I can all but hear my partner’s exasperated sigh as I reach for the lamp to turn out the light. I’ll make the same I look better in the dark! joke for the umpteenth time and I’ll know that he doesn’t understand why I’m so hung up on my body even now, several months into our relationship.
By any standard, I’m in pretty good shape. My partner has never made me feel self-conscious, but he doesn’t have to: the stretch marks and loose skin from my pregnancy have already done their damage.
In many ways, I’m more confident today than I was pre-baby: I know what I want and what I need, and believe I deserve to feel good - to be pleasured - so I try to push myself out of my comfort zone. But in the back of my head, I feel the nagging sense of self-consciousness as I wonder how that saggy skin looks from this angle...
The first time we had sex, I wore a black sheath dress with rather lacy undergarments. I hoped he wouldn’t touch my stomach. Despite knowing my weight and his physical fitness level, I actually worried when he lifted me up to carry me to my bed. God, what if he drops me? What if I’m too heavy? I imagined the mortification I'd feel when it happened: how it would be the end of my sex life, forever. Spoiler: He did not drop me.
(He still thinks it’s equally insulting and hilarious that this crossed my mind. What he doesn’t realize is I don’t doubt him; it's all in my own mind.)
The curtains in my bedroom were open enough to let in the light of the moon and the street, even five stories up. I silently prayed he couldn’t see the layer of squish that won’t leave my mid-section, no matter how many miles or crunches I complete or pounds I shed. It’s there forever: the price of being Mom. If he did, he didn’t mention it - and it certainly didn’t bother him any that night. That was months ago, and I still haven't heard a complaint.
So why does it bother me?
Getting naked in front of someone new is stressful, period. And bodies are fucking weird. (I dare you to ask me about the time I bled everywhere, for no reason, and then hyperventilated because I thought I was dying. When we’d only been dating for a couple of weeks. YAY!) But, while I’m hung up on my saggy stomach, I’m pretty sure he’s just excited that sexy time is happening. And I need to be, too. So do you.
I’ve read every article on body acceptance out there, but d’ya know what? There’s no How-To guide. Nobody can make you feel confident in your own skin but you. Give yourself a break and be kind. Blow dry your hair naked. Have a dance party in your panties when no one is watching. Own it.
And turn out the light if that’s how you’re most comfortable. Focus on what’s most important in that moment: your sex life and your enjoyment of (and with) your partner.