Disclaimer: this article references stereotypical body insecurities. I am not speaking to my personal idea of beauty.
For many of you this article may not be very relevant – that’s ok. It does, however, apply to enough people that I felt it deserved some attention. I have had many conversations with people that are coming into the scene from the vanilla world. You know how when you’re dating and you start seeing someone new who is completely different from your old partner, yet you bring along all your baggage that you either have to work through or realize it just doesn’t apply in the new relationship? Well the phenomenon I am discussing here is kind of like that.
For this article I am honing in on body issues and sense of attractiveness. There are two areas I see this issue play out – individually and when looking for a partner. I will start with the individual. This typically effects s-types. Why? Because they are usually the ones expected to shed some clothing at parties or at least during scenes. However, many new s-types feel completely intimidated by this when they begin their journey. They can’t imagine taking off clothes in front of a room of strangers. Much of this has to do with body image as well as it just being a new situation for them. I think what happens though, eventually, is that they see many others stripping down and they realize that almost nobody has a “perfect” body. And guess what? They also observe that those people aren’t ridiculed for it! This is something you just don’t see as much in the vanilla world. In the vanilla world, people get made fun of for every little flaw. No wonder people are intimidated by the thought of getting naked (or close to it) in the midst of a crowd. In the kink community not only are they not teased, but there is usually a lot of support and compliments given where the focus is the outfit, the shoes, the glittery eyeshadow, or the scene itself. Eventually I see most of these same people who started off feeling intimidated and insecure about showing more skin – taking it off (or at least more of it) a few months (give or take) later.
This issue also comes up when looking for a partner. This can go for everyone – newbies no matter what side of the slash. They come in thinking nobody will want them because they’re “too fat” or not attractive enough. Now I understand these insecurities (along with many more I just haven’t listed) are everywhere and certainly prevalent in the vanilla dating circles. Heck – there are dating apps solely based on matching due to how you look!
Here’s the thing – this is my theory as to why people have to adjust their baggage – or just toss it in the garbage when they enter the scene. In general, kinksters are looking beyond physical attributes – and/or looking at physical features completely differently. Have a big butt? Perfect for spanking. Broad shoulders like a linebacker? Fantastic for flogging. Large nipples? Hand over the clothespins. A bit fluffy and not stereotypically attractive but can throw a flogger? Line up the s-types! Do you get what I’m trying to say? Also, beyond play I think when people are looking for a connection, especially a D/s relationship, they are more drawn in by the strength of the dynamic than the other person’s physique. If you initially find someone who is “hot” but the dynamic pull just isn’t there – the attraction can fizzle. Vice versa, the dynamic pull can be so strong that the physical attraction simply follows. Can there be both? Of course! The point is that people walk into this scene with baggage and insecurities and it’s great to watch them slowly drop those societal expectations – even if it takes a little time. Kink is certainly more than skin deep.
Jennifer Masri is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, specializing in Alternative Lifestyles for individual and relationship issues. She also teaches the BDSM 101 class series at Sanctuary LAX in Los Angeles every Monday evening. Read more about Jennifer on her blog, A Kink Shrink.