I’ve been thinking about how to answer this question for a long time. I’ve been taking the time to really think about what I do in my day-to-to day life to maintain body happiness and let go of my insecurities and what it took to get me to this point. I think I have some answers. Finally. Sorry for the delay.
Have a mother who tells you how beautiful you are every single hour of every single day. Okay, so maybe you can’t make this happen. But I know for a fact that this is one of the biggest reasons as to why I have such great self-confidence about my body. Ever since I can remember my mother has told me I am the most beautiful woman on this planet. Never once has she told me to lose weight, or gain weight, or not to cut my hair, or to wear make-up, or to stop dressing a certain way (and I’ve made some seriously questionable fashion choices.) She woke me up every morning telling me I’m beautiful, and put me to bed every night telling me I’m beautiful. She brushed my hair and gushed over how wonderful it was. When buying clothes she thought everything made me look amazing. When I was sick and tired she still told me I was beautiful. When I was an awkward teenager with zits and personality issues, she still took the time to invade my cloud of teen angst to tell me I was beautiful. Being told you’re beautiful when you’re younger isn’t the only thing you need to hear but it sure makes being older a lot easier to deal with. She told me I was beautiful so damn often that it became fact, in my heart. (It’s also why I believe I’m so smart and basically the best at everything.) My mom still brushes my hair and showers me with compliments and I am still the most beautiful woman on the planet. If you can get this sort of continuous, positive reinforcement it’ll go a long way. If you can’t, do it for yourself. And when you have children, do it for them.
When someone tells you you’re beautiful say thank you. None of this, “oh no I’m not, I’m ugly! I’m hideous! My nose is too big! Etc!” No one tells you you’re beautiful when they don’t mean it. So say thank you and let every compliment (including those about how funny you are, how good you are at Call of Duty, and how impressive your cooking skills are) work towards building this mountainous database of Reasons Why You’re Awesome.
Stop comparing yourself to other women. I really think this is the most damaging thing I do. And it’s hard to stop. I know that I shouldn’t be comparing myself to other women because we’re all beautiful and wonderful in different ways, but seriously, I see women and am like, Damn, why isn’t my hair that shiny? Or, why can’t my nose be that cute? But these sorts of thoughts always push me into a downward spiral that usually culminates with me crying about how I’m not doing enough with my life and I should’ve written the great Canadian novel (Ha!) or made an Oscar-winning movie or at least had a damn art show by now. So instead of comparing myself to other women, I really strive to just appreciate other women. I strive to say, “Damn, her hair is so beautiful, I love it!” Or, “Oh my god, her nose is so cute, I’d like to lick whipped cream off it.” (So things get a little sexual, whatevs.) Comparing ourselves to each other can lead to doing things to put one another down, or blaming ourselves for not measuring up and both those things ain’t doing nothing for no one.
Give no fucks. The very best way to get over your insecurities is to continually remind yourself that you give no fucks. You will wear whatever you want, or do not want to; you will dye your hair whatever colour you choose, or leave it natural and still be punk rock; you will pierce and tattoo any part of you you’d like; you will shave all your body hair off, or let it all grow long; you will eat whatever you want to eat and you will Give No Fucks about how anyone around you looks at you or what they say to you. This is a skill you must cultivate over time. It takes practice, and you will probably fail often. But you must keep at it. Few of us are born as Luna Lovegoods, but that’s what we should be aiming for. Do the things that make you happy and let that be confirmation enough that you are doing it right.
Don’t neglect the other parts of you. I really believe that self-confidence involves the whole self: it’s not just how we feel about our bodies, but also how we feel emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. Working on being happy with our bodies is good, but does shit all if we’re forgetting to develop our minds and hearts. And this, of course, works both ways. I read a couple posts a while ago that were making a case for creating self-confidence without putting any sort of emphasis on the body and arguing it unnecessary and regressive to feel the need to be beautiful. I think that’s bullshit. I think our bodies are a part of who we are and we need to feel happy with them. To disconnect from our bodies can cause our minds and our hearts to not work properly because I believe it’s all meant to work together. I think that part of being happy with our bodies is feeling beautiful and sexy. Is the desire to do this a result of our patriarchal society and media pressures? Maybe it is, but I can’t deny that feeling beautiful and sexy is when I feel the happiest, safest, and the most badass. Without this feeling I think we can suffer. I’m sure people disagree with me, but I think self-confidence is a seriously holistic endeavour; denying our bodies as being a part of that self and rejecting the idea that taking the time to address our body concerns is important seems to be a backward notion to me. I think it’s all connected. Being a total boss in your recent lit class is relevant to how you carry yourself afterward: hips swaying and head high. Going to work and landing a huge client is probably going to make you want to go home and fuck your girlfriend till she starts singing Mariah Carey (because there’s a lot of “Oooohs” and “Ahhhs” in a Mariah Carey song? No?) So don’t neglect any part of yourself when working on improving your self-confidence, it’s all connected.
Masturbate. There is no greater expression of self-love. Remind yourself how amazing your skin feels, how soft and strong your thighs are, how exciting it is to feel your nipples get hard under your fingertips, how good it is to push apart your wet pussy lips and feel your clit come out for you to stroke. Remind yourself how amazing your body is when you’re shaking with an orgasm you gave to yourself. I’m serious. This is important business. Do it often.
This post got a little away from me, as they often do. But I hope it helps. :D
“Listening to GOP Presidential candidates talk about science is like listening to children talk about sex: They know it exists, they have strong opinions about what it might mean, but they don’t have a clue what it’s actually about.”—Andrew Sullivan on Wednesday night’s GOP debate. (via cheatsheet)
I’m pretty invested in practicing good consent. Everyone should be invested in practicing good consent! I haven’t always been perfect at practicing consent though, and I’m still learning. Considering that I hadn’t even heard of the concept of consent beyond “no means no” until I was 18, I think it’s valid to recognize that in the process of combating rape culture, we’re going to fuck up occasionally - there’s no such thing as being too good at consent! With that in mind, I’ve been thinking a lot about the kinds of conversations I need to be having with my partners. The way I practice consent is still evolving and still improving. I’m sure I still have room for improvement.
I recently had a sexual encounter where we did practice the “do you want me to do such-and-such?” consent model and I was really into everything we did, but I still felt shitty about the encounter because it didn’t feel like a safe enough environment that I would have been able to say “no” or “stop” at any time if I wanted to stop or if I changed my mind for any reason. Since then, I’ve been thinking about situations where I might not have done a great job of creating an environment that was comfortable for the other person to initiate a “stop” if they wanted to, and how I can do a better job of creating that environment. A participant doesn’t necessarily need to label a particular sexual encounter as assault or rape to feel like that encounter was shitty or could have been better (although if they want to or they feel like that’s what happened, then yeah, that’s entirely their prerogative to do so).
This is my attempt at outlining what those conversations about consent need to look like for me. This general structure can be used from any contact along the spectrum from cuddling to fucking. I think these questions are pretty similar to the consent questions from Support Zine, but while those are really great for figuring out how you as an individual think about and practice consent, these following questions are a tool for me to figure out with a partner how we as partners want to practice consent.
While asking your partner if they want you to do such-and-such an act as you go along is a good start, I don’t think it’s enough to really make sure that everyone involved is indeed having a good time. Here are the things I like to talk about before gettin’ down with anyone:
What kinds of things are you into? This is where I list all of the things I’d be interested in doing with a partner. This needs to be done with the understanding that you’re just letting the other person know what you’re open to doing, but those things are only going to happen if they’re also stoked on those things too. I like to think of this part as making a verbal “venn diagram” - we both throw out all the stuff we’re into, then we see where those interests intersect.
What kinds of things are you not interested in doing?
Are those boundaries just for this particular encounter, or is that something you might be open to doing in the future, with further discussion?
What parts of your body can I touch, and what do you want me to call those body parts?
Do you want me to ask each time I want to touch those body parts, or would you rather just give (or not give) consent once at the beginning?
What should I do to avoid triggering you? What are your triggers?
What signs should I look for to indicate you’ve been triggered?
What do you want me to do if I think you’ve been triggered or you tell me you’ve been triggered?
How do you want me to practice consent with you? How do you want to practice consent with me?
How do you want me to check in with you, and how frequently?
Do you have a tendency to automatically say yes to things without giving yourself a chance to think it over?
Do you have a hard time saying no?
How can I create an an environment where you feel safe and like your decisions will be respected?
What kinds of things should I look for that would indicate you’re not having a good time?
What’s your STI status?
When was the last time you were tested? What, specifically, were you tested for? What were the results of those tests?
What kind of sexual contact have you had since you were last tested?
What was the STI status of the people you’ve had sexual contact with since the last time you were tested (if you know)?
What STI-prevention measures did/do you take (if any were needed) with those people?
How do you want to practice STI- and pregnancy- (if applicable) prevention with me?
I’m sure I’m forgetting things that should go on this list. I’m interested in hearing from y’all - how do you practice consent? How can we continue to improve our consent practices?