Body Image and Sexuality
Beauty In the Eye of the Beholder
Self image is the idea a woman has about her abilities, appearance, and personality. It may or may not be as others actually see us. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty hired a forensic sketch artist to draw women as they see themselves and as others see them. The social experiment revealed that women’s self perceptions and body image were very different than how others view them.
Self Image and Emotions
As many of you are aware, I had a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) to remove the excess skin and fat that were remnants from my gastric bypass surgery in 2003. I expected a figure transformation although I will say that I never expected to become voluptuous. I also did not expect the change that occured in my attitude because I was not fully aware of the connection between body image and sexuality.
In the book Body Contouring Surgery after Weight Loss, respected plastic surgeon authors describe self image and emotional issues:
“The way you view yourself is likely to be negatively impacted by the appearance of and the problems associated with your skin excess. The obstacle to building proper self-esteem and self-confidence will be lifted with body contouring surgery.”
I am an independent and confident woman. I never have considered myself to have self image issues but, having experienced a changed attitude as a result of my new body, I began to consider the idea of female self image more closely.
New Perspective on Body Image and Sexuality
I see myself as an attractive woman and have almost always felt this way except for the few years when I was morbidly obese. What has changed for me is my delight with my body since having the tummy tuck. I described my figure earlier as voluptuous. I am thrilled beyond belief for that.
Sex appeal is something that comes from within and is projected by our attitudes. It is what arouses those around us sexually.
Yet, at the same time I hesitate to describe myself this way. An underlying shyness has been uncovered. I cannot quite put my finger on it, but a vulnerability has been exposed since the fat hiding my inner self was removed. I feel much more feminine now, fully a woman. Most days I feel sensual in my new body. I am ready for adventure. I want to experience all that life has to offer.
Sex Appeal Is Up to You
I think what this all boils down to at the fundamental level is sex. We are biologically wired to be sexual beings.
I speak with many women who have undergone body contouring after bariatric surgery. I find that most come fully into their own sexuality, even hyper sexuality, after their physical transformations.
The authors of Body Contouring Surgery after Weight Loss warn of another possibility:
“However the surgery improves the exterior of your body, it will not serve as a cure-all to any negative attitudes or emotions you have prior to surgery. You may continue to have self image issues.”
I have known a few patients who have self image issues. Some women may have lost a sense of who they are because of this sudden new identity or they may still have body image concerns. Perhaps that are fearful that the scars of surgery make them sexually unattractive.
The alluring appeal of these physically attractive women — just as the women in the Dove commercial are physically attractive – is diminished by their attitudes. Sex appeal is something that comes from within and is projected by our attitudes. It is what arouses those around us sexually. It is something that can be had no matter what size you are: slender, voluptuous, big beautiful woman, and every shape in-between.
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life