Like many women in American culture, I grew up seeing fad diets, boob jobs, eyebrow waxes, pedicures, and bleach-blonde highlights. I also come from a long family lineage of beauty-seeking, charm-schooling, Southern-belle women. My mama was a high-school beauty queen. One of my cousins is a famous hair and makeup artist who was so beautiful that she actually chopped off all her hair so men would leave her alone in the grocery store. In my family, if you are a woman, you were taught that the “sexy factor” is an important part of your worth. My story may not be that different from yours.
But these “sexy regimes,” while not inherently wrong, didn’t fulfill my heart or satiate my sexual desires. I was confused. I was taught to try to be sexy, but at the same time to hide my sexuality. I was supposed to be pretty but ashamed of my deeper desires for intimate connection and physical experiences. This conflicting messaging totally deflated my self-esteem. I could never be sexy or beautiful enough to fit the media model, and at the same time, my true sexual essence remained asleep.
Practicing Ayurveda and yoga began to wake me up to what was hidden inside. Something started stirring inside my belly—a pulsing, a longing to feel alive, a need to vibrate with the rhythm of music, to suck on a purple plum until the sticky juices ran down my chin, to smell the mineral-rich dirt in my backyard, to breathe in cold air on a snowy, moonlit night. I wanted to be able touch my thighs without cringing, pushing into the cellulite as if to say, “Mama, you are so fleshy, and that is fine.” I wanted to feel that I had permission to be a sexual creature with every one of my five senses.
When I learned the wisdom of Ayurveda, I felt that I had tapped into a stream of knowledge that honored life itself as something inherently sexual. Every cell in your body makes love to itself and multiplies. Why would you be anything less than a sexual goddess?