Mind & Body

Renée Mayne is having some of the best sex of her life. And she’s bigger than ever

If your desire seems to have evaporated along with your hopes of wearing your skinny jeans this weekend, do not fret – there’s no reason you can’t wake the neighbours with your rollicking, no matter what the scales say.

Renée Mayne, 43, spent much of her 20s dieting and working out, believing a tiny frame was essential for sexual attraction.

“My partner and I always had an intimate relationship but it was really an ‘exchange’ – I was never showing up fully in the bedroom because I was so shy about how I looked,” she tells Body+Soul.

But after having two daughters and settling into a larger body, she began to question her constant pursuit of slimness, realising that “sexy is a state of mind” not a clothing size.

Through a slow process of getting comfortable with her size, including a lingerie photoshoot as a personal challenge and a lot of “fat thought” unpacking, Mayne eventually became accepting – in fact, celebratory – of her body. And the bedroom benefits were next level.

“It changed how we showed up to each other and [my partner] began feeling more comfortable with himself,” she says.

“Then when we were intimate, it was through the roof. Sex became more of a soul exchange that was so much more than just our bodies.”

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Research has found correlations between obesity and sexual difficulties, but many sex experts say that it’s often more to do with our mindset and self-talk than physiological changes driven by extra body fat.

“Mostly it’s mental,” Sydney sex therapist Désirée Spierings tells Body+Soul.

“Bigger women can have great sex lives – it’s [about] being present in your body instead of in the mind.”

Forget about your body fat

Weight changes can rock us but Spierings says that there is plenty you can do to feel more comfortable in your skin and become more excited by the prospect of sex.

“Positive self-talk can really help. Catch yourself saying [negative] things and turn it around – change the shame mindset into a grateful mindset,” she suggests.

“It switches from ‘I’ve gained a few kilos’ to ‘I’m grateful to have a great partner and to be healthy’. The anxious mindset kills all play and pleasure.”

Forward planning sex or seduction can also help – even if you haven’t told your partner – giving you time to pull on a feel-good outfit, light a candle or try some “desire starters” where you visualise great sexual encounters to get you in the mood.

“You could even pair it with having a drink of water throughout the day – every time you take a sip, think of something sexy. It then becomes easier to tap into it with your partner,” she suggests.

If you’re prone to mid-bang “oh god he’s touching my wobbly bits” thoughts, Spierings says the best trick is to force yourself to concentrate exclusively on your partner’s touch.

“Be really present in the body and take your mind to where the touch is – if your partner is kissing you, feel that touch right there. If you are thinking of that, you can’t think of anything else,” she says.

Change how you see sex

If the prospect of sex is feeling more cringe-worthy than joyful, psychotherapist and couples counsellor Melissa Ferrari suggests trying to re-frame it from being a performance act to an experience of discovery.

“The purpose of sex is to get to know each other in a way that someone else won’t,” she says.

“Every time you have sex there is an area of rediscovery. We can start to excite the part of the brain that likes novelty.”

Even if your body has changed, Ferrari points out that most people fall in love with their partner’s eyes, not their hip width, so playing with eye contact and a gentle touch can help break down barriers.

“Start to connect through gazing – it will start to excite the nervous system a bit more and can help people start to be reminded what intimacy and closeness is about [which is] connection,” she says.

“Skin to skin contact can help too. Sleep naked and close and cuddle to go to sleep – it helps to keep the bond going.”

Mayne, for one, says she never anticipated how much more confident she could be in a larger body, and wishes more women would embrace their curves and not let their perceptions about their size get in the way of a great romp.

“I love myself more now than I ever did when I was a size eight with a double D bust and a six-pack,” Mayne says.

“As soon as you have that moment where you go, ‘Oh crap, it doesn’t matter’, you show up more for your partner and you get more vulnerable. When you are more vulnerable in the bedroom and expose yourself, the more epic the sex is. They vibe off how you vibe [and] it amplifies everything.”