body image

How the Porn Expo Boosted My Body Image & Self Confidence

After moving to a new state and changing jobs, I found solace in the ‘body image’ essays on the web. The stress of redefining a career that used to be entrepreneurial had left its mark on my hips, thighs, and cheeks (both sets). So, here I am, approaching my mid-thirties, wondering if I should “just accept my physical fate” of softer rather than stronger.

While reading tiny twitter headlines on the train at night, the topic of ‘giving’ seemed to bubble to the surface just as often as ‘body image’. These weren’t about typical philanthropy, but more on the positive, life-extending, happiness-increasing effects of giving one’s personal time to your friends, family, and strangers.

Quite serendipitously, a new yoga class was offered at the gym. A few friends and I wanted to attend, but two in particular were hesitant because they had never tried yoga before. While I’m not a certified yogi, I have been practicing for about ten years and thought I should be able to teach an ‘Intro to Yoga’ class that would give them a sense of what to expect.

My alarm was set for thirty minutes past the crack of dawn and I’m on the 7:16am train in to teach yoga for the first time. Class number one turned into class number four, five, and here we are, our own little group of beginner yogis in tow, getting stronger and healthier in body and mind – together.

Heading to the locker room one morning, we strike up a conversation about celebrity bodies and the elusive Thigh Gap. “I’ve never seen a notch in between these thighs and I don’t think I EVER will,” says one of my ‘students.’ I respond with a quip about our yoga efforts chasing Chunky Butt Season away “but, if you’re ever feeling really down about your thighs, go to a porn convention. It will change your life.” A very confused face looks back at me. I explain…

Back when I was the co-owner of a design firm, we shopped for new clients at conferences and trade shows all over the country. While we had healthcare, electronics, and non-profit covered, we also had an adult toy retailer. I wanted to develop this side of the business for two reasons:
1) I am a sexual woman who finds comfort in a realm others see as taboo.
2) Help a few vibrator boxes come into the 21st century (the 80’s hair and terrible typography has GOT to go).
We created a separate LLC for this new business venture, and booked our flights to Vegas for the annual Adult Entertainment Expo.

Staring at the plane tickets, I was torn. I was working out at the time, but I knew my body could be better, tighter, sexier. My sex life seemed fine, but it now felt lackluster. I flipped through AEE’s website a few times and became incredibly anxious. The facts rolling around in my head included:

  • You will walk through a jungle of gorgeous women, real parts or not, and they will display their sexual pride to you.
  • I will come back with less self confidence, and be less of a woman overall.
  • Attending this expo reveal how regular, unsexy, and imperfect my body is.
  • My sexual needs are dull and perhaps misaligned with myself or my partner.

Over the years I’ve become a big fish in a little pond when it comes down to intimacy and girl talk. I was really afraid that going to AEE would ruin decades of sexual confidence and brand me with a badge that says “Physically, I’m just meh.”

I was dead wrong.

I walked onto that massive tradeshow floor and saw chunky butts that looked like mine! I counted cottage cheese thighs, obtuse boob jobs, lovely naturals, hot messes and pure train wrecks. This place represented more of reality than the Fashion District in New York City.

Every body image issue you and I have read about in the last three months was presented on a pedestal, pole, or stage, and those women were holding it DOWN. Some were truly proud – and I was proud to be there with them. And while I know the road to porn stardom is not always lead by good choices and happiness, the vast majority of these women and men had a strength about them that just took my breath away.

I came back from that trip with far more confidence in exactly who I was physically and mentally. I embraced what I enjoyed sexually and what I did not. I talked about these concerns and ideas with an ease that was often absent in the bedroom. The adult expo made me a better person, a better lover, and a successful business woman – we signed a web design client that week, which grew our bottom line as well as our creativity.

So, the next time your problem area glares back at you in the mirror, buy yourself a ticket to Vegas for January, and head to the Adult Entertainment Expo. You’ll surprise yourself, your perceived body image, as well as that lucky partner of yours when you get home.

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