Under what incredibly rare circumstances is an overweight woman actually happy when stark naked?

I know what you’re thinking. You went right for sex, didn’t you? But you’re wrong. Your typical overweight woman has seen rom-coms. She’s even seen porn, even if she’s not going to admit it. She knows what sex is SUPPOSED to look like, and generally speaking, she’s pretty sure she doesn’t look like that when in the throes.

So lots of bedcovers are favored. Darkness is an ally. Careful poses and great suckings-in of the stomach, plus a wish that one could suck in the hips or the thighs or the baby’s-got-back.

Other times an overweight woman is naked: At the doctor’s office, and even then, they give you ridiculous paper vests and large drapes, also made of paper, with which to hopefully cover some of what the doctor is forced by his or her profession to look at with (at best mild) contempt.

No overweight woman is happy in the doctor’s office. I saw a study a few decades ago that said that women should never be weighed BEFORE having their blood pressure taken; it’s so stressful that the BP is never accurate.

You’re naked when you take a shower or bath, but we all arrange things so we don’t have to examine the light gleaming off ample rolls of wet flesh. Once again, that’s not how (we think) a pretty woman is supposed to look… so bathing becomes about utility.

So IS there a time when an overweight woman is truly happy while naked?


I went to see Gwynn yesterday – the therapeutic masseuse. We first discussed the various physical readings from my body, and then because Gwynn is all about the total person, we discussed stress and mood and sleep and all the non-exercise-based things that were influencing the way my body moved.

She developed a plan. (This time? “Let’s focus mostly on your shoulders,” she said. Yes – lets! That’s where stress lives in me!) (Gwynn says shoulders; what she means is that she’s going to work on muscles that I NEVER would have thought would influence the shoulders… but she’s always right.) And then she stepped out so I could strip down.

Which I did. Eagerly. And then I slipped under the sheet and blanket on her heated massage table. It was near freezing and raining outside – a grey, unfriendly day – so lying flat and quiet on Gwynn’s heated table was sweeter than candy. My feet were warm; I was warm. It was quiet. No phone calls, no emails. No chores or To Dos. My job was to lie still and feel my body relax into the padded table.

And I knew that when Gwynn came back in, she would NOT see the excess of adipose tissue on my body; she wouldn’t raise an unseen eyebrow at the bulges under the sheet. She saw me as a wonderful tangle of muscles and capability and it was her project to straighten me out.

Which she did. She cradled my skull in one strong hand and turned and lifted my head so she could knead the neck muscles. She got to my lats. She worked on the quads, and did a quick tour of my feet. I was a lump of happy clay and she was Rodin. She shaped me into something better and more graceful. The image of being sculpted was so vivid that I asked if she ever tried working in clay.

“I don’t have an artistic bone in my body,” she demurred.

That can’t be true. She was shaping me with such skill. What could she do if you gave her some Play-Dough??

But my point: I was absolutely naked, and just blissfully happy about it. Yay!

Some people don’t like massages. “I don’t like to be touched,” they say. And I feel SO SORRY for them. It’s such a blessing, really. And when Gwynn was finished with my hour, I was so stoned I felt it was probably unwise of me to drive right away.

I did drive. All my stressors and troubles were waiting just outside, and I woke up pretty quickly once I left…

…but for an hour, I was floating and supported and approved of. What a gift.

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That’s a trio of Reubens nudes. At the time, those women were famed for their voluptuous beauty. Of course, they were also expected to survive the occasional famine, which is what made them so voluptuous. Good breeders. Alas, we live in a time when the snaky-hipped are praised… They’d be the first to go if we had a famine now. Remember that, my generously-sized friends; we are genetically superior in all ages but this one!



“Brao” sounds like what a pudgy, 59-year-old lady says when she sees photos of smokin’ hot actors, right?

In fact, THAT sound is “RAOW.” (Duh.)

BRAO means something entirely different; it’s a huge motivator for me.

You see, during the roughly two years when my husband was decaying like a malted milk ball (you know the one – looks normal but turns out to be almost hollow, with the malt condensed and crusted on the inside of the chocolate shell? Kinda gummy?), he pretty much did nothing more than sit.

He was dealing with physical issues as well as possible brain trauma and deserves empathy for his decision to take to his recliner (the “decliner”)… and one day while he was sitting there, he realized he couldn’t see right. The lower, inner quadrant of one eye (the part that lets you just barely see the side of your own nose) was black.

So he sat there for a while.

Turns out that even if this had happened to him while sitting in the exam chair at a retina specialist, there wasn’t anything that could be done. A small clot had developed in his bloodstream and upon slipping along one of the hair-like arteries in the retina, had gotten wedged into place. Within three minutes, the region of the retina that the artery branch served had died.

This wasn’t something that could be treated by diet or medicine; there was no operation that was going to bring the vision back. A hunk of dead retina is just that; dead. No more go.

When we finally got to the retina specialist, he was warm and comforting; this is nothing to feel bad about. It just happens sometimes. Jonathan had had a Branch Retinal Artery Occlusion – or BRAO.

But you know, there’s a larger truth there. You can’t do anything that will definitely protect you from a stroke… but you can take action to make it less likely. Right?

Don’t decline. That’s the top advice. Get up and strut around a little. Get the blood moving so little pockets of quiet in the heart don’t get sludgy and start calving like glaciers into tiny clot-bergs.

Make a few different choices at the dinner table. Avoid poisons like diet sodas. Skip the bread basket. Have chicken instead of beef.

Sugar. Damned, insidious sugar, with its hooks deeply embedded in my brain. Resist. Resist. Resist.

Jonathan didn’t. He sat. And declined. And lost the vision in part of one eye. And eventually he died, and never saw his son graduate from high school or got to visit him at college in Vermont. He never got to drive my new car. He has no idea my nephew is going to be a father. He’s missing EVERYTHING.

This journey into Jonathan’s decline comes because in a quest for a cool spot (the furnace is on too high in this chill weather), I ended up on his side of the bed in the early hours. I woke up and found myself caught in a grim memory loop. The BRAO came back to me vividly; I couldn’t shake the reflection of a nightmare time.

This morning, I got up and ate my yogurt. Then I ran the stairs. Up and down, up and down, up and down – ten times in all, grimacing and wishing I had the breath to say all the bitchy things I was thinking about how annoying it is to get cardio exercise…

…and I thought “BRAO.” This is why I do stairs. Forget the waistline. Forget the label on the jeans. Forget being “good” or “bad” about my health. Just do it so you don’t go blind one day.

I could sit comfortably now and ignore the stairs and perhaps lose my vision later… or I can pant and grunt and complain now while thudding from floor to floor in my house and later have a marginally better chance of seeing my son live his life, and meeting my grand-nephew or niece, and eventually buying another new car that Jonathan won’t get to drive. Maybe one day I’ll hold a silly novel in my hand that I wrote and actually published. Maybe.

So – stairs. BRAO, man. Stairs.

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Google Images assures me that is a retina. Honestly, it could be a hugely injured retina or a textbook example of what a retina is supposed to look like… I wouldn’t know. I just thought the red was pretty. Jonathan’s scans (which were always in black and white, not flaming red) had a large dark shadow over part of this image. BRAO.  Brr.