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17 affirmations for confidence: How to feel confident and sexy when you feel old, fat and gross

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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!

If you’re struggling with how you feel, here are things you can do to feel sexy and confident:

1. Use affirmations for confidence

It is normal for negative thoughts to slip into your head — this is a way to protect yourself from disappointment, hurt and failure. After all, if you already expect yourself to fail, failure is not a painful surprise, right? If you talk yourself out of taking a risk, then you can't face rejection or a setback.

Here are positive affirmations from powerful women and men that to borrow as your own:

“One of the ways we can change the way we react to fear is to affirm the way we want to be,” says bestselling author and OWN TV host Iyanla Vanzant. Watch Iyanla's four affirmations:

Marie Forleo: “Clarity comes from action, not thought.”

Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Ava DuVernay: “I'm not going to continue knocking that old door that doesn't open for me. I'm going to create my own door and walk through that.”

Audre Lord: “I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.”

Lisa Nichols: “The truth is that no matter where you started out in life, you have a choice between scarcity and abundance.”

Oprah: “I can become what I choose to be.”

Lao Tzu: “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”

Martha Beck: “No matter how difficult and painful it may be, nothing sounds as good to the soul as the truth.”

Maya Angelou: “Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.”

Mohammed Ali: “‘I am the greatest.' I said that even before I knew I was.”

Sharon Stone: “It's my experience that you really can't lose when you try the truth.”

Coco Chanel: “Success is most often achieved by those who do not know that failure is inevitable.”

Steve Jobs: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something; your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”

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2. 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.

3. 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.

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4. Think of 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.

5. 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.

How to dress sexier and look super-attractive when overweight, from my gorgeous friend Marlena Stell, of Makeup Geek:

6. Get a makeover.

Sure, get your hair, makeup and wardrobe overhauled (if you can afford it), but cleanse your home and closet first! Rid your space of old things that remind you of old ways of thinking.

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7. 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.

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

8. 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.

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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.”

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9. Have sex with yourself all the time.

These are my tricks on how to be confident in bed, and feel super-attractive if you are overweight:

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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. You can be confident in bed when you’re overweight, underweight, unshowered, unshaven, tired, grumpy, on your period.

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. Listen here:

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10. 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 A+ BBB rated counseling app BetterHelp. Prices start at $60-$80/week for unlimited messaging and weekly live sessions. Financial assistance available. Online therapy is just like regular therapy, except much more convenient, way cheaper, far better selection of licensed therapists, and totally anonymous.

11. Consider a personalized workout plan and weight loss program

There are people who will tell you that you should just stick with your current weight, and fuck societal gender norms. No and yes. We should all feel beautiful and sexy no matter what. We should reject unrealistic and unhealthy body norms and strive for a spiritual connection.

But we should all strive to be as physically, emotionally, sexually and spiritually healthy as possible. That includes maintaining a healthy weight through a healthy diet and regular exercise (including sex!).

12. 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.

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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 ….

3 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.

Her essay is all about how to be confident in bed when overweight and feel attractive when you’re overweight — because at its core, sexuality, and sexual attraction has little to do with whether each of us is an ‘ideal’ weight.

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 open minded 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.

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 as you think they do. They just don’t. founder Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist, author and expert. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, Elle, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. As an expert on divorce and gender, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality and multiple state legislature hearings. More about Emma's credentials.


I believed that how you looked or your weight did not matter until during sex my husband commented that we needed to do something about mt stomach. During sex and while I was on top really? Now we do not have sex I miss it but too much has happened that hurt me.

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

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.

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.

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??

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!

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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