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Porn and Body Image: Let’s Talk About It.

2022-06-16
min read
Porn and Body Image: Let’s Talk About It.

Are porn and body image related? Is porn responsible for unrealistic beauty standards? Does it make us feel bad about ourselves? Let’s talk about it.

Porn and body image — is it bad?

So many of us are taught that porn is bad for our body image.

Up to 72% of U.S. women and up to 61% of U.S. men experience body dissatisfaction. Body dissatisfaction is associated with depression, anxiety, and problematic sexual functioning. It also doesn’t lead people to exercise or eat healthy foods; it actually does the opposite.

When only one body type is represented, whether in porn or in another form of media, it’s harmful. Bodies don’t all look the same, and it’s important to see different body types on-screen.

Unfortunately, the problem of body normativity extends way beyond the porn industry. In a 2017 Twitter survey by the National Eating Disorders Association, 68% of respondents said they felt the media portrays people’s bodies very inaccurately.

We don’t have reliable data to know which body types have been most common in porn throughout history, or to know how those body types may have evolved in recent years, but we know the porn industry hasn’t always prioritized body diversity.

Ethical porn producers are changing that, but most mainstream porn is still lacking.

The relationship between porn and body image

The relationship between porn and body image is more complicated than we’re taught. We don’t know enough from research to conclude that porn is harmful or not harmful to body image. We do know that, for the vast majority of people, it either has no effect on how we feel about our bodies or improves how we feel about our bodies.

Women’s body image, in particular, is relatively unaffected by viewing pornography, according to several studies. One theory about why? Women are already constantly bombarded with beauty standards in popular media; even if the bodies portrayed in porn aren’t super diverse, they might be more diverse than the bodies women tend to see on tv and in their social media feeds.

Porn and body positivity

At least one study shows that porn might actually help women become more satisfied with their vulvas. There’s no evidence that the vulvas represented in porn don’t reflect the natural diversity of vulvas.

Another study found that people who watch porn frequently know more about anatomy, physiology, and sexual behavior than people who don’t.

And, another study found that some women who watched porn felt more comfortable being naked.

This is a big deal because high body appreciation is associated with increased arousal, overall sexual satisfaction, and more orgasms.

Porn that portrays a diversity of bodies and sexual preferences can help you see your own body or sexuality in a new light. If you’ve wondered what you look like when you’re riding your partner, or what your partner sees when they spread open your labia, porn might help you find out. (Spoiler alert: you’re sexy as hell, but don’t take our word for it. Start your afterglow membership and give Lip Service a watch to see an example of the real thing. 😉)

Men’s body image and porn

Contrary to what many of us have been taught, evidence suggests that if one gender’s body image is negatively affected by watching porn, it’s men’s.

Why might this be? Male performers in porn typically have penises that are 7 inches or longer when erect, even though the average penis is only slightly longer than 5 inches when erect. This definitely creates an unrealistic penis size body standard.

Despite this, the research on male genital dissatisfaction and porn is inconclusive.

How to find porn that makes you feel good about your body

If you’re going to watch porn, it makes sense to focus on finding porn that makes you feel good about yourself.

The best place to find porn that represents a diversity of body types is an ethical porn site, like afterglow. Ethical porn sites tend to spend time sourcing porn that features diverse body types and sex acts.

If you’re looking for an erotic film that focuses on appreciating vulvas in all their glory, we highly recommend giving Love your Cunt a watch.

If you do feel porn is negatively affecting your self-image, take a break from watching. You can also talk to a partner, friend, or therapist about how it makes you feel.

Remember: the point of watching porn is to experience pleasure. Your body, exactly as it is, is worthy of sexy experiences. The porn you watch should make you feel good. Don’t settle for anything less.

 


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