ADRIENNE'S HIV BLOG – Hivine's Weblog

HIVINE is written by HIV positive women but still with a sense of humour

Archive for September 8, 2008

Cover Girl

You might have noticed if you have clicked on the ‘Positively Women’ site recently, that I am this season’s cover girl. It’s not often that one (at least this one) gets asked to be a cover girl, so I agreed to be the public face of ‘Positively Women,’ less for reasons of vanity than for awareness raising purposes. Seeing as it was the first and probably last time I would ever be asked to front a magazine, I asked my good friend and neighbour Willo, who as well as being an accomplished artist and sculptor is also an experienced graphic artist, to digitally enhance me.

“I don’t suppose you could do something with my crooked tooth whilst you are at it, could you?” I appealed to the graphic artist in her. Throughout my life I have been tormented by the fact that one of my front teeth sticks out more than the other. This is because the day before me and my family moved to Singapore, my grandma stood on my brace. Ever since then I have always been envious of anyone with straight teeth and feel my grandma deprived me of the gleaming straight toothed Simon Cowell like smile that was my right. But when you have a friend who has mastered Photoshop, who needs braces, I say, invisalign or not, which cost thousands of pounds – although I have considered it, even though I would look ridiculous in braces at my age, especially the ones that hold your trousers, or worse, your socks up.

Encouraged by the literally ‘uplifting’ mental as well as visual results of Willo’s airbrushing (which is not Lancashire for doing my hair) I asked her to enhance my Heidi photograph for the Mexican blog, which I also wanted to put up on face-book. Because of this, Willo has now become my professional toucher upper and recently made the following slightly put out comment, “I spent over two hours last night touching you up,” which could have been taken the wrong way if unsuspecting ears had chanced to eavesdrop on our conversation. I consider myself extremely lucky that I have a friend and neighbour who is prepared to spend that amount of time touching me up, as I never found a man prepared to invest that amount of time on foreplay, digital or otherwise. Of course, anyone who knows me well, such as close family and friends, or for that matter anyone who has been close enough to me to witness my true crows feet, are under no illusions that my unaccustomed wrinkle free likeness had not received the benefit of a bit of airbrushing.

Talking of close friends, another friend of mine, who is also positive herself so should therefore know better, made the following unfortunate remark the other day when we were discussing how I was doing on my new meds.
“Anyway, it was the right time to change meds and it’s a good job really, because you were starting to lose your femininity.”
A stunned silence whilst everything I held dear, like my unquestioned womanhood, was forever challenged.
“What do you mean exactly?” I asked her through gritted real life un-digitally enhanced sticking out teeth.
Good job, more like, that I hadn’t resorted to wearing braces then, especially on my pants.
“I could see that you were losing your femininity,” she continued blithely, some people just don’t know where to stop, do they; “There were visible signs.”
“What kind of visible signs?” I demanded to know.
“Well, your neck was starting to thicken up for example.”
Grotesque Images of me as Frankenstein or worse a rugby player flashed through my mind.
”You said yourself that your body fat was starting to change,” she persisted, “So you know what I mean.”
No, I didn’t know what she meant. The fact that I was developing a rugby player’s neck was news to me, so what else had she noticed. I knew that lipodostrophy had caused me to lose my bottom, but then again, all my bottom fat seemed to have gone directly to my bosoms and big bosoms are the height of femininity, are they not, at least in the eyes of most men?

Her unsettling comment chunnered around in my brain all the next day – losing my femininity, how do you lose your femininity? You can lose you virginity, you can lose your wallet and your house keys, you can also lose your figure, your looks and your youth, not to mention if you are HIV positive your bottom. I had slowly grown accustomed to the indisputable fact that we must all grow old – show me a rose that never fades and dies etc. (not that I am comparing myself to a rose), but my very womanhood had been severely challenged and I hadn’t even had my hysterectomy yet. What would happen when my women’s bits had been taken away – would I suddenly transform, if I didn’t play my cards right, into Bruce Forthsyth?

To make matters even worse, that very same night when I logged onto face book, there was a comment posted on my wall under my Heidi photograph by another so called close friend, although I do forgive her as she was only making a joke, I hope.
“Adrienne, that’s sooooo camp, are you sure you’re not really a gay man in a frock?”
My gender was once again being questioned and I was now beginning to have serious doubts about my fashion sense.

Then came the third and final blow – I went to a Gay Pride party that weekend at my friend Peter’s house, where admittedly most of the men were gay, but a straight neighbour popped in with his wife and when introduced to me said, “Hello luv, are you one of those trannies.”
Now I’ve been called a ‘fag hag’ in my time, which is the slang term for a woman who either associates mostly or exclusively with homosexual men, but never a transvestite. However nowadays, the fag hag reference would be more likely to appertain to my dismal attempts to give up fags not hang around with them and the effect a lifetime of smoking has had on my wrinkles.

The male counterpart of the fag hag, in other words men who have similar interpersonal relationships with lesbian women, are called dyke tykes, or Dutch boys; furthermore people who associate with gays, lesbians, and bisexuals may be called fruit flies regardless of their sex. The foreign equivalents of the fag hag are the Spanish “Mari Pili”; the “Mari Liendres” (“Mary Nits”) and on a more pejorative tone, the French: “Fille à Pédés” (“fags girl”) although no self respecting French girl would describe herself as such, apart from Bizet’s Carmen I suppose, or even though I’m not French, me. Then we have the German: “Schwulenmutti” (Gay mommy), which reminds me of the old butterfly joke.

Frenchman discussing language with German man –
Frenchman – German ees very ugly language.
German man – Vot do you mean?
Frenchman – take zee word butterfly, in French it ees pappillon; in English it ees butterfly; in Greek it ees petaloutha and in Spanish it ees Mariposa.
German man – And vot is wrong with Smetterlink?

Incidentally, the Japenese equivalent of the word faggot, which is the deroggatory term for a gay man is “Okoge”, meaning burnt rice that sticks to the bottom of a pot. Not sure what to make of that one.

Anyway, that did it, I was now seriously depressed as even wearing a frock and lots of jewellery didn’t seem to detract from the fact that I was, heaven forefend and unbeknownst to me, turning into a man. Direct action obviously needed to be taken in regard to my appearance so that I didn’t metamorphosis overnight, against my will, into an Action Man.

First course of action was to take the masculinity/femininity test on
After a nail biting wait, my results flashed up on the screen.
Logical Female.
Phew! Relief that I was definitely a female, but a logical one?
Wasn’t aware there was such a thing – and if you listen to men there definitely isn’t.

The next part of my action plan was to have a surf on the worldwide web to update myself on the latest fashion trends to make sure I hadn’t been left behind style-wise in a bygone era. Here, according to an up to the minute fashion article in the American Tribune, I found to my horror that in order to look feminine, bows were back – and back with a vengeance if the article was to be believed.
“A bow is one of the first accessories for a woman. It’s the rare baby girl who hasn’t worn a bow in her hair. Expect to see more adult attention to bows as the trend gains momentum. Bows also help provide the perfect accent to a more masculine piece of clothing, such as a motorcycle jacket or pin-striped suit. The trend won’t be going away anytime soon. Expect more ahead in fall and winter fashions.”

Oh no – please spare me. I can’t be doing with bows and age wise, there is a definite time to stop wearing them if you don’t want to look like, “Whatever happened to Baby Jane.”

The re-emergence of the dreaded bow was bringing to mind Oscar Wilde, which wasn’t exactly helping matters – but maybe that was bells. I was now forced to step up my research into femininity and take it to a deeper level, during which I came upon a website called eHOW – How to do just about everything. I clicked directly on the instructions on how to look feminine, which were described as being in terms of difficulty; Moderately Easy.

Moderately easy for some no doubt, but obviously not for me, nevertheless I would give it a go.

One of the first steps was to wear shoes with pointed toes and high heels because they make a woman look more feminine – so out with the sloggies and M&S comfort shoes then.

Step 3 was to wear a blouse because a blouse screams femininity.

Does it really? That was indeed news to me

Step 4 – try a new style with tasteful shorts. Complete this outfit with a frilly silk blouse. Show a little cleavage.

Screaming whilst wearing a frilly blouse with your bosoms hanging out and wearing hot pants didn’t sound very feminine to me, coupled with the ultimate step of wearing a flower in your hair, batting your eyes, whilst not forgetting to smile – but what did I know.

I then clicked on another site called positively feminine, as opposed to positively women, to get the religious slant on femininity. Femininity; A Biblical Perspective. If anyone knew how to define the word, God surely would, as he created us, or at least according to Carolyn Mahaney who declared – “The God who created femininity has a beautiful purpose and plan for women.”

What was it? Whatever it was I wanted to sign up before it was too late and I had transformed into a reincarnation of Bruce Forthsyth.

“Without God’s Word as anchor, modern women drift to extremes. Secular feminist Susan Brownmiller evidences the confusion in her book, Femininity: “Women are all female impersonators to some degree.”

This was not helping one iota.

“The Lord said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Gen 2:18). God created Eve from Adam, indicating that she was created to help him in the task God had given him. Although femininity looks different depending on one’s marital status, all women are called to display their femininity in a variety of relationships. I encourage single women to ask the Lord for creative ways to inspire men to lead. Meanwhile, wives, we all have the same job description: Our husbands’ helpers. When wondering whether to pursue some particular endeavor, ask yourself: Does this help my husband? Usually, that one simple question will make your decision clear.”

Is that where I went wrong?

Under the heading ‘Made to Nurture’ she writes – “As women, we are created to be life-bearers. One way we express our femininity is to embrace gratefully every stage of childbearing, receiving and nurturing each child as a gracious gift from God. But motherhood is a huge responsibility, an enormous task. As one author wrote, “It can be back-breaking, heart-wrenching and anxiety-producing — and that’s just the morning!”

In regard to Domesticity — “Devotion to the quality of home life is an essential facet of femininity. Single women, may I advise you not to wait until marriage to cultivate this? I have talked to many married women who admitted they didn’t value domesticity before they were married.”

And presumably even less so afterwards.

She then goes on to give some Biblical examples.

Domestically Feminine – “She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”
-Proverbs 31:27

Frugally Feminine – “She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.”
-Proverbs 31:18

Sounds like a hooker to me.

Maternally Feminine – “Her children arise and call her blessed.”
-Proverbs 31:28a

Mine doesn’t.

Well, that was the spiritual and fashion version of femininity taken care of, stop eating idle sandwiches, making sure I never ran out of light bulbs, wear a frilly blouse adorned with bows if I felt like screaming. Now all I had to deal with was my actual physical attributes, such as body shape. In relation to this I chanced upon an interesting article on the Sky health page on how to get a great body by incorporating sexercise into my daily regime. I read on with interest, even though there is no current man to practice with, but its always good to keep yourself informed, just in case.

“Having sex uses every muscle group and is isn’t only good for toning up; it releases mood-boosting endorphins that are highly effective painkillers. The NHS even recommends it as a way of combating heart disease and reducing blood pressure.” All well and good, but then they go and spoil it all by adding, “Not only does sex aid a healthy body, it unleashes tension and boosts testosterone the hormone required to create sexual tension.”

Isn’t testosterone that hormone that makes women start growing a moustache or a beard? Perhaps that’s why I was having trouble with my femininity, trying to impersonate the painter Frieda Kahlo who had eyebrows that met in the middle and a clearly pronounced black moustache.

Before embarking on sexercise however, we were offered the following helpful advice.

“You and your partner may want to warm up before you start, by stretching and working up a sweat together, which can be a real turn on and is great foreplay and helps you limber up for more adventurous sex. You might need to persuade your partner to give it a whirl,” they advise, “But what better bribe is there than the promise of sex?”

A nice cup of tea and a cuddle perhaps.

No chance of that, you have to sit opposite your partner holding hands, with your legs open as wide as you can (hip replacements permitting) and your feet touching, then one person leans back and in doing so pulls the other one with them. This must be repeated at least ten times.

Sounds like something we used to do at playschool whilst singing – row, row, row your boat gently down the stream.

If you don’t fancy rowing you could try bikram yoga, which has got nothing at all do to with riding bikes, but which could apparently add a whole new dimension to your sex life. The room must be heated to at least 40 degrees, which oils the joints and muscles so makes it easier to contort yourself into new and unusual positions you might otherwise struggle with, such as the wide legged forward bend with legs wide apart leaning forward as far as you can. I’m sure there are some serious health and safety issues in question here. Make a note though, it might be prudent to consider that in these days of ever rising fuel prices this will considerably raise the cost of your fuel bills, not to mention a lengthy delay whilst waiting for the NHS to offer you a hip replacement – so is it really worth it.

Aerobic exercise is recommended to get rid of any love handles, but be careful who you pick up to try it with! “Once you’ve burnt off the excess fat you must work on spot toning them by exercising your oblique muscles (whatever they are). If you want to be more adventurous with positions you are going to need some strength in your upper body – so do ten push ups in the morning.”

I already do this every day without fail trying to get out of bed, first I push up and then I lie down again.

We are also encouraged to take up dancing and picking up for example a few salsa moves (or better still a Cuban) to take home to our partner, although your partner might object to the Cuban. This they advocate in sexercise terms could be a great start to a fun evening in bed – a more fitting term would possibly be pyjamasize, although admittedly it doesn’t have quite the same panache.

Size this size that – I thought size wasn’t supposed to matter, but it could possibly be a deciding factor in whether or not you decide to involve the Cuban.

Sad news, however, for us women who are not lucky enough to indulge in regular sex, as the sex muscles, or pubococcygeal or otherwise known (PC) muscles lose tone with disuse – so that’s what they really mean by being PC, although I fail to see what political correctness has got to do with vaginas, unless you are Christine Keeler or Monica Linsky of course.

But do not fear, they inform us, because you can soon whip those flagging muscles up to shape with some Kegel, which is designed to firm the muscles of vagina, the ones used to stop the flow of urine. I always wondered what the K stood for in ‘Special K’ and now I know, as they say it can be done eating your breakfast or anywhere for that matter, although presumably you would also need a handy bowl. After a month of Special Kegel we are promised we should feel the results and be able to wear a red swimming costume or a tight red dress.

So, there we have it, the answer to my problem is to eat boxes of special K whilst wearing red bows in my old ladies plaits instead of my Heidi headdress, exercise my PC by taking it to the toilet with me whilst practising on my Wii, do salsa in my pyjamas, contribute to global warming by turning the heating up to top notch whilst practising for the next Olympics by row, row, rowing my boat gently down the stream, wear hot pants at all times coupled with a frilly blouse if I feel the need to scream – that’s if I don’t want to be mistaken for Ken instead of Barbie – and keep taking the new meds of course.