But cultural messages also continue to tell us that no one bigger than a size 6 should be singing the siren song of sexuality. Much like oil and water, being overweight and sexy just don't mix. For those already struggling with weight and image issues, that powerful message can easily throw a wet blanket on even the most active libido.
By Kimberly Goad
As Amanda Clark, 33, a caterer from Boston, walked down the aisle toward her fiancé, wearing a $15,000 gown and a 7-carat ring, she felt nothing but dread. I don't want to go through with this, she thought, with each step toward the altar.
Just two hours before the ceremony, Clark had gone for a dip in the ocean with her two sisters. When it was time to get ready, Clark wouldn't budge. "I couldn't get out of the water," she says. "It was like knowing you have a work meeting...
"Unfortunately, people are internalizing society's definition of what it takes to be involved in sex, particularly the body shape -- there are clearly societal biases out there that are influencing us on an individual level and not in a good way, " says Martin Binks, PhD, a clinical psychologist and director of behavioral health at Duke University's Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, N.C.
But it turns out that cultural messages aren't the whole story. New research suggests certain physical conditions that go along with obesity also affect sex drive, further dampening the desires of those who are overweight. The good news: You can make some changes to your body (and how you think about your body) to enhance your libido. You can:
Lose a little weight, even 10 pounds, to stimulate sex hormones
Key your workouts to getting blood flowing to the pelvic area
Pick up a sexy novel and start reading
Accept your body at any size
Believe in your sensuality
How to begin? Start by identifying the physical and psychological obstacles that could be standing in your way to a fulfilling sex life.
How Too Much Weight Hampers Sex Drive
According to a recent study conducted by Binks and his colleagues at Duke, up to 30% of obese people seeking help controlling their weight indicate problems with sex drive, desire, performance, or all three. Often, the latest research shows, these problems can be traced to physical conditions that co-exist with obesity.