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How masturbating improved my body image

Words by Mary Madigan

Yet another reason to get off.

Like most women, my relationship with my body is always changing. Sometimes I feel good, sometimes I feel fabulous and other times I really struggle. But interestingly, masturbation has become a way to help me fall back in love with my body time and time again.

Over the years I’ve learnt a few techniques to help me get back on the right path if I’m going through a phase of not liking my body. Often people pretend that body positivity is easy or a state you reach where you never worry about your body again, but in my experience body positivity is always a work in progress.


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Some days I can look in the mirror and love my stretch marks and non-flat tummy and other days I’m just not feeling it. I used to beat myself about this; I wanted to be a good role model for myself and the other women around me. I wanted to be seen as someone that had an infallible relationship with my body but that’s just not the reality and that is okay.

These days I try and be more accepting of my struggles. Not feeling good today doesn’t mean I’ll never feel good again and not liking a part of my body currently doesn’t mean I won’t learn how to appreciate it in the future.

Still, throughout my 20s I’ve always been searching for ways to love my body and over time I’ve picked up some practical techniques beyond just following body-positive social media accounts, although that does help.

Sometimes I can feel better about my body by putting on an outfit that always looks good. Other days it’s simply saying some affirmations out loud in the mirror and other times – okay, most of the time – it’s masturbating.

I’ve always believed my sexuality is connected to my body image. I’ve found I usually have the best sex when I’m feeling good about myself. Not even just sex – I’ve had some of my best kisses when I’m feeling fabulous.

So when I was going through a particularly rough patch with my body image, I decided to start masturbating every day to see if it helped. Interestingly, it was a game-changer. By making my body feel good and making myself cum, I was able to remember how sexy my body was.

No longer was it just a body that couldn’t fit into a pair of jeans, it was also a body that could buzz with pleasure. It was a way I could enjoy my body when I wasn’t enjoying how I looked and ultimately it made me feel kinder and more loving towards myself.

Sexologist Cam Fraser tells me that masturbation has many benefits and my relationship with body image and masturbation is actually really normal. “It improves your mood and makes you happier through the release of feel-good hormones, such as dopamine and oxytocin. Solo play is also great for relaxation and to de-stress, which in turn can help you sleep.

“Another benefit has to do with confidence and self-esteem, both generally and sexually. The more you understand what you like and how you get off, the more sexually confident you become. The confidence and the mood-boosting benefits of masturbation can translate back to positively impacting your self-esteem. Focusing on your own pleasure is empowering and helps to limit worrying about how you look.”

In fact, Cam sees masturbating as an act of self-love. “I encourage people to think of masturbation, or self-pleasuring, as an act of self-love and self-care. Confidence and self-love will have natural ups and downs and that is completely normal.

“So be present when masturbating, focus on your pleasure rather than just reaching an end goal. The more pleasure you feel, the happier and more confident you become,” she says.

Interesting, isn’t it? But to me, it also makes perfect sense. Often when we feel bad about our bodies, we want to punish them. We might deprive ourselves of food or force ourselves to over-exercise or just say cruel things to ourselves. And I was definitely someone that did this. If I was feeling bad about my body, I treated it terribly and it compounded the hatred.

But since discovering that masturbation helps me fall back in love with my body, it’s become a tool I use when putting on my favourite outfit isn’t cutting it. There’s nothing quite like making yourself feel good to make you appreciate the body you have. So next time you’re feeling down about yourself I’d suggest treating yourself to an orgasm. At the very least, you’ll experience some pleasure.

For more on body image and sexual confidence, try this.

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