Accepting Your Body and Your Sexuality at Any Sizeby Cheryl Ann Borne Patient Advocate
Female Self-Image and Sexuality
As many of you are aware, I recently had a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) to remove the excess skin and fat that were the remnants from my weight loss surgery in 2003. I anticipated a transformation in my figure - although I will say that I never expected to become voluptuous.
What else I did not expect is the resulting change that would occur in my attitude.
Self-Image and Emotions In the book Body Contouring Surgery after Weight Loss, the respected plastic surgeon authors describe self-image and emotional issues:
I am an independent and confident woman. I never have considered myself to have self-image issues. But having experienced a change in my attitude as a result of this new body that I now have, I began to ponder the idea of female self-image more deeply.
Self-image is the idea one has of one's abilities, appearance, and personality; it may or may not bear a close relation to how 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 perceptions of themselves were very different than how others view them.
A New Attitude
I see myself as an attractive woman and nearly always have felt this way, except the few years that I was morbidly obese. What has changed for me is that I am delighted with my body since having the tummy tuck. I described my figure earlier as voluptuous. I am thrilled beyond belief for that.
Yet at the same time I hesitate to describe myself this way. There is a certain underlying shyness that has been uncovered. I cannot quite put my finger on it but there is a vulnerability that has been exposed because the fat hiding my inner self has been removed. I feel much more feminine now, fully a woman. Most days I feel sensual in my new body. And I am ready for adventure; I want to experience all life has to offer.
Sex Appeal Comes from Within
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 seen a few patients express self-image issues. This woman may have lost a sense of who she is with this sudden new identity. Or she may still have body image concerns, fearful that the scars of surgery make her sexually unattractive.
The alluring appeal of these women, who are physically attractive -- just as the women in the Dove commercial were physically attractive - is diminished by their attitudes. Sex appeal is something that largely comes from within and is projected to the world 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.
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Dove Campaign for Beauty