The Hump-day Gazette decided to survey Dartmouth students on the issue of sex and body image, and had a great response. We hope to gain a better understand of how Dartmouth students as a whole are affected by so keep an eye out for blitzes with surveys from us!
Looking at the data we collected on body image and sexual topics, it’s clear that for the majority of Dartmouth student body image is closely tied to sexual confidence and desire, often in harmful ways. That is not to say all groups are equally and identically affected- for example, while no women reported feeling they were below their ideal weight, 65% of men reported they felt they weighed less than their ideal. However, despite the fact the ideal body is different for men and women, it exists in all of our heads as rarely reached goal, with only 22% of all respondents reporting they were at their ideal weight.
This concept of an “ideal” sexually attractive body has caused the majority of students to alter their sex lives in some way, as demonstrated in the charts above. Some ways body image directly affects the sex lives of students, as recorded in responses to the question “In what ways does your perception of your body prevent you from engaging in some sexual activities you would otherwise engage in?” include:
- “I’m timid about not being curvy enough. I’m black, so not having the stereotypical “black booty” is a hang-up for me. I have great boobs, but those are little more than an accessory to the main course by my communities’ beauty standards.”
- “I’m really self-conscious about how my boobs look (no idea why, I think they’re normal? so weird) so I like to leave my bra on/lights off”
- “I don’t really like my upper body, so I don’t like having my shirt off in public.”
- “It’s more that I was just not used to my body; I wasn’t comfortable with exposing it. But now that I am very comfortable with my boyfriend, I do not feel this way anymore.”
When asked what aspects of their appearance they would change to result in a better sex life, responses included weight (in general), stomach and thighs, taller, more muscular, race/ethnicity, and breasts.
With so things that can be considered “wrong” with our bodies, it is unsurprising most of us have hang ups of some kind that interfere with our sex lives. However, even when there are tons of sources that seem to be t you that your body is, for whatever reason, not sexually attractive, try to remember that sexiness is so much more that looking like an unachievable ideal. Even if you did lose 5 pounds or have a 6 pack, your sex life is not guaranteed to improve. On the other hand, finding yourself sexy, and being with others who agree, can almost certainly help.