This is the fabulous Veena in one of her poses
The last thing that most men want to hear from their wives is that they would like to go dancing with them. Fully aware of my husband’s aversion to dance, I nevertheless asked him to join me for swing dancing lessons a few years ago. There was the initial frown, as if I had spoken in a foreign language, and he could not understand; after repeating myself one more time, he shrugged his shoulders, scratched his head but surprisingly, he joined me. I’m not sure whether it was plain ignorance or his way of punishing me, but he always wore his Timberlands to our dance lessons—it made his hitch-kick quite cumbersome and painful to watch, but most of all it was uncomfortable for my poor shins. After realizing that he would not only be dancing with me, because the routine was such that we were made to switch partners all the time, he quit and that was the last time we ever danced together. No need for tissues, the way that my husband dances I’d rather dance alone any time.
Fast forward to a few days ago when I mentioned to my husband that I was going for a pole dancing lesson. Read More
When I read about the successful passage of yet another ban on gay marriage, this time in North Carolina, I couldn’t help but feel that I’m actually living in such a primitive age. For all of our accomplishments, this entire gay rights issue reeks of archaic reasoning. The absurdity of it all—still having to discuss gay marriage in this day and age—leaves me scratching my head most times. I immediately think of my roots (although there are plenty of other examples to draw from unfortunately,) specifically of my Jewish relatives who lived in Poland under the oppressive grip of The Pale of Settlement rule, banning them from most aspects of society; limiting and restricting their work and dwellings. A popular slogan used to be: “Christians buy only from Christians.” But see, this was not always the case, and what this has to do with my rant this morning is that it’s the people who hold a limited and skewed vision of the world who are to blame for writing such a horrid version of history for certain groups of people. Read More
Leon performing heart surgery.
On this blog I have taken the time to expound on the human body as seen and understood throughout the ages, mainly because I am in pursuit of accepting the aging process with a different set of eyes—a different perspective. I’ve already posted a poem written by my grandmother about aging, and today I’m posting a poem written by my father, Leon Levinsky, not so much about aging but very much about an aspect of it that I have not made my main focus. Heart disease is a problem that many experience at a certain stage of their life; there are so many ways to prevent heart disease from happening in the first place, and yet there is so much ignorance revolving around this important health topic. Read More
The bare shoulder, transmitting primeval sexual signals.
Once again I have turned to my favorite author, Desmond Morris, and his thoughts on the female body as described in his book titled, The naked woman. Why do we have shoulders in the first place? What’s been their purpose throughout our evolution? One thing’s for sure, shoulders were not meant to function in a sexual way; originally their function was as a foundation for our arms, but when our ancestors began to walk straight the shoulders became a lot more flexible, allowing us to rotate from side to side, shrug them, shake them, lift them up and down—all of which have significance in our daily communication with one another. Read More
Gertrude in her 20s.
When my grandmother Gertrude wrote her poems she did not think that they were anything special. She casually shoved the poems in the drawer, beneath her favorite bookshelf, and forgot about them. She had no idea that years later I would read those poems, and possibly find a measure of comfort in her words. “The Photograph” was written after a photo shoot that was conducted by one of my cousins. Apparently, granny did not like the results, nothing to do with the quality of the photos because Nicola’s work was remarkable—it was something else that bothered Gertrude. I don’t know whether to call it vanity or not, but it was obvious that she was unhappy with the way that she had aged. Gertrude had always told me that in her mind she had a totally different image of herself, that she had only seen herself as that nineteen-year-old that she used to be. With her eyes closed she never imagined one wrinkle, or an age spot; in her mind she still had raven black hair, smooth skin, and a long narrow frame. When she looked in the mirror she could no longer recognize herself. Nevertheless, one day she rediscovered those photos, and had a complete change of heart. Read More
There was no way we would not try to embarrass our children, and so we did!
Recently, I traveled to Paris and discovered what all the fuss is about; why people fall in love with this place, and why it’s depicted as the city of romance. It hit me the moment I arrived, as soon as I left Gare-du-Nord train station and immediately noticed the cobblestone streets and magnificent architecture of the buildings surrounding me. But that was only the beginning, thankfully there was so much traffic that our taxi could only proceed at a snail’s pace, giving us ample opportunity to absorb everything outside. The cafes and bakeries along the way were enough to send my head spinning, never had I seen such a vast collection of eateries anywhere else that I’ve visited, or seen so many stores all nestled in such scenic surroundings. As soon as we arrived at our hotel, near the Eiffel Tower, I could not wait to go out to a local patisserie and eat a baguette and experience a Parisian pastry. My husband’s pleas to sit in a proper restaurant where he would have space to rest his tired feet went unnoticed by me; all I cared about was satisfying my craving for French baked goods. The moment I noticed the display of food through the window of the first patisserie that we passed, I could finally relax. No one spoke English, but the language of bread and cake is universal, so there was no problem there. From that point on Paris, for me, became a city filled with temptation, because everywhere I went and saw the signs for a patisserie I knew what treasures stood only one bite away. We didn’t only eat bread and cake however; as tempting as it was, we also dined in proper restaurants in order to experience other French foods. We made sure to walk for miles after each meal, so that we could develop an appetite before our next eating experience. Sounds like gluttonous behavior, and that is exactly the way it was. Missing, thank goodness, from the scenery were the big yellow McDonald’s arches that can be seen in almost every metropolitan city worldwide, and the one and only McDonald’s near our hotel had a very tiny arch, almost unrecognizable. I had to walk inside just to see whether the menu was the same, as I remembered how once I went into a McDonald’s in Israel to check out the menu and found that they served McKabob, and in England they had an ‘After Eight’ McFlurry. I wondered what variation of the usual menu this French McDonald’s would offer, and I laughed when looking at the dessert section of the McCafe with its colorful macaroons and other delectable cakes—it was nothing like the options offered in the US. While in France, I made sure to eat in non-chain restaurants and cafés, not difficult to find since most places were not chains—how refreshing. No matter what the weather was like, and it drizzled most of the time, people would still sit outside, elbow to elbow while eating their meals, or just sipping their coffee. What I didn’t appreciate of course was all the smoking, I hated it, it seemed as though every second person in France smoked. Every corner I turned surprised me with more restaurants, more shops, and more beautiful apartment buildings; perhaps it was the feeling that I would never have enough time to do it all—to see everything—that added an element of awe and excitement.
But enough about the food, because if you strip that away, there is still so much more: the walking along the Seine, morning or night, the way the Eiffel tower glistened when it lit up in the dark, the way the Champs Elysees looked when standing at the very end of the street, looking onward toward the Arc de Triomphe—a monument that stood big and tall amidst the modern-looking shops along this famous street. A reminder that when those stores close or change hands, the Arc de Triomphe will still be there standing aloof, looking down on all of us. The one museum that I could not wait to see was of course Muse du Louvre, holding some of the world’s most valuable art; everyone has seen this building’s famous image at some point in their lives, but standing there outside, with grim skies all around us, I was filled with veneration for the architects of this beautiful structure. It felt surreal, it still feels that way. With the aid of our museum pass, my family and I skipped the very long line outside and headed straight to the Italian paintings, in order to see the one and only Mona Lisa. We figured that with a five-year-old in tow it was best to go directly to the artwork that we were most interested in viewing, before he would realize that there were no dinosaur bones to see, and an imminent meltdown would ensue.
Getting to the Mona Lisa was not as easy as you may think, true, the building was huge and there was so much to see, but most everyone congregated around Leonardo da Vinci’s famous Mona Lisa painting, especially now because of the latest conspiracy theory regarding a so called code seen somewhere in the painting. Honestly, I had no interest in looking for those iconographic symbols; I just wanted to view the portrait of this beautiful woman and nothing more. After standing in line, in a civil manner, hoping that people would eventually let us through, we finally decided to do the European thing and force our way in. With elbows bent to the sides of our body, we shoved and pushed like the best of them, and only then were we able to plow our way through the aggressive crowd and slowly advance towards the object of our interest, the Mona Lisa. Once we reached the outer rope, the one preventing anyone from getting any closer to the painting, it was a struggle to remain there for more than a minute as the perpetual shoving continued, and like an underwater current that would sweep you away from shore, we found ourselves moving away from the painting as well. I would’ve preferred to see the painting in a more relaxed atmosphere, instead of having to muscle my way in and endure people’s bad hygiene as they rubbed against me, but at the end of the day it was all worth it.
I had seen Leonardo’s work before, years ago, but I never saw the Mona Lisa; and although very familiar with the painting, there was something extraordinary about viewing a classic up front. We did not view any other section apart from the Italian one, because at this point Jack was bored stiff, and positively confident that we were not in the right museum. So we did our best to soak up as much as we could until we reached the elevators at the end of the wing. I had forgotten how large some of those paintings were, and I’m talking about framed paintings and not frescoes. The Infant Jesus and the Virgin Mary, appeared in supernatural apparitions, and consumed much of the subject matter in those paintings, but what caught my attention mostly was the artists’ depiction of the female body between the 13th and mid – 18th centuries, and particularly how the artists’ chose to paint the female navel.
It’s nothing new that the full-figured-woman was the preferred image of artists back then, but I thought of things from another angle, another perspective. I studied the crowd that gathered around the paintings—analyzing and photographing as much as they could—undoubtedly adoring the artwork and the images before them, and I wondered how many thought of the women in the paintings as great beauties or even remotely attractive? Is it not the case that in today’s society a full-figured woman can only dream of adorning the cover of a magazine, getting a spread in playboy magazine, a starring role in a movie, or a contract from the top modeling agencies in the world? Yet those women in the paintings had stood the test of time, adored by the crowds at the Louvre. Strange? Of course one can’t compare between artwork of that magnitude and a spread in playboy etc., but it serves to make my point anyway. What if one of those artists, from centuries ago, were alive today and commissioned to paint the same biblical subject matter, would he choose a voluptuous woman, or someone like Kate Moss, or a Victoria’s Secret model as the muse for his 21st century painting? Would such a painting have the same effect on us?
While other people might have had serious academic discussions when standing in front of those paintings, interpreting the artwork, or at least trying to sound knowledgeable, my mind drifted in another direction. I remembered the erotic connotations associated with the navel according to Desmond Morris in his book “The Naked Woman.” The female belly had always been considered a taboo zone, because of its proximity to the sexual part of the body, right bellow. The Victorians were so uptight about this part of the body that they could not utter the word “belly”; instead they used “stomach,” so if you suffered from pain in that region of the body, you had a stomach-ache and not a belly-ache, and this is the term that we still use today even though it’s anatomically incorrect. In Victorian nurseries “belly” was still considered too vulgar so they made use of “tummy” or “tummy-ache” instead. A mistress was called a “belly-piece” in those days, and a man’s penis was known as a “belly-ruffian,” an “itch in the belly” was a sexual desire, and “belly-work” was copulation. Desmond Morris says that today’s slender-figured woman does not have the classic round looking naval, because in flat bellies the navel then tends to look like a vertical slit. The female belly is usually longer than the male’s when comparing men and women; the navel is more deeply recessed in a female’s body than in a man’s body.
The Pastoral Concert—a round naval
But if you look at modern photography, you will immediately notice the vertical slit on the models with exposed bellies, and the reason for this, you may be surprised to learn, is to emphasize the part that looks like a body orifice. The female’s genital orifice looks like a vertical cleft and therefore a shift towards the vertical navel instead of the round one, which in this case would be symbolic of the anus, is a way in which the artists offer a substitute for the real thing. In early photographs it was painted out so the belly looked abnormally smooth. Under Hollywood code in the 1930s and 1940s, no navel could be shown in film. Even in Middle Eastern countries, which gave birth to belly dancing, covering the navel had become a requirement of the new religious regimes sweeping across those countries. And this strengthens the argument that navels have always had a very strong sexual connotation attached to them. In fact, the US Navel Observatory has listed a few interesting classifications for the different navels out there: The Vertical Slit is known to be graceful, feminine and erotic; the Navette Navel is a strong, vertical elongation, but wider in the mid-section; the Triangular Navel—a common type, considered beautiful and shaped like an inverted triangle with convex sides; the Almond-shaped Navel—considered most beautiful by the Japanese; the Circle Navel—perfectly round; the oval—most common shape; the Cat’s Eye Navel—horizontal in shape, more like an eye; the Coffee-bean Navel—a shallow oval ‘innie’ with two flesh protrusions inside it and a combination of an ‘innie’ and ‘outie’ navel; the Pierced Navel—the modern mutilated navel.
I can safely say that after three hernia procedures, the last one not very successful either, as I still feel a twitch of pain here and there, my navel looks nothing like any of the above mentioned descriptions. It is more of an upside down smiley face—that would make it more of a ‘sad face,’ I guess. And I doubt there is anything erotic in a sad face—nothing too exciting—and what kind of subliminal message could it possibly be sending my partner? Thankfully, perhaps the only thing in my favor these days is that I too have small breasts, yes, just like the ones depicted in all those beautiful classical paintings at the Louvre. Perhaps classic little breasts can make up for that missing vertical naval. Truthfully, I couldn’t care less about my navel, as I will never wear a top that reveals it, although I am guilty of following this fashion trend in the past. So what’s left then, the beach? Oh, who cares? But I still like to wear a bikini at the beach. However, at my age I’m not looking to impress anyone anymore, and my main activity is chasing after my five-year-old rather than talking to young suitors. Usually, when I can finally relax on the warm sand, and look lovingly into my husband’s eyes, he then asks me to put sun block on his bald spots, and tweeze the hair out of his ears. If the people standing next to me at the Louvre only knew that great artwork had inspired me to think of things like navels, breasts, and tweezers, they might have turned their noses at me.
I can’t wait to go back to Paris for another visit, maybe next time I will get to sleep next to my husband instead of my five-year-old who refused to sleep in a different bed. Maybe there will be time for some belly-work. But still, I will forever think of this place as a romantic city, for I had totally fallen in love with the place, and all the belly-cheer and belly-timber that it aroused–that would be food in Victorian terms. I also gained nine pounds that I‘m easily working off, because there are none of the same tempting belly-cheers out here in Las Vegas.
Jerry Hall in a bathing suit that promotes genital grooming.
Before you rush to judgment, raise an eyebrow, or wrongly presume that this is a rather taboo or even pornographic essay, relax. I’ve promised to summarize parts of the book titled, The Naked Woman by Dennis Morris, and share with you some of my thoughts on his thorough interpretation of the female body, because knowing more about our body gives us the ability to better understand its functions. I feel particularly passionate about this information because I’ve made it my business to encourage women to better appreciate their looks, and view themselves in a more positive light when so many have felt discouraged and unattractive at times. It’s no surprise that they have felt this way when modern society has had a successful campaign against aging—ultimately rewriting the definition of beauty. They continuously promote the looks of youth, or the perpetual chase after one’s youthful appearance, as the preferred, more acceptable look. A fact that has rendered so many women disappointed with their looks. My mission is to educate and encourage women to accept and love themselves at any age, and any stage of their life. Previous blogs have discussed other body parts, so obviously the pubic region is no different and deserves a closer look as well.
So why do you have pubic hair in the first place? Read More
Too big? Too small?
Who hasn’t made comments about another woman’s buttocks, either stating that it’s huge, droopy, full of cellulite, too skinny, or flat . . . we’ve all done it.
Most women I know are unhappy with their bodies, but especially with their buttocks. I’ve promised you that, in time, once I’ve shared with you interesting facts from a book titled, The Naked Woman by Desmond Morris—that you will have a different understanding and appreciation for your body. Truthfully, when I reached the buttocks chapter I thought that in no way will I change my mind about how I feel about my own bottom, but I was wrong. Read More
I thought that a monkey’s tongue would look more entertaining than a human tongue.
Once again I’ve decided to present my readers with more information about the body, based on everything that I’ve recently learned from a book by Andrew Morris titled, The Naked Woman. I love the way that Morris explains the biology of a certain body part, and then goes on to expand on cosmetic trends that it has undergone throughout the centuries. This always draws a reaction from me, and I hope that my own interpretations will serve to entertain you. Alright, let’s delve into the subject: In our mouths we have a tongue without which one cannot really talk, and if women ever lost their tongues, they would be “robbed of one of their supreme qualities,” says Morris. It’s not a sexist quip either, but rather an evolutionary fact that women are better able to communicate verbally than their male counterparts! Read More
The perfect lips?
I promised that I would write about the rest of the female body parts as so beautifully analyzed by Desmond Morris in his book, The Naked Woman, A Study of the Female Body. This time I’m happy to introduce one of my favorite topics, the female lips. If you’ve read either one of my books about wrinkles then you already know how I feel about the subject matter. But for the purpose of this blog, I will write about the author’s enlightening research, and indulge you with some very surprising facts as well as my own personal observations.
Humans are the only ones to have inverted lips in the animal kingdom. Primates for examples have the fleshy, shiny surface turned toward the outside, while ours is hidden from view. To answer the question of why our lips look different we must revert back to our evolutionary path. Morris explains that females have retained childlike features, known as neoteny, also a quality that enhances their appeal to males. For this reason their lips are more conspicuous, baby-like, thus drawing more attention to themselves. With the chimp embryo, the fetus at sixteen weeks old has a human-like mouth, sporting the big lips etc., but at twenty six weeks old those lips disappear and become dramatically thinner. However, with humans that initial fetal design of bigger, swollen lips is carried on. From an evolutionary perspective, the big lips serve us well when having to cling onto our mother’s breast to feed on milk.
Why do our lips still remain the same when we are no longer in need of our mother’s breast? Read More