Tag Archives: Women

You are Doing Your Period Wrong!

This is a guest post…

…Hullo.

With introductions now well in the past, I’d like to turn your attention to something you are likely doing very, very wrong. You see, you get this…visitor…once a month, but no one’s properly trained you on how to deal with it. It can make you quite cranky and pain you in ways you’d like to forget, but, ah…we are women, after all.

#1 – Avoid People

Pay attention to when your flow is nearly upon you and ready yourself. This includes not making plans if you suffer a change of character (quite possibly caused by pain) that includes an increase in verbal, emotional, and physical abuse of others. This may require a developed self-awareness that too few of you seem to possess, but, well…If you KNOW you hate everything and everyone, why subject others to your moods? Be kind. Stay the fuck away.

#2 – Supplement + Hydrate

Start taking supplements a few days previous, as it takes a few days for them to be absorbed. Take, in particular, Magnesium (to kill cramps), Zinc, and Vitamins C and D (because your immune system is likely to plummet), and water (because we are generally all dehydrated). I have been doing so, and, as far as anecdotal evidence from a sample size of one goes, this works. I always tended toward illness during my periods (slight fevers ALL through my formative years), and my first day delivered the worst cramps. Well. No more now. I now have no cramps, for the most part, only a mild discomfort of oddly-shifting muscles on rare occasion. The magnesium certainly worked for my body, and it may well for yours. This is not new information and, as such, there exist Period Vitamins offered by multiple companies, which are quite specific enough, wouldn’t you say? Something to look into, perhaps. Do avail yourself of ‘the Google’.

#3 – Avoid Gassy Foods

Hopefully by now you are aware what foods make you gassy. You would do well to avoid them, as changes in your body and hormones change your gut flora, which changes the smell of your emissions, which may be much worse than normal. Expect it, and prepare. Don’t subject others to more smell than you must.

#4 – Track. Everything.

Don’t be a moron (read: my sister). Always track your period. Doesn’t matter if it’s irregular as hell, and never seems to settle. YOU NEED TO KNOW. There are plenty of apps for this, and the one I use, in particular, WomanLog Pro, is fantastic as it also allows you to track your Basal Body Temp, Fertility, Moods, Symptoms, Cervical Mucous, Frequency of Intercourse, Blood Pressure, and Weight (among, I am sure, many other things I am not yet aware of). These are all good things to know about your body and habits. How, for instance, are you to know you regularly suffer a debilitating peanut butter craving two days before your flows starts if you don’t log it? Well, perhaps your mental file cabinets are less disorganised than mine. And speaking of taking inventory…

#5 – Stock Up

If you are using pads and tampons, just…stop now. Don’t stock up. Rather, use the last of it up and then switch to….you guessed it: Menstrual Cups. Why? Well…

+ No Smell—Why do we smell? Say it with me, class: Bacteria. Well done. So. Ever noticed that pads and tampons seem to possess after a while a fragrant waft of ‘period smell’ you’d rather they not? This is because the bacteria in and outside your body is suddenly exposed to warm, moist conditions with plenty of air. And, with such a good environment, bacteria cannot help but thrive. However, producing fragrant waste is the least any organism can do. Oh, no, there’s more. Just the right (wrong) sort of microscopic critters having a party in their wet, cottony home can cause Toxic Shock Syndrome. Doesn’t that sound exciting? No? Well, the advantage of menstrual cups in this particular instance is that your tools (should be) are sterile, and the blood and tissue exiting you with all the grace of that runny porridge your mum makes which you secretly despise, is not exposed to air outside your cervix. Rather, the cup creates a tight seal, leaving you free of that particular disgusting and potentially dangerous situation.

[A/N: I have never noticed a smell when emptying my cup. None but ‘iron’, naturally.]

+ Leaves no Trace—Because Menstrual Cups are made of non-reactive silicone and do not leech chemicals [Seriously, does anyone know what tampon chemicals in your vagina actually do to us in the long run?], nor absorb moisture, your vagina can maintain its normal pH, humidity, and bacterial balance. Tampons dry you out (as anyone with a light flow is well aware) and remove your bacteria with that moisture. Be honest: when your body is already quite upset (seemingly), how much more are you inclined to continue upsetting it by making it overcompensate for your own mistakes?

…That’s what I thought.

+ Better than Coupons—You need only (at most) buy one menstrual cup a year, unless something particularly unexpected occurs. I needn’t explain, I don’t think, how one yearly purchase (if even THAT often) of 25$/15-20£/4,000-6,000¥ easily beats out the average cost per year of disposable land waste. Speaking of which…

+ Less Waste/Environmentally friendly—You needn’t contribute more to the planet’s main issue simply because you are female. Please stop using tampons. If you really can’t handle menstrual cups after trying them properly for (AT LEAST) two cycles, please help the world by switching to fabric pads.

+ Less Anxiety—Do I have enough tampons? Are they the right absorbency? Shit. I’ve got a fever. What if it’s TSS?! Oh, no. I’m leaking. Well, piss and sod. That’s another 20 quid in trousers gone. I loved that skirt once. Don’t ask me why I wore white; I haven’t a clue. Someone’s stolen the can in the girl’s toilet. Can’t flush it, sign says. What to do, what to do? What if the string slips out while I’m swimming? What if I leak into the pool? Ew. Shite, can they smell that? I really hope not. Seriously, why does this hurt so much? I swear, this tampon is making it worse! Oh, for the love of—This is what I get for sleeping on my side. For sleeping at all. Body, I’ve a query: ARE YOU QUITE FINISHED?!

How much less wound up would YOU like to be during your period, hmm? With menstrual cups, you only need to worry about access to soap/water 2-4x a day, and somewhere to dispose of your excess. Easy.

+ Sex, Apparently—Some brands of menstrual cups claim you can have sex without removing them. I don’t know about this, as I don’t have penetrative sex. However, I’d remove it anyway if I were to be having sex during my period, so…I suppose it’s a plus for those who’d like to leave it in?

+ No Leaks (disclaimer)—This is a lie, obviously. Everything will leak. Your body is leaking, after all. However, menstrual cups have far fewer instances of leakage than other options, given that the lip, when inserted properly, creates a seal. [A/N: My only leaking seems to happen at night, when (I suspect) the laying on my side breaks the seal, or when my flow is especially heavy. Regardless, my body seems to wake me up quickly enough that this is never a problem. In contrast, my body rarely woke me up for the same problem when I used tampons, and I refuse to even discuss sleeping in pads. Utterly useless.]

+ Less cramping—Your muscles are working hard enough as it is, trying to push out unused eggs. There’s no need to add more strain by shoving this too-small absorbent cotton stick up there. The tampon must be held in, but it also holds in your blood, absorbing it rather than dropping it, causing you to lose it more slowly—only so much can be absorbed at once. Your muscles have to work harder to force it out. With menstrual cups, gravity does half the work for you. Compare cramps amongst tampons vs pads users: it’s the same basic principle.

+ Feels ‘invisible’—The only part you really feel is the insertion and removal, whereas with tampons, you tend to feel this heavy damp thing sucking the life out of you, and pads are the cause of adult diaper rash. Fun.

+ Higher Capacity—Due to no (known) risk of TSS, you can keep your cup in for up to 12 hours. That’s a +4 on what the tampon packets say. Also, the actual cups hold, on average, 30ml, which is about 1/3 of your entire flow (averages, again). [A/N: My heaviest flow normally requires three changes a day. In tampons or pads, it would probably be closer to five.]

+ Shorter Period—Anecdotal evidence, again. Sample size: myself. With tampons, my period was about 5.5 days. With the cup (and supplements), I’m at about 3.75-4 days. Much preferred.

+ Self-Awareness/Body Acceptance—Using menstrual cups forces you to touch yourself in places you may be initially uncomfortable with. This is good. How else are you meant to accept your own body if you won’t get down and dirty with it? It’s only blood, bacteria, and tissue, and your hands—wait for it—wash. Your mouth is probably more nasty. Using the cup will also help you have a better understanding of your menstrual flow, which is always good.

There are Cons to adopting Menstrual Cups, of course, as there is with anything else. But most of these are no real issue with a bit of familiarity.

+ Learning Curve—Yes, there IS a learning curve. You WILL, after about the 4th attempt with leaks, figure out what you’re doing wrong, so just hang in there. But, well, if you are the sort of person who dislikes learning things…

…please just go away forever.

+ Anatomy—This is a legitimate problem for some people. It could be that your body really doesn’t work well with anything you insert, or it may just be that you are a tiny person trying to use a DivaCup instead of an Asian brand that is significantly smaller. Try many things, and even ask your doctor your options before giving up.

+ Messy—Given that you grasp the end of the cup and dump the contents into the toilet, then wash the cups, it IS a bit messy, yes. But there is toilet paper, water, and soap available to you in most toilets. And, again, your hands wash.

+ Sanitisation—According to the instructions in the packet, the cups will require sanitising every so often. I have literally never done this, and I have had my cup well over a year. I wash mine with warm water. I expect only those of you who have shifty, uncertain, or poor immune systems will ever run into a problem with a lack of sanitisation. ***To be fair, I am NOT suggesting you actually go against the instructions in the package. For cleanliness’ sake, you should probably use soap and water, at least, and sanitise as the package says. Just because I am irresponsible does NOT mean you should be, too!!!***

So, yeah, there are a few bad points, but most of these you will become accustomed to, and habits will form, and it will be like anything else you’ve learnt to do in your life.

Perhaps one day it will be normal for us all to use menstrual cups.

Perhaps it will be widely known that cramps are mostly due to vitamin and mineral deficiency.

And, hey, perhaps being forced to touch ourselves in ways we tend to avoid will make people more open to masturbation (since it can’t be more gross than your period) and everyone will magically be less cranky.

…I can dream, can’t I? Hah.

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#17 PTSD: Not just for Veterans anymore!

In light of current problems that I have been struggling through, and to be honest constantly struggling with most of my life, I have decided to write an informational post about something that many, many people struggle with: PTSD.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a traumatic event, experienced or witnessed. This can include: combat exposure, child sexual or physical abuse, terrorist attack, sexual or physical assault, serious accidents, and natural disasters.

According to nimh.nih.gov:

“When in danger, it’s natural to feel afraid. This fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to prepare to defend against the danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a healthy reaction meant to protect a person from harm. But in PTSD this reaction is changed or damaged. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened when they’re no longer in danger.

“PTSD was first brought to public attention in relation to veterans (then called “shell shock” or “battle fatigue”, but it can result from a variety of traumatic incidents. Currently, many scientists are focusing on genes that play a role in creating fear memories. Understanding how fear memories are created may help refine or find new interventions for reducing the symptoms of PTSD. For example, PTSD researchers have pinpointed genes that make: Stathmin, a protein needed to form fear memories and  GRP (gastrin-releasing peptide), a signaling chemical in the brain released during emotional events.

“Individual differences in these genes or brain areas may only set the stage for PTSD without actually causing symptoms. Environmental factors, such as childhood trauma, head injury, or a history of mental illness, may further increase a person’s risk by affecting the early growth of the brain. Also, personality and cognitive factors, such as optimism and tendency to view challenges in a positive or negative way, as well as social factors, such as the availability to use social support, appear to influence how people adjust to trauma. “

When people find out that I have PTSD, I get a variety of responses:

“You’re an adult, just get over it.” Being an adult has nothing to do with trauma and a person’s ability to process through it.

“You’re not old enough to be a veteran.” Trauma doesn’t just happen to veterans.

“That is a very lame excuse.” It is not an excuse.

“You don’t look like you’ve been through a disaster.” My friend asks “Have you ever looked into her eyes?”

There are many things that people do not fully understand about PTSD.

Graph about PTSD

Though I do not feel that it is anyone’s business what exactly happened to me which caused my PTSD, I have experienced more than one of these ‘probable causes’.

Whether or not you get PTSD depends on many things:

  • How intense the trauma was or how long it lasted
  • If you were injured or lost someone important to you
  • How close you were to the event/person
  • How strong your reaction were
  • How much control you felt you had over the events
  • How much help and support you had access to and received after the event (and how long after the event you began to receive assistance)

7-8% of people in the US have PTSD or will struggle with PTSD at some time in their lives. 10% of women develop PTSD and 4% of men.  According to ptsd.va.gov, women are more likely to experience sexual assault and sexual assault is more likely to cause PTSD than most other events.  Women are also more likely to blame themselves for trauma events than men.

More about sexual assault: www.ptsd.va.gov/public/ptsd-overview/women/sexual-assault-females.asp

Most people with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder repeatedly re-live the trauma in the form of nightmares and disturbing recollections during the day. The nightmares or recollections may come and go, and a person may be free of them for weeks at a time, only to again experience them daily for no particular reason. Anniversaries of the event are often very difficult. In severe cases, they may have trouble working or socializing as a result of this interruption in their daily lives, which may induce panic attacks, manic episodes, seizures, and/or other intense emotional responses that may be unsuited to social and workplace situations. Ordinary events can serve as reminders of the trauma and trigger flashbacks or intrusive images. A flashback may make the person lose touch with reality and reenact the event for a period of seconds or hours or, very rarely, days. A person having a flashback, which can come in the form of images, sounds, smells, or feelings, usually believes that the traumatic event is in fact happening all over again at that exact moment.

(psychcentral.com) Below is a list of many of the symptoms that those with PTSD can suffer from.

  • Symptoms in adults:
  • Intrusive memories:
    • Distressing memories of the traumatic event
    • Reliving the traumatic event (flashbacks)
    • Upsetting dreams about the traumatic event (nightmares)
    • Severe emotional or physical reactions to something causing recollections of the event.
  • Avoidance
    • Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event, and therefore not processing it, setting back recovery.
    • Avoiding places, activities, or people that remind them of the event
  • Negative changes in thinking and mood
    • Depression
    • anxiety
    • Inability to experience positive emotions
    • Severe apathy; feeling emotionally numb
    • Lack of interest in activities
    • Hopelessness, shame, or despair
    • Memory problems, brain fog
    • Not remembering important aspects of the event
    • Difficulty maintaining close relationships
    • Employment problems
  • Changes in emotional reactions
    • Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
    • Paranoia; always being on guard for danger
    • Overwhelming guilt or shame
    • Self-destructive behavior
    • Trouble concentrating
    • Trouble sleeping
    • Easily startled or frightened
    • Feeling jittery
    • Hyper-arousal: alert, over-focused on surroundings
  • Physical symptoms especially tend to include chronic pain, heart arrhythmia, fainting, strokes, stomach aches, head or back aches, and other psychosomatic (or emotionally-induced) problems.
  • Symptoms in children (ptsd.va.gov)
  • Birth-6yrs
    • Upset when parents are not close
    • Trouble sleeping
    • Trouble toilet training
  • 7-11yrs
    • Act out trauma in play, drawings, or stories.
    • Have nightmares
    • Become irritable or aggressive
    • Will want to avoid school or friends
  • 12-18yrs
    • Similar to adults
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Withdrawal
    • Reckless behavior (substance abuse, running away, sexual behavior)

Now, these are common symptoms that not many people tend to associate with PTSD. Some people may assume that those exhibiting these symptoms are overreacting or seeking attention. It can cause those inflicted with PTSD to feel like a “freak” or like they are “crazy”.

Here are some examples of real situations that I have witnessed or experienced myself.

  1. Someone was walking down a hall snapping a belt that was folded in half. They were bored and it did not occur to them that they might cause anyone distress. H relived a scene from their childhood. H’s father had whipped them with a belt on several occasions. H, Upon hearing the snapping of the belt, regressed into childhood memories and re-lived the abuse of their father. H hid in a corner, rocking and crying until the flashback subsided.
  2. R spent several years living in untidiness to extreme. R lived in mold, animal excrement, and bugs. Over a year after being moved to a clean environment, R found a spider on their clothes. Later that day a door was left open and R had a panic attack. Their mind was back in the mess that they had left behind. Uncontrollable fear led to petrification, followed by a deep need to escape the situation.
  3. Sexual Assault:Too Many people have experienced this. In the case that a person has been traumatically sexually assaulted, any sexual act may trigger physical and emotional recall. The afflicted may be sent into intense panic and mistakenly confuse their current partner with their attacker. In these cases their partner needs to be very understanding and patient.
  4. Child Abuse:In the case of someone who had been abused as a child, any time they are awakened by a noise or by someone unexpectedly, their body may surge with adrenalin. They may believe they are being attacked and will “defend” themselves with–possibly–deadly force before they realize they are awake. Throughout the next several hours, an afflicted person may experience irritability with heightened stress throughout the day.

Flashbacks like this can occur with varying severity, depending on each individual’s situation.
“Sometimes large numbers of people are affected by the same event. Most people will have some PTSD symptoms in the first few weeks after events like these. This is a normal and expected response to serious trauma, and for most people, symptoms generally lessen with time. Most people can be helped with basic support, such as:

Getting to a safe place
Seeing a doctor if injured
Getting food and water
Contacting loved ones or friends
Learning what is being done to help

But some people do not get better on their own. Posttraumatic stress disorder can be treated usually with a combination of psychotherapy and medications.” – psychcentral.com

Treatments can include:

  • Therapy
    • Cognitive therapy
    • Exposure therapy
    • EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
  • Medications
    • Antidepressants
    • Anti-anxiety medications
    • Prazosin (sometimes for nightmares)
    • Sometimes Antipsychotics

The current treatments that I am using include: Anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, and EMDR. Now, EMDR can take a long time to work through Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. If you have PTSD and you give up—on any kind of treatment—early, it will be no help to you at all.

Most people do not understand just how much PTSD and the growing understanding of it means to me. Not only do I suffer with it, but many people I know and love suffer with it for several different reasons. I know people who have survived wars, either as a refugee or as a part of the military. I also know people who have lived through child abuse, spousal abuse, sexual assault, and battery. And even that list is not all-inclusice.

There are so many people that have a negative view of PTSD and treat those that suffer with it like they are liars or attention seekers. These people downplay the trauma that PTSD sufferers have gone through. I have been told several times that I blow my stories out of proportion when I am actually leaving out the worst parts.

I hope to help people understand PTSD better.

If you know someone with PTSD there are several things that you can do to help them through a flashback and come back to the present. Not all of these work 100% of the time, and some PTSD types can have dangerous repercussions. So be safe and cautious.

Remind them that they are going to be okay and that they are safe. (If you are currently in a dangerous situation, it is not ethical to lie to them, but if they are in danger of hurting themselves or others, do what you can to keep them calm).  Reassure them that they have not done anything wrong.

One of the best things that I learned from therapy was to activate my senses, or to try to find something to stimulate each one of the senses to help refocus on the present.

I have found that taste and smell usually go together, a strong taste will usually be strong enough to smell. Popular flavors to use as a taste-smell combo include mints, cinnamon, horehound, and root bear. Really anything with a strong taste that you enjoy should work. Sight and touch usually work together as well. I have found objects with an interesting texture, such as a stress ball or a small stuffed animal. Take the time to look at all the details of it while you run it through your hands. You may also use sound in the sight/touch method, focusing on a person talking, rattling keys in your hand, tapping a surface, or listening to music. Getting as many senses active as possible is key.

For example, put a piece of hard candy in your mouth. You can taste and smell the flavor, and you can feel it inside your mouth. You can also focus on the sound that your mouth makes with the candy. Does it click against your teeth? The only sense missing in this example is sight. Look around focus on what is around you; try to keep yourself—or the person that you are helping—in the moment.

Remember that during the PTSD episodes, we cannot be logical, we are not doing it for attention, it is not childish, and we cannot just “get over it.” These are very real memories that our minds make real to us again. We did nothing to deserve this, and we only want to be healed. Help spread the truth about PTSD.

Thank you

The Resident Femme

Sources:

www.ptsd.va.gov

www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/basics/definition/con-20022540

www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-tramatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml

www.psychcentral.com/disorders/ptsd/
www.ptsd.ne.gov/what-is-ptsd.html

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#13 “You’ve Lost Weight! You Look Great!” Isn’t a Compliment – A response

“You’ve Lost Weight! You Look Great!” Isn’t a Compliment.

I have started reading some other blogs and I stumbled upon this post about why thin isn’t always good, and though it isn’t the same as my situation with weight, it is still something that I feel strongly about.

For much of my life I tried to gain weight and sat at a very unhealthy underweight number. I ate as much as I could and still couldn’t gain any weight. My father threatened me on several occasions to take me to the hospital and have them hook a feeding tube to me. (Though as an adult, I know that it wouldn’t have done anything, nor would the hospital actually have tried anything at that point.)

I was teased constantly for being skinny. My nickname in Jr. High was Toothpick, I was told “You’re so skinny, I can see right through you.” and “Sorry, I didn’t see you, you were turned sideways.” Or other such things that people thought were harmless, but actually really hurt.

I always felt tiny and incomplete. Then I would have these girls struggling to lose weight telling me to shut-up because I had the perfect body and they wanted to look like me, and I was just begging for attention, and I would feel worse. I was always insecure in my body, until I started gaining a little weight. I didn’t feel attractive until I hit 116 lbs.

I was moving apartments and saw myself in the reflection of the outside glass door and thought “Damn, I look good!” with an immediate follow up, “What the hell? I never think that.” When our scale was unpacked I was euphoric to see that I had finally put on some fat and muscle.

When I was growing up–and she is not going to agree with me, but–I thought my mother was the most beautiful woman alive. She was my mommy and I wanted to be just like her. I wanted to have her gorgeous red hair and her beautiful woman curves. I wanted to cry every time she told us (my siblings and I) that she was fat.

Oh, I argued with her. “No, you’re not fat, you’re beautiful.”, “You’re not fat, you’re mommy.” etc. etc. When she was younger she had been thin like I was… and then she had been in a motorcycle accident and broken her back, then she got pregnant. And, well, things added up and she started to gain weight when she had children.

I have never seen my mother as anything other than beautiful. I don’t see her as fat. I do worry about health problems that run in the family, but I don’t think I could ever picture my mother looking now as small as I am and still being my mom. I’m not sure that I said that how I meant it to come out… but… My mother is beautiful how she is.

Right now I am over 130 lbs. I had surgery two months ago and a few weeks ago I had a moment where I was self-conscious about my body. I had a serious moment where I asked myself “Do I look chubby in this dress.” and I wanted to slap myself. I am not chubby. I have a little bit of bloating still from the surgery, and a small amount of fat from being sedentary for such a long time (due to physical health issues). So, instead of letting those thoughts plague my mind, I went out in that dress. I danced and got complimented, and wore myself out much more than I should have done.

I slept for two days, but I don’t regret buying the dress.

My point here is that girls shouldn’t be feeling the need to starve themselves to feel “beautiful”. Secret? Today I felt very exhilarated when I looked down at myself, my left hip popped out, my body leaning over, and saw that nice little bump of woman curve bulging over. Women’s bodies are meant to have a little more to them.

There is something called “Baby fat”, not how you would normally consider it. Look at a woman’s stomach–any normal, non-anorexic, but still skinny woman (this is just to prove a point, bear with me; even as skinny as I was, I had this too). There should be a nice layer of fat right over the abs; just enough to pinch. This is supposed to be there.

Many women will use this small amount of fat to tell themselves that they are not skinny enough. Important fact: That layer of fat is there for a reason. It is there in case you get pregnant. It is there as a way to start feeding a fetus during the early stages of pregnancy. (And some claim that big butts help in the development of larger brains in later stages).

Now, if you have a fuller figure, that’s not necessarily bad. Women are born with different shapes. I have a friend who has a small bone structure and a friend with large bone structure and then I have a friend with a health disorder that makes it so that it is very hard for her to lose weight. She has several things passed on from her family, which I am not going to disclose as I have not gained her permission.

There are many reasons to have, or not have, weight. Genetics (including what you can and cannot eat), health/illness, injury, mental health, stress, the list goes on and on.

I will say this. Even though I am attracted to slightly thinner/fit women, when things ended with my ex, she was almost 200lbs and we did not separate for her weight.

Do not base all of your self-worth on your weight. You are worth so much more.

Smile and hold you head up high! Because you are you and THAT makes you beautiful.

The Resident Femme

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#11 Sexist ads are making me frustrated.

**Clicking on images will open a larger version of the image, links to known sources are at the bottom of the post**

For the past several hundred years we have been subjected to advertisements that are aimed towards a specific gender, advertisements that target an audience in a specific way, and advertisements that are downright sexist.

I don’t generally consider myself “feminist”, which is probably going to get me a little heat. I do support equal rights for all, but I honestly don’t care about some of the problems. However, I will stand up with all the other feminists when it comes to blatant “in your face” sexism.

Over the last few weeks I have watched ads pop up on Facebook, on my apps, on the sides of web pages, in emails, walking around in malls, and driving down the freeway.

“No thigh gap? The problem is real!”

“SkinnyMint, say ‘NO’ to bloating!”

“Cleaning tips for Lazy girls.”

Are we trying to take equal rights backwards? Now, the ads are not just that simple and I want to break down some simple ones here for you today.

After all the frustration of seeing these advertisements, I feel like I have taken a step backwards into a different century, I decided to do a little research.

I took five minutes—just a small segment of time that most people generally spend scrolling through their feed—and I looked for ads. In just those five minutes I found over ten things that were sexist or demeaning that were posted. Not everything I saw was ads. There were quizzes and photos and fake articles, it goes on.

At this point, I really wanted to rip my hair out. So I took a break, watched something stupid, did my laundry, took a shower, and went to bed. Today I took the next step.

I went to my local library and took several popular magazines to flip through. I also started looking up popular brands: food, clothing, hygiene, etc. I came back with a lot more than I originally imagined that I would.

First, I want to start by asking: what are advertisements teaching children?

I kept having an ad for a toy pop up on a solitaire app that I use on my tablet, “Have boys? buy hot wheels.” I have included three videos for older versions of these ads because I could not find the exact one that I saw. Still, who is to say that my niece doesn’t want to build a tower race track for her cars? She loves cars. She loves building things. So it makes sense that she would really enjoy these toys, and yet they are advertised specifically for boys. These ads make some girls feel inadequate and unable to achieve what they would like in the future.

I refuse to tell my niece that she cannot be a race car driver, mechanic, or toy car collector; however, I am now reluctant to purchase Hot Wheels products.

What advertisements teach children gets more extreme around puberty. Children, especially young girls (all girls, including trans-girls), develop an ideal body image. Seeing all the sexualization of women around them only goes to enhance these views.

15 years old

The image above advertises a wax service for girls 15 years old and younger. FIFTEEN and YOUNGER! Is it right to start sexualizing our children so young? I have heard people ask again and again why children are having sex or acting so “mature” so young. I hate to say it, but it is the fault of everything around them.

Being a lesbian, I am not a stranger to the “Nature vs Nurture” debate. Many hours spent researching different sides to different things leads to similar findings. Behaviors that have to do with racism, sexual activity, bullying… Those are all products of the environment that they are exposed to. Ads play a big part in that.

Consider this:

Insulting proactive

The above ad from Proactive insults young girls (or boys) that have acne by claiming that acne is the reason that they might not have a boyfriend. This sort of statement brings down their body image. This makes them feel terrible about themselves and they turn to other things to feel better.

I will come back to body image in a minute, but I just need to touch on something very important first: advertisements on apps. Children are a big part of the community that plays apps on phones or tablets. Many app-games are made with “sexy” characters or are advertised with “sexy” women to grab attention. Children see these ads. Don’t believe me?

One of the most common ads that I have seen for a singular app recently was for Game of War.

The commercial starts out with a woman in a large tub with women pouring water over her. She then rides out to war in armor that wouldn’t protect anything. This is a fairly adult oriented ad that is plays on youth games and that some children play.

So, body image plays a large part in the lives of both women and men. The majority of the ads I come across however, are aimed at women.

( I would like to take a moment to clarify. A healthy BMI for an adult woman is between 18.5 and 24.9. This does not take into account your bone structure. I would like for everyone to understand that every single person is built differently. I have a friend who is has a very small build; her bone structure is very small, close together, pixie like. I have another friend who has a thicker build. Her bones are set farther apart and her body is larger because of it. Smaller structures take on less weight generally than larger structures, so you should not compare yourself to other people. )

Weight 1

This first image is a spread from US Weekly. Two separate weight loss systems (Hydroxycut left, SkinnyStix right). There seems to be an obsession with weight loss, even among those that are fully in a healthy BMI range. A small amount of “pudge” and suddenly many women see themselves as fat.

I had surgery about two months ago and I gained ten pounds within four days of surgery. Now, I am not someone who would generally ever look at myself like this, but my initial reaction was “Oh shit, how am I getting fat?” I was on narcotics at the time and not thinking straight, but just having those thoughts at all scared me.

I spent a good portion of my life with body image issues, just not the ones that most young girls live with. I could not gain weight. I felt that I was too skinny, that being skinny made me ugly. I tried my hardest to gain weight. Most of my life I was under an 18 BMI and no matter what I did, I couldn’t gain weight.

I have women in my life that have lived the other side of this line. Anorexia and bulimia running their lives, making 100lb girls believe that they were fat. All because our society is struggling to “lose weight” and “burn fat” even when there isn’t really anything to lose.

We have pre-teen girls counting calories instead of having fun with their friends, and trying to find any way to be beautiful. They fall into advertising traps like the ad below.

Dove

The ad above says to women that, basically, to really be beautiful, you need to use our products. If not, you aren’t trying hard enough. Push young girls to think about beauty, push young women to think about sexy, push women to think about sex, sex, sex.

I am familiar with the expression “sex sells” but sometimes this goes too far. Carl’s Jr. has a huge selection of “sexy” ads for their food, unrealistically over-sexualizing a commercial to make it seem erotic.

“Watch as this seemingly naked woman walks through a market, that seems to only be men, and turns out to just be wearing skimpy clothing and eating a juicy burger.” Really? Carl’s Jr. doesn’t just do video commercials, they also do print ads with as much decency and respect for women.

sexlesbionic burger

“Could we be wearing less and be weighing any less while eating these burgers?”

size matters burger

Right, classy penis jokes are fantastic when it has to do with food I want in my mouth. Delicious.

Real lifeUnknown Source

Now, I don’t know who did this photo, but I added it for realism and humility. This is a more realistic view of someone who eats Carl’s Jr. like they do in the ads. In an attempt to bring things down a notch and show people part of the reason why we are really fighting obesity. I am not saying that a little weight is bad, but I am saying that sexualizing junk food is a reason that people eat so much crap.

Carl’s Jr. isn’t the only food company trying to use sex to sell their food; Mars Inc. has also joined in this debacle.

sex candy 2

I might be wrong, but I believe this is the first sexualized candy coated chocolate in history. Thanks Mars Inc. It was always important for women to be further degraded by a piece of animated candy. It gets worse.

sex candy 3

The captions around the above image read: “Best Attribute: Honey, I can’t even choose. That’s your job. Appearance: Beauty of this magnitude can’t be described in words.” This makes it seem like a female has no thought of her own and cannot make up her mind. Also note the empty thought bubble. Because this isn’t demeaning at all.*rolls eyes*

sex candy 1

Sexualization in the sexist society of ads does not stop at food, oh no. If having a sexy piece of candy wasn’t enough, how about turning a woman into a car magazine for BMW?

Sex Car

Because men only care about cars and boobs. Either that or cars are the only thing that they can think of to get them off. Either way, this is not an accurate depiction of attraction between human beings. These advertisements do not give a healthy view on what it should be like to be a woman or a man in currant day society. Women are not objects or possessions. Men are not mindless hungry beasts.

LG Flex

And then we have a phone telling us that “Same is not sexy.” This is both a good and a bad message. The bad message is basically telling us that “If you are truly sexy then you will have this product.” While the underlying message is saying to make up your own mind and stop trying to be just like everyone else. Though their intention is to gain sales, just like every other product ad ever made, this can also be one of the few positive points. Same ISN’T sexy.

I don’t want to date someone that looks just like everybody else. I don’t want to read the same damn story again and again. And I most certainly don’t want to act like everyone else. I am an individual and I deserve to be myself and treat myself with that respect. So do you.

I wish more young girls could open their minds to the idea that “Same is not sexy.” So that we would not have so many little girls trying to look like Victoria secret models.

Victoria's anorexia

Victoria’s Secret had an ad campaign going around that was called “love my body.” They had the above ad and the “Perfect body” ad circulating. Every single one of their models were skinny and fairly large breasted. Victoria’s Secret was promoting body issues in women. Girls look at these models and tell themselves: “This is beauty, I can’t be beautiful unless I look like that.” But it’s a sick lie. I am willing to bet that each of those four women are below a healthy BMI.

The woman on the far left is absolutely too skinny. I am not saying this to skinny shame. I was a small girl, but I had muscles. If you look at that woman, you can see her ribs poking out. There are no upper arm muscles and her upper legs look gaunt.

These are not healthy women. They are airbrushed, photoshopped, anorexics.

I was told in the past: “Only women’s underwear is so sexualized, men’s underwear is much simpler.” Huh.

mens plus clingy girl

Calvin Klein: Naked woman on the back of a man with an airbrushed torso. “Sex”.

mens and women slipping in

Michael Kors: Possibly naked women behind a man who has an airbrushed torso with her hand going down his boxers. “Sex”.

mens all girl

jbs: topless woman wearing men’s underwear while lifting weights; also obviously shopped. “Sex.”

Each of these advertisements featured an under clothed woman, and sometimes an under clothed man. All for men’s underwear. Googling “men’s underwear ads” you get mostly naked men that are over sexed. These advertisements are still very sexualized.

Using sex to sell products isn’t a good thing and can lead to things that are even worse. Not only are we giving girls and women a poor self-worth because of how we portray women in advertisements. We can end up with the following:

rape is OK

*Note: the above post was removed by Belvedere Vodka and a formal apology was issued, but the fact remains that it was posted at all.

This ad presents an interesting and terrible face for the company at the time that it was posted. It insinuated that the company was promoting rape. The woman in the ad above obviously is not happy with what is going on with the man. She looks like she is trying to fight him off and the ad says: “Unlike some people Belvedere always goes down smoothly.”

Well, I’ll never go down without a fight, that is for sure.

Some people argue that advertisements like the one above only serve to “put women in their place”. Well, that wasn’t the only ad that put women “in their place”.

Sketchers

The above ad puts women in a vulnerable position. Is she too weak to walk, can she not afford a cab? She doesn’t have to wear heals, but they didn’t have to pose their ad like they did. “Because sometimes, a girl’s gotta walk.” I’m not amused.

I’ll say right now, I don’t generally buy shoes for looks. If I buy heals, I can usually run in them. If I want to wear sneakers with a dress, I will damn well wear sneakers with a dress. Why would I need to buy specific shoes (and take them with me) in case of a situation like above. Also, just, what? No.

The following post isn’t actually an ad, but it follows in the footsteps of a lot of what I was talking about earlier.

must be a lady
Unknown Source

Women, men, everyone else: first, gender is not binary. Second, what one does has nothing to do with any other. Try to be the best person you can be. Eventually, maybe, people around you will learn to be their best as well and not treat others as lesser.

Weight: everyone has it, it’s not a skinny issue, just look after actual health.

Cleaning: everyone’s issue. It’s not for women, it’s not for men. It is for everybody.

There is NO such thing as “boy’s toys” and “girl’s toys”.

No one should be sexualizing children.

Acne is NOT the reason that you do or do not have a significant other.

A certain brand of soap will not make you more or less beautiful.

Carl’s Jr. is advertised by sexist pigs.

Mars inc. What is wrong with you? Stop turning your only female M&M into a sex object!

Cars aren’t really that sexy.

Neither are phones.

You don’t have to be skinny and photoshopped to love your body.

Men are not attractive to me, so I have nothing to say about their underwear honestly.

Rape is NOT okay. Don’t do it! Don’t joke about it! Don’t ignore it! Rape is bad!

Shoes don’t make a girl.

Women: you are beautiful. Know that someone loves you. And smile for yourself today.

Citations:

Belvedere Vodka
http://www.belvederevodka.com/

BMW
http://www.bmwusa.com/

Calvin Klein
http://www.calvinklein.com/shop/en/ck

Carls Jr.
http://www.carlsjr.com/

Dove
http://www.dove.us/

Game of War
http://www.gameofwarapp.com/

Hot Wheels
http://www.hotwheels.com/en-us/index.html

HydroxyCut
http://www.hydroxycut.com/

JBS
http://www.jbs.dk/en/#&panel1-1

LG
http://www.lg.com/us

Mars Inc.
http://www.mars.com/

Michael Kors
http://www.michaelkors.com/

Proactive
http://www.proactiv.com/

Skechers
http://www.skechers.com/

SkinnyMint
https://www.skinnymint.com/

SkinnyStix
http://www.zantrex3.com/

Unikwax
http://www.unikwax.com/

Victoria’s Secret
https://www.victoriassecret.com/

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#2: Yes, I really AM a Lesbian!

Okay, so this is something that really ticks me off. I tell someone that I am gay and then I usually get the same responses: “Are you sure?”, “You just haven’t met the right guy.”, “No you’re not, your too feminine to be a lesbian.”. “You look too straight to be gay.”, “It’s just a phase.”, “You’re just looking for attention.”

WHAT?

Why would I make something like this up? To the guys who are interested: I am not just playing it up to get you to go away, or to get your attention. I really am gay. Really. I am 100% lesbian, I will never be with a guy. Ever. Gross.

I look really girly so many people assume that I am straight. Seriously, even other lesbians have accused me of being straight. I. Like. Boobs. Soft skin, gentle touches, whispers, being able to compare periods. Maybe I took that too far, I am just a really open book. I like being able to discuss things with my partner without having to worry about grossing them out. I might be making it worse.

I have had so many experiences of men who think that when I tell them that I am a lesbian, that it is a challenge to their masculine prowess. Seriously?

I was sitting in City Limits one night and a guy approached me. He asked me incredulously: “You’re not a dude are you?” … I responded “Um no, but I am a lesbian.” Him said with a smirk on his face: “Oh, okay, that’s fine then.” My hope was that he would understand that it was Gay Night at the Utah County Bar.

I let it go at that, he seemed a little drunk already and I really didn’t think anything about another drunk guy acting like an ass. I went back to playing pool with my friends. A little while later he walked past me while I was aiming and grabs my ass. NOT OKAY.

First: If I tell a guy I am gay, it means: leave me alone, I am not interested, I like women! Second: It is NEVER polite to grab a girl (or guy) that you do not know! It is just rude. Third: don’t piss off a shy girl who has been abused by men in the past.

I followed the ass outside and confronted him. “Excuse me?!?” I exclaimed.

He had the audacity to laugh and tell me: “I didn’t do it, someone else did.”

I took a deep breath and decided: instead of giving in to the rage I was feeling, I would be the bigger person and try to ignore him for the rest of the night. I could feel my anxiety rising and fought the anger that was unusually accompanying it.

Now, This is super frustrating. My whole night was brought down because some jerk thought that me being a lesbian was an open invitation for harassment. My friend applauded my self-defensive gumption to confront my harasser. I didn’t feel like I had been strong. I thought later about how I should have reacted differently… But when he approached me later in the night I was not going to have any more of his behavior.

Loud enough for the amazing drag queens near me to hear I announced, “Back off and leave us alone.” (he had been harassing other girls in the bar that were with us.) He advanced. I shifted my stance and said louder “Back the #### off!” The DJ’s wife heard me and stepped between us and the advancing man. She pulled herself up to her intimidating (short) height and glared. “Back off, these girls are with me!”

We laughed about it later, but I shouldn’t have to be on the defensive when I am out. (This guy even had his girl friend there. Seriously? Do you know what respect is?.)

That is not even the worst thing that has happened to me. I had an old man tell me once that I just needed a more experienced dick. EW! What the hell? Being a lesbian does not mean that … just… NO! *shudders*

I have girls jealous of me because they think that I am just making up the whole “Lesbian” thing to get closer to and steal their boyfriend. WHY would I do that? Why would I chose to be bullied, harassed, and looked down on just to get closer to your boyfriend? I don’t mind being friends with decent respectful men. But the rest of it, more power to you. I. Don’t. Want. It. Keep it.

Being told that I am not really gay is my most common frustration, though, as shown above: not my only one. I am also currently living in Utah, which isn’t inherently bad. As with everywhere else, there are more accepting people and there are jerks.

It is really too much though. After taking so long to discover myself (See the Femme Post) I will not let anyone else try to force me back into the closet.

Because I love me.

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Confession 1: I am a FEMME

First, let me define what a FEMME is in my world. A Femme is a lesbian that ENJOYS being a woman in all the ways. Make-up, dresses, feeling sexy, doing all the girly things. This does not mean that any other “genres” of Lesbians don’t enjoy being women. Studs can enjoy being a girl as well, they are just typically more “masculine” then Femmes.

Every single person is different. Gay, straight, in between: I don’t care. Each person has their own way of defining themselves. Though Labels are very un-helpful in most things… I think of myself as a Lipstick lesbian. I love dressing up, I love wearing make-up and making other girls stare at me. However; I really like fixing things. I love my power tools.  I was in a long relationship in the past with someone that I would have considered a stud. She was very dominant, very masculine… But I was “Mr. Fix-it” in the relationship. I fixed everything, I built furniture, I also cooked, cleaned, crafted.

I’m not sure if I am creating any sense of my thoughts. Let me take a few steps back and talk about my life for a minute. . .

I grew up in Utah, smack-dab in the middle of Mormon-ville. That is not necessarily a bad thing. Some Mormons are perfectly nice. But most of them that I knew were very judgmental. They lived hypocritical lives of “love your neighbor…unless they are different”. I didn’t even know what gay was!

I lived such a sheltered life in Utah—I am ashamed to admit it but I didn’t know what black even was. There was one girl in my school that was black and we all thought she was from India—I didn’t know anything. I was raised on a diet of judgment and the unknown. My life was confusing and I couldn’t keep friends…

To try to help you understand who I am: In Jr High I told everyone who asked “There are no bully’s in my school.” I truly believed that… Because I thought being abused was normal. There was a girl in my grade that went out of her way to try to make my life a living hell. I’m serious. She would do whatever she could to torment me and my friends. There were so many things that she did—I cannot remember them all. But one event I remember very well was when she called me a Lesbian.

I had no idea what in the world a Lesbian was. She came into the class pretending to kiss her best friend. She saw me looking and said in a very jeering way “You are such a lesbian” Of course I denied it. I didn’t know what it was, I didn’t know what I was… I just didn’t know.

By the time I was in high school I was convinced that I was “Bi-Curious” (The problem with this, was that I was never really attracted to men, but I was taught that happiness was a man and a woman. So I tried to force it.

I had a lot of online relationships because they were safe. There was no real way to have to be “romantic” in person. And then I had a couple boyfriends from school. The first one scared the shit out of me. The one time we hung out he told me “We don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to.”  I wanted to vomit. I couldn’t even imagine doing anything with him. I felt so sick and I wanted to run away. He didn’t force himself on me… I was lucky then. He followed that up with a story about how he was so proud of throwing chairs at teachers. RED FLAG!!! I couldn’t even break up with him in person. I was terrified of him. I thought that if I made him upset that he would kill me.

My second boyfriend was my first kiss. My friends thought it was so weird that I wasn’t attracted to anyone… So I created an attraction to a friend of a friend. I thought he would be okay. He was nice and kind of odd. But then he wanted to keep kissing. I felt like I was drowning. I couldn’t breathe and fear overcame me. I dumped him for it, and for attempting to have sex with me.  Gross.

I spent a long time after that staying away from people. I had to create a crush later in my High School career… But I’m fairly certain that he was gay.

By the time I had admitted that I was actually attracted to women, I was about to graduate… and I STILL was telling everyone that I was “Bi”. I had my first girl-friend. It was amazing… and terrible. Neither of us was ready for anything serious… She was full of self-hatred… and I was broken. . .

I had been raped and I hadn’t told her.  I lived in Michigan and she lived in Utah. I had met her while visiting a friend. In between visits I was taken advantage of by a friend. I don’t need to talk about it. If you want to know you can watch my slam-poetry about it. I don’t NEED to tell my story any more than that. I have already allowed myself to be angry and not “at-fault”.

Regardless. Freshman year of college was still confusing. I went to Hollins University. An all-women college that existed in what I can only describe as a “Lesbian Bubble”. These women were fantastic in helping me learn to accept myself. As I went back and forth with my “girlfriend” I made friends that accepted me. Times changed and I finally admitted to myself that I was a lesbian. I questioned for a while what that meant.

Did that mean that I had to be dominant? Did being a lesbian mean that I had to do this or do that to be happy? No. I could still be myself. And then I met my “EX”. She was perfect. We fell in love and we had our ups and downs. But she was mine and I was hers. Life was okay for a while. After two and a half years, we got married.

We are not married anymore because of things that I did not know. But I think I have gotten a little off topic. I was discussing why I am a Femme.

I am a FEMME because that is just WHO I AM. I can’t change who I am, heaven knows I’ve tried. If I could choose who I was, I would not choose to be gay. I did not “Decide” to be gay for attention or to be cool. When I think back, I have liked girls since I was three years old. My first love was another girl in daycare. She asked me to tie her shoes and I couldn’t say no. But I have always been girly. I like having my hair done. I like looking pretty. I like dancing. I like being me.

Just let me be me.

As a last note: Not all Femmes like studs. I do. But, as I have said before, everyone is different. Studs can like other studs and femmes can like other femmes. Studs can be submissive and femmes can be dominant. Just because I fit certain stereotypes, does not mean that all Lesbians are the same. I am unique and I will always be.

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