The summer before the seventh grade, my friend and I snuck into her parents’ closet and discovered some kind of sex almanac featuring two unnaturally tan but otherwise attractive people in various states of coitus. Having no idea that any position but missionary existed prior to finding this treasure, I was both thrilled and appalled.
But I was mostly just stoked. Sex was crazy and fun and weird-looking! No wonder people risked pregnancy and venereal health for it! The sex almanac was an epiphany.
But years later, when it comes time to get down to it, I refuse to leave the lights on. I only have morning sex in well-curtained rooms. Despite increasingly flexibility, I refrain from getting all contortionist and shit despite knowing that it could potentially maximize pleasure.
I don’t fulfill all of those pubescent dreams because I am still hung up on what my body looks like when I am having sex. Despite all cues to the contrary, I am convinced that it is appalling.
Which is especially frustrating because I’m a card-carrying member of the Body Positive Club. I don’t find any body appalling except my own. I do vaguely realize that I can’t be some kind of deformed unicorn, a rare and uniquely hideous creature fit only for sex that a medieval Catholic theologian would approve of.
Speaking of weird Catholic hang-ups (despite a non-religious upbringing), I have always had a strange resentment about being forced to live in a human body. I disliked the fact that it grew hair, that it accumulated fat, and would start to smell strange if not washed regularly. It seemed a foreign, rotting organism that I would have preferred not to deal with the reality of.
But when you’re getting it on, you kind of can’t refuse to deal with the reality that you live inside a human body and that another person that you’ve consented to have sex with is going to have a reasonable desire to see and touch it. They might indeed want to verbalize their admiration for it. They might even be interested in the two of you moving it into various positions often found in sex almanacs that are intended to make you feel good but instead leave me searching for the nearest exit from my own skin.
Convinced for years that significant weight loss would finally lead to acceptance of my body and usher me into a new era of sexual adventurousness, I embarked upon an exercise and diet regimen and set a goal weight. Word to the wise: NEVER SET A FUCKING GOAL WEIGHT. It will only disappoint you. Or do set one, it is a good litmus test for if you are suffering from body dysmorphia and not your garden variety body-loathing.
The goal weight came and went and yet the shape and size in the mirror remained the same to me. I am still convinced it is unfit for human eyes, hands, and other appendages.
During a recent encounter, the man I was with had the AUDACITY to grab onto that area of flesh at the back of my arm/shoulder area and all I could think of was that he must have been raised by barbarians to consider such an act appropriate. Grabbing onto the body of someone you’re sleeping with, can you IMAGINE? Don’t even get me started on men fixated on inner thighs.
Another time I had to go through extensive negotiations to have the lights turned off. I’ve almost cried when I’ve had the misfortune of banging in close proximity to a mirror.
Now I discovered during my sleeping around years that there are many men who will not drop your boring ass for having only boring-ass sex. But I don’t want to be having boring sex. I want to be having spectacular sex. I want to be able to see the awesome sex I’m having, not some shadow of it. I want to get downright pornographic up in this piece and I’m more than a little upset that I’m the only thing standing in my way.
The truth is, I don’t even need to get in on that Cirque du Soleil shit. I will settle for being able to have my legs pushed over my head without me thinking “Mother of GOD, what if he looks at my stomach?” and then totally losing focus on the task at hand. I’ll settle for leaving the lights on. Hell, I’d even love a missionary go at it where most of the action is in my body instead of in my head.
But at present, these prospects remain as unfamiliar and distant as the images in my friend’s parents’ instruction manual were at 12. Until I come to really believe that it is my disfigured perception rather than my disfigured body that is holding me back, I’ll be having the vanilla.