The question obviously elicited fear and trepidation in the middle-aged female salesclerk. With a deer-in-the-headlights look on her face, she ushered me three rows over from the customer service desk, then half-way down the aisle. She pointed to dozens, if not hundreds of books on the topic of sex. She laughed and said, “These are the most stolen titles in our collection. We find the book jackets in the bathroom trash cans frequently.”
Curious as to what else had been written on the topic of sexual confidence, I was overwhelmed by so many titles to peruse. I asked the woman which books she recommended. She responded emphatically, “Oh, I wouldn’t know! I don’t read these books! I’m divorced now, but if my husband had brought one of these home for me to read, I would have just looked at him like he’d lost his mind!”
My curiosity was piqued, so I decided to fish a little. “Do you mind me asking why you feel that way?”
“Have you seen the women in these books? That’s just not me! I don’t look anything like those women,” she replied. “I’d rather wrestle a bear than look at one of those books.”
I couldn’t imagine where this woman was coming from. Standing at about five foot and five inches, her petite frame couldn’t have weighed more than 120 pounds soaking wet. Size six would be my best guess, a size most women would kill to get into. Somewhat confused, I thanked her for her time, then searched the stacks and selected about twenty titles to glance through.
As I sat in my comfy chair in the middle of the store, I slowly began to understand this woman’s sentiment. Page after page, book after book, there “she” was. The perfect woman. Long hair flowing down around her perky, round symmetrical breasts… flat tummy untainted by stretch marks or post-pregnancy pounds… slender hips and firm derriere… shapely thighs without a hint of cellulite. Not one unsightly scar, pimple, or spider vein on her whole body. Just one hundred or so pounds of graceful, seductive energy.
Before I made it through the first three books, I found myself preferring to wrestle a bear as well. But then I realized I was wrestling a bear – the body image bear – the mental image that sends so many women running for a safe hiding place (usually behind baggy sweats or fuzzy robes), surrendering their sexual confidence every step of the way.