I recently watched porn with my partner. I cannot remember the last time I’d done it, but he asked me to and I was curious. What followed was a hilarious stockpile of future jokes for us, which I am grateful for and it got me thinking about body image and sexuality.
I have a funny phobia and it’s all porns fault.
The first time I saw porn boobs I was mortified. In fact every set of boobs I saw on a television contributed to further embarrassment for me. From my first consensual sexual encounter to my most recent first time with a new partner I have felt compelled to apologize for not having porn boobs.
I’d spent countless hours early in my sexlife worrying about my partners removing my bra and being so repulsed that they laugh at and reject me.
Over time I have evolved to greater levels of body neutrality and meh – ness about my non-porn boobs. But even still as a 40 year old who has had so many rich and diverse life experiences I am still secretly nervous that if my partner sees my boobs when I am leaning over or in an awkward angle he may become repulsed by me and never see me as a sexually desirable body again.
And I am still comparing my boobs to a 20 something porn stars’.
You cannot imagine the creative ways I have internally terrorized myself for being born with my weird, small, more like pecs, non-milk producing, more triangle ish than round non-porn boobs!
I’ve been a wife, mother, daughter, sister, auntie, ex-wife, girlfriend, partner, friend, and all of those identities have resonated with me but one thing
I have never felt comfortable in the identity of was fully sexually desirable woman – because of the whole boob thing…
I don’t know if porn is ruining us, but there have been times when I have felt that I needed to “prepare” people for what they were about to see, because I felt so strongly that my deviant weirdo boobs were so divergent to what was considered sexy.
It was never so pronounced as when my ex-husband nearly convinced me to have a breast augmentation.
He’d controlled my diet, gym habits, bullied me about my body to the point of relapsing into eating disorder and as I stood in the second plastic surgeon’s office that I’d consulted with I felt so lost. The surgeon noticing my detachment which was brought on by being pressured by someone else to be there explained that she really didn’t think I needed the procedure and that I should really consider not having it. My ex-husband addicted to porn, prostitutes and cocaine almost convinced me to alter my body in order to make it more sexually appealing to him!
I remember never taking my bra off during any sexual encounter, one time I used ice cubes on my nipples to keep them erect so they’d seem somewhat “normal”.
And I remember hating myself for daring to have such unsightly (un)funbags.
I wouldn’t let my partner’s touch my boobs for the longest time and even had a sensorial disconnect from them for a long time. I pierced my nipples hoping that adding some cool to my super lame non-porn boobs would make me sexier. It was like the needle was crunching through layers of nerve filled fat slowly, after the first one was done I turned green and felt woozey. The piercer asked if I wanted to stop and I said no way, I gotta have even nipples. She handed me a lollipop and crunched through the other one. The piercings actually enhanced sensation for me which was a plus and I felt like they looked a little better.
But when I had an MRI recently I had to remove them and they were lost and I was back to my sad, non bad-ass non-porn boobed self.
I am telling you this because I had a recent conversation about body image and sex with my best friend who also happens to be a psychologist and she reminded me that some people don’t have sex because they are so repulsed by the idea of someone else seeing their bodies. I had almost completely forgotten what that experience feels like.
So many women doubt their appeal to their partners, feel ashamed for not being able to give them “perfection” and are cut off from sexual delight and release simply for being born without porn bodies!
The ways I contorted, hid, altered and mentally tormented myself in order to appear as sex object for the (mostly) Male gaze has had an overwhelming effect on me not only in the sex portion of my life but also in the clothes I wear, the types of undergarments I purchase, the way I carry myself in public and the activities I have chosen to participate in. Another friend of mine whose expertise is in body image and yoga for curvy bodies reminded me that for some people in bodies that differ from “the norm” there is an amplification of these feelings, a feeling of exclusion, of being unable to participate not because there’s no room or that everyone would disclude them but because it is simply impossible to overcome the barriers of repeated shame and stigma that society reinforces so aggressively.
Lately I’m working on boob (and body) neutrality.
I’m finding all this body positivity and self love jibber jabber adds too much pressure in the other direction. Instead of feeling shame for not looking perfect I’m finding I feel shame for not unconditionally loving my body, being grateful for it and nurturing it.
As I enter my 24th year of eating disorder recovery I realize my experience on this path is steeped in wisdom, maybe I don’t have to love my boobs but I’m not going to hate them either both of those options seem like fruitless endeavours.