Sexologist Chantelle Otten’s New Book Tells Us How Body Image Can Impact Our Sex Life

Award-winning sexologist, Chantelle Otten, has been gracing my Instagram feed with sex positive content for just over a year now. I’m so grateful for her online presence in my life.

As a young woman, I’ve always felt like sex is something that’s important to talk about. Through my own sexual experiences, I’ve experienced trauma, shame, heartbreak, guilt and negative body image that have all had an impact on my life both in and outside the bedroom.

In my experience, the best way to move forward and learn how to bring sex positivity into your daily life is to talk about it, and women like Chantelle Otten make that so much more attainable.

Not only does Chantelle make it her mission to normalise everything sex, desire, pleasure and body positivity online, she’s just launched her debut book; ‘The Sex Ed You Never Had‘, in which she gives us a frank, inclusive and shame-free guide to sex, bodies and pleasure.

Inspired by her patients, Chantelle realised that they, as well as her followers, were “really missing that basic foundation of sex education,” she told POPSUGAR AU.

“They needed a guide, a reference point, just to start their journey. I’m excited that I can provide that.”

Despite having a high school subject titled “Sex Education”, we don’t get much of it. For most of us, we graduated knowing how to put a condom on a banana and that sex would probably get us pregnant and wasn’t ideal.

“I never really got sex ed! I went to a Catholic school, so we just learnt about STI’s and how babies are born,” Chantelle says, of her own sex ed experience.

But resources like Chantelle’s book, ‘The Sex Ed You Never Had‘, making their way into the hands of sexually active and curious consumers of any age group, are helping to transform our society into a more sex positive place to be.

To have these resources today, that are able to give us the information we missed out on in our developmental years, as well as the knowledge we need to have a fulfilling sex life and furthermore, a positive relationship with our bodies, is truly incredible.

In The Sex Ed You Never Had, Chantelle talks about assigned sex, gender, puberty, masturbation, sexual identity, contraception, dating, body image, relationships and much more.

All of these topics are incredibly important when learning and talking about sex, however, body image caught our eye. Body image isn’t often discussed in relation to sex, but it undoubtedly has a huge impact on the way we experience pleasure.

We’ve been fed messaging around ideal bodies, through fashion, the media, film and music that promotes this idea of a perfect body type, that makes or breaks our sexual appeal.

If we don’t have this ideal body, we feel worthless and not sexy, which ultimately doesn’t translate well when it comes to getting down ‘n dirty.

“We’re not born with insecurities, these are curated over time,” Chantelle says.

“Our negative beliefs about ourselves can absolutely change the way that we interact in the bedroom. If we feel ashamed, we put up walls, we turn away from ourselves and others, rather than towards.”

If you’ve ever felt nervous to take your clothes off in front of an intimate partner, this will most likely ring true to you. Unfortunately, so many of us are unable to be truly vulnerable, because our insecurities — that are placed on us by a patriarchal society — hold us back from letting go.

“Confidence is something that can be developed and curated. The more work you are able to do on this confidence, and the more vulnerable you are, the easier it is to let people in,” Chantelle tells us.

“Let people closer to you inside the bedroom and out.”

But it’s not about feeling ashamed about your negative body image, we’ve all been there. It’s about learning where your negative body image stems from and how you can improve it.

According to Chantelle, these are some telltale signs that you’re experiencing some negative body image:

If you…

  1. Scrutinise over your body
  2. Obsess over how it looks
  3. Put yourself down
  4. Constantly compare yourself to others

…you’re most likely suffering from negative body image. But that’s okay. Her book talks us through how to improve our body image and why it’s so important to do so.

In fact, Chantelle thinks that body image is so important when it comes to good sex, as well as our mental health, that it should be taught in our school curriculum.

“We need to discuss affirming the body and its uniqueness. Each body will look different, and that’s the beauty in diversity,” she says.

“For young people to be taught this, I believe we could help create stronger foundations for our future, and hopefully reduce the amount of negativity there is around body and self.”

The following, is an excerpt out of Chantelle Otten’s book, ‘The Sex Ed You Never Had‘, to give you a taste of the inspiring wisdom, advice and education she has to offer.

From Chapter 7: Body Image

How you feel about your body will affect your ability to express yourself sexually. I see many people coming in and out of my clinic and my life with different beliefs, like, ‘I’m not good enough because I’m a certain size, shape, look.’ What a bummer. In my eyes, you are all enough, just as you are.

We all know body image can be swayed by many factors, such as background, culture, the media and interactions with family and friends.

Good sexuality relies on being able to feel present and embodied. However, many of us are quite critical of ourselves and have high expectations of what we should look like and what is beautiful.

Here’s a great thing to remember: To allow someone else to take delight in your body, you must be able to take pleasure in it yourself. This requires taking action to find peace in yourself. To accept the body you have. Further, to befriend your body. To be playful in how you create harmony with it.

If you want to keep reading (and we highly recommend that you do), you can buy Chantelle’s book, ‘The Sex Ed You Never Had‘ ($26.99), at participating stores and online.