It’s that one question no man should have to answer. Yet many men find themselves fielding it from the women in their lives on a regular basis ....

Am I fat?

If you ask me, this loaded question should be outlawed. It’s just plain wrong. It puts those you love on the spot. You know the deal. Male or female, you’ve been there. Suddenly, you’re dancing a jig on an emotional landmine. Neither a “yes” nor “no” will get you to safe terrain. Neither response will satisfy, so you’re pressed and you’re pressed and you’re pressed ... till you’re ready to detonate. There’s really no way to come out of it unscathed. Or is there?

Some of you may be wondering why body image is being tackled in a sex column. My human sexuality students, over the years, have certainly been confused when this topic is made the focus of a lesson plan. They think that body image is better suited for a psychology class – not a sexuality course — until they realize just how many bedroom issues come back to how one feels about their form.

Whether it’s the butt, thighs, breasts, stomach ... almost everybody has something that, in their view or society’s, could use a little “tweaking,” to say the least. Everybody has some not-so-perfect part – or a few of them – that they dread baring in the bedroom. Whether the unfortunate consequence involves “lights off” or the pledge to never get on top, sex lives everywhere are being impacted.

And while men certainly have body image insecurities (I once dated a former cross-country runner who regularly asked me if he was fat – and he was a “normal” weight!), women, or rather their partners, have always borne the brunt of this burden.

So how do you field the ever-so-unsexy “Am I fat?” question, especially when it’s coming from your lover? How can you use this irritating inquiry as a moment to boost one’s self-esteem and confidence and, as a result, up the "booty" play in your boudoir? Here are a few suggestions on how to field this bombshell, depending on your lady’s personality ...

Remind her that thin isn’t always in.

In ancient times, it was sexy to be round. This was seen as a sign of a female’s fertility. During the Renaissance, voluptuous, full-figured women were the envy, especially if they had soft rolls of flesh. Fast-forward to the late 1940s and 1950s, and curvy was where it was at. Just think Marilyn Monroe, who was reportedly a size 12.

Reassuring your gal that she and most other females are victims of the times and that you think the current state of coat-hanger chic is totally unfair will win you major brownie points. If she is indeed round or curvy, pointing out that she has historically had major sex appeal will help her to realize that it is society that has the body-image issue, not her.

Equally powerful, make it your quest to learn about sex goddesses from different mythologies. You can inspire her with stories’ themes, helping her to understand her own inner diva.

Explain that the “perfect” body and weight are very subjective – and that she’s perfect for you.

While it’s nice to look good for others, it’s best to be sexiest for your partner. Who cares what others think, if your partner loves your form? So let her know that you think that she’s all that and then some. Stress that we are all different – that we all look different – and that the way she’s working it totally works for you. Help her to defy her demons by stressing what the “real” and “natural” woman truly looks like, which isn’t your average runway model.

Highlight that she needs to learn to love herself.

Tell her how much you love her. Then tell her that you wish that she would love herself half as much. Ask her to show compassion for herself, to be good to herself – because you would want nothing less for her. Let her know that you’re hurt that she’s hurting and that you wish she could get to a place of peace for the two of you.

Be a bit daring with your body, showing off your finer assets or going all-out nude.

Lead by example. Stripping down and flaunting your wares may encourage her to do the same, especially if you wouldn’t consider yourself an intimidating Men’s Health model sort.

Point out that a sex goddess is a love goddess.

Help her realize that what she DOES is sexy. Highlight everything you appreciate about her, like her great job as a mother, her smarts, her talent as a cook ... State everything you love about her loving intention with others. Make her see that there’s a lot more to being a sex goddess than being a size 0.

Create the time she needs to take care of herself.

The moms I know, especially the new moms, tell me that their partners could best support them by providing childcare, especially by spending more time with the kid(s). A critical way to helping her feel better about herself is by supporting her in her efforts to make it happen. So try things like getting out of work on time to baby-sit, so that she can go to gym. Skip your own workout occasionally so that she can make it to yoga class. Hire a baby sitter one Saturday and treat her to a couple’s spa experience.

Encourage her “touchability.”

Ask her to wear touchable clothes, made of fabrics that make it feel even better to rough her up in. She’ll feel more sensual in rayon or silk. Get her into a pampering routine, such as taking a bubble bath with candles, where the only promise she makes for your efforts is that she will worship herself. Encourage touch with more touch. Hold hands or walk arm-in-arm, letting her know that you’re not afraid to let others know that “I’m with her.” Kiss her hello and good-bye every chance you get, giving her more than a peck. Make them linger!

Ask to sleep naked.

Then hold her. Let her know how much it turns you on to run your hands all over her curves. Tell her how good her soft skin feels. Tell her that nothing turns you on in quite the same way as pressing your body up against her luscious naked form.

Express gratitude for her.

Let her know that there is no one else like her and that all of her is special. Cultivate her unique sense of self, helping her to find her inner sex goddess via the mind and heart as well. Tell her how much you love her body – how much you love looking at her.

Practice tough love.

For some women, none of the above will cut it — and they’re going to keep asking “Am I fat?” When this question is being asked, it’s coming from a deep-rooted insecurity that no simple response is going to mend. So if you’re at the end of your rope, calmly and firmly tell her that it hurts you that she is so tough on herself – that you’re taking it very personally. Tell her that every time she cuts herself down, she injures you – and that maybe it’s time she gets help.

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Dr. Yvonne Kristín Fulbright is a sex educator, relationship expert, columnist and founder of Sexuality Source Inc. She is the author of several books including, "Touch Me There! A Hands-On Guide to Your Orgasmic Hot Spots."

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