I don’t know about you, but when I don’t feel good about the way that I look my sex life suffers. I don’t enjoy sex when I’m worried about what parts are jiggling and what angle I look worst or best at. Spending energy worrying and fixating on the flaws in me kills my mood for sex. When I am able to feel good about how I look, I have the confidence to be naked, try new things, and have great sex. Feeling beautiful and confident in the way we look is important to our self-esteem and our sex life.

It is very easy to not feel good about the way that we look. We pick out all the things that are wrong with our bodies and the things that we want to change about ourselves. The scale and our measurements have a tendency of ruling our lives. In reality, who can blame us? Look around at the images that we have been given about what beauty is and is supposed to be. Society has given us a standard for beauty of a body type that very few people are able to obtain naturally.

I’m not suggesting that we should accept being unhealthy, I’m suggesting that no matter what we look like we should be allowed to feel beautiful and confident. Just because I don’t fit into the ideal standard of beauty does not mean I will feel ashamed of my body or feel like I am not beautiful. We are all beautiful, so let’s accept our natural beauty and the confidence that comes with accepting it. Here are a few things that science says and/or that I have learned to feel more self-confident and beautiful just the way we are.

1. Don’t compare yourself to others

We are now have seen the effects of a phenomenon called upward social comparison that has negative implications for self-esteem. It is when we look at others who are better than we are in a specific area and we get down on ourselves for not being like them. We see all the images of people who have perfect bodies and we point out the things that are wrong with our bodies in comparison. A method to help us cut out these unrealistic comparisons is to put them in perspective. Everyone’s body is different; making comparisons to others who have different body types is unrealistic and unproductive. Keep in mind that society’s standard of beauty is constantly changing and differs based on time period and culture. What is considered beautiful now was not beautiful in the past and may not be beautiful in the future. The current American idea of beauty is a rare body type that very few people can actually accomplish.

"I’m not suggesting that we should accept being unhealthy, I’m suggesting that no matter what we look like we should be allowed to feel beautiful and confident."

2. Seven-to-one rule

Science has found that in a healthy and happy relationship the ratio of complements to criticism is seven to one. This means that for every one criticism given, seven complements should be given. In order to feel beautiful and confident we need to have a good relationship with ourselves. Let’s think for a minute about our relationship with our body. How is your relationship with yourself? Do you give yourself seven compliments to every one criticism? Do you give yourself any compliments? Every time you notice yourself picking out something that is wrong with your body, tell yourself seven good things about your body. The conversation with may go something like this “wow, I have really fat thighs! Oh wait… that was a criticism. Aimee said that I need to find seven good things about my body now. Hmm, well I have cute feet. Although I am bigger and heavier than the current standard of beauty (this is not a criticism if you have accepted it and are not putting yourself down for it), I like my body’s proportions, I have a beautiful waist-hip ratio and I’m nice and tall. I also have always really liked my big butt, I like that it is big and it has a good shape. I have pretty eyes and I like that my eyelashes are long. My lips have a good natural color and I like their shape too.”

I realize that it can be difficult to think of seven complements about your body for every one criticism. If this is too challenging, start smaller and work your way up. Even if you have to start at a one to one ratio, one compliment to yourself about your body is better than zero compliments. By reminding yourself about the good things about you, it will be easier for you to see your natural beauty on a regular basis.

3. Stop the negativity

The seven-to-one rule is good if the criticism about your body slips out without you realizing it was happening. Another tactic that will help you to feel more confident about your body is to stop yourself before the criticism even comes out; scientists call this tactic thought stopping. When you notice yourself thinking something negative about your body, stop yourself. It may sound something like this “I hate my… no, I will not let me be critical of myself.”

We are socialized to point out all the things that are wrong with our bodies so at first you will notice that these negative thoughts happen much more that you think they would. Also notice the things that others say. If they are negative and putting you down, feel free to stop those too. Stop the negativity in its tracks no matter what source it comes from. When you respect yourself and your body others will respect you too.

"The more time you spend naked the more accepting and confident you will feel in your own skin."

4. Spend more time naked

Not feeling comfortable with our bodies is partly due to not accepting our bodies the way that they are and the anxiety that we feel because of it. One way to lower anxiety about something is a tactic known as exposure therapy. By being around the thing that causes anxiety until the anxiety disappears we melt away the discomfort that we experience in relation to that thing. This tactic can be used to reduce anxiety and increase confidence in relation to your body. Get naked and stand in front of a mirror. Clear you head of any insults that you may have to yourself and just be naked, non-judgmental and naked. At the point when you feel the most anxiety while looking at yourself, DON’T LOOK AWAY, that’s when you know it’s working. Don’t look away until the anxiety passes. Be careful with this tip because it can have the reverse effect if not done right. If you look away when you start to feel anxiety, you have been counterproductive and this will not have worked. The critical part is to stay with it until the anxiety and discomfort is reduced. The goal is to be able to see yourself naked and say, “yep, that’s me, my beautiful naked self.”

If you’re very uncomfortable with your naked body you may have to start small and work your way up. It’s ok if you can’t look at your whole body naked at first. Start with a part of your body that you like and do this until you get to the parts you are more uncomfortable with. Do this until you can get naked just for the fun of it and not just to get into the shower.

Once you can look at yourself naked and feel good about it, spend more time in your daily life being naked (when you can of course, I’m not suggesting you should get arrested for indecent exposure while grocery shopping). Try doing course at home naked, or if you have your own swimming pool try some skinny dipping. The more time you spend naked the more accepting and confident you will feel in your own skin. If you have a partner, they may like this new found confidence and nakedness.

5. Fake it until you make it

I once had a very wise professor who told me that when she is feeling insecure in her abilities, she pictures someone who is very good at it and then acts as that person would in that situation. I took this advice and applied it to my goal of feeling beautiful and confident in my body. It was very difficult at first, but I have seen some good results.

Summertime was the most difficult time for me as a person who did not feel confident in her body. I would look around and see all of these thin women in adorable tiny bikinis and I would be so envious. They had such perfect bodies according to what society tells us beauty and perfection is supposed to be. I would think to myself “why can’t I be beautiful and wear those little bikinis too?” This is the point in time when I decided that I was going to fake it until I make it. I asked myself “If I were a confident supermodel, what bathing suit would I feel wear?” With this mentality I realized that I was only limited by my sense of style. I picked an adorable teeny-weeny purple polka-dot bikini that I still love to wear. I went out and rocked it, flabs and all. I did not hide behind my towel or act in my typical shy way trying to cover my body. I pretended that I was a model on a photo shoot flaunting my bod. At first I was very self-conscious and I would think about the many possibilities of criticisms I was getting from those around. Even though I don’t fit into the typical standard of beautify, I started to feel more and more comfortable and the acting confident faded into being confident. Now, I don’t care what “they” say, I look great as I am. This confidence has radiated out of me and people have taken notice. My partner loves that I can feel confident and sexy just the way I am.

I’m not saying that you should take my story and go out and find the smallest piece of swim attire and wear that because that will give you confidence (it won’t). The fashion police tell me certain styles that work well for certain body types. I don’t often take the fashion polices’ advice but I do believe that if you should think about what you would wear if your body looked the way you think it should look and then try that on. If you find something that you like but you’re too embarrassed to wear in public, I say go for it! The goal is to feel comfortable in your own skin. Pick what you like and flaunt it, act as confident as you want to feel and that confidence will come to you.

Ultimately everyone’s body is different. It is important to be healthy but constantly focusing on the number on the scale or the measurements of our bodies takes valuable energy away from the important things in life, such the good sex we could be having. Regardless of if you fit into society’s standard of beauty or not, don’t let others dictate how you feel about yourself. Embrace yourself and accept who you are, just the way you are. Ultimately if you don’t feel you are beautiful and confident, no one else will see you as beautiful and confident. So get naked and be the beautiful you that you are!