Having sex with belly fat

“If we are not regularly deeply embarrassed by who we are, the journey to self-knowledge hasn’t begun.” ~ Alain de Botton, The Course of Love

There is an extreme diet called the Cyclic Ketogenic Diet that allows you to see veins across your six-pack abdominal muscles. If that’s your thing, go for it.

The rest of us are probably better served by accepting the belly fat that we have. In fact, it may be the very reason someone is attracted to you. It’s paradoxical, but that you have vulnerabilities is attractive in itself.

The philosopher Alain de Botton argues that part of the reason sex is so gratifying is the knowledge that another person is attracted to our vulnerabilities. In his book How to Think More About Sex, he calls it “An End to Shame:”

“It can hardly be coincidental that in Genesis, one of the principal punishments visited by God on Adam and Eve in their expulsion from Paradise was a sense of physical shame. The Judeo-Christian deity decreed that the two ingrates should forever feel embarrassed about exposing their bodies. Whatever we may make of the biblical origins of this feeling of corporeal shame, it is evident that we wear clothes not only to keep warm but also — and perhaps even primarily — for fear of provoking repulsion in others by the sight of our flesh. Our bodies never look quite as we would want them to; even in the most beguiling and athletic moments of our youth, we are rarely lacking a long list of features we would prefer to alter. Yet such anxiety is based on something more existential than a cosmetic distaste. There is something fundamentally embarrassing about revealing any kind of naked adult body — which is to say, any body capable of desiring and having sex — to a witness.

It wasn’t always this way. The shame begins in adolescence. As our bodies mature and become physically ready for sex, so we run the risk of appearing obscene before the wrong eyes. A division begins between our ordinary public selves on the one hand and our sexual and private identities on the other. A large portion of who we are as adults, from our sexual fantasies to our parted legs, becomes impossible to share with almost anyone we know.” (p. 24).


“What is now unfolding between our couple in the bedroom is therefore an act of mutual reconciliation between two secret sexual selves, emerging at last from sinful solitude. The couple tacitly agree not to mention the stupefying strangeness of their respective physical forms and bodily desires; they accept without shame what once seemed so shameful. They admit through their caresses to being driven in unusual yet compatible directions. What they are up to is starkly at odds with the behaviour expected of them by the civilized world — it slashes, for instance, with the memory of their grandmothers — but it no longer seems either wicked or unique. At last, in the semi-darkness, the couple can confess to the many wondrous and demented things that having a body drives them to want.” (p. 28).

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