Sept. 14, 2001 -- When I read that Rene Russo enlisted a
sex-appeal coach to prepare for her smoldering role in The Thomas Crown
Affair, I was immediately skeptical. After all, I'm pretty sure sculptured
cheekbones and perky breasts can't be learned. Still I wonder: With a little
professional help, can your average woman -- OK, me -- go from tepid to
A sex therapist can be a psychiatrist, a marriage and family therapist, a psychologist, or a clinical social worker. We are specially trained in sex therapy methods beyond the minimal amount of training about sexuality that is required for each of those licenses.
There are a few graduate schools in the U.S. that specialize in training for sex therapy. Some people assemble their training by rigorous self-study and by attendance at the major sexological organizations' annual conferences. We have about...
Intrigued, I do what any gal looking to boost her babe quotient
would do: I head to Los Angeles. I've booked a one-hour session with Barbara
Biggs, PhD, the Los Angeles sex therapist I've chosen to cultivate my inner
Before I set out, though, I have a dilemma to solve: How does
one dress for seductress school? Should my hair be up or down? What if my
personal sex-appeal coach tells me I'm hopeless, that my Wonderbra was a waste
of money? I haven't felt this flustered since my last blind date. And he wasn't
even a doctor. No wonder I'm nervous.
By chance, Biggs does not live up to her name: She's actually
quite petite. She's also warm and friendly, which instantly puts me at ease.
And she gets right down to business.
Debunking the Myths
"The biggest misconception about sex appeal," she says,
"is that there's one definition or ideal." She often hears women
telling her, "I've got to have long hair" or "I've got to have long
legs" if they have any hope of measuring up on the sexiness scale.
There is definitely more than one definition of what's sexy,
she says, so if you meet someone whose description of sexiness doesn't fit you,
you can walk away and fulfill someone else's definition.
There are other misconceptions, as well. Warmth, Biggs says, is
the essence of sexiness. (And all along, I thought it was the strategically
timed hair toss.)
"The average guy does not see himself as a super-stud,"
she says. (This, too, is news to me.)
"A friendly smile, with eye contact, shows you're confident
and approachable and probably won't shoot him down, something most guys find
incredibly appealing," Biggs says. (Now, I'm relaxing a little. After all,
who can't smile and zero in on someone else's eyes?)
My coach continues: "There's a saying: 'If you think you're
the most beautiful woman in the room, you will be.'" The same applies to
Your Personal Top 10 List
But if you can't imagine thinking that you're the sexiest
person in any room -- ever -- it's time to catalog your positive traits. To do
this, Biggs says, you have to look at yourself without judging. (Recruit
several friends for unbiased feedback.)
First, address the body-image issue.
"Most women think they're too fat, but women are meant to
be round," Biggs says. "This is about looking at your curves and
appreciating them as an artist might. This is not about trying to count your