As someone who grew up fantasizing about being a porn star, sexted with strangers from AOL chat rooms, and was something slutty for Halloween ever since I was five, it only makes sense that I grew into a sexual AF adult. I’ve made a career out of my sex and dating escapades. I’m happy that I lack shame surrounding sex. I’ve had sex in every position, with every gender, in every place imaginable. But I hadn’t tried the quintessential sexy-yet-dirty idea of having sex in front of a mirror until recently. It sounds like a hot boost of confidence — perfect for a narcissist like me — but I was a little nervous to try it because it reminds me of one of the worst things that ever happened to me.
A year ago, I was minding my own business, watching porn on my phone, as I’m wont to do, well, whenever. I eagerly clicked on the first video I found (I have zero standards) and got one of those pop-ups with all-caps text like, "CLICK HERE FOR SINGLE, NAKED HOT MOMS WHO ARE OBSESSED WITH YOU IN THIS NEIGHBORHOOD." I immediately X-ed out, which was the biggest mistake of my life. You see, these porn ads know what they’re doing. The X is a trick; it takes you to another link. That’s when my Snapchat opened and I found myself face-to-face with my sweaty masturbation face.
I looked ugly as f*ck. I immediately deleted Snapchat, and vowed to become a nun and never masturbate again. Is that how I look when I’m having sex? I began to obsess. I positioned my iPhone camera down by my crotch to see what I look like getting head — not a good angle for me, apparently.
While this was nothing short of traumatizing, I was ultimately able to recover, re-download Snapchat, and watch porn with caution. Then, in January, I moved out of my childhood bedroom in Long Island into my own apartment in Brooklyn. After years of dropping hundreds of dollars on Ubers to Brooklyn to get sexed, I couldn't wait to transform my new home into a sex den. I put a disturbingly expensive blue velvet couch on my credit card and excitedly envisioned having sex on it. That’s when I thought, I need a mirror.
I spent days in and out of every Homegoods and Pier 1 on Long Island on the quest for my perfect mirror to have sex in front of. Once I found the perfect muted gray mirror, I got blue-hued lightbulbs to string around the top. (After hanging them up, I realized there's a reason strip clubs have red lights — that color tends to look better. Whatever.)
The day after I moved in, I set out to have a one-night stand. Thirsty, I know. I met this cute, stereotypically hipster girl online, met her for a drink up the block, and then brought her home. As we talked and talked, the vibe was off. There was no obvious moment to kiss her. For some reason, I was incredibly nervous. We kept circling back to the same topics (she wanted to talk queer theory and my eyes were drooooooping, honey) but then she finally was like, Can I kiss you? And I was like, kk.
As our kissing got more intense, we struggled to find a comfortable position on my dyke princess couch. It looks good, but it doesn’t feel good, like most of my fashion choices. (I live in a perpetual state of foot blisters.) I was wearing a bodysuit so I low-key felt like a baby getting changed when she was undressing me. Getting a view of it in the mirror was even unsexier. I began obsessing. I have cellulite, my spray tan is uneven, my boobs are too pointy, my mind wouldn’t stop racing. I was so in my head I didn’t even realize she had been going down on me and I wasn’t making a sound.
“Is this okay?” she asked. “Yes, sorry,” I said to my reflection in the mirror. Try as I might, I couldn’t cum for the life of me. The second I started to let go and feel how amazing her tongue felt on me, I’d catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and my face would gross me out. I had wanted to avoid my bed because I live in a loft and there is nothing sexy about climbing a rickety ladder—but I knew I wasn’t going to be any good giving or receiving if I was too caught up with the bags under my eyes, or my tangled weave, or my fat thighs in the mirror. Don’t despair, darlings. The story has a happy ending—once we (un-gracefully) got into my bed, we had amazing sex. But my mirror fail haunted me. Something that I thought would be so incredibly sexy, was literally traumatizing. I decided to masturbate in front of the mirror in order to force myself to get comfortable. I put on my favorite strappy black lingerie set, spray tanned myself, and grabbed my Rabbit (the Sex and the City episode wasn’t lying, that shit is addicting AF). I came, because, like, the Rabbit never fails. But I felt ugly AF doing it.
I was having an identity crisis. Me, the girl that wears bras as shirts. The girl that has made a career out of her sexuality. Me, the girl that is always DTF. Me, the girl that loves to be on display. That same girl was downright revolted by the image of herself being sexual. I decided to try again with my current girlfriend. And to my dismay, we were not into it.
“Oh my god, is that how I look when I’m getting head? I’m never having sex again,” my girlfriend joked. But I absolutely love the way she looks at me when we’re having sex. Nothing turns me on like looking at and feeling her come. Because it’s real. It’s intense. That’s when I realized that when we’re in our rawest states, we’re not supposed to be beautiful. When I’m fully enjoying pleasure, I’m not thinking about how I look. Sex is one of the only escapes I can think of where I’m not obsessed with how I’m presenting myself.
I’m grateful that I’m comfortable enough with my body and sexuality that I fully let go when I’m having sex — so much so that I don’t look “sexy.” It was true for a one night stand, for masturbating, and for (forgive me, I hate this term) making love. I’m giving up on mirror sex because it just isn’t important to me to look sexy when I’m having sex. I don’t want any distractions. I want to be fully present in my body. It’s okay that something I thought was going to be sexy and empowering was actually gross. That’s life. Sometimes, it totally surprises you.
So, if you want to have mirror sex, and it makes you feel self-conscious instead of turned on, who cares? You don’t have to “work at it” or have an epiphany or learn to love yourself and your orgasm face. You can just get off the velvet couch and get your freaky self into bed.