Parenting the parent

On an overnight stay with my parents, the people who bought me up, I happened to start explaining the difference between right and left to my toddler daughter. 

My dad helpfully (as he saw it) voiced his opinion that he thought my daughter was ‘a bit young to be learning about left and right.’ I held my tongue as I didn’t see the point in getting into a lengthy debate about child developmental milestones. He has raised his own two children (I’m one of them) and we are now adults in our thirties. 

My feeling though, is who decides at what age we can learn things? My daughter is already demonstrating quite well that she is capable of learning. She can say lots of words and string little sentences together. She feeds herself with her spoon and fork. In my mind, I see it wholly possible that she could learn the difference between right and left if it is explained to her. 

The difference between me and my dad (aside from the obvious gender/ age/ life -experience ones) is that I want my daughter to be enlightened. So I continually talk to her as we’re going about our day. I tell her what things are. I describe them. She is a sponge absorbing this information and she is learning and remembering information on a daily basis.

So whilst grandparents may have ‘been there and done that’ decades ago with their own children, parenting responsibility lies with the person raising the child/ren. I’ve decided my daughter can learn and so I will explain as much as I can to her. It’s about making it accessible for her. I will learn the best way of communicating with her as I go along. 
But if you are ever a grandparent about to pass on some words of wisdom to your ‘child’ about how to bring up their own children, be mindful that we all have our own ways. And with hindsight did your approach work? Maybe it did for you at the time. What is more helpful though,is encouragement. A simple, ‘that’s great to teach about X or Y’ is more welcome than your opinion on the matter. 

Thank you for reading my thought for this day. Please comment if you have had similar experiences or wish to make a point (I won’t take offence at those differing from my own, it’s good to have various perspectives). 

Toy play or not toy play?…

I asked my Twitter followers to give me some feedback on how using toys has affected their sex life, for either solo play or for use with partners. Do people like toy play or not toy play? A male commented that he likes to integrate them into his sex life, and that he likes the feeling of being in control when he uses toys on a female partner. The use of anal plugs reportedly gives him the best orgasm ever, making his whole body shake.

Toys have been helpful to some people following either a period of trauma, or just not being in touch with their own anatomy and erogenous zones. One female revealed that she was sexually abused as a child by her brother’s friend, and her partner had known about this past trauma and always been supportive. In later years however, this woman suffered what she referred to as a ‘sexual breakdown’ and could not bear to be intimate with her partner, though he never judged her or got frustrated with her.

It seems, by the time this woman got to the point where she was ready to face being in a sexual relationship with her partner, he no longer felt the same. She turned to Lovehoney to find toys that would fulfil her needs and help her discover herself. She enjoys using her toys, though she feels frustrated at not knowing how to make herself achieve orgasm without using toys, but was thrilled to discover that she could achieve ‘blended’ orgasms whilst using the Happy Rabbit 2 USB Rechargeable Rabbit Vibrator.

Its not the Happy Rabbit; its Lovehoney’s Desire Luxury Rechargeable Rabbit, but it makes me very happy!

Another woman went through a 20 year marriage, without ever experiencing an orgasm with her husband during sex. She says that for her, sex  was a chore.  Instead of helping her find ways to experiment, her husband placed the blame on her! He thought that she must ‘be frigid’ not to be able to orgasm from sexual intercourse. On top of this insult, the woman had also been sexually abused when young, so already had a negative relationship with sex. Since she has separated, she has experienced an ‘amazing night’ with a younger lover. Now she uses toys on a daily basis, as they help her feel hornier and sexier. From starting with a bullet vibrator for clitoral stimulation, she has since tried g-spot vibrators, and has experienced vaginal orgasms; something she never would have dreamt of in the past.

In terms of couples using toys, there are a few viewpoints; one male feels like toys can put too much pressure on him to ‘perform.’ He feels guilty for being unable to satisfy his partner. Another couple, meanwhile, love using their toys either alone or together, and also for teasing each other. Toys can also be used to reignite a relationship that has lost its spark.

This will only work though if both partners are willing to experiment with the toys. In my experience, sadly this has not been the case. I have tried introducing some toys to ‘luke-warm’ at best, ‘stone-cold’ at worse, responses. I have felt frustrated by this, as I feel that our love life has got somewhat formulaic over the years. But I know that my other-half being how he is, somewhat set in his ways, will not change his outlook. My toys will remain mine for solo pleasure, and I do not feel one bit guilty for that. I choose toy play rather than not toy play!

Update October 2017

This article was written to gather the thoughts I had obtained from some of my Twitter followers. It is not intended purely for hetero couples. It just so happens that the people I had interacted with followed this lifestyle. Toys can be enjoyed by same-sex couples as well, in addition to transgender and non-cis identifiable individuals. The post was not intended to exclude anyone based on their sexual identity or orientation.

As for my own experiences, Mr Bunny seems to be participating in our play-time experimentation with toys, though he primarily uses toys on me rather than vice versa. It is definitely an improvement!

 

Threeplay and Roleplay

A common fantasy for many couples is to invite a third person to play with them. But for a lot of couples the idea remains just that. There are several reasons why the fantasy may go unfulfilled. There may be trouble with identifying a suitable third party, whether they are male or female. It might be the case that the couple are concerned about damage to their relationship. Jealousy, feelings of inadequacy or guilt are possible outcomes of involving a third person in the bedroom. Then there are the details to think about; where should the play be instigated? In the couples’ home, in a hotel or in a ‘club’ environment? What will the third person be able to do with each partner of the couple, and how can play revolve around each person ‘equally’ so that no one feels overlooked?

Toys Toys Toys

One way of circumventing all these issues, is to use a toy instead of including a third person. A suction-cup dildo or strap-on harness secured to a piece of furniture can become the extra ‘male’ for a MMF scenario; this way the female in the couple gets to experience two orifices being filled at once. She can either have the dildo in her vagina, and thrust on it whilst performing oral sex on her partner, or she could experience double penetration, taking her partner’s penis in either her vagina or anus, whilst the toy is used in the other opening.

When it is time to ‘return the favour,’ and play out the FFM scenario, the male in the couple could either use a masturbator to stimulate his penis, whilst giving oral sex to his partner, or he could take a dildo in his anus during penetrative sex with his lover. Another variation is to have his partner ‘peg’ him (perform anal sex on him with a strap-on dildo or a strapless one such as a Realdoe or Feeldoe), whilst using a an oral sex simulator at the same time. Thus it seems a threesome could be easily turned into a reality, by using toys in the bedroom.

Role play fantasies

For other adventurous play, costumes can be worn and props can be included to create a ‘scene.’ For example, some common role-plays are:

  • teacher / student
  • nurse / patient
  • boss / employee
  • housewife / workman
  • two strangers in a bar.

Costumes can either be purchased ready-to-wear, or improvised with your own clothes. In most of the scenarios mentioned above, there is ‘Dominant and submissive’ interplay. One role-play I tried with Mr Bunny previously was that of the ‘sexy cop‘ and defendant. I purchased the Music Legs cop costume (now discontinued), which consists of dress and belt, hat, truncheon, cuffs and cop’s badge.

Sexy Cop.jpg

The dress is good, though it definitely requires the belt to cinch in the waist. The hat was pleasing too, and made a handy makeshift ‘blindfold.’ The accessories were very cheap though; the baton felt like it would crush very easily, and the handcuffs were plastic and very flimsy. I did not bother with them, instead using the Lovehoney Tease Me set I already owned. At the time of writing, these aren’t in stock, but an alternative pair from the Fifty Shades range is available.

I got dressed up, complete with fishnet stockings and suspender belt, and wore my suede boots too. Mr Bunny grinned when he saw me. Though I soon wiped the cheekiness from his face as I made my ‘arrest,’ then interrogated him thoroughly. We then went on to enjoy some of the hottest sex we’d had in ages. He certainly was stimulated by his ‘arrest,’ while I enjoyed playing the bad cop!

Fun without costumes

It is not necessary to wear a costume, to partake in some Dominant / submissive interplay. Moreover, if you don’t feel comfortable playing a character, props such as ties and blindfolds can be an effective way for a Dominant to take control, while the submissive yields to their Master or Mistress. A nice beginners Tie and Tease set is available for a reasonable price.

By fulfilling our fantasies and enjoying a varied sex life, we enrich our relationships and improve intimacy. Besides, if something doesn’t work out quite how we envisaged, there are opportunities for laughing about it together, which also strengthens the bond between couples.

 

 

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Knotty play is an artform and psychological test of D/s interaction.

Entwined

One form of kink I’ve been researching lately is Shibari. The ancient Japanese art of using lengths of rope to bind a person with intricate knot-work and /or for restraining purposes. Shibari literally means ‘to tie.’ It originated from the Japanese police and Samurai in the period 1400-1700. Initially a form of restraint for prisoners, it was derived from the martial art Hojo-jutsu. In the 1800s, Kinbaku, an erotic form of the practice became prevalent*. Shibari is now commonly used to describe the practice of BD/SM rope play.

What interests and excites me about the practice is that it:

A. Looks fricking awesome. The patterns that can be achieved are stunning. They are works of art in themselves on a human ‘canvas’ using rope as the ‘media’. Shibari is highly ornamental, as well as functional.

B. It involves a strong element of trust. Both from the person tying the knots, and the individual being tied. The person tying the rope  (known as the ‘rigger’) is putting their faith in their bound partner to tell them how they are feeling during the process. The person who is ‘laced up’ is trusting the Shibari practitioner. The latter needs to find out if any of the ties are uncomfortable, the rope chafes or if the position is putting too much strain on muscles.

C. The pleasure derived both from seeing the handiwork and the feeling of the rope lying on the flesh. Not only this, the psychological element of submission. The person who is bound submits themselves physically and psychologically to the Rope Master or Mistress.

Practicali-ties

The ropes are strategically placed and knotted to stimulate pressure points. A Shiatsu massage effect can be attained with some bindings. Moreover, the use of additional play equipment (floggers, paddles, vibrators among others) can increase the sensation felt by the person being bound.


Ropes that are used are commonly 5-10 metres in length, red /black/ or natural in colour. Composition of the rope is important as the fibres need to be supple and flexible enough to allow manipulation and formation of neat knots. The rope also needs to be strong; its purpose is, in addition to looking attractive, to restrain. It needs durability and to not wear excessively under strain.

Another consideration is the comfort of the individuals tying the knots and being bound. Rope-burns are not at all pleasant. Neither are they attractive. No one wants to go to the office on a Monday morning with tell-tale red marks on their limbs. That would make for awkward water cooler conversation. Elastic should not be contained in the fibres as it can make knots too tight, and trickier to undo.

Materials that tend to be used are cotton, hemp and silk. Cotton is relatively inexpensive, whilst silk is more luxurious. Both are exceedingly strong.Having the appropriate material ensures the rope-work will appear neat and well-placed (this will also depend on the skill of the Shibari practitioner).

Creating the ‘illusion’ means practice

It takes hours of patience and skill to learn to manipulate the ropes. An important feature of bindings is that they’re readily released. Meaning, as the quick-release mechanism on a bicycle saddle makes it easy to adjust the saddle’s height, so the binding of the rope ensures it is readily unbinding. If a restraint position is causing too much discomfort, or the psychological effect on the binder/ recipient is too extreme, the ropes need to be unwound quickly. This means there are not actual ‘knots’ in the rope, but the illusion of knots in some cases.

The person being bound needs to have patience too, as it can be a time- consuming art-form. The aesthetic makes it entirely worth the wait. They say a pictures speaks a thousand words. Shibari makes you feel those words…

How does Shibari make you feel? Please comment, and see if we can reach 1000 words!

* this information was accessed from Kinkly.com on 18th June 2017

 

Should I buy pre-loved sex toys?

One careful lady owner

In this materialistic, consumerist world, it seems like most things we buy these days are disposable. Or at some point, destined for a charity bag.

Why should sex toys be any different? I mean, why spend hundreds or even thousands of pounds on brand new ones that may not even work for you? For some toys that are non-porous, body-safe, and in perfect working order, it seems crazy to just send them to the Rabbit Amnesty. Unless they’re so dire not even a buzzy pink vibe-lover would like it…

So, I’m thinking, I’d like to share the joy these toys can bring. My expanding collection needs a makeover. I don’t have endless storage to keep the items I once enjoyed, but now something better is occupying my bedside drawer.

Silicone and glass are perfectly safe (in my opinion) to pass on, as long as they are thoroughly cleaned. Like, boiled or bleached. Porous materials like jelly rubber I’d say hell no, but then why would you want to buy that crap anyway? Jelly is just for eating in my view!

I have some items I’m clearing out. They work fine, but they’re just not for me anymore. They’ve been well looked after, and I’d love for them to find a new home with owners who’ll have as much pleasure with them as they can bring. Toys make life so much more fun!

Use it or lose it…Grey Matter

Muscle versus brawn

Becoming a parent and responsible-ish adult has been a game-changer for my life in general and it has also affected my mind a lot too. I still get anxious at times, and now for more valid reasons.

Will my daughter develop and learn well? Is she safe when she goes to pre-school and I’m not there? Is her home life giving her a stable up-bringing?

These are all concerns that whizz about my mind as well as all the other daily and short-to-mid term events that are going on in the back-ground. The problem is, our brains can only handle so much information at a time. Too much to think about inevitably makes us forget. Hopefully it’s only trivialities like putting the washing machine on before we leave the house in the morning, or missing the bread from the quick shopping trip.

The forgetful treadmill

I do feel though, that with the distractions from electronic devices and some degree of a lack of self-control, I get caught up in a cycle of not using my brain enough. The saying  ‘use is or lose it,’ and the Cockney Rhyming slang ‘Use your loaf,’ serve as important reminders to exercise our mental muscles. Whether that be memory or increasing our intelligence, both are important. A healthy mind, moreover, means a healthier body. I do not wish to age prematurely. The greys in my hair spring up and nag me that I’m not getting any younger. Aches and pains bleat out that my body needs strengthening and better suppleness.

We work out at the gym, or do exercise classes. For those who prefer team sports, there’s football, hockey. netball. Solo work-outs include running, cycling and swimming. I must admit, I’m not a fitness fanatic. I do enjoy my aerobics classes and Pilates. Walking is enjoyable too, in the right weather. But pounding a treadmill, or pavements is not me. I do not own a bicycle. But as long as I do some exercise at least several days a week I feel better. My mood lifts. I’m not as cranky, and I sleep well enough, providing I’m not too awake to sleep.

Brain Training

In terms of general memory, I’ve usually got a pretty good recall, particularly for numerical things like phone numbers. On occasion I have temporarily forgotten PIN numbers though; not helpful when standing at the point of sale at the services! This temporary lapse though seems to go hand-in-hand with anxiety, and in some ways its a useful marker telling me to take a step back and breathe.

 

Now, I’m half-way through this year (my first year blogging). My good intentions to stay ‘on top of the game’ have somewhat been absent-mindedly misplaced. I need to shake myself up, and give my brain a boost. One way of doing this is to take up cross-words. Not ‘damn!’ and ‘blast!’, but you know, those boxes that have clues to fill in with greyed out bits. I used to like doing ones in certain broadsheet papers. Not the cryptic… but the quick one. That is enough for my brain at present. Having left my ‘professional’ career as a scientist behind me 5 years ago, the brain of a part-time (was) housekeeper / sales advisor / full-time mum is currently feeling more colander-like than merely sieve-like.

Brain draining in progress…

Other productive past-times to boost the grey cells include learning languages. I did do a French course after leaving my science role, and I took some creative drawing classes. Both were enjoyable at the time. Drawing to some degree now is possible, though I don’t have the attention span and neither does my daughter, for me to be able to sit and produce anything artistically merit-worthy. It’d be more like doodling. I can teach my daughter basic French. It’s not very challenging for me, mentally though.

An alternative is re-teaching myself to play guitar. A recent Twitter chat reminded me how I used to like rocking out some riffs. Despite my plucking being a bit shoddy, I liked learning the chord shapes and trying out scales and arpeggios. Since I don’t read music I can get tabulature off the internet. Plenty of sites offer ‘tabs’ for free. Some are better than others, depending on the ability of the person who writes them (and their musical talent). It doesn’t have to necessarily be note perfect for playing along at home.

So between cross-words and re-learning guitar, I have a couple of options to build up my grey matter. My daughter’s brain is like a sponge, so I hope I can re-train mine to be less sieve-like and more sponge-like. If only I had remembered to buy the blasted paper to get the cross-words!

Fleeting youth

On a stroll with my little Bunny I saw these pretty hedge roses (not sure if that’s the correct name for them, but who cares…)

They reminded me that our youth is gone in a flash, our once vibrant petals withered and falling away, to leave a seed husk that will hopefully promise more young budding life.

That ‘stiff upper lip’ thing

Mental ‘health warning’

This post is being written because I, like a lot of other people out there, have suffered from a mental health condition. It still rears its ugly head at times though I manage it as best as I can through various means. Some of these have included ‘talking therapies,’ such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy*. Others include self-help such as exercise, hobbies and having fun events to look forward to. I’ve also used medication (yes, pills. Something I’d rather not take, but for fear of the alternative I have been reluctant to come off of them). My GP seems reluctant for me to wean off them completely. Cynics may argue that of course GPs want you to stay medicated as that is providing their pay-cheques. I’d also like to think that GPs have their patients’ best interests at heart too.

The conditions I’ve dealt with are anxiety and depression. The pair seem to go hand in hand. In my experience, they seem to flare up most profoundly at times that I feel overwhelmed, or under higher levels of stress. Of course, stress is a normal part of everyday life. It motivates us and gives us the incentive to get our work done and deal with the necessary daily/weekly/monthly chores in a timely manner. But when the stress becomes unmanageable, that’s when the self-doubt, helplessness and despair comes crashing over me like a tsunami-style tidal wave.

I am not alone in feeling like this. Lots of people experience these unsettling emotions. Maybe not necessarily to a degree that affects their life to an extent that they have to withdraw from a ‘normal’ existence for a couple of months. But enough to feel that they are merely surviving rather than necessarily living. Why do people get to such a despairing mode?

Nature vs Nurture

We are all born as unique individuals. We may be naturally ‘laid-back’ and easy- going in our characters. Little things might wash over us like water off the back of a duck. Some of us, conversely, may be more tightly-strung. At the right tension we work perfectly fine, like the strings on a musical instrument. When wound too tight, though, we are more prone to suffering high levels of anxiety. When these are exacerbated through experiences that life throws at us, we can essentially ‘break.’ Life experiences that can trigger a severely altered mood include

  • more demands at work.
  • a house move.
  • bereavement.
  • relationship breakdown.
  • money problems.
  • Other major life-changing event, e.g. becoming a parent.

In our upbringing, the behaviour and actions of our parents are those that we become acutely accustomed to. For most people, the personality traits they adopt as they mature will be inherited from their parents or caregivers. If a parent is overprotective and strict, this may lead to the child (and corresponding adolescent) to become cautious. In addition they potentially feel anxious about making mistakes for fear of criticism. A more relaxed and encouraging parent, on the other hand, will inspire more confidence in their children. The child/ren will feel more comfortable with trying new activities and set-backs won’t be feared to the same extent as for a more ‘sensitive’ individual. This is not just about how parenting affects our predisposition to suffering mental health conditions. As an individual I need to accept responsibility for my innate ‘limitations’ that also helped contribute to my illness.

Keeping up with the Jones’s

In this ever-changing world, we are bombarded with media that projects success as having the latest commodities and devices, as well as having immaculate ‘show’ homes and new cars. In addition, professional careers are seen as the way to be ‘upstanding citizens’ in society. Having had a more professional career, as a scientific research assistant, and now currently being in a low-paid ‘unskilled’ role, I can honestly say I pretty much feel the same way about myself in either situation. A lot of the way I feel stems from lower self-esteem. As a fairly introverted person, I was fairly studious though not naturally academically accomplished. I got good GCSES, followed by A-levels, and subsequently a Batchelor’s degree in a biological science. It was an achievement for me to come out of University and enter my first ‘proper job.’ More so since at one point in my A-levels during a ‘wobbly’ period, I was told that I ‘wouldn’t be able to cope with going to University.’ Getting that finely-pressed and crested paper certificate sure showed them!

But just getting a degree doesn’t seem to be enough. We are told we need to get further degrees or doctorates to progress up the career ladder. Extracurricular activities such as sports, music and volunteering are touted as being Curriculum Vitae essentials as well. Now, I’m all for bettering myself, learning new skills and taking up new hobbies / interests. But there needs to be balance. It’s not necessarily going to be of benefit to become a semi-professional dancer if the money you need for lessons is competing for more essential items such as housing costs and nutritional food.

Be more realistic instead of materialistic

In more recent years, I’ve learnt to settle for less. Financially in terms of income, and materially. I have bought quite a few sex toys (*okay lots of sex toys*, and lingerie too). But I rarely spend the full RRP on items that I buy. Some items are testers, so they have been free in exchange for a review. More expensive items I have purchased only when heavily discounted. Moreover, we don’t go out as much as we used to or have as expensive holidays. This has had more to do with parenting responsibilities though, and the expense of childcare / overseas travel.

Being more realistic extends to what I can reasonably accomplish in a given timeframe. Since I tend to overthink, I sometimes may take a bit longer to get started on a task. Not only that but I sometimes underestimate how much time I will need to complete something. I’ve attempted to manage mine (and other people’s) expectations. This helps avoid disappointment plus associated ‘knocks’ to my confidence. Challenging Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS)* is a practice I frequently go back to. In times of feeling overwhelmed it’s easy to become blinkered by ‘black and white’ / all-or-nothing thinking patterns. These do nothing to help a situation, instead they paralyse us into a sense of inadequacy and indecision. I reason with myself that a decision is better than no decision. As long as I’ve considered it from as many angles as possible then I’ll ‘cross that bridge’ if and when I get to it.

This is becoming a longer post than I anticipated. To prevent myself procrastinating and worrying if what I’ve written is ‘good enough’ I will throw caution to the wind (for a change) and hit publish! Please feel free to comment if you have had similar experiences, or if you want to discuss any of the content in more depth.

I may not wish to go into all the details of my own depressive episodes, so please respect that, but I may be able to offer some advice.


*Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS) are only mentioned briefly in this post. If feedback from readers suggests that further discussion of this type of therapy is warranted, I will write more in a future post.

Labels

This is a random topic, and why am I writing about labels on a sex toy reviews and erotic fiction blog, I hear you ask… Because labels are everywhere. From the clothes we buy, the sticky ones we wear identifying ourselves in a workshop and so on. So it makes me think, what do labels do for us? Besides giving us information about a product or a brand name, or putting an occupation alongside our name to ‘define’ what we do?

So yeah, they’re clothes labels but if you’re stuck in a rut, a ‘new look’ may be what you need…

The answer is simple, they don’t really do a lot for us. So you might feel more ‘put together’ when you’re wearing your best suit tailored by your favourite designer. But take off that suit and you’re still you. Is a cleaner/janitor any less of a person because of what they do? Hell no. We are what we want to be essentially. Because at the end of the day actions speak louder than words.

And if we don’t like a label, what can we do then? We can change it for another! Whether you want a new career, status, religion or sexual orientation, life is fluid. If something isn’t working for you then ‘re-brand’ it, or do what the celebs do and re-invent yourself. Its not always easy, but its better than being in a situation that makes you unhappy or worse still, one that makes you feel ill or worthless.

So if the label fits and it makes you happy stick with it. Otherwise, try something different for size. You never know, you might like it. If you don’t you can always go back to what you were before.

And if anyone is wondering what my labels are, then you can find out here:

  • I’m a wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, niece and grand-daughter.
  • My day jobs are in the leisure and tourism industry. But I trained in a biological science background.
  • I like food, but I’m no fancy cook.
  • For me, my ideal holiday would be something cultural mixed in with some relaxation. Warm, sunny climates are my preference to colder ones.
  • My hobbies are keep-fit classes, walking, trying out new sex toys, and comedy movies. I also enjoy getting creative with my scrap booking stuff, to make memories.

 

 

Show Yourself Some Body Love

It is important for us to appreciate our own bodies; lumps, bumps, warts and all. Some brands have created body-positive marketing campaigns, for example, Dove. But in the adult industry it can be difficult sometimes to see that there is no ‘normal’ body; male or female. This article will hopefully encourage readers to ‘show yourself some body love.’

We all have body ‘hang-ups,’ whether we’re confident extroverts or shy introverts. Whenever we get naked in front of a partner, we think “do I look attractive enough?” These thoughts can be useful at times, in motivating us to change things we’re not quite happy with. Our diet and exercise regime frequently need checking, to improve our fitness, muscle tone and skin clarity. However, these thoughts can become more intrusive and in some cases, quite damaging.

Stereotypes

As I’ve mentioned, the adult industry has a lot to answer for in creating stereotypes of designer bodies in a sexual context. Women have ‘neat, flesh-coloured labia that blend in with the rest of their skin tone and don’t protrude excessively. Men have well-endowed, substantially girthed penises that don’t have excessive foreskin or non-retractable foreskin (a condition known as phimosis). We are bombarded with these images in adult entertainment and media, as well as on social media platforms. This can create a great deal of anxiety in some women and men, particularly younger ones who are discovering their sexuality. Generally, they are also more likely to make comparisons with and among their peers.

In an age of image-consciousness, cosmetic ‘enhancements’ are becoming more common. In the adult industry this has led to increasing pressure for actresses to have surgery to appear more ‘attractive’ sexually. Procedures such as labiaplasty are being undergone. The consequences being that members of the general public are seeing these operations being touted as life-changing ‘super-cures.’ It seems like people are unable to accept that there is no ‘normal’ in terms of how we appear, whether sexually or otherwise. We all have unique anatomical differences, and our genitalia is no exception to this. Projects such as the Great Wall of Vagina are helping raise awareness that all of us are different; they empower us to embrace our uniqueness rather than trying to change our appearance to fit in with media-projected stereotypes. More work like this is needed to help us show ourselves ‘body love.’

Lose your ‘hang-ups’ to get close-up and personal

Next time you are about to undress in front of your partner, whether you’ve been with them a long or short time, don’t question whether your breasts will appear lopsided or asymmetrical. Forget about the curve in your penis. Never mind that your labia protrude; your partner will have more to play with! If you have a longer foreskin, fret not! Just cast your clothes and your body ‘hang-ups’ over the side of the bed, and focus on having fun together!