Evelyn Resh

Sensual and sexual health and satisfaction for teens and adults

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Two Fat Women in the Room

pumpkin-pie-reshEach year when Halloween arrives I make an effort to reacquaint myself with the following concepts: temperance, restraint, and common sense. In my yearly calendar, Halloween is an incendiary kick-off for nearly four months of perpetual food crimes that wraps-up mid-February on the day after Valentine’s Day. During this third of the year I write a daily post-it note-to-self with the following reminder: the human stomach is the size of a closed fist. This sobering fact helps provide the jolt that I need to assess the quantity of virtually everything I eat and decide whether or not I have the space to accommodate it. I would be lying if I said I always measure correctly or fill the container with the best stuff. However, I am relieved to say that common sense eventually prevails and surely must have contributed to my keeping off 50 lbs. or so that I lost over 13 years ago. What I cannot understand is why it isn’t helping me lose more which I would definitely benefit from. Now in my late 50’s, I feel the burdens of excess weight on my joints and have evidence of early insulin resistance. For some it is “the salty, crunchy stuff” that renders them reckless. For me, it is a sweet tooth which falls deaf to the rational voice of my sensible self. My sweet tooth is a kind-of indiscriminant Mob Boss, ordering one hit after another while I, her first lieutenant, runs scared and follows orders regardless.
I am on an odyssey; I am in search of the reasons why some of us have a more active shut-off valve when it comes to food while others do not. I work on this every day for myself and for my patients, many of whom are well over 300 lbs. I admit that I am relieved to have stayed in the low 200’s for the past 13 years but I would like to weigh less and would benefit from it. I know my patients in the “300 Club” would like to weigh less too but none of us seem able to get there and I need and want to know more about why.
With the cockamamie logic of Fun Size Halloween candy behind me, I am soon to be entering the Master’s League of eating; the Thanksgiving menu! Then, the holiday parties will start and Christmas will arrive with its own script of delicious holiday sweets (including toffees and Peppermint Bark – YUM!) and then comes New Years’ and MANY left-over gifts of candy and “special” baked goods brought by thoughtful and generous people, many of whom are generous but not fat. I am bracing myself.
I know that I will have days in combat where I will lose the battle but will always have a chance of winning the war. But I am too old and experienced to believe this will not go on for the rest of my life. I know I will always search for inspiration to keep exercising, eat in moderation, and keep the original 50 lbs. off.
I suspect I will always be one of the fat(ter) women in the room. But I want to be less fat and successfully help my patients become less fat, too.

Are Your Ready for Your Fatkini?

resh summer 2016

A few years ago the cover story on my Mount Holyoke alumna news magazine was

about Gabi Gregg, alumna, designer, and activist who had taken on fat-hating culture

with a vengeance. Gabi is the brainchild behind the Fatkini, a two-piece bathing suit

close enough in style and cut to be the bikini of choice for the full-figured woman.

As a plus-sized gal myself I was totally intrigued by this. So, I went to the Gabifresh

website to investigate. WOW! The models, their Fatkinis, and their bawdy poses – I

was sold! The photos of Gabi herself modeling her swimwear poolside and being

served by handsome and buff guys looking like they were trying to find their way

into her Fatkini were my favorites. I told my spouse all about this and showed her

which Fatkini I loved most. She was acknowledging and curious but then asked: And

to what end do you love the Chartreuse Fatkini? When I told her I was going to buy it

she said with a loving, but no-nonsense voice: That will not be happening. You will

not be wearing a Fatkini this summer or any summer – unless you just wear it in the

house. I was stunned and crestfallen. What started as a body affirming experience had

been completely extinguished by the very person who tells me she loves my body in

all its sizeable grandeur.

Robin’s response to my disappointment prompted a thought provoking question: Do

you think Gabi might be missing a great opportunity about what swimwear should

encourage, i.e. swimming? It was clear by the cut that one lap or dive into the water

would loosen the top, turn my large breasts into flotation devices, and leave a graphic

and lasting memory on the minds of my neighbors at our town beach. The Fatkini is

not for swimming. Like every other bikini it is for showing off a woman’s body.

The Fatkini still captivates me BUT, I now believe Gabi would have been more

successful addressing the politics of fat-hating – or fat fetishism – had she created

beautiful, plus-size swimwear with athleticism in mind – handsome pool boys

included. Feminists continue to toil in their efforts to enlighten us all about the

cruelty and dangers of objectifying women’s bodies. My wearing a Chartreuse

Fatkni would be like using a green highlighter pen from head to foot accentuating

every curve and roll I have. Given that I love to swim and am motivated to do so

why spend my hard earned cash on swimwear that would make swimming impossible

and reinforce the myth that fat women are never athletic?

Once I got my bearings and recovered my sensibilities, I ordered my new, boring,

monochromatic Speedo.

See you at the lake!

Copyright E. Resh, 2016

The Hazards of Binary Thinking…

resh. blast may3I recently attended a conference on sexuality and gender with presenters whose scholarship, professional practice, and presentation styles were so rich and meaningful that I walked away with a mind full of new and enriched content. But,the binary thinking that we all fall prey to when it comes to sex and gender was a conference focal point that I can’t stop thinking about. This is in part because I tussle
with this every day in my midwifery practice and am struggling to find ways to push against its force and hazards.
Customarily, an ultrasound is scheduled at almost 5 months of pregnancy to view and asses the fetus’ most life-supporting structures: brain, heart, lungs, stomach, kidneys, spine, and placenta – the stuff that makes us well when it’s working and unwell when
it isn’t. When I mention this, most patients say something like: Oh, that’s the ultrasound you do so you can tell the sex of the baby, right? Wrong. It is the ultra sound we do to see if the baby’s anatomy looks normal or if there is a big problem we should be alerted to in advance. Despite my explanations and emphasis on this and my telling them that ultrasounds can be incorrect and/or that the fetus may not be in
a position that makes determining its sex possible, parents will persist; they ask when the scan will be repeated if the sex can’t be determined. Before their baby is able to sustain itself outside the womb expectant mothers and families have already determined aspects of selfhood based solely on their child’s genitals.
I had my own attachments to what my baby would be during pregnancy and for this reason I asked not to know its sex beforehand or at delivery. For about 15 minutes after birth, my newborn was completely sex and gender free. I wanted my mother’s love to solidify in that moment based solely on the baby being human, healthy, and mine. I sensed this was critically important but I couldn’t fully explain why. What the conference speakers clarified for me so many years later is just how mutable identity can be at any time in life. Boy or girl, Straight or Gay, able or disabled, strong or frail, beautiful or homely. None of these are necessarily fixed nor should they be defined by anyone other than the individual themselves.
As a midwife, I am doing my best to remind people of what’s most important: human, healthy, safe in loving arms – the welcoming of a new member of the family. I can feel the burn of this uphill climb, but I know it’s entirely worth it.

How much do you care about yourself?

dancing bodies-weight lossA very unfit and sexually underserved patient of mine recently told me that she had started exercising.  When I asked for details she said: I exercise 5 minutes a day now. My facial expression must have revealed my “Oh, please!” opinion as she quickly added: It’s more than I used to do! Well, not really. Being healthy, aging well, and remaining sexually engaged necessitates doing much more than a 5 min. work-out.
There are two important questions worth asking yourself on an on-going basis: How much do I care about myself and how important is it for me to be physically independent as I age? Giving short-shrift to either is destined to lead to two things: distant and diminished sexuality and an inability to get up off the toilet on your own long before you’re really old.
Embodying your flesh is essential to living and loving well. Thoughtful stewardship includes persistence with self-care practices which creates its own unique erotic charge.  Efforts towards improved health build self-confidence, which is the sexiest, most alluring thing of all.  Achieving this can only come from moving often and for extended periods of time in ways that challenge your heart, your muscles, and your will, eating foods that give you strength, AND pleasure, keeping company with kind and generous people, and being grateful for all you have in life. The specifics of these practices continuously evolve and shift as you change with age and increased self-insight.  But one thing remains the same: the more energy you expend on health the greater access you’ll have to emotional and physical pleasures – alone or with an intimate partner. There are so many times that I see patients whose health status and pleasure quotients are rock-bottom because their mantras are: Work. Eat whatever. Repeat. Little conscious thought goes in to how they’re treating themselves in the moment and what outcome will result in both the near and distant future.
Self-care practices are time consuming, tiring, not always enjoyable, and absolutely necessary if you want the most out of life. This is your body, your joy, your sexuality, your life. Don’t let them slip away.

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