Although self-esteem is the kind of topic that you've probably read quite a bit about over the years, be honest—when's the last time you checked out an article that was totally devoted to developing your sexual self-esteem? I was inspired to do this because, one day, while a client was sharing with me a series of poor sexual encounters she experienced, I asked her if she felt that she loved herself. She didn't even pause before she responded with an emphatic, "Yes! I love myself a lot." I paused before saying, "How can that be when you chose such unhealthy partners?" She was dead silent for about a minute.
I know a lot of us don't want to face the reality that who we chose to date, have sex with and/or love says a lot about how we feel about ourselves and what we think we deserve, but ignoring the facts doesn't make them any less relevant or true. I can speak from very up close and personal experience that the more you strengthen, not just your overall self-esteem but your confidence as it directly relates to you and your sexuality, the more you'll make wiser decisions and, the better your sexual experiences will actually become. Are you ready to learn some specific ways to take your sexual self-esteem to a higher level? I've got 10 for ya.
10 Ways To Boost Your Sexual Self-Confidence
1. Look At Yourself Naked. Every Day.
I don't care what kind of impression the media tries to give you, as a marriage life coach, I can personally vouch for the fact that we as women tend to be way more critical of our bodies than men are; especially the men who are in committed relationships with us. Shoot, most of them are so excited, just to have the privilege and pleasure of being able to "partake" that they are not nearly as nit-picky about breast and booty size, "rolls" or stretch marks.
So, where do we get all of our judgment from? First of all, I don't know if anyone is more self-critical, by nature than the female species. Then, if you add to that, comparing ourselves to other women, looking at social media pics that have filters on them, and, forgetting the fact that a lot of celebrities have a cosmetic surgeon on speed dial—the fantasy of "perfection" can keep us from celebrating the reality of how we were designed, by our Creator, to be.
That's why I say the first thing that all women should do is make a point and purpose to look at themselves naked every day. I don't mean that fast glance you take when you're getting out of the shower. I mean, intentionally staring at yourself, in a full-length mirror, while verbally declaring how beautiful and fabulous you are. Take it up a notch by shouting out all of the things that make you distinctively you. If you're not used to doing this, it might feel weird or silly at first, but I promise you—the more you get used to affirming your body, the more confident you'll become and, the more comfortable you'll be whether you're having sex in the dark or—as a lot of men prefer it—in the light.
2. Conduct a Vaginal Self-Exam
I must admit that, it kind of floors me, just how many women have no idea what their vagina looks like. I mean, if you do any kind of DIY pubic hair maintenance, doesn't that automatically require that you get an up-close-and-very-personal view? Either way, for the sake of being proactive about your genital health and well-being, and so you can get more accustomed to your "lady parts", it's also a good idea to conduct a vaginal self-exam, at least once a month. On the health tip, it can get you used to what your vulva and vagina look like so that you can stay on top of any potential abnormalities. Sexually, well, if you are familiar with all that goes on down there, it can make it that much easier to give your partner a guided tour ("Why You Should Give Yourself A 'Vaginal Self-Exam'"). Feel me?
3. Take More Baths
Over in xoNecole world, we like taking baths so much that we've got articles like "Did You Know There's A Right & A Wrong Way To Take A Bath?", "5 Detox Baths For Ultimate Relaxation & Tranquility" and "Make 'National Bathtub Party Day' Your Favorite Day Of The Year" posted up on our site. We publish these types of pieces because baths are dope on so many different levels. They help to calm and relax us. They can boost our immunity while improving our heart health. They are even able to balance our hormones while moisturizing our skin. As far as our sexual self-esteem is concerned, soaking in a tub that contains essential oils and rose petals in it as we listen to some soft music and sip on a glass of red wine—does anything feel more feminine than that?
I recently watched some members of the All Def Digital team talk about all of the reasons why they would prefer to shower over taking a bath (you can listen to it here; it starts at the 49:46 mark). Personally, whenever people talk about floating in their own dirt, I always wonder, "Unless you've been sweating out in the sun all day or working out, how dirty are you?" But anyway, whether you hop right into the tub or you take a shower and then a bath, do your body and your sexual self-image a favor and treat yourself to a tub soak, at least once a week. There is something that is inexplicably sexy about doing it. There really is.
4. Sex Journal (More Often)
A part of the purpose of journaling, in general, is to recall certain memories and to gain some clarity about what you remember. This is why I'm such a fan of sexual journaling. Whether you're trying to figure out why you choose the partners that you do, how to come up with some sexual deal-breakers (which everyone should have, by the way), how to break some unhealthy patterns, or even what you like and dislike about foreplay, sex and afterplay, setting aside 30-45 minutes, once a week, to do nothing but sex journal can be another way to elevate your sexual self-esteem. Because when you see things clearly, you move…differently. (You can check out "The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)" for more of a breakdown on all of this.)
5. “Dress Up” Underneath
Lord. Before even getting into buying yourself some nice underwear, you might want to read "When Should You Replace Underwear, Make-Up, Bedding, Washcloths & Towels?", just to make sure you ain't been slippin' when it comes to getting some new stuff. One thing I am grateful that my mother ingrained in me is the importance of "dressing up" underneath. What I mean by that is, she was always saying, "A woman's underwear needs to be just as beautiful as the rest of her clothes, even if no one sees it but her." I've been abstinent for many years now, but I still make sure that my undergarment game is on point. And you know what? Doing so does have a way of making me feel pretty sexy. It also gives me the feeling that I've got a seductive secret going on, even if I'm rocking nothing more than a T-shirt and some jeans. (In fact, that's often when I'm wearing the sexiest kind of bra and panties!)
6. Recall Your Best Sexual Memories. “Burn” the Others.
Unfortunately, it's a proven fact that our minds automatically lean towards negativity. That's why, it doesn't surprise me in the least that, whenever I listen to people talk about their sexual past, oftentimes it's the not-so-good stuff that they typically focus on. While, on one hand, it can be helpful to think back to what you did (or who you picked) that you would and wouldn't do (or pick) again, if you only dwell on the "bad", not only could it cause you to overlook the good but it could taint or even jade your overall sexual perspective.
Keeping this in mind, that's why I think it's a good idea to take out a couple hours to actually recall your best sexual memories and jot them down. Reflect on what made them good, how those moments made you feel and why they rank so high to you. Next, ponder the compliments that you've been given, not just when it comes to your performance, but your overall appeal too. Recalling all of the good stuff has a way of making the not-that-great pale in comparison while it helps you to keep your memories in balance. Oh, and as far as the negative stuff, try to not give all of that a lot of energy. Whenever I'm ready to let something go, sometimes what I'll do is to write down what it is and why it's time to release it on a piece of paper; then I burn it. While that doesn't make the recollections go away forever, it is an exercise that lets me feel like I've gotten some of my power back. And that is a confidence booster, on a whole 'nother level, chile.
7. Share Your Sexual Needs with Your Partner (Beforehand)
There are a lot of ways to settle in relationships; let me share one that isn't discussed nearly as much as it should be—the women who go into sex being more concerned about whether they will please their partner than if their partner will be capable of pleasing them in return. And because this is the mindset that they are in, when they happen to be displeased—or, at the very least, not impressed—and then suppress or internalize their emotions (and desires), it can cause them to wonder if their own sexual needs and wants even matter. And that? That can put a real toll on one's sexual self-esteem.
That's why I'm such a huge advocate of couples sharing what their sexual expectations are before engaging in sex together for the first time. Hey, great sex is simply another form of good communication. How fair is it to expect someone to "get you there" if you're not even open to discussing what that requires beforehand? Sexually confident women already know that this is essential. Therefore, they do it without an apology or hesitation.
8. Cultivate Sexual Rituals
Some people are freaked out by the word "ritual", but they shouldn't be. If you go to church every weekend, that's a ritual. In context, a ritual is about a procedure that a religion practices or it's about creating your own type of ceremony. So, when I speak of creating sexual rituals, I simply mean doing things that help you to center in on your sexuality and its power. It could be engaging in some erotic self-focus. It could be meditating alone before participating in sex. It could be intentionally creating the right ambiance and mood for coitus to transpire.
It could be adorning yourself with oils that will relax you and lingerie that will make you feel alluring and exquisite. It could be turning on some sexy music and sitting in silence as the grooves take you in. Whatever it is, just make sure it's something that makes you feel sexy, tranquil, and wonderful. Pick a practice that reminds you of just how special and provocative you are. Because the more you believe it, the harder it will be to let anyone make you think otherwise.
9. Keep a Realistic Perspective
If you're relying on movies, television, R&B songs (c'mon, who really has non-stop sex all night long?) or even your friends' sexual escapades to serve as a forecast for what your sex life will or even should be like and, at the same time, you're not super confident when it comes to sex and your sexuality, that makes total sense. After all, you are living in a fantasy world, a fairy tale, and both of those things are anything but realistic. I'm not saying that sex can't be good, totally amazin' even, but there are tons of people out here who are disillusioned and bitter about all things sex-related, simply because they didn't approach it from a mature and reasonable perspective.
The real is that sometimes sex is awkward. The real is sometimes people have "off nights". The real is that it might take a while for you and your partner to truly get in sync. The real is some of your past partners may be better than your current in certain areas and aspects. The real is that you are human, your partner is as well, and so coitus isn't always gonna be perfect all of the time. But you know what? If you're with a mentally healthy and emotionally sound person, "performance" isn't gonna be nearly as important as connection. And knowing that you are sharing your being with someone who wants to be with you, for you, is one of the best ways to boost your sexual morale.
10. Never Fake It
One of the reasons why I wrote the article, "Why You Should Stop Faking Orgasms ASAP" is because, while I get why a lot of people do fake it, I don't really think that it's a wise or beneficial thing to do. The definitions of the word "fake" are enough to illustrate my point:
Fake: prepare or make (something specious, deceptive, or fraudulent); to conceal the defects of or make appear more attractive, interesting, valuable, etc., usually in order to deceive
How can you have a high sense of sexual self-worth if you're out here deceiving your partner into thinking the sex is all good, just so they will find you (more) attractive, interesting and/or valuable? Uh-uh, sis. You and your body are way too precious for some foolishness like that.
Love yourself, your body and your time enough to commit to not faking sexual satisfaction. Be confident enough to express when you are pleased and when you are not (do it gently and kindly but do it). The right partner will want you to be pleased, so they will respect you for speaking up. And when you are encouraged to be as open and honest as possible, that is a sexual self-esteem booster like no other!
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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If you haven’t scrolled upon Olivia McDowell's TikTok famous dinner parties, you may need to reconfigure your "For You Page."
What began as a passion for hosting aesthetically themed meals for her closest friends has quickly become a viral sensation. With an astonishing 12 million viewers, women describe Olivia’s picturesque dinner parties as the “dream girls' night,” complete with classy cocktails, beautiful table settings, elegant outfits, and, most importantly, food plated to perfection.
Seemingly reigniting the feminine urge to host fancy dinner parties, Olivia has perfected the finer details. Overlooking the skyline in her beautiful NYC apartment, she never fails to make her signature handmade pasta dishes while simultaneously looking effortlessly chic in the wardrobe of dreams while doing so.
Replying to @nara0630 what should the theme of my next dinner party be? #minivlog #nycliving #dinnerpartyideas #caviarinnewyork
What I love most about hosting intimate dinners for close friends are the connections and relationships that form over food. They don't require a caviar budget with a high-rise apartment, it just takes determination and a little creativity. Watching Olivia’s journey inspires viewers to be a part of a community of positive and uplifting women who share common interests and tastes in food, fashion, and decor. Simply stated, she’s raising the bar of friendship goals.
If you’re aspiring to host a holiday-themed dinner party this season, check out the four tips that will guide you along the way.
Choose Your Theme
Replying to @emz.life.tsv what was your fav part? 🤍 hope this gives you some inspiration to host a fancy friendsgiving too! #hostingtip #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Set the ambiance with a thoughtful theme, which will indeed be your guiding light for less stress during the planning process. Establishing a theme sets the tone for everything else to fall in place, such as menus, table design, and presentation. For example, a holiday-inspired dinner party is a perfect occasion for elegant all-white decor paired with draped table cloths, pillar candles lit atop luxe holders, floating floral arrangements, and, for a personal touch, handwritten place settings.
Utilizing free resources such as Canva for menu templates and creating a “Dinner Party” moodboard via Pinterest is perfect for gathering dinner inspiration for themes, decor, and recipes for the special occasion.
Simplify the Menu
How to host your own pasta making dinner party — part 1: pasta making from scratch 🤍 Hosting dinner parties has become my favorite thing to do this year. More goes into it than you expect, the prep, planning, guestlist, tablescape, etc. but it’s always worth it in the end. What do you guys want to see next? #hostingtips #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Don’t overcomplicate the menu. A simple dinner party formula to use as your guide to making sure your guests leave full of food and joy is appetizers, salads, entrees, sides, desserts, and beverages. As a starter, assemble an aesthetic spread that your guest can nibble on while awaiting the main course with starters such as bread, cheese, jam, nuts, and fruit. A simple salad will do, complete with a light dressing right before your entree. For a main dish, pasta recipes always go a long way and also allows your guests to interact with one another, which leads to McDowell's third dinner party hosting tip.
Include an Interactive Element
Replying to @itstai.tv 🖤 #girlhood
To break the ice and encourage guests to get to know one another, introduce interactive elements to the evening. Moments of interaction allow everyone to connect, like capturing content for social media or memorializing the essence of the night through fun Polaroids. Olivia also encourages her guests to participate in the pasta-making dinner process as a group, or if hosting a brunch, her friends indulge in building their own coffee bar as an opportunity for forming connections and conversation starters. Group board or card games are also great for laughs and healthy competition to help get the vibes flowing.
Don’t Forget the Dress code
Replying to @samantha_mendiz when all of your friends are the main character 🖤🥂 #dinnerparty #nycfashion
Tis’ the season for glamour and sparkles, so why not go all out with a super chic dress code? You can’t have a picture-perfect holiday dinner party without the coordinating attire to match. When planning, make sure to make the required attire specific yet broad enough for a range of personalities and preferences to comfortably partake while looking stunning doing so.
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