Posts Categorized: sexuality

The Look of Love

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By Nadine, Already Pretty Contributor

Right off the bat, a major TMI warning. This post is – at least in part – about my nether regions and also my boobs. A public discussion of my private parts may seem a bit off topic on, but as they say on Law & Order, if you’ll grant me some leeway, I will come to my point.

I recently made a surprisingly difficult confession to some of my colleagues at school. We’re all human sexual students so, as you might expect, my classmates tend to value the sex-positive, body-positive approach to life. There’s a lot of focus on acceptance and inclusivity and loving ourselves (pun intended) as we are. I subscribe to all of that in theory, but in practice I struggle, sometimes mightily, and sometimes the mandate to love myself feels like a lot of pressure.

Which brings me back to the confession and the TMI. I told my pals that I don’t particularly enjoy the look of my vulva. I love, love, love the way it functions, sexually. I also really like the way it feels. I enjoy touching down there, even in non-sexual ways. I just don’t like what it looks like. And what’s more, I’ve never felt especially motivated to change that perspective. The great thing about having a vulva is that I don’t have to see it unless I choose to.

It was a difficult admission for me to make, because I often equate self-love with “I like the way my body looks”. But the truth is, I don’t. Not all of my body and not all the time. I’m grateful for my body. Thus far I’ve been blessed with ability and reasonably good health.  My body allows me to enjoy food, affection, sex, and play. And there are aspects of my body that I do find very visually appealling. But do I love them more?  I don’t think so.

When I spilled my big vulva secret, one of my classmates pointed out that there’s a tendency to equate femininity with beauty. Now, on the one hand I think there can be great value in beauty and visual aesthetics. But on the other hand, I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with that idea that love – for others and certainly for ourselves – is dependent on the perception that one is visually beautiful.

When I said what I said about myself, I immediately got defensive. I was afraid my confession would be misconstrued as body-shame. Moreover, I was afraid that maybe it meant that deep, deep down I was harbouring some shame and body-hatred. And even though my friends were supportive and accepting of my feelings, that evening after school, I came home, stripped down and crouched over a mirror. And when I did, I found the reassurance I needed. I peered at myself. No shame. No disgust.  No thoughts of how maybe my vulva makes me not-as-good as someone else with prettier parts. In many ways, it’s one of my favourite parts of me and I really, truly love it. It’s just not quite my style.

photo credit: jar () via photopin cc

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Already Pretty contributor Nadine Thornhill is a sex educator and blogger at Adorkable Undies. She is a new resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, having recently moved from Ottawa, Ontario to pursue a Doctor of Education in Human Sexuality. Her writing tends toward subjects such as clitorises, feminism, vibrators, body image, gender politics and non-monogamy. She is a passionately committed Scrabble player and lifelong klutz, having sustained 16 concussions to date.

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Naked Sleep

Sleep Naked

By Nadine, Already Pretty Contributor

Recently I’ve come across several articles touting the benefits of sleeping in the buff. According to various sources there are approximately 6-10 good reasons for slumber au naturel. My first reaction upon reading them was ‘Are you kidding me? It’s the middle of winter!’ But then I reminded myself “We’re not in Kansas…erm, Canada anymore, Dorothy.” In my former city, a protective layer of flannel was necessary for survival on cold winter nights, at least for me. Not so in California, especially since – according to the locals – the weather in the Bay Area is unseasonably warm this winter. In fact, I’ve actually been waking up most nights sweating and uncomfortable. Gross and definitely not conducive to a good night’s sleep. So I decided to take it all off and  put the naked sleep theory to the test.

Here’s my experience as compared to what the Internet told me. The most common benefits of sleeping nude included the following:

1. Better Sleep

Debatable. On the upside, I’m no longer waking up in a shallow pool of my own perspiration. But I’m also having that dream where I’m naked in the hallway of my high school more often.

2. Anti-aging

Apparently cool, slumbering bodies release melatonin and other anti-aging/growth hormones. I’m not sure how young I look, but I have developed a persistent urge to eat pie for dinner suggesting a marked decrease in my maturity levels.

3. Healthy Private Parts

Airing out our genitals helps keep them cool, dry and yeast-free. My vagina definitely has renewed vitality since I stopped confining her at night. She’s thinking about doing a juice cleanse and maybe taking up yoga.

4. Decreased appetite.

Nope. I’m okay with this. (See above item re: pie.)

5. Increased metabolism

Unfettered by clothes, airflow to our skin’s sebaceous glands will help optimize the body’s metabolism. Some of the articles I read claim this can lead to weight loss. So that’s good assuming weight loss is something you want for yourself. Personally I haven’t noticed any weight changes. Maybe naked sleep is balancing out some of my other new lifestyle choices. (See above item re: pie.)

Are you a fan of bare naked bed time? What benefits or disadvantages have you noticed? If you’ve never tried it, WikiHow has published this helpful guide on How To Sleep Naked. (Apparently it’s more involved than 1. Sleep 2. Naked. Who knew?)

Sweet dreams, everyone!

photo by photo.envy via Compfight cc

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Already Pretty contributor Nadine Thornhill is a sex educator and blogger at Adorkable Undies. She is a new resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, having recently moved from Ottawa, Ontario to pursue a Doctor of Education in Human Sexuality. Her writing tends toward subjects such as clitorises, feminism, vibrators, body image, gender politics and non-monogamy. She is a passionately committed Scrabble player and lifelong klutz, having sustained 16 concussions to date.

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It’s Not About Size. It’s About “Health.” (But Really, It’s About Size)

By Nadine, Already Pretty Contributor

Young african american woman making thumbs up

A while back I was having a Twitter discussion with some folks about Maria Kang (of “What’s your excuse” infamy) and her recent criticism of Curvy Girl Lingerie, a store here in California. CG’s Facebook page includes selfies of their size 14-plus customers looking sexified in their scanty wares. Apparently Kang has no problem with loving your body, as long as that love is conditional. “I feel like it’s OK to love and accept your body, I think that we’re normalizing obesity in our society,” she says.

I read this, did the Twitter back and forth with some equally indignant pals and then I had go lie down because I had an anger-induced headache. When I got up, I decided a blog post was in order because sometimes there’s just too much indignation for 140 characters.

I’ve noticed over the past several years that the mainstream media obsession with women’s size seems to have given way to an obsession with our “health.” Those quotation marks are meant to denote my sarcasm, because I think the word “health” is often used as a red herring. There’s still a whole lot of fat-shaming and size-bashing happening in the media dressed up as concern for women’s health. Feeling good about yourself is an idea whose time has come. And for the most part, I’m down with that. Authentic self-esteem, self-acceptance, and body-positivity are pretty rad in my opinion. But there’s also a version of “feeling good” that companies and publications use to target women.  They capitalize on the appeal of self-acceptance by using concepts like health as a barometer to measure how much self-esteem we have. If a woman truly feels good about herself, she will take care of her health. And we’ll know she’s taking care of her health because her body will be “fit” a.k.a. thin a.k.a. the same narrow ideas about acceptable bodies we’ve been hearing about for years.

I’m not criticizing anyone making a sincere bid to improve her actual health. But an individual’s health isn’t something you can discern from the size or shape of her body. My healthy body may not look like your healthy body. The person who is n pounds, may or may not be healthier than the person who is n + 50 pounds. Weight and size are not an accurate barometer of how healthy a person is.

Which brings me to my second point. Health is not a barometer of how worthy a person is. Yes, health affects our quality of life. I certainly don’t fault anyone who wants improve their health, develop healthy habits, or adopt a healthful lifestyle. By that same token I’m not super-comfortable with the idea that if you’re healthier than someone, you’re better than them. Frankly, a lot of health is luck. Going to a gym, jogging, walking, doing yoga, eating certain foods are only choices you can make if you enjoy certain economic and able-bodied privileges. Even when we have those advantages, circumstances beyond our control may change that. Our bodies get sick. Our bodies get hurt. Our bodies experience chronic pain, loss of mobility, and aging. We encounter life challenges that make health maintenance a less urgent priority. These things may happen and none of them make us bad people. Even if our health is imperfect because we choose to kick-back and watch TV more than we  workout, that doesn’t mean we aren’t entitled to feel OK about who we are. None of us is perfect. Whether we’re athletes, couch potatoes or somewhere in between, ultimately I believe it’s what we say, how we behave, and how we treat others that truly determines our worth.

So can we maybe say it’s OK to love and accept our bodies, period?  That no matter what size or shape, any body is worth being seen, accepted, and admired.

Image courtesy of Pond 5

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Already Pretty contributor Nadine Thornhill is a sex educator and blogger at Adorkable Undies. She is a new resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, having recently moved from Ottawa, Ontario to pursue a Doctor of Education in Human Sexuality. Her writing tends toward subjects such as clitorises, feminism, vibrators, body image, gender politics and non-monogamy. She is a passionately committed Scrabble player and lifelong klutz, having sustained 16 concussions to date.

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