How to feel confident and sexy when you feel old, fat and gross

how to be more confident

Recently a mom on one of our boards posted:

 I feel frustrated by a theme that keeps coming up: Love yourself first and foremost and then love will be drawn into your life. HOW EXACTLY does one, who has highly developed neuropathways of “not good enough” transition to the “I love myself” place? I feel like I've tried everything, and it just doesn't seem to stick. I still look in the mirror and see the cellulite and the “not good enough” features of my body. Worse, I'm still dealing with the deep childhood imprinting of not being wanted or unconditionally love. I'd like some actual technical advice on this matter! It's getting old just hearing “love yourself” “have confidence,” etc. without any tangible how-tos that follow.

Such a common challenge and I appreciate how frustrating it is when all you're offered are vague platitudes about self-love.

No one's life has ever been turned around by an inspirational Facebook meme!

Therapy can help you get to the root of your lack of confidence — and turn it around. I'm a huge fan of online therapy, which is affordable, anonymous, and convenient since you connect with the counselor via text, phone or video. Find an online therapist now>> 

If you're struggling with feeling hot and sexy…Here are 10 things you can do to feel confident:

Give yourself a compliment on your appearance.

Every. Single. Day. Every morning when you're getting ready, note one thing that is awesome about your appearance: Your pretty teeth. Long eyelashes. Shiny hair. Round booty. Lovely toes. Great style. Perfectly arched eyebrows.

Give yourself a compliment on YOURSELF every single day.

That you're a fun mom. You killed the presentation. A good listener. A friendly neighbor. A thoughtful friend. A funny lunch companion. Make a mean roast chicken. Have an eye for color in home decor.

Think to times you adored another person's body, in all its human splendor, because you adored him.

His flabby tummy. Bald head. Love handles. Limp dick. Pock-marked skin. You and your human body are just as lovable, too.

Dress up and look your best every single day.

This should not take you less than 20 minutes, but will include pretty hair, makeup, and clothes you feel great in. If it takes more than 20 minutes, get a new hairstyle and check out some videos on quick makeup.

Fake it till you make it.

Literally, pretend that you feel sexy and confident until you actually do.

Make eye contact with an attractive man, even if inside you are absolutely going to die a thousand painful deaths.

Strut into a meeting in which you are intimidated with your shoulders back and head held high.

Call a meeting with someone who scares the crap out of you.

Ask for the promotion as if you know you'll get it.

Reach out to a guy on the dating site ignoring any nasty murmurs in your mind that suggest he is out of your league or will reject you.

Related: Dating coach: “Single moms are hot on the successful-men market”

Just go about your life as if you are the confident, sexy woman you want to be.

Note someone in your life who walks about as if they are confident and sexy all the time.

Fact: They are faking it at least some of the time, too.

When I was in college and finding my own sexuality, I read a book in the cafe/bookstore where I worked about ‘How to Make Man Crazy In Bed” or somesuch. In the forward, the author recounted how when her circle of girlfriends went out, one woman always got all the attention from men when. The other women couldn't figure it out — after all, their friend was heavy and not particularly pretty. So they asked her secret. “I know I'm not a natural beauty,” the woman said. “But before I walk into a bar or club, I tell myself: ‘You are the hottest woman in there.' I believe it, and men then do, too.”

Have sex with yourself all the time.

At least twice per week, masturbate. Maybe you invest in a toy or two, check out some porn or erotica. Learn what turns you on. Get your sexy hormones flowing through your veins, and sexy thoughts flowing through your mind.

Mama Gena shared with me in this podcast all the reasons and whys and hows that your pleasure — of all the senses — is essential to your success in every part of your life.

Consider therapy.

Serious self-images are usually rooted in old trauma. Never be ashamed to get the help you need.

I'm a fan of online counseling app BetterHelp, where unlimited video, video or text therapy is on-call 24/7. Online therapy is just like regular therapy, except much more convenient, way cheaper, far better selection, and totally anonymous.

Just get out there already

Thinking about dating after divorce and babies can be beyond daunting.

After I stopped nursing (a blissful period during which my round hips narrowed, my small tits swelled, and my acne-prone skin cleared and glowed), it has been all downhill for this bod.

A newly poofy stomach, C-section scar and boobs that would not stop lactating — all while my thighs grew increasingly gooey.

But once out on the dating scene, I got over it quickly.

That I don't look like Heidi Klum or Kim Kardashian (that butt, I mean, really) has zero to do with my ability to find really amazing sex (keep reading) and love.

Your body has absolutely nothing to do with your ability find a man to adore you and enjoy mind-blowing sex.

No matter what said body may look like.

Don't believe me? Read these ….

Three things to read if you feel too fat for sex and need to feel sexy:

1. I'm Fat, Forty And Single And I'm Having No Problems Getting Laid All The Time

Published on xoJane by a Canadian single mom, this was one of my most favoritest readings, though it has since been taken down.

The writer details how her obesity did not stand in the way of her post-breakup quest for lots of great sex — often with men who are classically handsome and successful and not fetishists.

I suggest bookmarking it, printing it out, and reading it over and over.

She writes:

I'm rather short and weigh almost precisely 300 lbs.  I wear size 28 clothing.  Unless you think such things are mutually exclusive, I would describe myself as reasonably pretty, in a natural, low-maintenance, naughty librarian kind of way.  I am fiercely intelligent, deeply hilarious, casually stylish, utterly unselfconscious and really, genuinely nice.  I am also an absolute riot in the sack.

She goes on to detail the amazing sex she's had with all kinds of men, including:

One of the first men I met after the separation was someone I initially assumed was completely out of my league.  He is the absolute whole package — smart, successful, a hell of a nice guy, not to mention extremely handsome with the gym-perfected body of a Greek god.  The kind of guy who can pretty much have his pick of women.  To my surprise, he was incredibly into me, and continues to be to this day.  

We were lying in bed one night after some of the best sex of either of our lives and I asked him what it was that had attracted him to me in the first place.  I knew I wasn't the type he always went for, so I was curious.  He just looked at me and shrugged and smiled and said “confidence is sexy.”  Those words were a touchstone for me.

The most common experience, however, is with “guys who are openminded to all kinds of sexiness.”

 They don't have a physical ‘type and have enjoyed women of a variety of shapes and sizes.

 To them, my sex appeal has more to do with my spirit of adventure and capacity for joyous abandon than the composition of my body.

Her favorite?

Those who find me really, really physically attractive and have no problem owning that desire.  Guys who love my softness.  Guys who massage my belly, who grab handfuls of my ass, who bury themselves between my breasts.  Guys who can't get enough of every last inch of me.  To them, I am a revelation – an ample woman with no body shame who says sure, let's have sex with the lights on.  

Have a read.

Thank me later.


Not just because I love Amy Schumer and think you should watch way more of whatever she's putting out, this one quote got all kinds of play, as does Amy. The news hook is that Amy does not look little like what the media tells women we should look like, but is in deed doubtless catching all kinds of dick because she's funny as shit, charming, edgy and herself.

Plus, I weigh about 160 lbs so when I heard that number my love for her swelled and may or may not have made my panties look like I blew my nose into them (joke credit: A. Schumer).

3. My last week

As I wrote, I spent most of August in Europe thanks to, and on one of the last days I had a wonderful evening with a hot, single Danish dad.

I had a hunch the night would be fun, but it turned out to be FANTASTIC, in part because there was just so much freaking chemistry that defies any OKCupid algorithms that tossed us together.

Laughing and talking most of the night and through the next afternoon, over the breakfast he cooked and into the shower and back to bed again.

Heartbreaking that it ended (though isn't that inevitable ending part of why travel affairs are so intense?), it was one of those things. 

A big part of the experience was how much this man adored my body.

My juicy booty that has attracted cat calls from black men since I was 15 and makes it nearly impossible to find jeans to fit?

This white European man couldn't get enough. Squishy thighs that I was pretty sure turned off a promising date a few years ago.

Best thing that happened onto his sheets.

Listen to my Like a Mother episode on this:

Ladies, that's what I'm talking about.

This would be a less poignant story to share if it were anomalous, and in a way it was.

But in the past few years since becoming a single mom with a less-than perfect body, I have been seduced by men who are younger and hotter and fitter and more charming than me, some of them had me wondering, almost aloud: “Do you have eyeballs? That work?

They could in fact see me, and they liked what they saw, and usually, we had a pretty good time, and some I dated for a while. Because chemistry doesn't have a whole lot to do with any 1 through 10 numbers that men and women assign each other, but rather a messy, sometimes delightful amalgamation of zillions of human characteristics — only one of which is the physical bodies that we each occupy.

Case in point: The sexual chemistry with my Danish lover was white-hot because our intellectual, humor and world-view rapport was so intense. But as our librarian friends so acutely points out, sexual chemistry defies bodies, and often explanation, and has a whole lot more to do with confidence — confidence that it really doesn't matter a whole lot about what you have going on under your Spanx.

Why you need to stop using your mom-body as an excuse not to have the sex you crave:

  1. See above. Sexual chemistry doesn't have a whole lot to do with what you look like naked.
  2. Guys bodies go south as they age, too. Including that their dicks stop working. Which is really stressful for them.
  3. Men have been having sex with mothers since the dawn of time. You think you're going to single-handedly stop the evolutionary cycle?
  4. Guys just don't care as much you think they do. They just don't.

What do you do to feel sexy and confident? Share in the comments!! 

About Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, noted blogger, and bestselling author. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour,, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.  Find out Emma's top Single Mom Resources here.


  1. Al on January 15, 2019 at 2:27 am

    I’ll believe that men don’t care about us having a mum bod when the porn they use doesn’t predominately feature women who look like they have never carried a child let alone done it three or four times
    Sure there’s amatier and bbw available but much of that is considered inferior or fetish . Look at the major porn stars and what they have in common , youth , slim , no
    Stretch marks etc etc then look at the amount of time and money men invest into the porn industry . Only then will you will understand exactly how much men DO care

  2. Tanya on November 22, 2018 at 7:52 pm

    P.S. I’m a married mom, but I still love your content! Do you have any resources for newly minted moms who want to reconnect with their sexiness? I’d love to see more of that.

  3. Tanya on November 22, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    THANK YOU! This is exactly what I needed to read right now. I had a baby fourth months ago, and my appearance has changed a bit. I’m feeling a lot squishier and my hair is coming out in clumps. I needed a reminder that sexiness and chemistry comes from WITHIN. Instead of fretting over my looks, I’m going to work on my confidence and happiness instead. Besides, I’m still a solid 8.5 out of 10. Also, did you know that some women’s vaginas DO DOWN a size or two after labour? Let’s be real: I can have any man I want.

  4. Manda on June 10, 2018 at 1:38 am

    How does one feel sexy if your spouse has chased other women and then has constantly compared your body and performance to his ex wife and ex girlfriends? And then tells you that you’re weird for taking “too long” to have an orgasm? And has replaced you with porn??

    • Carole Shrontz on January 12, 2019 at 6:26 pm

      You remind yourself that not you, or anybody else, should put up with that. Then you remind him that if HE were a better lover, it wouldn’t take you so long to get off.

      Then, you kick his sorry ass to the curb! If he wants the kind of sex all his ex’s have him, he should go be with him.

      Get yourself a good vibrator and get back all the orgasms he was too selfish to give you.

      Lots of love to you! You are strong, beautiful and so totally worth it!

    • Taylor Hersey on August 1, 2019 at 4:27 pm

      Leave him sis! You deserve better never question that. There’s a reason he has an ex wife!

  5. Painless Adult Hookup Products – The Best Routes – Simona Klímová on March 20, 2018 at 9:37 am

    […] Clarifying Practical hookup guru MethodsDiets and sun damage can be common triggers. However, many patients will discover that their conditions don’t get better even without those triggers. The next strategy to find the cause is usually to make a diary. Since the causes are very different for everybody, your diary will help you understand your distinct causes. When the redness turns up, you just have to take a look at diary to find out the foods you’re taking. The correct answer of one’s reasons for Rosacea may be looking forward to you there. Compared – Effective Methods Of […]

  6. Investigating Fast Plans Of XXX Sites - Trademax blogg on March 20, 2018 at 9:19 am

    […] common for self-published authors in specific literary genres like erotic eBooks. Easy Programs For – Some […]

  7. Quick Advice For XXX Sites – The Facts on March 20, 2018 at 9:16 am

    […] No-Fuss Secrets For In addition, paid paid dating sites offer a lot more useful features and options to increase your […]

  8. Scarlet on March 6, 2018 at 5:28 pm

    Weird to say this but my brother gave me some great advice. I used to be super shy and think no one would like me and then my brother told me, you can have almost any guy in any room. I was like, what?! Liar. But he said, no really, guys just want to be wanted. If you want someone, go for them. That advice turned out great for me. Waiting for the guy to make the first move, not so great.

    • Emma on March 7, 2018 at 4:04 pm

      That is actually awesome advice – mainly because it worked!

    • Leena on April 13, 2018 at 12:41 am

      For me didn’t work. The guy I wanted rejected me for being ugly and then made fun of me.

  9. Christy on March 4, 2018 at 9:41 pm

    As a woman who stayed waaay too ,long in an emotional and physicaly abusive marriage, I had to override “his” voice with my own opinions/voice……either that, or wither into nothingness. Once I became my own cheerleader, I also became my own best sex partner. The kind of sex I loved and craved as a horny teenager but now with bigger boobs and an appreciation for how well my body lubricates….lol. As an adult coming into her own, not only did I benefit from REALLY GREAT ORGASMS, I also really enjoyed exploring my own body (rather than always exploring someone else’s.) And yes, as me and my sexuality got “happier” I became more attractive to men. I now have terrific sex with different types of men. I don’t feel like I’m compromising or “putting out”. I have a mutually exclusive great time with men that respect me and my needs…..just as I respect myself and my needs as well as the men.

    • Manda on June 10, 2018 at 1:42 am

      How did you convince yourself you’re worth it?? Read my post on the thread of this article for my story.

  10. Declaration of Disclosure on January 11, 2018 at 2:47 am

    Awesome ! such a wonderful points you are shared , any one instance confidante on her self , such a nicely explained “SO, IF YOU’RE STRUGGLING WITH FEELING HOT AND SEXY, 9 THINGS YOU WILL DO TO FEEL CONFIDENT”. appreciate you miss EMMA JOHNSON , keep doing , All The Best.

  11. Lily on February 23, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    Exercise. Get into the gym and lift the heaviest weights you can. Muscle burns more calories at a resting weight than fat does. As we age, we need to work harder to be beautiful and have a good body. I am 56 and 5’6″ and lift heavier weights than most women at my gym. I have a bikini photo posted in online dating… in one week, two thirty-somethings asked me to marry them in their first message! (yeah, I know, I know, but I get compliments like this all the time, and it makes me feel great!) Now, if I ate fast food and didn’t stop by the gym on my way home, I would not be getting these compliments and would not feel as good about myself.

    • Emma on February 24, 2016 at 6:07 am

      ha! love it!!!

  12. Paige on February 23, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    I love numbers 5 & 7. For me I have found it really does all start in the head, the thoughts/beliefs must come before the feelings. It is probably different for each person but for me the feelings come after I have re-routed my thoughts and acted on their lead, even if it’s blind trust. It blows my mind how people respond to this.. Powerful stuff.

    • Emma on February 24, 2016 at 6:08 am

      Very true … what goes on inside translates to what happens outside.

  13. Allison DeFord on February 23, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    Excellent question posed by your reader and fantastic list to get her started.

    As a recovering self-loathing addict I can certainly speak to her questions as well. Emma, you’re right! You’ve got to speak to yourself, think to yourself, feel about yourself good things every single day. It doesn’t happen overnight either. It’s taken me years of practice and some days I still struggle. Clearly, no savant here.

    I agree with your other readers that exercise and self care can be crucial to FEELING the way you want to feel. Yes, I said FEELING, not thinking, which is where the problem starts and ends. @daniellelaporte is a great source for teaching you to start with “How do you want to feel?” and then figuring out the steps that will help you achieve that. Any doing first starts with feeling and a particular intention. Do you want to lose 15lbs or feel better in your clothes?!

    Ultimately, I agree with @GrittyBittySheWolf too. The true source of self love is deep within us. The outside doesn’t ultimately affect that. This internal self love is also cultivated through daily practice. It’s like a garden—you can’t water and seed it once a month or it will wither up and die. Sound familiar? The daily practice soon become habitual and as familiar and easy as brushing your teeth. The results are profound! There’s a wonderful book by Tal Ben Shahar called, “Happier” and it completely changed my perspective on my quest for self love.

    One other quick note: one thing I do to stop that inner mean girl loop running inside your head…talk to myself as I would speak to my children. I have two daughters and I am constantly filling them up with compliments, inspiration and love for themselves and their gifts. Do I point out their cellulite and acne and mis-shapen nose? NO! I encourage them to see all that’s beautiful about them inside and out.

    To self love! It is attainable.

    • Emma on February 24, 2016 at 6:08 am

      “talk to myself as I would speak to my children” wow- really smart and great advice.

  14. GrittyBittySheWolf on February 23, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    Self love is so important as long as we stay on top of the process and keep growing.

  15. GrittyBittySheWolf on February 23, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    I don’t think this works if you want to CHANGE your physical appearance. If your happy with yourself, you won’t change. This article is for people who are not interested in changing their weight or health. If we really want change, we must admit the bad stuff. Self-nagging DOES work. There is something to be said about admitting somethings wrong to spark a new you. It’s a downward spiral to lie to yourself that you’re fat when you are especially when it slowly escalates to dangerous levels. The ones who lie to themselves one day look in the mirror and say: “My God! How did I get this big!” And no one who really cares about themselves, wants that.

    • Emma on February 24, 2016 at 5:14 am

      This is all very true!

    • Anna on September 28, 2016 at 6:47 am

      I disagree. Sometimes you are struggling. Already fighting inner demons as well as outer one’s. But sometimes you spend so much time fighting the demons and taking care bof every one else and their.needs. add in an accident or illness and bsm.

    • Kelly on November 2, 2019 at 11:05 am

      Self love needs to come first or you’ll never be happy

  16. Thea Wood on February 23, 2016 at 9:46 am

    All great points! I’d like to add few things that I tell my clients:
    1. There’s no such thing as perfect. Perfect is subjective and an ever-moving target that only serves to demoralize. Focus instead on your life goals and how your visual message says who you are and where you’re going. Your “story” is what attracts what/who you want in your life.
    2. Studies show that women respond more deeply and enduringly to negative feedback than men. Once we are conscious of this, we can learn to let go of it. It’s one of those times where “think like a man” comes in handy.
    3. Strong is the new sexy! Eat healthier foods, take supplements, and exercise to strengthen your body. Meditate or pray to strengthen your spirit. Read books or take classes to strengthen your mind. By attending to all three areas of our being, perceived flaws diminish and true beauty shines through.

    • Kristi on February 23, 2016 at 11:37 am

      Yes to all, especially exercise! Get the blood pumping, get those endorphins flowing. Working out is good for the mind, as well as the body. Find something you enjoy, whether it be lifting, Zumba, or even pole-dancing. You can make it as fun as you want. Enjoy the “me” time it gives you to just focus on you, and start toning your body in the process.

      • Emma on February 24, 2016 at 5:14 am

        So true!

    • Emma on February 24, 2016 at 5:14 am

      Bam! X3!! xoxo

    • Angel on January 20, 2017 at 5:06 pm

      What books or classes would you suggest reading/taking?

Leave a Comment