When we think of sensuality, chances are we think of sex: how we feel during sexual experiences or how we want to feel during sexual encounters. Odds are most of us also weren’t taught how to feel sensual on our own, embrace our sensuality, get to know our sensuality, or have a sacred connection with this deeper understanding of ourselves.
To close that educational gap, let’s break some stigmas around why our sensualities shouldn’t just be for partnered time, how to learn + embrace our sensuality, & how body image is so incredibly intertwined.
Are you ready to get to know yourself even better?
Let’s Talk Body Image (& How it Relates to Your Sensuality)
For some of you, like it is for many of us, this might be a rocky conversation topic. One full of so many emotions, some confusion, possibly some shame, possibly some anger & resentment towards our own body, & if we’re lucky, a lot of hope.
Body image is a complex conversation because, the truth is, our society makes it one. So, if you put any extra shame on yourself for body woes, let’s take all that shame off ourselves right now. This is a safe space for you and your body.
The messages we receive about our bodies are nothing short of confusing, contradicting, & SO shame-inducing.
A lot of us don’t realize that kids really do pick up on all the little comments we make about our bodies. In fact, we learn how to talk to our bodies by listening to how the adults around us talk about their bodies.
Seriously, we do.
How else would we develop bad body image unless the world around us was telling us to have bad body image?
Media culture has gotten even more difficult for so many people (especially young people) to navigate when we have constant access to social media right at our fingertips– aka. Where the so called “perfect” body is glorified and anything other that that is shamed . Our body image is affected by media so much sooner than it ever used to be.
I watched my grandma & momma go on diets together while simultaneously pinching little bits of excess skin on their arms saying, “this is what I want to get rid of.”
Then, I received confusing messages from my other grandmother about being “too thin” & “needing to eat more food,” but then proceeding only to eat a small salad because she was “trying to slim down.”
Finally, I was turned down from a modeling agency at 18 because I was a size 4 instead of a size 2 & didn’t have the “ideal figure.” Which, while we’re here… Ideal for who?
Body image is learned. So, how do we begin un-learning the shaming, confusing messages we learned while growing up & start feeling comfortable in this one, precious body we are living in?
I can tell you right now, it’s going to be a journey & it’s not going to be the easiest. In fact, we may be un-learning shitty body image messaging until we are 83 ½, but you know what? We’ll be learning & we’ll be learning it together (& hopefully carrying on far less shame for future generations).
How to Begin Un-learning & Embracing Your Sensuality
Un-learning & growth can sometimes feel intimidating. Especially when we put expectations on ourselves about what said growth should look like. So, before we move farther, let’s take those expectations off & leave them outside the room. Growth is never, ever a straight rising line of progress. Growth looks more like what a toddler would draw with a crayon on a piece of paper. Squiggles & messy (with lots of happy & hard mixed in).
One of the most important things I’ve ever learned is this: growth is not striving for perfection, it is striving for awareness, for moments of joy, for enlightenment, & for progress.
Never is it striving for perfection. In my opinion, perfection cannot even exist in a world where we are all so different (& that’s the beauty of it).
What do I mean exactly?
I believe that we will have insecurities forever– we are only human after all. It’s inevitable. And it doesn’t mean that they have to cripple us the same as they have in the past. For example, if I look in the mirror & my initial response is to start critiquing my body, my second response is to think to myself, “Body, those lies aren’t true. You carry me through each day. You are my home.”
Don’t get me wrong, this is so hard sometimes. But I don’t think “the point” is that we one day we are insecurity-free & never struggle (that’s a lot of pressure to put on ourselves).
The true un-learning we have to do is un-learning that it’s selfish to love ourselves (it’s actually quite necessary). Like, really love. To say unabashedly, “I LOVE MY BODY!”
Even if the first 203 times you say it you are trying to convince yourself, that is progress. That is un-learning. That is the magic of learning how to love you.
If there’s anything we take away from this, let’s take away that learning is messy, we are imperfect (thank goodness!), we are allowed to have hard days, & that growth isn’t linear (also thank goodness).
Embrace Your Sensuality
I tried to find a definition of sensuality that I really like & the truth is… I couldn’t. So, I’m going to make one up with you right now.
Sensuality: a feeling of pleasure, in any capacity, that helps us feel present + embodied, with the freedom to fully express ourselves however we please.
Maybe it’s a little sloppy, but what isn’t about getting to know ourselves, you know?
As someone who grew up in conservative Christian cultures, being sensual was… highly frowned upon, especially as a woman (basically just because I had boobs & god-forbid they look good in a t-shirt to the boys at the church).
So, it took me quite a while to begin understanding what sensuality meant to me. Not to anyone else– but to me. Not how my partner found me sexy, sensual, & attractive, but how I found myself to be those things.
The irony is that sensuality doesn’t start with how we feel during sex, as much as we may tend to think it does.
Sensuality starts with how we feel in our bodies. So, embracing our sensuality starts with paying attention to how we feel in our bodies.
As woo-woo as this may sound, it’s the erotic energy we build-up by giving ourselves the permission to feel like sensual beings (& the permission we give ourselves to feel pleasure).
What is erotic energy, you ask? Let me explain it like this: Have you ever gotten super dolled up for a night (meaning you wear a spicy outfit you feel good in, do your hair a little differently, etc.) & you are really just *feeling yourself*? Do you feel the energy of just feeling good, feeling embodied, feeling present? That is erotic energy! Just let yourself feel so good, as you are, in your body.
How To Discover YOUR Sensuality
Now that we have thrown around the word *sensual* quite a lot, some of you might be wondering, “Okay… but how do I feel sensual??”
Feeling sensual can look & feel different to everyone & that’s the beauty of it.
For example, 3 things that make me feel sensual are:
Putting on old-timey music (think Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra), cooking dinner, pouring a steep glass of wine, & letting myself really enjoy whatever I’m making. This experience isn’t necessarily “sexy” or makes me want to “have sex” but it makes me feel so present & embodied.
Prioritizing my masturbation routine truly makes me feel more embodied. I am genuinely more relaxed & feel far more in-tune with my body when I remember to pleasure it.
My shower routine: I have a hair mask, body wash, shaving cream, wonderful smelling shampoo/conditioner, I turn the shower up to scorching temperatures & just bask in it.
See, all of these things aren’t necessarily “sexy” things (besides masturbating), but it’s about learning what makes you feel present & embodied. It can be anything.
Going for a walk, doing yoga, reading as much of a book as you can in one day, sunbathing, drinking some wine & watching a movie, a face mask, dressing up just for yourself, taking some pictures of yourself that make you feel good… it does NOT have to be some big, crazy thing. It can be the smallest culmination of moments that make you aware of your beautiful body.
When I’m coaching my clients on sensuality, one of the first things I encourage them to do is to have a photo shoot by themself. I encourage them to put on something sexy (it doesn’t have to be lingerie, but it could be) & just have fun taking pictures!
It will most likely feel so awkward at first & that’s okay. Get over that little awkward hump & keep going. I did this for the first time about a year ago & I noticed things about my body I never had before.
It was a decision to actively love my stretch marks & my birthmarks in a different way. I took close-up pictures of my skin in the sunlight & it made me feel beautiful. We are so quick to tear our own bodies down & build up others. I think this practice is such a sweet way to experience our bodies in a new, exciting, erotic way that maybe most of us haven’t before.
Beginning Your Body-Loving Journey
I hope if you take away anything from our time together it’s that this journey of self-love will be unique to you.
It doesn’t have to be glamorous or Instagram-worthy. The only thing we want it to be is special & empowering to YOU.
Here are our biggest lessons to remember from what we learned today:
- Body image is learned. It’s our job to unlearn the nasty language we learned & speak to our bodies in the language of love (& create more loving body narratives for future generations).
- Pleasure doesn’t have to look a certain way– it’s whatever feels the most magical & pleasurable to you.
- Even though we live, move, & exist in this one body, we need to take time exploring it. Give yourself the space to explore yourself.
I wish you all the best on your body-loving journey. You deserve to feel at home in yourself each & everyday.