Open a magazine or turn on the TV and what do you see? Whether it’s someone wearing minimal clothing, two lovers mid-embrace, or friends chatting unpacking a date at a bar, the subtext is usually one thing: sex. Unfortunately, there’s very little representation of plus-size bodies enjoying sex in mainstream media, even though people of all sizes are sexually active. So, on September 9th, CeCe Olisa and Chastity Garner Valentine, the co-creators of theCURVYcon, took it upon themselves to open up the conversation with a live recording of their podcast, “Cocktails & Confidence.” They were joined by YouTube vlogger Sarah Rae Vargas, a body-positive sex expert. Read on for the biggest takeaways from this amazing discussion…

*Quotes have been edited and condensed for clarity and length.

The Importance of Communication

Starting off the conversation, CeCe, Chastity, and Sarah all acknowledged that a lot of women in the plus-size community are struggling with the same things when it comes to sex. But, unlike fashion, sex isn’t as easy of a topic to discuss. One of Sarah’s biggest pieces of advice for the community is to open up about their fears and insecurities. Communication is key to a successful and healthy sex life:

Sometimes the problems stem from being too afraid to tell their partner what they want. If you can open up and talk to your partner, it makes it so much easier.

Learning to Love Yourself First

There’s no denying that you’re at your most vulnerable when you’re having sex. Finding a way to be comfortable with sharing your body with another person takes time and work. But, as Sarah puts it, self-acceptance will open up a world of positivity:

Learn your body, accept who you are. It makes the rest of your life so much easier. Your life improves because you feel better about yourself.

When Chastity asked for an action to jumpstart loving yourself, Sarah was quick to mention lingerie. For Sarah, lingerie is the perfect first step because you don’t need a partner and it makes you feel amazing. She suggests lounging around at home in lingerie or taking photos to remind you of how beautiful you are. In the end, she said, “The better you feel, the better you’re going to want to make somebody else feel.”

Making Time for Your Relationship

As an audience member brought up during the Q&A, finding time to be intimate with your partner can be tough when you have children. Sarah, herself a mother of two, emphasized how important it is to squeeze in time for your relationship. She explained:

You have to make it a priority because intimacy is an incredibly important part of any relationship. When the relationship is amazing, the sex is even greater.

Another audience member—and professional sex therapist—added that actually writing down time on your calendar for intimacy is a great way to make sure it happens. Taking the time to nurture your relationship shows your children what a successful and healthy partnership looks like.

Getting Out of Your Head

When your brain is wrapped up in thinking about how you look or angles you find less than desirable, you can’t truly enjoy the moment. Sarah suggests that getting in your head can take the fun out of an experience and force you to rush through it. To those women who feel self-conscious about getting naked, Sarah recommends a two-step process:

Turn the lights off and let the feeling be there without the sight. Once you get comfortable, turn a nightlight on. Take little steps so you can get out of your mind.

Advocating for Yourself

Part of having an enjoyable sex life is knowing how to advocate for yourself and speak up for what you want. CeCe, whose mother was in the audience, was inspired from a young age to feel entitled to pleasure:

I remember her saying, ‘Can you believe there are married women with children who never had an orgasm?’ I didn’t know what an orgasm was—I knew they were my right.

Sarah added that since you and your partner are equals, they should be just as invested in making sure you’re getting what you need. You can tell them what you want and how to get it. Knowing what you want starts with exploration and discovery—whether by yourself or with a partner. As Sarah puts it:

Speak up for yourself, just like in anything in life. If you want something, go get it.

Want to show the world that people of all sizes enjoy sex? Share this post and start the conversation!