Katie Baskerville wearing the Moons & Junes Venus Bra and Fano Brief
Society has always created an unattainable ideology for female bodies.
From the wasp waists of the corseted Victorians to the Brazilian butt lifts of the modern world; alterations, suffering and attractiveness seem to go hand in hand. After all, isn’t beauty pain?
This painful desire to be beautiful, in spite of the cost, often creates barriers in our minds and warps how we feel about how others perceive us. This internal monologue, that is fuelled by a lack of representation and a feeling that there is consistently something that needs to be fixed (thanks beauty industry), often leads to warped perceptions of self, making the body in it’s most natural form inaccessible, feeling invisible and always never quite good enough.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder affects 1 in 50 people. That figure should act as a stark reminder to all of us as to how perfectionism is not something we should want to be. It also shows us how external factors, such as a one-size-fits-all approach to beauty, steam rolls self-esteem and makes it impossible for many women to feel worthy of pleasureful moments.
I could pick out every flaw in every feature, excuse compliments and disarm well-meaning friends who tried desperately to rebuild my self-esteem following years of battling with eating disorders, bad boyfriends and the trauma that came with the territory. Years of watching reality tv, where a fairy Gok-mother would swoop in and bestow self-loving epiphanies upon the insecure general public, had left me feeling uneasy. I watched reels and reels of plastic surgeons ‘fixing’ people, only to be crushed at the financial unattainability of these seemingly life-saving improvements.
Only I would be able to fix my own problems.
After coming to the realisation that only I would be able to fix my own problems, I began my self-help journey. I clumsily cavorted about the place, trying to find 'my thing'. One day I decided to join a friend of mine to a yoga class, which I only went to because my first class was free. With nothing to lose except for an hour of my day, I squeezed into some leggings and threw on a baggy t-shirt then made my way to meet her. We chose mats close to one another, set up and waited for our instructor to begin. I was awkward, heavier on my joints that I’d expected to be and felt completely disheartened at my inability to live up to the graceful expectations I’d set for myself. After what seemed like hours heaving my body and forcing it into discomfort, the instructor came and sat with me and did something I’ll be forever grateful for. In a soft voice, she told me to sit and just breathe. I put my hand to my stomach and she guided me through my first ever yogic breathing exercise.
The love 'Body' was craving had to come from me.
For years I had lost my mind-body connection. A slew of terrible sexual experiences amongst plenty of disappointing ones had severed something deep in me. My uncontrollable compulsions to put as big of a gap between what had happened to my body had meant that for many years I tortured my body, blaming it for the oily stains that had left on my mental health at the pleasure of someone else’s mucky hands.
‘Body’ had become a separate part of my psyche, a ‘thing’, or an ‘it’. A ghostlike version of the person I was when I experienced trauma, and she was aching to find love, affection and care. I just hadn’t realised that the love ‘Body’ was craving had to come from me. We were two separate entities and I’d never even realised until that moment where my yoga teacher showed me my body, alive, breathing and capable. There was a glimmer, a spark of something, that I can’t quite describe. Something like running into an old friend, or seeing a kind face and the feelings that follow. It was magical, truly. I realised that this clarity was important even if I couldn’t hold onto it. The moment passed and I started to cry. I was heavy with grief. I wanted so desperately to feel in my body again, to be peaceful and aware. I poured myself a glass of wine from a bottle that had been in the fridge for a questionable amount of time and found myself perusing the internet looking for a sex toy. I had had it with feeling so undeserving and I was damned if I was ever going to be at the mercy of someone else’s hands. For the first time, I was angry about losing ‘Body’, for hurting her and
subjecting her to the fumbling fingers of undeserving partners and their cruel intentions. I decided that I would reconnect, discover and meet myself. I would love myself, passionately and with fervour. I would set out with the intention to accept my body and, even if I couldn’t climax, I would spend time touching, understanding and reclaiming what had been eroded away from me.
I was ready to feel beautiful.
I was ready to feel beautiful, even if I didn’t think that I was beautiful. This shift in mindset led me to my first solo-sex orgasm which tore my world apart in the best way and in the midst of the chaos I was able to find ‘Body’, love her and reconnect.
It wasn’t until this reconnection took place that I realised how deeply important our relationship with our body is when it comes to experiencing pleasure. Without that initial surrender to something uncomfortable, ‘Body’ and I would still be strangers.
A self confessed 'proud feminist killjoy'
Katie Baskerville is a writer who focuses on normalising conversations surrounding wellbeing, self-acceptance and sex. We love nothing more than indulging in Katie's musings on identity, sexuality and empowerment, as well as her funny sexcapades.