Each year when the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue is released I hear about it. Not because I'm a big fan of swimsuits, or super models, or even of sports for that matter, but because my therapist husband (as a recovering sex addict) specializes in helping men whose sexual behaviors have become self-defeating in ways that are interfering with day-to-day living—causing stress on family members, friends and/or work. These guys have issues around sexualizing and objectifying women so they can tend to have more than just a passing awareness of the winter release of that swimsuit model issue. 4 Questions You May Be Asking About Sex Addiction
I counsel the wives and partners of these men. One of the things my clients often experience is the sense that they are being compared to other women—the airbrushed, beautiful, perfect, often young, women who may, for example, look like Sports Illustrated swimsuit supermodels. So how do my clients work with those feelings of being compared? How do they bolster their self-esteem in ways that begin to inoculate them from the pitfalls of comparison? How can what they have learned help you?
Over and over again, even the men who need to seek help from my husband, confess that their true desire is intimate connection. They may be attracted to whatever version of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model du jour is for them, but in general they long for the intimate relationship that comes in connecting with another emotionally, spiritually and sexually. Your partner's attraction to you is to so much more than just your outward appearance. 9 Sexy Positions That'll Help You Fall In Love (Yes, REALLY!)
This doesn't mean that appearance doesn't matter. It simply means that you don't need to enter into a competition with the models. As women, we can appreciate and even celebrate their beauty. As airbrushed and sexualized as those images may be, we can still admire the grace of this sort of representation of the female form.
At the same time, celebrate your own beauty! Not by comparison, but rather for the individual unique beauty that you carry. In the 1700's, the philosopher David Hume wrote, "Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them." By allowing your mind to contemplate, to recognize and rest on the aspects of your beauty—physical, emotional, and spiritual—you bring this magnificence to life. Then it can be more easily seen and appreciated by others.
I recognize it can seem difficult to move from a mindset of comparison and deficiency particularly when faced with today's over-sexualized media images. Sometimes the wisdom transmitted in folktales can help the mind create new pathways and understandings. Is Low Self-Esteem Hurting Your Relationship?