If you think about the moments when you feel like your absolute sexiest, most powerful self — what do you picture? Are you banging it out with your partner, or enjoying a solo session with your favorite toy? Chances are you aren’t worried about the dimples on your butt or how much you want to tone your arms. Unfortunately, though, this isn’t always the case for many folks. When you’re in the heat of the sexual moment with your S.O., the last thing you want on your mind is what your partner is thinking about your back fat, or the cellulite on your thighs, or whether they think your belly is getting a little too soft. The reality, however, is that many plus-size people regularly deal with these intrusive thoughts and anxieties in the bedroom. For some, it can be really damn hard getting on top when you’re plus-size.
Feeling sexy and confident in the bedroom can be difficult for anyone, but those in bigger bodies tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to sexual appreciation. Fatphobia is deeply ingrained in society’s beauty “standards,” which doesn’t exactly promote self-esteem for plus-size folks. “Bigger people, fat people, and plus-size people are still stigmatized in our world, so this can create mental disruption and anxiety when it comes to getting on top for sex,” Marla Renee Stewart, a sexologist, sex educator, and founder of Velvet Lips Sex Ed, tells Bustle. “There are many things that we can be self-conscious about when it comes to our bodies; most notably, our stomachs, FUPAs, and thick thighs, which can take some manipulation when getting on top.”
Still, Stewart shares that riding your partner like a true cowgirl (or cowperson) can be empowering, and feel really good. “Being on top means being in control of our pleasure and how we move our bodies, so being on top helps us to have a perspective of where we're going to get our pleasure,” she explains.
Of course, there are multiple intersecting factors that can challenge even the most dextrous of plus-size people; let’s just say not all of us have “Megan knees.” Regardless, riding your partner can be an extremely effective position for any body type, as long as you’ve got some kinesthetic awareness. Elle Chase, CSE intimacy coach and sex educator, tells Bustle, “Any position that maximizes friction and pressure for the vulva/vagina will give you the best chance at having an orgasm. All that with the caveat that everyone is different … Orgasm is never a guarantee, but knowing how your body likes to do it is the first step to coming.” If you’re thicc and tired of struggling, here’s how to get on top when you’re plus-size.
How Getting On Top When You’re Plus-Size Is Different
While the ultimate goal for getting on top is the same for everyone, the physical requirements of riding are different for people in plus-sized bodies— so learning the best ways to work with your body is important. “For those of us with knee problems or any other physical problem, we often need to make adjustments in how we get on top, and making those look sexy can be difficult at times, but it's not impossible,” says Stewart. “Knowing your body's limits and needs are a must, in addition to taking in consideration your lover's needs and sexual compatibility.” A considerably helpful way to figure out the right angles and positions for your body, and feel sexy while using them, is to build your bedroom confidence.
How To Gain Confidence For Getting On Top When You’re Plus-Size
For many years, it’s been easy to pick up a magazine and flip to a page of sexual confidence tips like, “Stand in front of a mirror, stare at your body, and repeat these affirmations until you love it!” While that may work for some, it’s unlikely that everyone — especially folks with bigger bodies, which have historically been the butt of many jokes in media and entertainment — would always benefit from that practice.
What, then, actually helps plus-size people to feel confident when getting on top? “Experience!” Stewart says. “Nothing helps better than practice, so getting your practice in is necessary for you to gain information about how your body works and how your lover's body works to ensure that you all are receiving the pleasure that you desire.” Gaining this experience can involve practicing on your own, with your partner, or seeking resources to change your mindset around sexual confidence (Stewart recommends The Ultimate Guide to Seduction & Foreplay, which she co-edited with sexologist Dr. Jess O’Reilly). Chase also stresses that a regular practice of masturbation is the best way to learn your body and what you like, so you can more easily communicate that to your partner in and out of the bedroom.
Ways To Make Getting On Top Even Better When You’re Plus-Size
If you’re feeling inspired to ride, experts say there are plenty of ways to make getting on top more comfortable and pleasurable for everyone involved. “Make sure that you create an environment that feels good to you, as well as making sure that you feel good and sexy about yourself,” Stewart says. Despite this, she also points out that the onus to make you feel like a sexual superstar shouldn’t only be on you: “You also want to have a supportive lover who can support you when the insecurities creep up.” Here’s what the experts recommend for ensuring you have a good time in bed.
Use Helpful Tools
For a practical solution to physical challenges you might face as a plus-size person on top, Chase recommends supportive products like the Pillo from Dame or the Wedge from Liberator. “Placing this under the receiver’s hips lifts them up more, making access much easier, especially for reverse cowperson. Because these wedges are made from industrial foam, they don’t get flat with pressure like regular pillows do,” she says. Additionally, her book Curvy Girl Sex: 101 Body-Positive Positions to Empower Your Sex Life is a great resource for advice and concrete tips to try.
Make Yourself Comfortable
If you experience self-consciousness or worry about how you look at certain angles while you’re on top, pelvic floor therapist and sex counselor Dr. Sara Sohn recommends figuring out what makes you feel most secure and confident in your skin — even if that means showing less of it. “Think about what makes you feel safe and erotic at that moment,” she tells Bustle. If you’re worried about how your stomach looks, for instance, she says that you can try wearing something like a belly corset that shows off your boobs, pantyhose, or even crotchless lingerie if you’d prefer to cover up during sex. Whatever makes you feel sexy can be considerably helpful in making you feel empowered during your ride.
Ask For Support
Outside of tangible resources to use, Chase says that working with your partner can alleviate physical discomfort or challenges you might come across. “Because the receiver is mostly in charge of the penetration, folks with weak knees, legs, or lower backs might find it challenging to support themselves comfortably through their sustained movement. If this is the case, ask the giver to bend their knees so the receiver can use them for balance and resistance, or folks might find lowering their chest on top of their partner’s thighs might do the trick,” she explains.
Incorporate Additional Stimulation
Adding in other sensory experiences and stimulation can make sex more pleasurable and comfortable for both partners, whether you’re new to riding in a bigger body or are still figuring out the logistics. Sohn suggests bringing in things like blindfolds, vibrators, or other toys for clitoral stimulation. You could also incorporate breast play to up the ante and ensure that you’re getting your needs met while experimenting with what positions and movements work for you.
Practice Makes Pleasure
Before you hop on top and get straight to it, know that it’s more than OK to take time to practice with your partner. Whether you want to test different angles, positions, or movements and rhythms, Sohn suggests thinking of it as “lab time” — aka an opportunity to do some fun experiments with your S.O. As you figure out what works and what doesn’t, you’ll begin to feel more confident about the act itself — and Sohn says confidence is the most important tool in the bedroom.
How To Communicate With Your Partner About Your Worries
Practicing solo or with your partner, using sex products, or trying different angles are all great ways to help you feel confident being on top when you’re in a bigger body — but nothing will ever be superior to open and honest conversations with your partner, Chase says. “Sex is inelegant at best for everyone, [and] being able to give and receive direction will go a long way to help you and your partner get comfy. Our partners aren’t mind readers and can’t really know what we like without us letting them know,” she shares. No matter what, this level of openness requires full consent and consideration before all else. “In addition, communication always includes consent. Whether you’ve been together for 30 years or 30 minutes, making sure that you’re both on the same page and enjoying the experience continually through sex keeps that communication going and always open,” Chase says.
If you’re wanting to open this kind of dialogue with your partner, it’s a good idea not to do so between the sheets, according to Stewart. “Don't do this in the bedroom,” she suggests. “Make sure that you are in a casual and comfortable environment and address your fears and discomfort there. Make sure that you have some positive reinforcement for your lover(s) and connect with them about what you like about them. Talking through it will help you and them to feel good about going into the situation and feeling emotionally ready to fully enjoy yourself.”
Elle Chase, CSE Intimacy Coach and sex educator
Dr. Sara Sohn, pelvic floor therapist and sex counselor
This article was originally published on