The earliest influences on our sexuality are the household and societal sexual norms that we grow up with. If you were raised in a place where most people, for religious or cultural reasons, feel that sex is bad or to be feared, you might suppress your own early sexual exploration. Early fears of sexuality remain with us once we are adults and can be difficult to shake. It is also the case that if you were raised in a family or culture that had strict definitions of what a sexy woman should look like, you may feel inadequate in comparison. Concerns about body image and whether one is desirable enough can kill nascent sexual interest.

I find it infuriating that the image of what is considered sexy in the media is so impossibly out-of-step with what women actually look like. The ability to digitally enhance photographs has only exacerbated this issue. The great majority of potential lovers are interested in you because you are physically attracted to them. Not because you fit some perfect ideal of the female form. Ask any woman-loving man or woman. They like breasts. All breasts. All sizes and shapes. And hips . . . and those lovely derrieres. And particularly in a woman that they care about and find interesting. 

We can be brutal with ourselves about our bodies, but our lovers typically just want to love us. And in case you were concerned that being overweight might affect your ability to be sexual, real studies of this show that women who are overweight or obese have just as much sexual libido and orgasmic ability as other women. If it is difficult to overcome all of those voices in your head that keep you from your pleasure (your mum, your priest, your imam, your mean childhood girlfriends, your asshole ex-boyfriend, the magazines in the newsstand), it might be helpful to see a trained sexual therapist. Sexual therapists are experienced in helping you hear the small voice of your desire among the cacophony of other voices blocking the full expression of your passion. They support women in overcoming negative cultural messages, previous traumas, and sexual issues in current relationships. A sex therapist can guide you through a personalised programme of self-exploration and self-discovery so that you can experience your own sexual pleasure.