Category Archives: Body Image

Are Women Harming Male Body Image?

We’ve all seen the completely unrealistic images of women with uber-long legs, teeny waists, melon breasts, and flat tummies. They’re on magazine covers, billboards, advertisements, and posters plastered around your local mall. Too often, we look at those pictures and wonder, Is that what a beautiful woman looks like? Is that what men want?

I’ve written plenty about body image for wives, arguing that all those PhotoShopped, airbrushed images undermine the beauty of individual wives—who are varied in their appearance but beautiful nonetheless to the Creator who made them, to the husband who married them, and to all others who love them. Which should include ourselves.

The Era of the Six-Pack

These days, women are not the only ones having unrealistic images and ridiculous expectations pelted at them. Just ask any guy who’s semi-aware, and he’ll tell you the “six-pack” is the new must-have for many men.

When I Googled “how to get six-pack abs,” I got 76.5 million results. Admittedly nowhere near the 496 million one gets if they Google “how to get big boobs,” but still a crazy high number. And how many guys out there are actually going to end up with washboard abs?

Yet six-packs, tight butts, big biceps, and every other muscular show of masculine strength is all the rage now. From Magic Mike to male cover models to superhero movies, the men who garner attention female attention are sporting a body that most only get with a strict diet, extensive exercise, and methods like taking diuretics. And guess what? If a male model or actor is over a certain age and still sporting a six-pack, they may also have had surgical intervention, such as liposuction to suck out fat and reveal muscles more prominently.

Meaning the average man…just can’t live up to the ideal.

Before the Abs Frenzy Took Hold

A lean yet muscular look has become a new standard for male attractiveness. But it hasn’t always been. Just look at these classic actors once considered particularly handsome in their day (and yes, they’re shirtless to show what I mean, but I avoided anything I thought was too much):

With the exception of Paul Newman, those are all just men who are in good shape, reasonably muscled, but not ready to wear today’s Captain America unitard. They’d be sent to a dietitian and personal trainer to push themselves up to the new, ridiculous standard.

Chris Evans, the Captain America actor, told a magazine about getting into shape for his role in Avengers: Infinity War: “For this film it was about three months of training, and I wasn’t looking forward to it…I’ve always liked going to the gym, but these weren’t normal gym sessions. I was puking at the gym. They were brutal, absolutely brutal.”

Seriously, are we wanting our men to puke so that we can look at steel abs for an hour and a half? If so, I don’t think we can say that women are the only ones being fed a pile of poop when it comes to body image.

Are Women Leading This Charge?

I blame a lot of players for unreal beauty and strength standards in our culture—from casting agents to magazine publishers to advertising executives to gym promotions. But you know what? Long before the ab craze, there was Fabio. And who bought those books and fell for the cover model? Women.

Who’s sharing “man candy” pics on Twitter and Facebook? Women. (And a few gay men.)

Who oohs and aaahs over Jason Momoa’s chest? Women. (He’s the actor who played Aquaman.)

The truth is that I don’t know if women are leading the charge, but they are contributing. And for a group of people who don’t like having Barbie-shaped expectations thrown at them all the time and object to being objectified, maybe we should own our part and do better, ladies. Maybe it’s time to create a new standard in our minds for what a handsome man looks like.

What Do “Real Men” Look Like?

Real men have varied body types just like women. Some are lean, some are bulky. Some are broad-shouldered, some are narrow-shouldered. Some display strength in their chests, some in their legs. I could go on and on with the variations, but you get the point that God made a plethora of physiques, all of which can be appreciated.

But your average guy, even in shape, is not going to look like the next Fabio or Black Panther. And we wives shouldn’t make our husbands feel bad about that. Rather, we should regularly and honestly show that we like and desire our husband’s body. Men are struggling with body image too.

Men are struggling with body image too. @HotHolyHumorous Click To Tweet

Gary Thomas wrote a fabulous post about The Only Man/Woman in the World, talking about how our own spouses should become The Standard for us. And while that doesn’t mean we’re blind to the beauty or muscles of some very nice-looking people around us, it means that we cherish the real person we have in our lives.

The world will not suddenly stop the madness of throwing unrealistic body types at us, but we can make a difference in our own home by letting our husband know that he is The One for us.

Q&A with J: Doesn’t She Really Want a Bigger Penis?

One of my most popular post continues to be Penis Size: From the Wife’s Point of View. So I’m not surprised that this issue continues to be on husband’s minds. Here are two related emails from readers:

I read your article on Penis size. There seems to be a lot of truth in it from my experience but some claims do not tally with my experience….My wife tells me she can feel my presence deep within her and she enjoys that feeling.

I stumbled across your webpage by googling “Does size matter?” and found your blog. I am the husband asking this because I wonder if my wife really deep inside wishes I was bigger.

Q&A with J: Doesn't She Really Want a Bigger Penis? with ruler

I have talked to a lot of women about this and done quite a bit of research. Thus, let me break down more fully what I know.

Penises are big.

For almost every woman, the first time she sees a penis and thinks about it fitting inside her, she’s like whoathat huge thing? We even talked about this in a recent Sex Chat for Christian Wives episode on male anatomy.

With the exception of a medical condition called micropenis (which is 2.5 standard deviations below average, and only 1.5 in 10,000 men have that), the penis is big enough to make her stretch, to provide friction, and to feel good.

Bigger penises might reach deeper.

Studies now show that yes, women who engage with longer penises may report some additional pleasure because there could be the potential to reach deeper erogenous zones.

But it’s not a given, and those zones can be reached in other ways. A guy with an average-sized penis can use sexual positioning and angles to hit “just that right spot,” if she’s so inclined. Moreover, you have your fingers too, which can curve and reach in ways your penis cannot.

Your penis isn’t the best way for her to orgasm.

Most women don’t reach orgasm through vaginal penetration anyway. The vast majority of orgasms for a woman are from direct clitoral stimulation, rather than the indirect stimulation intercourse provides.

If you really want to get her going, check out my recent post on the “golden trio”: These 3 Actions Could Bring You to Orgasm.

Committed wives value their husband’s penis.

When I receive a complaint from a woman about her man’s penis size, it’s always from a woman who isn’t in a committed marriage. I was about to type “almost always,” but then I realized the only exception I could think of was a guy who actually had that micropenis medical condition.

Every other time, it’s been from a promiscuous woman whose enjoyment of sex is more linked to some physical high than the deeper, and truly better, emotional, physical, and even spiritual connection that can happen in the marriage bed. From everything I’ve heard, wives in good marriages like their husband’s penis just fine.

From everything I've heard, wives in good marriages like their husband's penis just fine. Click To Tweet

It’s not the size of the tool, but its effectiveness.

Finally, women are more impressed with what you can do with your body parts than whether Mr. Happy can stand up an extra half-inch. If you want your wife to think you’re absolutely awesome, don’t sweat penis size so much; think about how to give her more pleasure.

For instance, link your penis being inside her with a clitoral orgasm that has her eyes rolling back in her head. You can do this by stroking her clitoris with your hand (make sure the area’s lubricated) during intercourse, or encourage her to use her own hand. Then when her muscles spasm, the presence (and thus size) of your penis will feel especially good.

That’s about it. I suspect your wife is content with your penis. But you can always explore more ways to make lovemaking more meaningful and pleasurable for both of you.

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Where to Shop for Lingerie

Sometimes, I get questions on where to shop for lingerie. People express concerns like:

  1. Finding sensual yet comfortable options
  2. Having a variety of sizes to choose from
  3. Not being exposed to scantily dressed women in ads or examples
  4. Not financing other problematic products

Admittedly, while Victoria’s Secret makes a quality bra, you cannot walk into that store without seeing models dressed and posed in provocative ways. And then there was the time I walked into a franchise lingerie and sex toy store, which had some nice options mixed in with who wears this? stuff…but the room in the back filled with porn movies made me back out of that place faster than a Fast & Furious race.

So what are some other places you can shop? Here are some ideas.

Blog post title + vintage-looking lingerie on a hanger stand

Boutique stores.

Sometimes a local boutique store has great options, as well as sales personnel who specialize in helping you find something that will flatter your form. Living in the Houston area, I certainly know that a few such alternatives can be found here.

Given the size of these shops, they’re unlikely to offer a lot of options. However, the quality of what they sell tends to be higher, meaning that the lingerie will probably be more comfortable and durable. As well as pricier, as I’m sure you figured.

Department stores.

Your local department store isn’t likely to have super-revealing ads or posters, even in the lingerie section. And they will have a wider variety than boutique stores, both in styles and sizes. Cost will depend on what level of department store you go to, but you can likely find something in your price bracket.

Also, for those nervous about shopping for lingerie, it can be a little less awkward to walk into a big department store and then go into that section. That way, if your Sunday school teacher spots you, you can just say, “Oh, I’m here to get socks, but I just wandered over to this department.” Albeit, if you’re holding up a sheer negligee with a big grin on your face, he ain’t gonna believe you. #CaughtRedHanded

Discount stores.

Stores like Target and Walmart are not considered department stores, but rather discount stores. Yet they have lingerie sections. Personally, I like the convenience of shopping for groceries, office supplies, toiletries, and lingerie all in the same shopping trip!

Indeed, you might be surprised what you can find on the lingerie racks of a discount store. And again, you won’t find a lot of revealing images displayed. Plus, it’s a pretty safe bet that your purchase won’t break your pocketbook.

Online Christian Retailers.

In the last several years, Christian-owned online stores have cropped up to provide marital aids, intimacy resources, and attractive lingerie. One wonderful feature is they display lingerie items on mannequins, rather than live models. I like that — both because you can easily turn the screen to your husband and say, “What do you think of this one?” without giving him an eyeful of flesh and because it keeps you from comparing your body to the woman wearing the negligee.

I’ve looked at quite a few online stores, and I finally found one I’m excited to endorse: Honoring Intimates. Honoring Intimates has a nice array of options, a good spread of sizes, reasonable prices, and good customer attention. In fact, they actually remove the manufacturer tag and add their own tag with a Song of Solomon theme. Yes, I purchased from them and had an excellent experience all the way around. I encourage y’all to check them out for yourselves.

Affiliate Link

Honoring Intimates is also a great place to find something for that next bridal lingerie shower you attend. Not only would the recipient get a lovely item, they would have that reminder that God is a proponent of hot and holy sex in marriage.

And if you want to learn about how to shop for lingerie, I have a section on just that in my book, Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design. Check it out!

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Are You a Fan of Your Husband’s Man-Part?

I asked my husband for his permission to tell the following story from our marriage bed:

Neither of us is a big talker during lovemaking. Even so, I’ve been known to lose control of my tongue and blurt out something that may or may not be all that coherent. Anyway, several months ago, we were in the middle of a particularly passionate sexual encounter. As I approached climax, my brain shot a single focused thought to my mouth and it burst out of my mouth: “I love your penis!”

Oh yes, I did.

After we finished that part of our intimacy, my husband and I laughed heartily about what I’d said. I turned pink about my comment, feeling so embarrassed for saying such a thing. But although Spock was amused (if you’re new, Spock is what I call my husband), he was also rather complimented. I’d shown genuine, unfiltered appreciation for his manhood.

Blog post title + image of large foam hand saying "Fan"

Now I haven’t always been at the point in my marriage that I’d say such a thing while in the throes of passion. Perhaps you can’t imagine saying, or even thinking, something like that.

But it’s important to appreciate your husband’s penis — to be its biggest fan.

It's important to appreciate your husband's penis — to be its biggest fan. Click To Tweet

Before you run away and decide your time would be better spent searching Pinterest for yet another amazing cupcake recipe you’ll never actually make, give me a few more minutes to make my case. Because I was also hesitant to adore the soldier at first.

I didn’t go all Fan Girl and blurt out that above statement in year one of our marriage, or even year ten. It took a while for me to fully embrace the astounding creation that is The Penis. Why have I become a fan?

1. Familiarity

I’m well aware of the saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” But what a lot of hogwash! For anyone who’s ever had a favorite something — favorite blanket, favorite pair of jeans, favorite coffee cup — you know that hanging out with something you like doesn’t diminish how you feel about it. In fact, it makes your experience better.

My favorite pair of jeans doesn’t become my favorite pair of jeans until I’ve worn them several times over, the material has softened up a bit, and they’ve stretched out just right fit to my body. Likewise, hanging out more often with your husband’s penis means that you get used to its shape and size, its movements and responses, its function and beauty.

Take time to look at and touch his penis. Explore the area with your eyes and hands, becoming familiar with this body part that is “yours, mine, and ours.”

2. Physiology

As I learned more about how male anatomy and the penis work, my appreciation for God’s creation deepened. Male anatomy is designed in a rather remarkable way, so that the penis can become erect yet sufficiently flexible, the systems work together to produce sperm and semen, and the muscles and nerves produce both pleasure and ejaculation.

Learning more about how God created his body can have a positive and even awe-inducing effect. It can also help a wife know where and how to touch him, further increasing her appreciation as his man-part happily responds. This is when the classroom physiology becomes in-the-field experience. As anyone who’s taken biology knows, reading the textbook isn’t nearly as fun as experimenting in the lab.

But of course, it helps to have some head knowledge before you go encounter the, well, head up-close. To that end, this TED Talk was illuminating for me on how amazing God’s creation really is.

You can also learn more about penis size here: Penis Size – From a Wife’s Point of View.

3. Pleasure

You know why I like chocolate? Chocolate has been good to me. It’s provided many wonderful moments of pleasure, when my taste buds awakened and savored that rich delight. Likewise, a husband’s penis receives greater admiration when it provides his wife rich pleasure.

Becoming more assertive in saying and showing what you need can help you find greater pleasure in his penis. Use his penis to stroke your body where you like to be touched. Use ample lubrication, adding personal lubricant if you don’t have enough, so that his penis slicks against your skin. Ask for sexual positions that make penetration feel even better to you. Give a shot at finding more sensitive spots with his penis. Add direct clitoral stimulation to intercourse, so that the spasms of a clitoral orgasm still happen around his penis.

When you’ve experienced a lot of pleasure that involves Mr. Happy, you’ll be happy he’s there too. If he’s helped you “win” a lot, you’ll become a big fan.

And a message for the hubbies…

If your wife isn’t immediately your man-part’s biggest fan, please don’t take it personally. I know it’s very personal to you, but I’ve met many women through the years who didn’t know much of anything about male anatomy, excepting what they learned in biology class and pop culture references. And some women have encountered awful men who used the existence of that body part as an excuse for sexual harassment or even assault.

More often, we gals just aren’t all that familiar with the equipment in a way that makes us feel confident. And that takes some time and intentionality.

Help her feel free to explore at a slower pace than you might like, and show her where you like to be touched and how. Explain to her what it means to you for her to appreciate your penis, because it’s something a lot of women don’t fully understand.

And make sure you use your penis to provide her pleasure, not just you. Once you’re married, it really is a case of yours, mine, and ours. (And yes, I would say that to your wife about her body too.) Prioritize her pleasure so that she can appreciate all of you, the way you appreciate all of her.

Honestly, we should each be one another’s biggest body fans. But today, I’ve been focused on the ladies. So let’s do this, gals — let’s show our husbands that we are indeed his man-part’s biggest fan.

Be sure to listen to our recent Sex Chat for Christian Wives episode on male anatomy!

Forget What You Look Like While Making Love

I no longer care what I look like when my husband and I make love.

Let me clarify. I do care about being clean, shaving my legs, wearing something sexy, etc. But I used to be so self-conscious about the expressions my face made or how my body might appear to him in certain sexual positions. I wanted to look beautiful throughout — just like how lovers look so attractive throughout the sex scenes in movies.

I confess to even sucking in my tummy or lying at an angle that made my breasts look more perky or posing in what I considered sensual ways. You know what happened? I just made it harder for myself to get fully involved in the experience. I was taking a part of my brain and focusing it on my looks rather than the sensations I was feeling, or his gaze-worthy body, or the intimacy we were enjoying.

How about you? Are you too aware of what you look like while making love? Are you self-conscious about your body and your facial expressions? Do you feel uptight in some way as you try to control how you come across to your beloved husband?

Blog post title + illustration of woman making satisfied expression

I suspect he’d rather you stop all that worrying and get far more into enjoying the experience. Just keep a few things in mind:

He’s in love with you, not your glamour shot.

Look, it’s great to spruce up for your husband and present yourself in a way that makes him feel special and you feel confident. But at the end of the day, your husband knows what you look like. You’re not going to fool him by sucking in every time he walks into a room, or he’s going to start wondering why you always look constipated.

If he’s interested in or responsive to making love, then your husband knows he’s getting the whole you — not the you from your 1990s glamour shot. And honestly, he’s no glamour shot himself. We are real people with real bodies, and our desire for sexual intimacy in marriage goes beyond what you look like in any particular moment. It’s about the life you have together and nurturing an even deeper connection.

Enthusiasm trumps appearance.

Husbands often tell me that they want their wives to express themselves fully in the marriage bed, untethered and with enthusiasm. What makes you look good to your husband is the expression on your face showing that you’re enjoying what’s happening and the shifts in your body that might make some parts less objectively pretty but show that you’re “into it.” He wants you to let go.

And I almost hate mentioning this, but I believe a big part of the appeal of porn for men is just that these women seem so eager and excited about sex. I am NOT saying you should be your husband’s porn star (jeez, I hate that saying), but it’s informative about what men intrinsically desire. What God intended is surely not for any man to use porn to satisfy these longings, but rather for a covenant husband and wife to be enthusiastic in their marriage bed. Just read how the wife in Song of Songs speaks: “Take me away with you — let us hurry! Let the king bring me into his chambers” (1:4). She’s in a hurry to get busy, because sexual intimacy is part of her intense love for her husband.

Sex is funny.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: Sex is a funny activity. It’s funny-peculiar and sometimes funny-ha-ha. Of all the ways God could have gotten this procreation thing done, we have to get naked, get into positions you don’t really use for other activities, and then make movements that are really quite amusing if you think about it. Personally, I think this shows that God is in favor of joy and fun for His creation, and we should embrace the humorous part of sexual intimacy in marriage.

Once you accept that as part of the whole deal, it frees you up to be more playful and vulnerable in the bedroom. Suddenly, when you grunt like a wild animal in the middle of sex, you’re not embarrassed, but rather tickled by how much you were getting into it. (Likewise if it’s him doing the camel grunt.) You don’t mind the funny facial expressions, because that’s part of the whimsy of lovemaking. Hey, even if you fart right in the middle, you two might just laugh rather than freak out (yes, it’s possible).

If you learn to lean into the experience, not stressing about your appearance, then you and your husband will enjoy lovemaking even more. And I’d bet you’ll look really good to him, all excited about having sex together.

But if this all sounds like a tall order for you — forgetting what you look like while making love — my book, Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design, has more tips on preparing for a night of vulnerable lovemaking and letting go in the moment.