Every time I want to have sex with my boyfriend, the second he touches me, I feel terrified that he’ll touch my stomach. I am so scared that he’ll think that I’m too fat to love and he’ll change his mind and just leave me there, naked and alone.
He says that he loves me just the way that I am, and would love me no matter what, but I can’t escape the voices in my head telling me that he’s delusional and it’s only a matter of time until he sees me from a certain angle and it will be all over. Generally, people think that I’m pretty skinny.
I know that there are people out there that feel bad about themselves, but I just feel lost and alone. I know that deep down inside I’m just not pretty enough, and if I was skinnier my life would be better.
Chances are, if he says he loves your body, he loves your body. It isn’t, however, him or his love for you that I am worried about. My guess is that this has very little to do with fat and very little to do with your actual boyfriend, at least not in the obvious ways. There are a number of issues here, mainly revolving around a) your actual stomach and b) your body image, and they all fall on you to solve.
I am no doctor, but I like solving puzzles. With this, I want to start with the choice that your stomach is your feared location. In certain Acupuncture modalities the stomach region often relates to issues with power. If you fear your boyfriend’s rejection of your belly, could it also relate to issues with accepting your own powerful nature? Or, could you fear your femininity, pointing to your uterus more than your stomach?
You can play that game too, it is called, “name that subconscious cause” and often, once discovered, relieves a great deal of suffering. This is a fun game to play with a psychotherapist.
Then, the body image question. What does your size have to do with how loved you are? Unless, of course, you are severely overweight and using weight to hurt yourself and harm your health; but this sounds like something else. Body image issues to this degree are not acceptable, however normal they are. They need to be addressed and evaluated, overcome and discarded. We tend to project our fears and issues onto our bodies, rather than coping with them separately.
You need help. Not in a harsh or judgmental way, but in a “I want you to be happy and love your body and boyfriend and sex life kind of way.” There is something beneath the surface provoking your fears. It could be as simple as someone called you fat in 5th grade and you never forgot it, or as complex as being sexually abused as a child. These issues, however seemingly large or small, need to be addressed with a trained professional who can help guide you towards self-acceptance rather than starvation.
Another option, try Emily Stern’s Food Body Connection. A former fat activist turned health food fanatic and community educator, she uses the exploration of eating habits and mindsets about the body to probe larger life themes. She offers a free consultation and then a 6 session phone package that includes bi-weekly checking in. A lot of people seek this kind of directed support without a long term commitment and she comes highly recommended.
Other things to do on your own? Get educated on The Fat Acceptance Movement. You can find information on the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance website, or by reading this Time Magazine article. Also check out AdiPositivity.com, recommended by Bitch Magazine.
You might just need a support group for learning how to love those handles. Take The Full Body Project’s lead.
Also: try reading: The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls to look at how society may have shaped your self-hatred.
Think it could be more than disordered eating, but an actual eating disorder? Go to NationalEatingDisorders.org.
Think your partner has body issues? Discuss this post with them and offer these many resources as real viable options.
Ask Yenta an anonymous question! Send an e-mail via www.send-email.org to merissag[at]gmail[dot]com.