I normally don’t profile women as young as whippersnapper Mary Boyer (41), but her perspective as a plus-sized woman is an important one that is too often ignored or devalued in our culture. I love how she refused to let her self-doubt and body image issues take her hostage emotionally. Her decision to enjoy and explore her sexuality in middle-age is inspiring and I’m thrilled to be able to share her story with you here.
I am a 41-year-old plus-sized woman. If you think about the standards of beauty in our society, over 40 and curvy are not at the top of the most-desirable traits list. Add to that the emotional scars of adolescence as a redheaded, freckle-faced girl from the trailer park, and you’re looking at a gal with some serious self-esteem issues to battle.
The battle to overcome years of negative self-talk and teasing from my peers started in my college years and continued through two “failed” marriages. I’m proud to say I’ve come a long way since those adolescent years of self-criticism and doubt, but the struggle continues to this day. As a post-divorce single mom approaching 40, I was facing the possibility of dating for the first time in nearly 20 years, and it was terrifying.
However, anyone who knows me knows that I took that plunge and haven’t really looked back. Since my divorce, I’ve managed to shove fear, self-criticism and poor body image aside and have some of the best sex of my life as a curvy woman in her 40’s.
Value the Body You Have
Lots of us have body image issues. There was a time I truly hated being naked. However, I learned to appreciate my body through one of my very first post-divorce dating experiences. He was tall, handsome, smart, funny. He was also quadriplegic. No other man has ever ever encouraged me to believe that my body is beautiful as much as that man did. He made me believe it. And he made me feel so grateful for what I had, which was an able body capable of so many things. These days, I’m much more comfortable in my skin. I don’t worry (much) about things jiggling or how I look naked. The freedom this new attitude has given me is tremendous.
Be Open to the Possibilities
Once you learn to be more comfortable in your the skin, the next step is to examine your mindset. It’s likely there’s a certain type of partner you envision yourself with or a “league” you think is a good fit for you. Oftentimes, we’re afraid to approach someone we consider to be too good-looking, fit, smart, sexy, confident or any other number of adjectives. We think they wouldn’t be interested in an older woman or a chubby woman. That type of thinking is so limiting, and it sets you up to repeat the same kinds of experiences you’ve always had.
While we all have certain “must-haves” on our list of qualities we seek in a partner, it’s imperative not to deny yourself new experiences, sexual or otherwise, based on fear, low self-esteem or negative bias. The partners I’ve been with since turning forty and getting divorced for the second time are all very different from one another. Okay, so there have been three neuroscientists, but even they are quite different in looks and personality from each other. I’ve dated incredibly beautiful men, average-looking men, men smaller than me and much larger men.
I don’t regret a single one of them, and each has taught me something. I have two rules. I always accept a second date, if offered. Sparks don’t always fly right away. There has been more than one occasion, where the chemistry was discovered after the first date. My other rule is to never turn down an opportunity. That is, of course, unless my instincts regarding safety or comfort tell me otherwise. I almost turned down one of the sexiest experiences of my life because of my own insecurity. What a shame that would have been. Not only did we have an amazing time, but that man is now one of my dearest friends.
Consider the Alternative
Finally, for me, it came down to considering the alternative. I knew when I divorced that I wanted to do things differently in my life, to get out more and to experience new things. I made a commitment to put myself out there and to make changes in my thinking. Those changes include the way I think about sex, my age, my looks and my body. I didn’t want to miss an opportunity. Especially not because of my own negative self views. I’d missed out on too many things in my life due to insecurity. I vowed that I would not sit around the house and be lonely. While I’m still a homebody and an introvert, I’m proud to say I’ve stuck to my guns and have opened myself up to a number of experiences, including sexual ones.
Honestly, despite some stress and financial issues, this has been the best time of my life on a personal level. And, boy, have I had some awesome sex.
Mary Boyer is a freelance writer and single mom living with her three children near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She writes about her dating escapades and personal development at her mom blog, Everyday Baby Steps, and provides academic advisement to moms going back to school at The College Mom. She also spends entirely too much time on Facebook and Buzzfeed quizzes.