Of Bikinis And Medical Degrees

In contrast with the illusion that society is prepared to welcome empowered women with open arms, I have met with a tremendous amount of opposition when I am evaluated for my medical expertise. Wanna know why? Because I competed onstage in blingy bikinis, because I continue to model in bikinis, and because I am not afraid to flaunt what I am blessed to still have. And it pisses me off.

You would think that societal influences have relaxed enough to allow a female physician to flaunt her femininity without getting dinged for it, but I continue to encounter resistance. In keeping with this double standard, there aren’t too many female docs who are confident enough to push the envelope and post images which may be considered more alluring. Female doctors are expected to remain covered up, with very little skin showing, in social media posts. I’m not talking about jeans and a t-shirt. I’m talking about professional business attire and a white coat, or scrubs. Evidently women who are physicians aren’t allowed to reveal who they are outside of the clinical setting. That’s ridiculous, and I refuse to give in.

If a client has a narrow-minded view of physicians and expects me to fit the mold of an uber-conservative nerdy person, that client will quickly reject me. I think it’s utter nonsense that my credibility has been questioned, simply because I also happen to be a model. I have a LIFE. I have a certain manner of dressing which includes a certain fashion flair. The way I dress for work is by no means gaudy or slutty, but because of my abhorrence of ultra conservative clothing and the white doctor’s coat, it is obvious that I refuse to play the stereotype game.

Tell me this: how the hell am I supposed to feel empowered when narrow-minded idiots insist on throwing their judgment on me? I admire a strong, intelligent, educated, accomplished person who also happens to beat the aging process and who isn’t afraid of flaunting it. Such people are courageous, not scandalous.
As a fully credentialed, board certified physician who also happens to be deeply involved in fitness, bodybuilding and modeling, I know that I stand out a bit in a sea of medical professionals, and to be honest, I am proud of it. A good portion of the world also seems ready for such empowered career women, but when those women are being considered for an ad campaign or other large scale project, they are quickly criticized and cast aside for their fortitude and boldness.

I don’t see why I should feel a drop of shame for modeling in bikinis. What the &*%@ is wrong with bikinis? Women all over the world wear bikinis, and even dare to go sans suits in some locales. So why should I be made to feel like I am being scandalous if I model in a bikini? I have modeled my entire life, and I have no plans to stop at all, especially if I have a physique which is bikini-worthy.

My life is so varied, full and exciting that I can easily escape the dry and often depressing climate of medicine and enjoy something that has twists and turns. None of my other pursuits diminish what I bring to the table as a healer. If anything, they add a humanness and relatability which I think my patients appreciate. I have said before and will say again that I have never been, nor will I ever be, a “typical” physician (whatever that means). So don’t try to mold me into something I am not.

My Oldest Patient

Shortly after I completed my residency training in family medicine in 2004, I worked briefly for a company which offered mobile physician home visits. Though I soon realized that driving to patients wasn’t my thing, I definitely met some very interesting people during that time.

My favorite and most memorable patient from my mobile medicine days was an elderly woman, aged 105. During my hospital days, I had seen and treated a number of centenarians, but this woman was the oldest. I was called upon to visit this woman’s home (I’ll call her Mary) to perform a blood pressure check and manage her hypertension. She lived in a charming duplex which was erected circa 1905. I knocked on the door and when the door opened, a friendly middle-aged man greeted me and introduced me as Mary’s caregiver (let’s name him Tim).

The interior of the duplex was a time capsule. I honestly felt like I had stepped into the 1920’s, because everything in the place was from that era: lamps, paintings, coffee cups, pens, furniture, curtains, pillows, etc. As my eyes scanned the room, I saw Mary sitting in a large chair with a walker in front of her. Mary’s face certainly was old and her body was frail, but she possessed fire in her eyes and a sassy attitude to match. I thought of how this woman, born in 1899, was witness to three different centuries, as a result of the year she was born as well as the longevity which extended her time on planet Earth far beyond that of the average person.

Mary smiled at me and motioned for me to come over.
MARY: “Well you’re a pretty young lady…what’s your name?”
ME: “Hello Mary, I’m Dr. Naito.”
MARY: “DOCTOR??? DOCTOR??? Tim, what have you tricked me into? Why do we have a doctor here?” Mary’s brow was furrowed.
TIM: “Well Mary, since you refused to take your blood pressure medicine, and since your blood pressure reading was very high today, I had to call the mobile doctor service to come see you. Now be nice to the doctor, will you please?”

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At this point I asked Mary if I could take her blood pressure again, and she consented. I took her blood pressure reading: 175/95. I began to ask Mary questions: was she in pain anywhere, did she have a headache, was she dizzy, was she nauseous, was her heart racing, was her vision blurry? I took her pulse: 78 and steady. Mary had no complaints. I then conducted a physical exam on her, which was completely normal. I then asked Mary if she would please take her blood pressure medication immediately, to which she also consented. Once Mary took the medication, I informed her that we would wait about 30 minutes to assess her response to it. She responded by saying, “Well I like you, young doctor! We’re going to have a nice chat!”

The next 30 minutes were incredibly fascinating and funny as Mary settled into a stream of vignettes about her life, focusing mostly on her days as a true flapper, wild and carefree, wearing short dresses, “necking” with handsome young men, hanging out in jazz clubs, and being a general troublemaker. One of those young men managed to steal her heart, and they married in 1922. She spoke about how she became an actress quite by accident when her husband, who was a Hollywood film producer, began to cast her in his films. Mary and her husband were more interested in traveling the world and investing their money than buying an expensive home, so they lived in their modest duplex from 1922 until his death almost 60 years later, and Mary refused to move into an assisted living facility when she became an invalid. It was the same duplex I was visiting that day.

After thirty minutes of hearing the most engaging stories about Mary’s life, I didn’t want to interrupt her. But I was working, after all, so I told her I needed to re-take her blood pressure. This time it was 138/7 and Mary was still completely asymptomatic. I told Mary that it was time for me to go and began gathering my supplies.
MARY: “Oh no you don’t! You’re going to drink a martini with me. It’s my nightly ritual. Been doing it since I was 20 years old.”
ME: “Every night since 20?”
MARY: “Yes indeed. It’s kept me sane all these years, and I enjoy it.”
ME: “But I need to drive over the hill, and it’s rush hour.”
MARY: “Oh please! Now stop complaining and just sit. Tim, make my usual times two.”

After several minutes Tim emerged from the kitchen with two double gin martinis. I don’t like gin, but I wasn’t about to complain or refuse to drink the martini. Mary and I (actually, she talked and I listened) continued to talk for another 30 minutes while sipping on our cocktails. The martini was STRONG but well made, so I continued sipping. Mary polished off her entire martini like the martini drinking expert she was, and motioned to me when she took her last sip. “Well, dear? You’ve got some left in there.” I had to finish the last couple of sips of my martini while Mary watched me, making sure I did so. Once I did, she smiled warmly. “That’s my girl!”, she beamed.

I gathered my belongings and said goodbye to her, and when she motioned for a hug, I walked over to her and wrapped my arms around her. She hugged me and patted my back with her hand.

I never saw her after that.

Hot Female Doctors

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Over the past few years, several male physicians, including Dr. Travis Stork of The Doctors and Dr. Mike (aka doctor.mike on Instagram), have enjoyed some media attention as a result of their good looks. Never mind that these docs have endured years of medical training (in Dr. Mike’s case, he’s still going through it as a resident). Their followers are more interested in celebrating how hot they are. However, I want to know where all the hot lady doctors are?

As a fully credentialed, board certified physician who also happens to be deeply involved in fitness, bodybuilding and modeling, I know that I stand out a bit in a sea of medical professionals, and to be honest, I am proud of it. Yes, I get plenty of criticism for modeling in bikinis, but I don’t see why I should feel a drop of shame for doing so. Women all over the world wear bikinis, and go sans suits in some locales. It’s not a crime or a scandal to wear a bikini, or to show my legs or midsection. I have modeled my entire life, and I have no plans to stop at all, especially if I have a physique which is bikini-worthy. Because of this, I have become known as a “hot doctor”.

You would think that societal influences have relaxed enough to allow a female physician to flaunt her femininity without getting dinged for it, but I continue to see resistance all over social media. In fact, it recently came to my attention that there aren’t too many female docs who are confident enough to push the envelope and post images which may be considered more alluring. It is still considered “proper” and customary for a female doctor to remain covered up in social media posts. I’m not talking about jeans and a t-shirt. I’m talking about professional business attire and a white coat, or scrubs. So does that mean that women who are physicians aren’t allowed to reveal who they are outside of the clinical setting? That’s ridiculous.

My life is so varied, full and exciting that I can easily escape the dry and often depressing climate of medicine and enjoy something that has twists and turns. None of my other pursuits diminish what I bring to the table as a healer. If anything, they add a humanness and relatability which I think my patients appreciate. I have said before and will say again that I have never been, nor will I ever be, a “typical” physician (whatever that means). I don’t talk about medical cases and read medical tomes when I am away from the office. Many of my colleagues are so unbalanced that they will eat, breathe and live medicine constantly, but that is not my style at all. Some of them are also social misfits and cannot talk about a non-medical topic without stumbling and bumbling. The social awkwardness of some physicians is so painful to witness that I find myself cringing and looking for a quick exit when social hour begins at a conference or medical dinner.

In response to some criticism I received about posting professional swimsuit images on my main Instagram account, I established a medical Instagram profile to appease the haters somewhat, as well as legitimize my medical practice. However, I still post what I WANT to post on my main account, and if my posting habits continue to solidify the “hot doctor” label I have been given, then SO BE IT!