Stop Worrying About Your Cellulite and Get Laid!

To me, sex feels like a puzzle. A puzzle that society blessed me with when I was at my most confused and misunderstood. I was told nothing about this puzzle except “this puzzle right here is going to change your life. We’re not going to tell you what it’s going to look like, or how to put it together, or really anything other than don’t open it until you have a grasp on the meaning of what this puzzle is.” And from right off the bat I began to internalize my confusion about sex—I mean, the puzzle. 

And I’m not alone; a recent study showed that only 33% of people ages 18-29 reported having no sexual education, despite the fact that 40% of high schoolers are already having sex. Honest conversations about the realities of sex fail to come to fruition, leaving the exploration of our sexual curiosity in the hands of porn, film and now, social media. 

At our most impressionable, we develop unrealistic images as to what this sex-puzzle should look like, feel like, sound like, and who it should be with. By the time we’re engaging in actual sexual behavior, we soon realize it doesn’t look exactly like what we’ve come to think. Insecurities about our appearance, performance, weight and preference cloud what should be a powerful and enjoyable shared moment.

A survey by Zava titled, Holding Back in Bed, looks at the ways body insecurities impact our sex lives. In the study, 79% of women reported body image to be their biggest insecurity in bed, while sexual performance led the charge for men at 67%. When we spend intercourse thinking about the way we look, how we’re acting, or overanalyzing our performance, we’re preventing our bodies from becoming fully aroused. Yes, worrying about your cellulite may be the reason you can’t cum. When we limit ourselves to a sexual experience inhibited by our insecurities, we may also be denying ourselves pleasure from some of the most satisfying positions (according to Zava’s study, for women it’s 69 and Reverse Cowgirl). If insecurities spanning from the dawn of our sexual awakening until now are impacting the sex we’re having, how are we choosing to maneuver around them?

The answer? We’ve taken it into our own hands. Literally. In December 2018, The Atlantic published an article stating what many existentially-dread ridden millenialls already knew to be true: the US is in the middle of a sex recession. Masturbation has increased 2-fold and 3-fold for men and women respectively. But even worse is the study that was published six months later, claiming that our lack of sex has played a part in our spiraling into a full-blown HAPPINESS recession. Cool. Cool. Cool. 

The study confirms that insecurities linked to relationships, anxiety and depression linked to social media, and accessibility to porn, all play a role in the decline of our sexual activity. Because the human desire for connection doesn’t just disappear despite the false perception of our sexual ineptitude,“the analysis revealed that changes in sexual frequency can account for about one-third of the decline in happiness since 2012 and almost 100 percent of the decline in happiness since 2014.” 

If our insecurities have negatively impacted our sex lives, and our negatively impacted sex lives are ripping the last shreds of happiness from our hands, is it time to throw in the towel? Are we destined to become sad virgin girls and boys?

Unfortunately, not. Instead, I am going to suggest we all just stop caring. Say it with me: Stop giving a shit! Yes, that might be easier said than done. But, Zava’s study on the ways the insecurities impact our sex lives found that most of our insecurities are, in fact, internalized. Across the board, men and women polled were rarely bothered by the insecurities their partners displayed. For example, despite the fact that 79% of women reported feeling insecure with their bodies during sex, only 19% of men reported having problems with their partner’s body.

It’s also worth noting that societal expectations of sex appeal are never going to stop changing. From 1997-2007, butt-related google searches were in context to making it smaller: “butt reduction,” “how to make my butt smaller,” “workouts for smaller butt.” Then, around 2010 someone decided to flip the narrative and butt-googles became: “get a bigger butt,” “butt implants,” you get the gist. I spent so much of my teens desperately trying to starve my butt-off, if you had told me in eight years men would be fetishizing it I would think you’re a bold faced liar and then told you to pass me my slim fast. And inevitably, in five years when the world tells me I’m fat and undeserving of sexual attention again, instead of refusing to eat a carb until I can wear low-rise jeans without spilling out, I’m going to scream into the void “none of you assholes know what you want, you aren’t allowed to tell me what to be!” 

It might be too late for us to expel our insecurities completely—just like we shouldn’t have unrealistic expectations of how we should look and act, we also shouldn’t feel bad for occasionally feeling bad. We do, however, have control over the agency we give these insecurities in our sex-lives (and real lives, too)! 

Sex doesn’t have to be a puzzle with which we all try to put together the same picture. If we spend our lives trying to fit some universal portrait of sex, we’re never going to calm down enough to actually enjoy it. And when we’re not having sex, we’re losing out on happiness. And if we can’t be happy enough to have an orgasm every now and again, what can we have?

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