Images: Amanda Lear | Karim Sadli | ‘Le Vrai Visage d’Amanda Vogue Paris March 2011
Like today’s transgender model Lea T, Amanda Lear was originally born a man names Alain Tapp, who became a performer at Le Carousel in Paris under the name of Peki d’Oslo.
Lear became a muse and trusted friend of Salvador Dali, who may have paid for her gender-changing operation with Dr. Bureau in 1963. Some say that her name = ‘a man’ + ‘dali’ or ‘L’amant Dali” (this latter the title of one of her books). via Zagria blog
Throughout the fashion world, sexuality is in flux. LOVE magazine recently put an image of Lea T and Kate Moss kissing on their cover. Model sensation Andrej Pejic says he would have a sex change operation to become a Victoria’s Secret Angel.
Amanda Lear is making a comeback in our gender flux world, but I post her Vogue Paris images in Sensually Yours, to underscore important new data on female sexuality and women’s experimentation with same-sex relationships.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a new study on sexuality in America for students and younger adults. Much of the fanfare has focused on a decrease in first-time sexual activity for younger people.
RedTracker| Psychology Today suggests that important differences exist between bright girls and gifted boys that impact the decision of girls to give up too quickly. Heidi Grant Halvorson argues that there is a second ‘within’ problem among girls besides their tendency to be ruthlessly tough on themselves.
Halvorson’s graduate advisor Carol Dweck found that bright girls, when given something to learn that was unusually complex, were quick to give up. The higher the girls’ IQ, the more likely she was to adopt a defeatist attitude.
RedTracker| Members from all branches of Amrica’s military are in San Diego this week for the Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium. The Sea Service Leadership Association has sponsored the program for 24 years, providing professional development and encouragement to active-duty military women.
Lt. Cmdr. Jean Marie Sullivan, the chief of the Navy’s Office of Women’s Policy and one of the event organizers, told San Diego’s Union Tribune that “many young women question the feasibility of having a family and maintaining their military careers, but being able to talk to women who have gone through it can reassure them a balanced life is possible.”
It is critical that we get the facts about contraception and abortion, as Rep House Leader John Boehner seeks to end funding for Planned Parenthood, part of the Republican war on women.
Mostly men who don’t know what they are talking about quote facts and figures that are untrue, when the subject is women’s reproductive health.
Make no mistake. Contraception works and reduces abortions. The Guttmacher Institute has released it latest investigation about the effectiveness of contraception in reducing unplanned pregnancy.
Two-thirds of American women who use contraception consistently and correctly throughout the course of any given year account for only 5% of all unintended pregnancies. The 19% of women at risk who use contraception erratically account for 44% of all unintended pregnancies, while the 16% of women at risk who use no contraception at all for a month or more during the year account for 52% of all unintended pregnancies.
The women having abortions are either using no contraception or using it irregularly.
The body of evidence attesting to the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of publicly funded family planning services is comprehensive and compelling. These services not only improve the health of mothers and babies by helping women time and space their pregnancies, they also prevent almost two million unintended pregnancies each year, which would otherwise result in 860,000 unintended pregnancies and 810,000 abortions. Without these services, the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions among poor women in the United States would nearly double, and the number of unintended pregnancies in the nation as a whole would be nearly two-thirds higher. via Guttmacher Institute
Invest $1 To Prevent Unwanted Pregnancies, Save $4
The Guttmacher Institute has never been accused of incorrect survey information and statistics to the best of our knowledge. GI calculates that helping low-income women prevent births saves almost $4 in public expenditures for every $1 invested.
A new British survey of 4000 people called ‘Sex in the Nation’ found that more than half the women felt too overweight to have sex. About 52 percent of women said they lacked confidence in the shape of their bodies.
29 percent of women said they avoided sex because they looked fat, with another 23 percent citing embarrassment about their ‘wobbly bits’. The latter is a distinctly British terms for the normal results of an aging body.
Men answered these questions at eight percent and 11 percent respectively.
A whopping 72 percent of women said they told their partners they were too tired for sex; 34 percent admitted they felt unattractive; 33 percent said they were ill; and 32 percent explained on occasion they were too stressed for sex.
Psychosexual specialist Dr Catherine Hood, who lectures at Oxford University, said many women “feel under pressure to live up to a vision of perfection which just isn’t realistic”。
The real impact of body image and self esteem problems in an increasingly obese Britain — not significantly different from the US, which is actually fatter — is a key reason why I am upset over the size 0 model phenomenon.
However challenging are the real physical and psychological problems associated with obesity, they are made even worse by the sense of failure and self-loathing that so many women feel looking at themselves in the mirror.
Of the women polled in ‘Sex in the Nation’, 13 percent said they only had sex with the lights off because they didn’t want to be seen naked. One in 10 said she would like to be more adventurous in the bedroom but stuck to familiar sexual position — probably the missionary position versus being on top — because of shame about parts of their body.
Some bloggers have jumped all over the survey, which was funded by a women’s sexual desire supplement. There’s nothing in the results that suggests to me that the results are skewed or misrepresented. It is a scientific fact that libido is dying in relationships, and obesity is a key factor in loss of sex drive.
Medical Research on Weight and Sex Drive
Some of the best research on obesity and libido has been done by Martin Binks, PhD, a clinical psychologist and director of behavioral health at Duke University’s Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, NC.
Recent research by Binks confirms that up to 30% of obese people seeking help in controlling their weight — already more proactive than the general population — say they have problems with sex drive, desire, performance or all three.
The negative self-image and self-esteem problems that accompany obesity in many people are complicated by physiological conditions that impact libido, ability to orgasm and strong erections in men.
“We are beginning to see that the width of the blood vessels leading to the clitoris [the area of the vagina most closely related to sexual response] in women are affected by the same kind of blockages that impact blood flow to the penis,” says Susan Kellogg, PhD, director of sexual medicine at the Pelvic and Sexual Health Institute of Graduate Hospital in Philadelphia. via Medicinenet
When this happens, says Kellogg, a woman’s body is far less responsive, and a drop in desire is not far behind.
Both sexes are also impacted by higher levels of a natural chemical known as SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) that accompany obesity. SHBG binds to the sex hormone testosterone, making less of it available to stimulate sexual desire.
Insulin resistance — the precursor to type 2 diabetes — is almost always associated with obesity, and has an impact on sexual arousal.
Restoring Sexual Desire
Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
Adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle is key to reclaiming lost libido. At one time in my life I had a BMI of 32, making me medically obese. I was in a long-term relationship and our sex life was very active. While I did suffer from endless body image challenges, loss of libido didn’t accompany my own weight gain.
Eventually I decided that my own situation couldn’t go on forever and that I would not accept myself as an obese woman. As often as I criticize and reject the size 0 model trend, I agree that in my own case, I lacked self-discipline on the subjects of exercise and eating a healthier diet.
When Dr. Binks reports significant improvement in sexual functioning with weight loss of 5-10 pounds, I can relate.
Self Control=Self Respect
Simply taking control of oneself and stopping the vicious cycle of self-loathing and self-defeat by being proactive and action-oriented increases sexual desire in many women.
Losing as little as 10% on weight among obese people has dramatic impact on sex drive, self-esteem and the physiological problems of lowered blood circulation in the genitals and elevated, pre-diabetic or diabetic glucose ratings.
In working with obese patients on a long-term basis, Dr. Binks found that complaints about loss of libido fell by half, even though the women in his group remained medically overweight.
Most research on obesity and sexuality confirms that the decision to take control of one’s eating and exercise habits almost always brings almost immediate results in improved self-image and self-esteem. The focus isn’t becoming a size 2 but caring enough about one’s self to become healthy.
Simply adopting the Mediterranean Diet, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, will bring significant results. (Read A Kitchen to Bedroom Primer | Sexual Wellness Power Foods )
People — and especially women — can’t embark on a healthy eating problem to make fashion designers happy. That’s an external psychological mine field in an industry that literally changed the ‘ideal woman’ from a sexy, muscular size 4-6 woman with breasts like Cindy Crawford to a ‘Black Swan’ body in a decade.
The last decade has become a total ‘head game’ of women failing to live up to the unrealistic beauty standards set by super thin people. I call the trend fashion monasticism. We must ignore it and make peace with the woman in the mirror — the average woman who wants pleasure in her life.
Exercise | Get Moving
“Any activity that increases blood flow to the large muscle groups in the thighs, buttocks, and pelvis — such as yoga, brisk walking, or cycling for 20 minutes three times a week — is also going to bathe the genitals with better circulation,” says Kellogg. The result, she says, is more lubrication, better arousal, and better orgasmic function. And ultimately a return of sexual desire.via MedicineNet
Any woman can do squats in place, in the middle of the kitchen. We all can start somewhere, even if it’s five minutes a day. The mere act of starting something is better than doing nothing.
When I first took up exercise, I owned a stairmaster that served as a clothes rack in a guest bedroom. I told myself that I didn’t care if I read a book, sitting on the machine for five minutes a day. The point was that I had to be attached to the stairmaster every day for a period of time. That’s how I got going.
In short order I had ‘muscle lust’ and I still do have it. I still believe that women should turn out the lights and explore their own bodies, touching themselves including on their heads. Have you ever touched your scalp lightly but repeatedly?
The reason I reject this ‘no muscles on women’ fashion game is because it’s downright debilitating on a long-term basis. I like muscles in my body because I feel strong, not frail. With all that’s going on in the world, how do women fight when we are physically weak?
Experiencing the sensuality of our bodies goes against so many doctrines that demand respectability in women. Our bodies should be loathed not celebrated, say the global morality police. Hence, we eat. This is not the only factor in our obesity epidemic, but it is the one we refuse to discuss.
Sensual Creativity | Mind Games
“The epitome of sexuality is abandoning self-consciousness to experience the moment intensely. If one is fretting about this bulge or that bulge or how their butt looks from every angle, it’s pretty difficult to enjoy the moment, much less be there for your partner,” says psychologist and body-image expert Abby Aronson, author of The Final Diet.
I think every woman should write her own mantra, taping it to a mirror:
My beauty is in my own eyes, and no one else’s
I will find my inner vixen and bring her out to play
I don’t care what the world thinks of my body, but I intend to claim her …
Susan Kellogg reminds us that women’s To Do lists usually aren’t sexy. Housework is no fun unless you’re wearing a French Maid’s outfit. Erotica is good for our souls and spirits and every woman should try reading some.
Sitting down with a journal for 30 minutes and just writing sexy words and phrases might get you started. Stop trying to write the perfect sensual essay or erotica. Just let your mind go into a the world of sexual fantasy and write one just for you.
Sharing is great, but finding our sexy side can also be a private journey. Modern women are split in so many directions that keeping a literary zone of privacy can be important. Start a journal: ‘Thoughts I’m Not Supposed to Be Having’ and let it rip.
Finding your sensual self doesn’t mean that you will race out the door and have a menage a trois.
I Am Worth It
Years of writing and consulting about sexuality, 10 years at Victoria’s Secret as a key executive, and my own Sensual and Superyoung journey to self love have convinced me that obesity, morality, and sexuality are very intertwined for many women.
Phyllis Schlafly’s new book hit stores tomorrow, blaming feminism and strong women for everything that’s wrong with America. Once again, American women are under attack for trying to say ‘I am worth it’.
It took me decades to love the woman in the mirror and caring about keeping her healthy. I remember an exercise that I did long ago, as part of a spiritual retreat. It is so simple. We had to write “I love myself because … ” with a list of 10 entries.
It took me hours to complete the assignment, and it wasn’t the finale in my own battle for self-love.
Yes women are stressed; yes, women have too much to do; yes … yes … yes. When we’re done with all the excuses, then we should take paper and pen (or laptop, of course), find a quiet corner, and write up our own self-love list. If you have only seven items on your list, keep looking and return until you have 10 attributes.
If you are sincere in writing your list, and you return to it often to read about yourself, I believe that a healthier, sexier and often lighter you emerges as a result.
Unlike the bloggers who blow off all this research on sexuality and loss of libido, I think we should take it to heart.
Yours will beat faster, longer and with pride if self-love becomes your good friend — inspiring you to love your body at any size, because it is yours. For better or worse, we must claim ourselves before we can change for the right reasons, which is to please ourselves and not others.
The latter is a false, doomed-to-failure endeavor, a no-win game that women play endlessly, forgetting that the path to joy and self-respect lies within ourselves and not at the corner store. Anne
EulvaLoveLovely on Etsy.com.
Being perfect artists and ingenuous poets, the Chinese have piously preserved the love and holy cult of flowers; one of the very rare and most ancient traditions which has survived their decadence. And since flowers had to be distinguished from each other, they have attributed graceful analogies to them, dreamy images, pure and passionate names which perpetuate and harmonize in our minds the sensations of gentle charm and violent intoxication with which they inspire us. So it is that certain peonies, their favorite flower, are saluted by the Chinese, according to their form or color, by these delicious names, each an entire poem and an entire novel: The Young Girl Who Offers Her Breasts, or: The Water That Sleeps Beneath the Moon, or: The Sunlight in the Forest, or: The First Desire of the Reclining Virgin, or: My Gown Is No Longer All White Because in Tearing It the Son of Heaven Left a Little Rosy Stain; or, even better, this one: I Possessed My Lover in the Garden. ~Octave Mirbeau, Torture Garden, “The Garden,” Chapter 5
Other thoughts about flowers to accompany these provocative ‘Mouthflower’ images from Anoush Abrar & Aimée Hoving.