How To Write Body Positive Erotica
Happy New Year! Welcome to your neuroses. It’s the time of year when the advertisers look into your soul, pull out all your worst insecurities and try to sell you some crap to make it all better. So to counteract the media wanting you to lose weight, enlarge your boobs, whiten your teeth and iron out your wrinkles I’m going to focus on being body positive and how you can practically add that to your work.
I got into writing erotica because I had a dream (the lesser known I had a dream speech) and because my husband said I should write it down and put it up on the internet for the world to see, so I did. But even back then I wrote characters like me. I’m curvy, big, voluptuous, hell fat if you want to label me that way and I was sick of reading about the same kind of heroine.
She’d be slim, with perky breasts, long legs and a tight arse. Often she’d hide her beauty with baggy sweaters and ugly glasses but buried beneath that she was socially acceptable stunning. The worst would be when you’d find out this size ten beauty used to be fat when she was younger but she lost weight and now all the boys want her. That is not body positive writing. Here are my tips on how to write stories that empower the reader, not make them feel insecure.
Being positive without being negative
It can be very easy to build up your character by knocking down others. For example, you can sing the praises of big noses and be insulting about small ones.
“With those little nostrils it’s a miracle she smells anything.”
That might give someone with a big nose a momentary boost but it just makes the tiny nosed readers feel bad. You can be positive about a person’s body features without being insulting. Remember that as you’re writing your descriptions.
Focus in on the positives of your characters body, revel in their curves, their ginger hair, their bone white skin, their hairy toes, whatever feature it is you want to really make a point of. Keep away from negative comparisons in your narration and keep your focus on being complimentary.
If you want to compare two characters to purposefully show their differences then you certainly can. There’s lots of ways of doing so without being insulting. You state facts, you describe the people in your mind just the way they are without adding judgement. There’s a world of difference between describing a thin, elegant figure and a thin, mean frame. Think about the words you use and the image they create.
Using body shaming, positively
Sometimes you might want to use body shaming. If you’ve got a character who sees the world in a fixed way then you might so that through the way they judge people by their looks. It’s quite alright to make a character your people will dislike, in fact sometimes it’s essential to build up the tension in your story.
This is fine if you don’t want your body shaming character to be liked but what if your hero might be gorgeous, sweet and wonderfully witty but he just happens to talk about fat chicks and skinny birds and rate the women he meets with a number?
I think its fine to have a diamond in the rough character but if you want to pull your readers into falling in love with them (and that is what we all try to do, make the readers fall in love with our characters) then you’re going to have to show some kind of progress.
He might start out with very stereotypical views of women as pretty things to judge and conquer but once he meets the heroine his point of view needs to change somewhat. Challenge his perceptions and see what happens. You might discover that all that is just a front he puts up when he’s with the guys, you might find that it’s a protection, a way to distance himself from really feeling anything for the women he sleeps with because he’s been hurt in the past.
You can also do this internally on a personal level. It could be that your main character has a very negative self-image. Maybe she thinks of herself as fat and frumpy or skinny and flat chested. He might hate his curly hair or his annoying dimples. It’s much more challenging to challenge these in erotica without making it look like your character is dependent on the love (or good fucking) of someone else to make them feel good about themselves.
However, you can show how the boost of having sex with the man they’ve fallen in lust with affects the way they think. Maybe you can show how it works out of the bedroom. You can have them standing up for themselves or putting themselves in the spotlight when normally they shy away from that because of their insecurities. It’s possible to take the hot guy/gal out of the scenario and show that the confidence remains.
At the heart of body positive erotica is the celebration of uniqueness. I’m really glad to say that more and more readers are seeking out characters that don’t look like they came straight off a clichéd romance cover. Be proud of your characters, let them own their uniqueness. We don’t fall for exactly the same kind of man or woman each time we fall in love.
Just take a moment to think about the celebrities you really fancy. It’s okay, take your time, really think about them in detail. Take a little time out if you need to. Done that? Good.
Do they all look the same?
I’m going to guess that no, they don’t.
They might have certain features that are strikingly similar but I am very sure they’ll not all be carbon copies of each other. I personally have a thing for expressive eyes but the colour doesn’t bother me, it’s just if they’re striking I will notice them. I know I have a very eclectic taste in men from Nicholas Cage to John Simm via David Tennant and Aiden Turner. You’d definitely never mix them up.
It may well be their quirks that attract you, that’s often what makes a person stand out from the crowd. Scars, wrinkles, beauty spots, that lil’ gap in their teeth, the tuft of hair that always breaks free of their bun for example or maybe it’s the way they speak, the mannerisms they use. Maybe it’s the way they stutter when they’re nervous or the cute shade of russet red they blush.
Body positivity is picking out those quirks and making a feature of them. Showing just how sexy being unique is.
Your beauty is in your uniqueness.
It is something to be celebrated.
I have to admit, I’ve not always got it right. I read a Goodreads review on a novella I wrote a long, long time ago and I was taken aback when I saw a comment about skinny shaming. The reader had lifted the section of text she meant and by gum, I had skinny shamed.
It was a passage written in my curvy heroine’s point of view but when I thought about it more, she was quite insulting about skinny women – which, considering she was falling in love with an incredibly slim man, seemed a bit hypocritical.
I tried to be body positive but ended up being insulting. I’d like to think that I’ve learnt over the years and that my books now have lots of the positive without the negative!
Remember, you and your characters are perfectly beautiful just the way you are and you don’t need to put anyone down to build someone else up. This, I think, is the key to writing body positive erotica.