Loving yourself. Pun intended.

Sometimes in magazines you will see an article about loving yourself and coming to terms with your body. Usually it means standing naked in front of a mirror and examining every inch of your skin with love and compassion. Or running yourself a bubble bath and lighting candles and floating for an hour, gently caressing your flesh and chanting some kind of mantra about your beautiful bosoms, your lovely limbs, your sensual stomach, and your fine, fine ass. (Here's how our pal Kim fell in love with her body.)

Once you get over the absolute goofiness and get past the self-consciousness, romancing your body is a very fine way to come to terms with it. It is a way of learning to look at it with happiness and touch yourself with kindness and feel good about the skin you came into the world and ended up with. Too often we divorce ourselves from our bodies when we decide they are too ugly to deal with, to look at, or to think about. They become the monster under the bed, growing in horror and terror and size and grotesquerie. We force ourselves to contemplate each and every part of it, to consider it individually and we find it, suddenly, hard to hate our body as a whole when we know each part so well. (Your body is actually pretty good at communicating what it needs. Here's your personal translation guide.)

What's the next step in romance? Making it physical. If you don't make love to yourself, who will? Who else knows what you like, how you like it, and how awesome an orgasm you deserve? And I mean awesome in every sense of the word. Masturbation is a beautiful thing, and not just because it feels good--you're doing something good for yourself, you're good at it, and you're honoring your gorgeous bod. Also, it relieves stress and probably headaches. I bet it can cure disease, and rescue children from burning buildings too. It might be the most literal interpretation of loving yourself, and it's probably one of the easiest (and most enjoyable) ways to do just that.

Loving yourself can also lead to having a pretty sweet romance with someone else.