abdominal crunch. Most people desire to have a tighter butt or slimmer stomach. We all need to lead happy and healthy lives, both physically and mentally. Once we are realistic about achieving ‘our best,’ we can be happier in and out of the bedroom.

You gals feel you need to look like your ‘not so average’ fashion model to be beautiful. But, even the fashion industry is taking miniscule steps to expand their definition of beauty. Go Queen Latifa, Go!

I’ve talked to many women who hold back from trying new and exciting sexual positions for fear of looking chubby. Interestingly, men think an enthusiastic partner is a much bigger turn on than one without the extra roll. Further, the chance of having an orgasm is drastically reduced if you’re sucking in that tummy during sex.

Come on girls, we’re not taking your body so serious, so why should you? And remember, if body image is an issue for you, just have sex. You’ll be burning about 200 calories per hour while you’re doing it.

Dr. Brian Parker is a sexologist and sex educator and the creator of two sexual intimacy board games "Embrace" and "Pillow Talk". The games are available on his website, www.foreverpleasure.com which features original erotic art, high-end sensual products and adult sex education.

Dr. Trina Read has a doctorate in human sexuality. Dr. Read is also an international speaker and offers free sex tips on her website www.bestsextipsever.com.

You can also hear more from Dr. Trina Read on the Hitched Podcast.

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