Breaking the rules of attraction

Do you consider yourself sexually attractive? We can get caught up in what the media and society are telling us is appealing, but the truth is far more nuanced.

As a dancer I was in a position to appreciate the diversity of human physical attraction (in my working environment, generally from heterosexual men towards women). Some people may balk at the idea men ‘choosing’ who they find most attractive out of a room full of women, but it was fascinating to observe and be part of. The results were not at all what I expected and brought many benefits.

I was helped over my life-long dislike of my curvy tummy by my biggest-ever-spender telling me it was his favourite part of my body – not because I needed a man to validate it, but because seeing it through an admirer’s eyes allowed me to break out of my rigid viewpoint. 

In another personal example, a few months into visiting my shifts regularly, a follower shared how it hadn’t been my super-long-legs or 34D breasts that had first made him feel drawn to me, but rather the tendency of my ear to poke through my fine hair.

There were plenty of examples among my fellow dancers of non-typical features being a source of attraction.

A dancer who was very short-sighted, but couldn’t wear contact lenses while she had an eye infection, was initially embarrassed to come to work in her glasses. But the glasses brought her such devoted new fans – and lost her none of her existing ones – that she decided not to return to contacts. 

If your labia were so long you could actually tie them in a knot, would you feel ashamed of them? One very successful dancer with such a pair most certainly was not – she had them pierced with multiple rings to highlight them.

A tanned Brazilian dancer had silky body hair running down her spine and spreading out over her lower back and buttocks. She didn’t remove it as she got so many compliments from the men. 

Might you feel dislike towards your skimpily-dressed size 16-18 body, in a public room full of size 10s? How about if you were the top earner, consistently, on every shift you worked – how might you feel about it then?

Of course looks are far from everything, even in initial attraction. I also saw shift after shift, how confidence and a positive energy were key elements to being attractive. And I should note I am talking in this column about a working environment of able-bodied women… The first time I went to the Night Of The Senses (an event raising funds to support the erotic rights of people with disabilities), my cultural conditioning on what was ‘sexy’ or ‘attractive’ was further exploded. But I’ll return to that in another column – for now back to the strip world…

Establishing ‘regulars’ (guys who would come to your shifts and tip you or buy dances from you on a regular basis) was the key to consistent income as a dancer. While looks may have formed the initial attraction, what would lead into a mutually happy and beneficial dancer-customer relationship was the personality dynamics. But I was endlessly surprised and fascinated by my experiences of men’s visual attraction. It was so much more diverse than society had had me believe. 

My personal confidence, as a woman in my mid-20s, was transformed. I never heard a dancer say the job had made her less confident in her looks – always the opposite.

[The few negative comments I ever received, in 12 years of dancing, were from women in the audience. Please ladies, can we STOP putting each other down?!]

I’ll state again – my experiences and those of other dancers were not about any of us needing the validation of a man’s ‘approval’. They were about us breaking out of our rigid mental cages of what is ‘attractive’ and what is a ‘fault’, built by culture, the media, family upbringing, our first romantic or sexual experiences… 

I invite you now to think about an aspect of your appearance you don’t like. Create a story in your mind where someone else adores that part of you – however fantastical that may seem. It’s possible! 

Then pretend you are that admirer and write a text message, a love note, describing your adoration of that part of your body or aspect of your appearance. Send yourself that text and read it as if you had received it from another person. Read it every day until you start to accept it could be possible. This can be the start of you breaking out of that mental cage.

This topic may seem a little superficial, but if we can’t fully accept our bodies – if we harbour hatred or even just low-level persistent dislike to parts of them – this can stop us having the joyful erotic experiences we deserve.

So hooray for rounded tummies, glasses, long labia, body hair, sumptuous curves and everything else that make up our glorious selves.

Self-Care Alert: Coaching exercises are suitable for people who are able to take active, positive steps towards their desired future. If you feel held back by unresolved trauma from your past, then counselling/therapy with a trained psychotherapist may be a more suitable option for you. If you are working with a counsellor/therapist, check with them that the exercise in this column is suitable for you before giving it a try.

You can contact Ruth via her Coaching page here on Sonder & Beam or via 

Photo by Vika Aleksandrova on Unsplash

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