What Do You See When You Look In the Mirror?
“I never look at myself in the mirror. It makes me cringe.”
“There are parts of my body I really like. I have great breasts…but I hate my thighs and my nose.”
“I will never fit the image of the hunk. Even when I work out regularly, I have legs like a chicken.”
Many of us struggle with accepting and loving our bodies, equating our sexiness with standards of beauty that few of us can attain.
The fashion and beauty industry has cashed in on our self-doubt with billions of dollars worth of products, peddling images of eternally young and slim models. Most of us just don’t look like the men and women who surround us in entertainment, social media, and advertising.
But the tide is slowly changing.
In the last decade, there has been more recognition of the diversity of our bodies–especially for women– as advertisers, such as Dove Soap came to recognize that while the average model in commercials was a lean 5’10 size 2, the average size of the consumer was a shorter and curvier 5’4 size 12.
And more and more women –especially– were turning away from products that were advertised by models who did not look like them. Some advertisers took the lead and began to offer new standards of gorgeous.
However, still, the predominant images of sexy and romantic teach us that only certain ways of looking are worthy of love and attention.
And yet is being sexually attractive simply about looking a certain way?
Being Attractive Goes Beyond Physical Traits
In fact, when asked, most people describe attractiveness as something beyond the physical. Words like “self-confident” or “dynamic” emerge.
Have you ever met a man or woman who has all the physical traits of good looking, but there’s no magnetism? You just do not feel drawn to them? In a recent interview actress Vivica Fox summed it up this way:
“A great figure or physique is nice, but it’s vitality and self-confidence that makes someone really sexy… but not arrogance.”
Some people may violate every rule we learn about what beauty is, and yet they are full of vitality. Stan describes one of the sexiest women he ever saw, singer Etta James, who was an extremely overweight and passionate performer:
“Her spirit filled the room. She loved being a woman…and she loved showing it off… everyone else felt it, and she was hot!”
While certain standards of beauty are promoted, the bottom line is that people respond to those who are comfortable in their own skin.
Researcher and Journalist Kristi Peoples writes :
“There have been countless studies done on what attracts us to each other, and while we might not always agree on what that is, one thing’s certain: We go where we feel pulled. And people with magnetic energy do the pulling. “
A 2015 study from the University of Queensland found that true confidence — that is, confidence without arrogance — is “a strong predictor of overall romantic attractiveness…and… the researchers write, “confidence creates an aura that draws people in.”
Can you recall a time you felt good about yourself? When you felt confident, full of energy? What was going on in your body, life, heart, and spirit?
Likely you were happy with who you are. You felt fully at home, if even for a moment, inside your own body.
Some of us may have flashes of these feelings, but then they fade away again into the stresses of our lives; feeling sexy often waxes and wanes like the moon. However, most of us have had at least a few moments of feeling “lit up.”
And this is the essence of sexy.
Gratitude is a Beautiful State of Being
But how do you do it?
Falling in love with yourself begins with appreciation for who you are with all your “imperfections.” It is knowing that you have something to offer, not only despite of, but because of your uniqueness.
Appreciating all you are is a daily practice: a practice of cultivating gratitude for the body and life that is yours.
Gratitude came to Annie when she got cancer at 35:
“All my life I hated my big breasts. But then I lost them to cancer.
There’s the irony: Cancer taught me how to love my body. I had to.
I had to dig deep and find gratitude and joy in who I really was if I was going to beat the disease. And I did, and I came out loving myself although by society’s standards, my body was more imperfect.
During chemotherapy, I met Peter, who said he was drawn to me for my spirit and resilience. And he loves every inch of my scarred and healing body.
I wish I knew my whole life what I know now: My body was always a precious gift. Just cancer helped me see that. I am more in love with myself now than ever.
Truly, I feel more beautiful because I am living every day in gratitude. Gratitude is a beautiful state of being.”
Being Embodied is also Beautiful
Joanna is a 27-year who is physically attractive by most people’s standards, but, she explains, she “hated herself” for many years:
“I spent a lot of time trying to fix things that would solve how I felt about myself. People told me I was pretty, but I spent so much money buying make-up, clothes, getting my eyebrows plucked, nails done, and even a boob job.
But it was when I actually got back into my body and emotions through yoga and somatics therapy that things began to change.
Loving myself from the inside out was the first step to owning and feeling my beauty and truly falling in love with myself. It was completely an inside job…No one could give it to me.
And even better…no one could take it away.”
Bellies are Buddha-full!
Ironically, the very things that we often do to maintain a standard of attractiveness can actually rob us of our true sexiness.
An example of this is the belly. There’s so much focus in the Western world on “holding your belly in,” but that does not allow you to breathe freely and fully. Your belly and diaphragm hold a key to experiencing the very vitality and embodiment described above.
Exercise: Discover Your Buddha Belly
The exercise below gives you a chance to explore what it’s like to breathe deeply into the belly and pelvis so that you can fully awaken your sexual energy and feel even greater comfort in your own skin.
It may take a few times of doing this exercise to feel the breath move easily. Many of us have so much tension that we need gentle practice to let the breath take the lead. Give yourself time. Be patient with your process. It is worth it.
For some of you, there might be some intense emotions that emerge. If it is too difficult, slow things down or stop and pick it up again another day.
So much of the embodied confidence that we find attractive is the free flowing energy of a body unshackled by tension and blocks. Breath is a key to releasing that energy.
Breath is life. It fills is with magnetic vitality.
Pour yourself a warm cup of pumpkin spice tea, get a few cozy pillows, click on the link below.
Fall in love with the life force that is you!
Now… that’s sexy!