Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Renaissance Women

Just a heads up.  This post is about intimacy and sex.  If that is something you aren't comfortable with, feel free to skip today's installment and meet me back here tomorrow.  No offense taken just as none is intended but this is something I feel strongly needs to be addressed.  Now that that's out of the way.

Fat people are not sexy.  That's what today's society tells us.

Yet during the Renaissance and Baroque periods in the 1400's and 1500's painters like Titian and Sir Peter Paul Rubens (where the term "rubenesque" came from) painted a much different picture.  Their respective works of art depicted curvy women with soft bellies, voluptuous breasts, "love handles" and sturdy thighs and backsides in soft, glowing light often completely nude. They were considered the epitome of beauty and desire even up until the Victorian period in the 1800's before waist cinching became a thing.

When the Mr and I started dating, I was 17 and he was 19.  We had a good discussion a few weeks ago about virginity and sex.  When we met, we were both...well, virgins.  Those ages are probably considered ancient by today's standards (sad) but we have always said that we are very proud that we will be each other's one and only.  It's not that neither of us didn't have opportunities thrown our way before we met but we had standards.  It could've happened to me in a few ways that would've been a heck of a story to tell but probably would've had me wondering when an STD was going to pop up in my future.  He was given a few "sure thing" girls but had no interest in being a 'transition guy' or have his first experience feeling like he'd been used.  (Told ya I had a good one!)  Neither of us were thin when we met though thinner than we are now by about 50 lbs.  Given the surge of hormones running through us at those ages, it's a safe bet that no place was off limits to get busy.  You remember those days early in the relationship.

Then life happens, you get comfortable and you settle into a routine.  Maybe it involves sex, maybe it doesn't.  But the more weight you gain, the less confidence you may have and I can tell you that it can lead to a pretty sad experience on the intimacy front.  Now I know there are plenty of people out there still getting down a few times a week or more and my hats off to you.  But when you get bigger and bigger and can't even stand to look at yourself in the mirror, it's hard to think anyone else would want to, even the person who loves you most in this world.  It doesn't matter how many times they tell you you're beautiful, if you don't believe it yourself, you think any compliment you receive is a lie.  Since my worst nightmare due to my parents divorce would be infidelity, you can imagine the extreme lack of sex worried me.  At one time, I actually talked myself into believing that if he cheated, it would be okay because, well, look at me.  Talk about zero self esteem and even worse, many men would absolutely agree with that statement.  Luckily mine doesn't.  Without getting into TMI, it has become my mission to get back to how we were in that early stage.  I go through this probably every year or every other year and we have a good streak and then for some reason it stops because we just don't make the time for it and we get in our own heads when we don't feel our best.  I know I'm not alone on this.  I've had people message me about this issue before and not knowing where to start and looking to us as "relationship goals."  So I felt I needed to be totally honest that we had basically everything down but the physical stuff and while it's not everything, it is certainly an important part to keeping you connected for the long haul.  We have been on a good streak for a little while now, longer than ever in our marriage, I would say.  I read an article about how people are having less sex now than 20 years ago, 56 times per year over 77.  I almost dropped my jaw.  I'm not going to say numbers but I'll say I knew we had some serious ground to cover.

So if you're looking to stoke the home fires, here's what has worked for us and I hope it gives you at least a conversation point.

"We Need To Talk"- Words no man wants to hear but it signals something important is about to go down.  (Nope, I can't say's too easy.)  If you notice the lack of intimacy in your relationship, no doubt your spouse does too.  Approach it from an angle of wanting to fix it, why you both think you don't make the time for it anymore (especially if one of the reasons is lack of self confidence/esteem) and you wanting to make an effort to reconnect on this level.  Make sure you put it out there that even if you cop a feel when you're making dinner or sneak smooches when the kids aren't around that it doesn't necessarily mean it has to lead to sex.  So often we as women tend to misinterpret a kiss or a grope that would've sent us over the moon in the beginning as one more thing to add to the list for the day.  If you both can take the pressure off of the acts that the end result has to be sex then sometimes that's all it can take for you wanting it to lead to that.  You can also tell him how sexy he looks when he puts away the dishes and folds the laundry.  ;-)

"I Feel Pretty!"- If you are self conscious about one or multiple parts of your body, you can feel like wearing a sleeping bag with a zipper at the crotch is your only option.  I assure you it's not. We've all heard it before, men are visual and luckily there are some great companies out there that sell some beautiful bras, panties and lingerie for the plus size woman.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Hips and Curves-  They have some really pretty lingerie, bra and panty sets, sleepwear, shapewear and more for sizes up to 6x.  They are reasonably priced as well which is always a plus since bigger gals tend to get overcharged for everything.

Adore Me- This site has some seriously beautiful items in their plus size section just like above but also swimwear with items going up to 4x.  You can either buy as you go or if you sign up for their VIP membership, you can get your first set as low as $25 depending on the promotion they are running at the time.

After you've had "the talk" with him, bring up one of these sites when you have a few minutes alone and tell him to bookmark the ones he likes the most.  When you get an idea of what gives him that devilish grin, you can tuck that knowledge away for when something cute goes on sale and you turn an ordinary Tuesday into a reason you'll both have a great Wednesday!

"Where Ya From?  You Sexy Thing!"- Think of how nice it feels when someone compliments you on your outfit at work yet sometimes we forget to compliment the person that means the most to us.  They like to feel appreciated just as much as we do and while saying "I love you" is nice, it can be easy taking those three little words for granted.  Telling your spouse "hey boy/girl, you look mighty cute in them jeans" or texting them a little something to get them thinking of you the rest of the day can do a lot not just for their self esteem but to have you thinking about each other all day like you used to.

"Let's Get It On"- Sometimes there are songs that just light the match if ya know what I mean.  When I put on Gene Loves Jezebel's Kiss of Life  (affiliate link) album, we're both teenagers again praying to God his dad doesn't run down the stairs at mach 5 and bust in on us.  (I think MIL used to send him down there when it got too quiet.)  Load up a list of your favorites that let him know what's on your mind.  I'm not ashamed to admit it...we have a "Shag Playlist."  I said it.  There's probably some stuff on there people would be like "what the HELL is that" but that doesn't matter because it's all about picking stuff that is the soundtrack to your time in funky town.

"Light My Fire"- Or at least hit the on button.  When you're a self conscious person, sometimes wearing a tummy concealing nightie or boob pushing lace bra just isn't enough to having you not feel on display.  Since we've established men are visual and while groping in the darkness can be fun, I've got a better solution.  We have Luminara flameless candle but they can get a little pricey.  (We think they're worth it)  But this one  (affiliate link) has reviews just as good and at a cheaper price.  It gives off a nice, warm glow and we all know that everyone looks better in candlelight.  The great thing about these is you don't have to worry about burning down the house if you should fall asleep in post coital bliss.  Some even come with timers so if you're turning in after, you can enjoy a cuddle sesh and roll over without having to lift a finger to get into sleep mode.

"It's Gotta Be Said"-  Look, I'd be stupid to not at least touch on the fact that from the time dudes are pre-pubescent and praying the teacher doesn't ask him to come up to the board to do a math problem, they are dying to look at boobies.  Whether it was their brother's Playboy, trying to catch a nip on the scrambled channels, renting an adult movie with their friends as a "joke" to now, the absolute flood of them at the click of a'd be naive to think your man has never looked at it.  I'm not saying you should, especially if it makes you uncomfortable.  If you're open to it though, there are actually movies with plots now made with women in mind.  I'm just going to admit it, I picked out a few and we went for it.  Now I'll tell you this...I am the absolute WORST person to watch those with because all I did was give wiener shriveling commentary the whole time and laughed like a hyena.  But do a search on couples movies at reputable sites like Adam and Eve where you're not going to get some computer disease from clicking, watch some trailers together and see if you want to go that route.  There...I covered it.

"A for Effort"- Look, I know we're all busy and we live in a fast paced world but in the end, it truly is about making the effort to reconnect or keep the connection with each other.  I didn't used to know what people meant when they said "marriage is work."  I thought that was a horrible thing to say and only if you weren't meant for each other would you need to say something like that but it is true if you want to keep a long, happy marriage.  You need to work on communication, remaining physical with each other even if that doesn't lead to sex, telling the other person how much you appreciate them and reminding yourself why you fell in love with them in the first place.  It's about believing them when they say you're beautiful or you look nice and it's about making sure you take the time to say the same.

It's okay to have a Renaissance woman's figure regardless of what society says.  Eff society.  They're not in your bedroom...but then again, who says you need to keep it in the bedroom?  *wink*

I'm not going to ask an interactive question here but feel free to chime in if you have something positive to say.

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  1. Love all of this, Anele! You've put into words what I have not been able to explain!

    Playlists can definitely be more seductive than just jumping in the sack!

  2. Love all of these ideas! Thank you for sharing - as you stated, it is sometimes difficult to embrace your own sexuality when you feel heavy. These tips are all excellent!

  3. Amen and Halleluia! After more than 20 years of living together (most of that time married) I know it's work to keep the spark alive. Chronic pain, an unfortunately common consequence of aging and being overweight, can put a huge damper on things too. But cuddle time is so important, even if it doesn't get beyond touch. I confess my hubby and I have been in a rut there as we've been so busy. This blog is a timely reminder to get back into the groove and make some time to just sit together, holding each other, no TV, no debrief on the things that aggravated us during the day, and just exist together for a few minutes.

    Regarding the self-consciousness issue, it's a constant battle. But a few years ago I read an article, I think in the NY Times wellness blog so you know the science is somewhat reputable, that for most men, viewing breasts for 10 minutes a day has a measurable cardio benefit similar to 30 minutes of exercise. So even though my cleavage is quickly descending into knee-knocker territory, I consider it my duty to flash him whenever he spends too long working at his computer. He has yet to complain. And if braving my self doubts means it may extend his life by a few months or years, it's worth it.

  4. Very well written. And you are right, really important topic.

    Hand holding. I would add that as a category.

    And a friend of mine and her husband dance. They actually took lessons. No phones, no screens, no interruptions. She said it was hard to make eye contact for that long in the beginning. But it got more comfortable as time/lessons progressed.


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