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Debate: Is It OK That I Want to Be Skinny in Bed?

My most popular article I’ve ever written was titled “You Don’t Have To Be Skinny To Have Good Sex.” And I can see why. Someone telling you to stop worrying, relax and fuck gloriously, is refreshing. It’s not a message that carries any PR placement and it doesn’t ask you to purchase anything. All it wants is for you to have the best sex possible, regardless of your BMI.

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But it turns out, I’ve been struggling to practice what I preach. Because whilst when I wrote that article, I wasn’t skinny, I’ve never been skinny, I was pretty small. It was, perhaps, disingenuous to take up the mantle of the ‘not skinny girl.’

Sometime around the end of last summer, I noticed that I had stretch marks for the first time. They were spidery, red and clustered around my tummy, below my belly button. When I ran my fingers over them they felt deep, in relief of the rest of my skin. And it made me feel sick.

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I couldn’t tell you how it happened, but I woke up one day to learn that the sheer quantity of white wine, white carbs and white sugar that I’d feasted on all summer, had basically torn the skin across my stomach. I hadn’t gained huge amounts of weight, make seven or eight pounds. But it was enough to ravage the skin across my tummy, and leave me heart broken about my body.

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From part time teenage bulimic to plump and happy, via a fitness obsession, I am the archetypal yo-yo dieter. I’m either a kale drinking, coconut water swilling obsessive, or drinking Pinot Grigo intravenously and gleefully roasting chickens and serving up mountains of roast potatoes.  I’m happier and nicer when I’m plumper. I’m sexier and prettier when I’m thinner. And, confession time, I’m better in bed when I’m thinner.

When I gain weight it all sits on my stomach, it gathers at the bottom of my stomach, above my pubis. In the most part, I’m very lucky with my body. I have a ten inch difference between bust, waist and hips meaning that I put on weight in proportion. But my stomach has always bothered me. And if someone touches it during sex? I want to throw up. It’s a visceral, painful reaction. But I cannot cope with the idea anyone might ever touch my tummy.

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When I lose weight it changes. I don’t need to be flat stomached to feel better, just a little lither, lighter and more confident, before I start wanting to pick up my old habits again. I’ll strip for my boyfriend. Offer to go on top, want to have my ankles up on his shoulders. To put it bluntly, I’ll chill the fuck out. And it feels brilliant.

I’ve lost weight recently, and for the first time in my life I’m neither being Nigella nor Victoria Beckham. I don’t live off kale, but I don’t lace everything I cook with french butter either. And I feel better, but I feel disloyal for saying it. I feel like I’m cheating on the girl who extolled the virtues of sex regardless of your body size.

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I’m trying to make my peace with the mixed messages. I’ve come to the conclusion that whilst I still stand by the message: great sex at any age and any size. But that doesn’t mean I have to be beholden to it.

The unfashionable thing to say is this: if your size and weight is making you unhappy, you can lose weight. And sometimes it’s going to make you happier if you lose weight. Only if you want to. Only for you. But we shouldn’t feel ashamed of anything we do with our bodies. The pressure not to diet, as feminists and as intelligent women, hasn’t dispelled the pressure to be thin. It’s just supposed to appear entirely effortless now.

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Well screw that. Our bodies, our lives and our sex lives. And we should invest in our sex lives however we see fit, whether that’s eating clean and working out, buying a gold plated vibrator or an attempt at crowd funding a night with Jamie Dornan.

Rebecca is Editor-in-Chief of AFT. Erstwhile freelancer, serial manicurist, feminist and period drama enthusiast. She's spent most of her life talking about sex, so she decided to make a career out of it. Follow her on twitter @AFTRebecca for Taylor Swift elegies and pictures of her manicures.

  • Laura Buxton

    I love this. So well said.