Female Pleasure Series Part 2: Pleasure and Self-Love

Many women are unhappy with themselves and their bodies. From an early age, we learn that we have to be beautiful, have the ‘perfect’ body, and spend our lives raising children while supporting a successful male partner. Film and media create a sense that, unless she looks a certain way, she won’t have love or friendship. Our sense of self worth is intimately tied to our body image. Body shaming has reached epic levels throughout the world today. Therapists will say that it is difficult for anyone to experience pleasure if they do not love themselves. Read that again. How, if women feel they are overweight, unattractive, and unloved, can they ever experience true pleasure in anything they do?

With this question in mind, I decided to visit Courtney McCarthy, owner and Lead Instructor at Loyobo FIT located in Guelph. Courtney opened Loyobo (short for ‘Love Your Body’) because of her experiences working for other gyms and fitness facilities. Frustrated with the emphasis on having a certain physique and looking a certain way, she wanted to create a model which helped women feel more empowered and feeling good about themselves. As Courtney put it, her “driving factor is to reconnect people, but especially women, with their bodies, and to find a way to make choices when it comes to health and fitness from a place of love rather than a place of fear or hate or punishment.” Courtney fully believes that everyone has the power and ability to decide what healthy bodies, success and beauty mean for them.

In terms of what the idea of ‘female pleasure’ meant to her, Courtney believes it is a multi-faceted term, which can include many forms of pleasure  – not just sexual. For Courtney, pleasure can be any number of things which bring women joy, build relationships, or connect with one’s self. Pausing a moment to reflect, Courtney continued her thoughts from her own personal experience. 

“I think that it can be really powerful when you are able to find pleasure that doesn't exist just in the mind and has some sort of physical form, especially on the non sexual side of things. I think that women are often taught, especially when it comes to our bodies, that we think our power and our value is in our sexuality or our ability to use our sexuality. It can be as simple as lifting weights or being in a room full of other women dancing. You can feel sexy and connected with other people, and in that moment you can just enjoy your body and what it can do for you.” Courtney explained that once she began to connect to her own body it increased her ability to find pleasure in the way she felt and looked. 

For Courtney, the connection between self-love and ability to experience pleasure is very real. When women have a poor body image, feel worthless, or are stuck in a place of fear and insecurity, it can hold them back from really experiencing their bodies and their lives. According to Courtney, “When you can come from a place of love and kindness, it opens a lot of doors to self pleasure, because you don’t have barriers (either self imposed or from other people) holding you back. You can find a new way forward into deeper and long lasting experiences or sources of pleasure.”

One of Courtney’s primary goals at Loyobo FIT is to help women move from a place of deep insecurities and even dislike of themselves and their bodies to a place where they can appreciate and love their bodies and who they are. She believes that the way to do this is to create a community of support and collaboration, where everyone challenges and supports each other in a completely non-judgmental and body-positive safe space. At Loyobo FIT, all the instructors are invested in a holistic approach to fitness and health. This includes fitness classes, introducing new styles of dance and movement, member socials, nutritional programs, and mind/body health workshops. This approach is important to coming to a place of loving one’s body. As Courtney explained, “I think that fitness and movement can be a foundation, but it has to come at the same time that you're engaging the emotional, mental and social components which factor into how you feel about yourself.” 

Despite the negative messages, body shaming, and harassment women receive on a daily basis, it is still possible for us to learn self-love. A place like Loyobo FIT can help us start that journey. While it isn’t always easy, and can sometimes challenge us beyond what we think we are capable of, doing the work of loving ourselves is both rewarding and pleasurable. The lesson I took away from my discussion with Courtney McCarthy was that learning to love myself allows me to experience pleasure in many different ways. All we need to do is take that first step towards loving ourselves and our bodies. I would challenge everyone to look into the mirror today and say to yourself “I am strong, I am beautiful, I am powerful, and I am enough  – right here, right now.” 

To learn more about Loyobo FIT, and what Courtney and her team do there, you can find more information on their website, www.loyobofit.com. My next article in the Female Pleasure series will explore the healthy ways women can experience sexual pleasure which promotes empowerment and love of self.