Have you ever felt you won’t be loved unless you look a certain way?
If only you had that “killer body.” If only you were slimmer, curvier, younger, sexier.
Then all your problems would be solved. Men wouldn’t be able to take their eyes off you. You’d have your pick of dates. Your husband would never dream of looking at another woman.
Susan Bremer O’Neill did have that killer body, but it didn’t solve her problems. It only created more.
Today, this former striptease teacher has a timely goal: to show women why being sexy is a hollow victory compared to the lasting joy and pleasure of loving yourself.
Listen in as she shares her journey from SEX appeal to SELF appeal with YBTV.
What You’ll Learn
Susan Bremer O’Neill is a self-relationship expert. She specializes in coaching women to have a better relationship with themselves.
It’s a hard road, especially when so many women start out believing that sex appeal is all that matters.
Let’s face it. Sex sells. Sex is everywhere. As a young woman I saw this. I read the magazines—the Cosmos, the Vogues—that told me I should look a certain way … I should be sexy, I should be desirable.”
Susan came of age in the era of Madonna. But she didn’t identify as a brazen “material girl”—at least, not at first.
Instead, she became a traveling service technician who installed and repaired laser equipment. She worked in a field surrounded by men, but she wasn’t getting their attention. She saw that the woman getting all the looks were the beautiful ones in high heels.
By her mid 30s, Susan hated her life. She was a highly functioning addict who used drugs and alcohol to avoid dealing with her feelings. Something had to change. But she saw no way out … until she visited a gentleman’s club.
“What I saw [were] the things I had always yearned for and seen in other women. Dressing in evening gowns, playing dress-up in a way, and being admired. And that’s what pulled me into the strip club. A very nice gentleman’s club.”
It wasn’t a conscious choice. She’d never imagined herself as an exotic dancer. But it was a way to explore a side of herself she’d repressed in her scientific work.
We all want to feel sexy and beautiful and be in our bodies, but most of us aren’t taught the value [of it] and how to do that.”
Susan was under no illusions.
Dancing wasn’t healing her, but rather driving her deeper into addiction. She developed a food addiction. An exercise addiction. Even though she had an amazing body, she was always picking herself apart. She had power over men, but no power over her own feelings. Eventually, she says, “I had to start to question what I was doing.”
She got sober, got out, and started to work with other women.
Today, Susan gives speeches, teaches classes and workshops, and writes about her experiences. Her journey is documented in her memoir, From Self Appeal to Sex Appeal.
Her Self Appeal campaign helps women come more fully into their bodies, by breaking the addiction to everything external. “It’s moving away from external validation to internal validation,” Susan explains.
Part of that journey is learning to reconnect with the body and feel our feelings rather than cutting ourselves off from them. We have to spend time with our bodies and get to know them. We have to get to know who we are and explore how we feel.
Embracing Self Appeal doesn’t mean abandoning sex appeal. Rather, it means stepping into sex appeal by feeling confident in who you are and at home in your body. “Confidence is the sexiest thing a woman can wear,” Susan says.
The philosophy behind Self Appeal “is that when I love myself, when I wholeheartedly validate who I am, and I have respect for who I am, then the person … that I attract loves me no matter what I look like.”
The people in our lives are there for us already. They don’t look at flaws unless we start to point them out. They don’t care how we look. if we’re naked in bed with them, they’re just interested in our pleasure.”
Self Appeal isn’t just targeted towards women. It also has much to offer girls.
We have to teach young women about their bodies, Susan says. Let’s emphasize sports and what the body can do. That takes the focus off what they look like.
Education is key. “We need to really talk to them about the reality of sex and love and what’s going to happen with hormones and relationships. They’re going to learn it out there anyway.”
And when girls today grow up today, seeing singers like Beyoncé dance on stage in skimpy outfits, Susan wants to tell them what she didn’t hear all those years ago, watching Madonna flaunt her body on stage.
“You don’t need to do that to have respect, to get attention, to have love.”
Jump to Topics of Interest
3:29 Susan’s personal journey from sex appeal to self appeal
7:50 How Susan used addictions to disconnect from her body and emotions
10:18 What creates that original sense of disconnection?
13:09 Confidence, no matter what you look like
17:12 Meditations Susan offers that help you get in touch with the beauty, strength and miracle of who you are
18:46 Importance of education and sports for girls and young women
21:25 If you want love, it has to start with you
Learn More about Susan’s Work
We’re honored to have Susan as one of our expert authors here at Your Brilliance. Check out more of her advice on reclaiming your body and reconnecting with yourself.
About Susan Bremer O’Neill
Susan Bremer O’Neill is an author, speaker and coach who found self-love in the most unusual way. She got sober, then went from being a scientist to an exotic dancer. In recovery from addiction, she founded Self Appeal, based on the philosophy that all relationships start with the relationship you have with yourself. For over 15 years she’s been helping women love their bodies and feel good about who they are. Find how you can work with Susan.