Body positivity — while a relatively new term of the last decade — has a commanding presence in how we navigate the world. As it makes its way through social hashtags and the ubiquitous demand to represent all bodies throughout the media, #bodypositivity still has a barrier to entry as we’re constantly comparing our outward appearance to our value — how much new year, new you, beach body rhetoric can we endure while trying to maintain a healthy sense-of-self? It’s a challenging landscape of messages to navigate.
But, body positivity encapsulates acceptance; translating the love you have for yourself into self-care i.e. getting enough sleep, drinking water, making good decisions for your body and emotional state. While we wade through the consistent flow of media images/language designed to profit off our negative self-worth, one of the best ways to find that personal connection with yourself and your body is through masturbation.
Embracing self-pleasure brings about the symbiotic stasis of body positivity.
If you make yourself feel good, your brain will reward you, and you will begin to create new neural connections, making it easier to exist in a state of self-acceptance and self-love. In the same vein of how body positivity started — i.e. if you see yourself, you will believe in yourself — pleasure raises a loving flag and encourages the body to seek out more. In a recent study titled "Female Sexual Pleasure" by Lora DiCarlo they found that “only 30% [of women] are comfortable with their body and sexuality.” This is tough to recognize considering how completely antithetical it is to the current $4.2 trillion dollar global wellness industry dedicated to making everyone feel good about themselves. Masturbation releases an incredible amount of dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin (the love and bonding hormone); connecting the mental you to the physical you. By giving yourself pleasure, you’re telling yourself that you deserve to feel pleasure — and that is interchangeable from how you treat yourself in private to how you represent yourself in public.
Body positivity is transferable.
Being body positive means allowing it to live in our day-to-day, not just when we are naked or considering the current state of our bodies. Solo play, literally, puts the power in your hands to figure out what you like, don't like, want more of, and how; providing you with the agency to have the sex you want to be having — a judgment-free zone to explore. This kind of quick decision-making translates to feeling more comfortable when you’re making decisions about your body in the real world. Body positivity often has nothing to do with our physical state, but how we speak, represent, and treat ourselves. Simply: If you can get yourself off — you can, for sure, tell your doctor you’d like a second opinion or ask a boss for a raise.
Solo play is healthy.
Erotic self-exploration promotes relaxation, a kinder temperament, better sleep, and it allows for greater communication about your pleasure wants and needs. Our bodies house our organs, our feelings, our creativity, our insecurities, and the way we communicate our needs. The same Lora DiCarlo study also found that “only 54% [of women] strongly agree that they enjoy sex with their partner.” Communication is key in having great sex, but we need to know our pleasure points in order to build on that number. Prioritizing pleasure nourishes autonomy providing a healthier relationship with ourselves and with the people we’re playing with.
Masturbation puts you in touch with your body.
Have you ever felt your skin as you’re masturbating or after an orgasm? Soft, right? Sensitive, right? That is because the blood from that rushing arousal is creating a new, tactile sensation across your body. Play with sensation in the midst of your solo moment; rub the parts of your body that house any negativity and really get into the energy your physical body is manifesting while turned on.
Solo play, however you enjoy it, has a direct correlation to living a more body-positive life. We’re actively feeding ourselves pleasure, placing our thighs, hips, bellies, skin in a climatic state in order to:
A. Get off.
B. Love ourselves a little harder.
Set a solo play date for yourself, wear lingerie for you, take nude photos, really look at your body getting aroused, find ways to be good to you — because it’s important to recognize how being intimate with yourself can positively change how you feel about your body.
Laura Delarato is a writer, body image advocate, and the creator of the sex-positive newsletter 1-800-HEYLAURA. Her essays have appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, Healthyish, Travel + Leisure, NBC Better, BeautyCon, Men’s Health, Huffpost, Ravishly, Salty, and The Horizontal. She is currently working as a senior creative at Refinery29. Follow her on Instagram where she talks about body politics, wellness, representation, and confidence. More on Lauradelarato.com