Going Green: Why I Turned to Natural and Organic Skincare

Just over a year ago, I developed what I thought was a raging rash all over my face. My skin itched like crazy, little white bumps appeared in small random patches, my chin, cheeks, and nose were bright red, and hot to the touch. I suspected I was having an allergic reaction (I’m no stranger to those), so I took some Benadryl, went to bed, and expected to wake up to clean, albeit sensitive, skin.

But the next morning, nothing had changed.

FullSizeRender (1).jpg

With Benadryl failing me, I made appointments at the dermatologist and the allergist.

The dermatologist wasn’t too alarmed by my appearance even though my face felt like it was on fire. She said it could either be an allergic reaction or rosacea, a facial skin disorder that presents sort of like acne but with extreme redness that can persist for days, months, or even years. She prescribed two different creams - one for the redness and one for the itching and bumps - and told me if the allergy tests came back negative, then rosacea was certainly the culprit.

At the allergist, I survived the needle pricks all over my back and arms to find out that not only am I not allergic to dairy anymore, but I’m also not really allergic to much of anything. With allergies ruled out, rosacea was the clear winner. The allergist, who also had rosacea, sent me home with a list of food and environmental triggers to avoid and Cerave cream to help calm and moisturize my skin.

But the Cerave BURNED. My Cetaphil wash BURNED. Everything BURNED. The creams from the dermatologist helped, but after reading the potential side effects and rethinking the idea of putting acid all over my face, I threw them away. Completely frustrated and wanting to cry every time I looked in the mirror, I turned to makeup to cover the red. I caked on concealer, foundation, and powder, but 20 minutes after application, my face itched even more.

Knowing deep down that I had to treat my skin, not simply cover it, I took to the Internet for answers.

I learned that rosacea is a common chronic disorder with no known cause.

Some doctors think it’s related to autoimmune issues, some think it has to do with weak blood vessels, and some even think it’s caused by Demodex mites. After hours poring over websites and support forums, it was clear I was experiencing a rosacea flare, but I refused to depend on the prescription creams everyone online was suggesting. So I Googled “how to treat rosacea naturally” and up popped a treasure trove of green beauty knowledge.

I read about the anti-inflammatory properties of green tea, the antibacterial properties of honey, and the soothing benefits of oatmeal, aloe, and rose oil. I soaked in the articles explaining the unregulated nature of the beauty and cosmetic industry, shocked at the number of chemicals I was slathering on my skin and appalled that cosmetic companies were putting lead in our lipsticks. “This is it,” I thought to myself. “If I want to save my skin, everything’s got to go.”

So for the last year, I’ve spent hundreds of hours researching green, organic, and/or natural beauty companies, testing innumerable combinations of cleansers, serums, moisturizers, and sunscreens.

Pro tip: Sunscreens that rely on physical sunblockers like zinc and titanium oxide are better for your skin and the environment, and zinc even has soothing properties that help treat redness. 

Since I’ve changed my routine, I haven’t had a single rosacea flare.

Now my skincare ritual is sacred. I take the time every morning and evening to cleanse and nourish my skin with healthful products, and because I’m so confident in my skin, I wear even less makeup than I did before. As much as I hated my rosacea a year ago, my flare changed everything - and for that, I’m grateful.

Porn: A Woman's Perspective

Porn is a word that brings up various emotions for women, often times negative. While pornography is widely embraced by men, it’s still taboo for women.

For adolescent boys, viewing pornography is seen as a rite of passage. Boys sneak into their rooms and stare in awe at the glow of the computer screen. This subject has even been used as storylines for TV shows, such as “Grounded for Life”. The mother shows concern, while the father shows indifference, insinuating that women see porn as negative, while men see it as “normal”.

Xvideos.com, edited by Paige Greco

Xvideos.com, edited by Paige Greco

For men, sexuality can even be a social activity. Flipping through magazines, watching videos, or going to strip clubs are considered acceptable activities to do with friends.  This is so ubiquitous that an episode of “That 70’s Show” portrays Eric and his friends going to an X-rated movie, leaving his girlfriend, Donna, offended. From a young age, sexuality becomes an appropriate topic of discussion. For women, there is still stigma discussing porn and sexuality.

One reason for the stigma is women are not accepted as sexual beings. When a man is promiscuous, his peers praise him. When a woman is promiscuous, both men and women deem her a slut. Sometimes, men even lose respect for women willing to have sex with them too soon. This helps explain why most porn is overwhelmingly misogynistic.

The pervasiveness of misogyny turns many women off while making it difficult for some women to find porn they enjoy.  One woman surveyed said she searches the word “porn” because she isn’t sure how else to find it while noting she thought boys learn how to find porn earlier than girls.

Another roadblock is the prevailing thought amongst women that actresses are degrading themselves. Many women surveyed said they didn’t watch porn because of guilt, assuming the actresses were being belittled or objectified.  While that is sometimes true, there are many actresses who enjoy making porn, and some are produced and/or directed by women.

SquirtingMissy.com, edited by Paige Greco

SquirtingMissy.com, edited by Paige Greco

I surveyed 30 women to get their take on the issue, and how we can break the stereotype.

Women surveyed who didn’t enjoy female-friendly porn have the stereotypical thought that there is too much plot, romance, and sensuality. However, the objective is to empower women and encourage them to embrace their sexuality, whether the porn is romantic softcore or hardcore BDSM. The goal is about respecting the woman and spotlighting her pleasure. The camera shots also differ, often providing more full body and face shots, while avoiding the “money shot” (when the man ejaculates).

ixxx.com, edited by Paige Greco

ixxx.com, edited by Paige Greco

If it were easier to find more porn that was less misogynistic, more women might be willing to watch it. Maybe if the fear of being labeled a slut didn’t exist, women might be more willing to talk about it. Perhaps, if the media stopped perpetuating the stigma, there wouldn’t even be a stigma. Women want the same thing from their porn as men do, to get off.  It’s only fair to make that easier.

As a woman, what do you want from porn or what do you enjoy about porn as it is? 

Over-the-Hill? 50's in Film

Baby Boomers are now 52 and up. That means that at least 40% of our population is over 50 and most of them are women. It only makes sense that women over 40 should be represented in at least 40% of our entertainment choices...right? Not at all. In the now famous quote from Meryl Streep, she reminds us that, “Once women passed childbearing age they could only be seen as grotesque on some level." This was in response to Streep turning 40 and having 3 offers to play witches in just one year.

Thanks to media producers like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon we are beginning to see women like Judith Light in Transparent and of course Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda in Grace and Frankie. Both of these series have strong female voices in the likes of Faith Soloway and Marta Kaufman as writers and producers.

As Jessica Chastain reminded us at the Cannes Film Festival, the only way to get more women on the screen is to get more female voices behind the screen. Writers, producers, directors, etc. who understand both the power and the beauty in the feminine voice through all ages will bring about this change. Only then will women portray the true women's narrative and get out of the trap of stereotyped love interests and "witches".

The Writer's Lab, a screenplay development program specifically for women over 40, is Streep's way of supporting women's voices on the screen. With her generous funding, women will be able to submit ideas and scripts and receive support in the development process. The Sundance Festival also has the Women at Sundance initiative to support women filmmakers in all aspects of the industry.

Purusha Radha from Unsplash.com

Purusha Radha from Unsplash.com

What can we do?

Women make up over 50% of the population. Together we can make almost anything happen. As consumers of entertainment, it is up to us to find and support entertainment that speaks to us as real women in the real world (unless of course you're into fantasy, then real women in the fantasy world). Start to notice when the female voices don't seem as authentic as they should. See films written and directed by women. Take notice, listen, watch and demand that we are represented authentically.

The Baby Boomer effect on the fashion industry has brought models like Linda Evangelista (42) and Pia Gronning (58) to magazine covers and ad campaigns. We want to make our purchasing decisions based on women like us. Now it's time to take that same energy to the entertainment industry where just 4% of the top money-making films are made by women directors.

Let's do it ladies.

Behind Every Great man is a Dominating Woman in Tight Black Leather

As the door cracks and I step into the room, I instantly realized I am no longer going to your basic house party. I had stepped into fantasy land. Multi-colored lights glowing, streamers, slick black leather, some fairy dust, and combat boots dancing in rhythm to the Dungeness music playing.

In that moment, I think to myself where has this white rabbit led me?

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Ariana Grande as a Feminist Icon for Young Girls

WhosIts'N'WhatsIts

Opinion piece, not gender specific.

Wondering what this is? Read about it


Photo Source: Rolling Stone

Photo Source: Rolling Stone

Ariana Grande isn’t the first name that comes to mind when you think of feminist icons. Until recently, Grande has been to most of the word just another cute pop star. With her signature high ponytail and itty bitty costumes she isn’t exactly societies idea of a feminist. In reality, Grande stands up for women on and off the stage. She uses her platform to promote body positivity and equality with empowering lyrics and public speaking. Grande is giving little girls something to aspire to be.

For the little girls that idolize pop stars, a song about sexual empowerment can stick with them for years. I still remember the first music video I saw. I was hardly seven years old dancing in my living room to Jennifer Lopez’s “If You Had My Love.” Seeing powerful women in the media is important for young girls confidence and sense of belonging in the world. Grande described her latest album “Dangerous Woman” as “a 22-year-old girl coming into her own trying to balance growing up, love, and a lot of other bullshit along the way.” For many young girls, that’s exactly what they need to hear.

The way a woman dresses follows her in all aspects of her life. A belief that Grande adamantly tries to question and change. Grande has often gained flack over the way she dresses, with her short skirts and midriff baring crop tops. Even so called feminist Bette Midler commented on Grande’s appearance saying "You don't have to make a whore out of yourself to get ahead." Grande receives these comments with poise and continues to stand up for body positivity. She brushed off the comment by tweeting “Bette was always a feminist who stood for women being able to do whatever the F they wanted without judgement! Not sure where that Bette went but I want that sexy mermaid back!” Grande continues to change the narrative that women's worth is a product of their modesty.

Perhaps Grande’s most impressive show of character was one she never wanted to exhibit. After the Manchester attack Grande fought hate with the ultimate show of love, a benefit concert for the victims of the attack. During this time of duress Grande gave a show of maturity far beyond her 24 years with a statement our dear president could take notes from. Young girls around the world were able to see a girl they can relate to show leadership in the face of tragedy at a time where the world is so polarized. It’s a breath of fresh air to see a pop star use their platform to lift their young female audience up to be whatever they want to be.

 

 

 

Hairly There

Body hair has become not a thing of beauty; it has become a thing of ugliness. If it is not on our head, it has become controversial. It became political in the sense that if you choose not to shave, you must be one of those "feminist" who chooses to be outside the beauty norm of society. I am thinking of last year when Miley Cyrus lifted her arms in defiance to show her hair in her armpits to photographers, and the internet went mad.  

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Toy Review: Eva by Dame Products

Meet Eva

First, let's talk about Dame Products, the company that built the Fin and Eva. 

Alex & Janet, founders of Dame Products - that's right, it's a woman-started, woman-led company. I saw Janet speak on a sex tech panel in New York September 2016 and I was immediately impressed with her. Both Alex and Janet are decorated professionals who decided to bring their expertise to benefit women. The toys you see from Dame Products are products that these bold women are researching, developing, and bringing to market. 

If you don't know anything else about the sex tech market, know this - it is one of the toughest markets to be in from end to end. From lack of investors to challenges in getting people to work with/for you to web restrictions to the lack of consistent research on the female orgasm - what these women are doing is no small feat. 

Eva holds an important spot for Dame Products, earning $848,637 to date in their IndieGoGo campaign. An astounding amount for a sex toy, I believe it may even be a record.

In a Nutshell

Eva is a well designed toy for partners.

Shape

The shape of Eva reminds me of a scarab beetle - you know the ones you always see in mummy movies about ancient Egypt? The scarab beetle is the magical item that unlocks the mystery, think of Eva like that. Except, it's not a mystery that clitoral stimulation will unlock your orgasm. 

Eva sits with a semi round body on top of two bowed legs that hang outside its body. The design is thoughtfully laid out and designed to have the legs sit within the lips of the vagina, holding the Eva to your body. 

Eva's shape makes the toy a hands-free experience.

This design is great for sexual interactions with a partner since your hands are free to do other things, like holding something (maybe an iPad, another toy or #EggplantEmoji),touching/rubbing and all the while Eva is providing stimulation to your clit. This is really a fantastically designed vibrator. 

You are probably wondering if Eva actually stays attached to you during playtime. In my experience, yes. It is possible to knock it out of place, but for the most part, it stays where you put it. I could, however, see this being a different experience with different body types. 

Power/Battery Life

Eva packs a whole lot of power in a little hand held toy with multiple vibration speeds available. 

Long-lasting battery life and the USB charging is convenient. 

Price

Eva will set you back about $100 if you buy it direct from Dame Products. I got mine in a box from Unbound Box (my quarterly subscription is $65 + shipping) where I get most of my toys. I like that Unbound does the work of selecting toys for me and the treats inside the box are always fun. Plus, I've found toys end up costing me less in the subscription model versus buying them one by one.

Eva vs. Fin

In recent months, I acquired 2 toys from Dame Products: Eva & Fin.

From my initial experience, I am absolutely sure I will be buying toys from Dame Products for years to come. Alex and Janet are trailblazers in the sex tech market and I am proud to use and promote their products. 

Since I have both of these toys, I am going to go ahead and identify what toy I liked better and why. Personally, I like Fin better. 

My preference is solely based on my person and how my body interacts with the toys. I enjoy Fin more because I like using my hand to direct pressure. With Fin, I can directly apply the amount of pressure to the specific area that I prefer as I prefer it and that is a big win for me.

It is also worth noting, I do not have to have clitoral stimulation to orgasm. While I like the Eva, I found that in partner play, after some time it ends up on the floor and I am focused on my partner. If I needed that clitoral stimulation to orgasm, I imagine my focus on Eva would be different. Read: if you need clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm, you are going to love adding Eva to your sexual interactions with your partner. 

Have you tried Fin by Dame Products and want to share your experience? Leave your experience in the comments, would love to hear about it.

Toy Review: Fin by Dame Products

Meet Fin

First, let's talk about Dame Products, the company that built the Fin and Eva. 

Alex & Janet, founders of Dame Products - that's right, it's a woman-started, woman-led company. I saw Janet speak on a sex tech panel in New York September 2016 and I was immediately impressed with her. Both Alex and Janet are decorated professionals who decided to bring their expertise to benefit women. The toys you see from Dame Products are products that these bold women are researching, developing, and bringing to market. 

If you don't know anything else about the sex tech market, know this - it is one of the toughest markets to be in from end to end. From lack of investors to challenges in getting people to work with/for you to web restrictions to the lack of consistent research on the female orgasm - what these women are doing is no small feat. 

In a Nutshell

Let's Talk about Fin. 

Fin is the first vibrator that I enjoy as much as I enjoy The Wand and that is saying a whole lot. A few main features that made me ohhhh and ahhhh over this toy:

Shape

The shape of Fin provides direct stimulation to the clitoris and it is fantastic. The way Fin is shaped provide a semi-flat curved side back with a pointed front, allowing for direct stimulation. I prefer vibrating toys that are mostly flat because I like the way the vibration spreads/impacts the area applied to. For me, that shape allows for better stimulation, combine that with the pointed tip of the Fin and the feeling is divine. 

The finger holder is definitely a game changer. Fin is designed to fit perfectly in between your fingers. There is even a finger holder to keep the toy attached to your hand while you focus on directing the pleasure.

The material is soft, easy to clean, and highly durable. My fin has travelled with me for weeks since I got it; its been thrown in bags and lived quite a while in a make up drawer in my bathroom, though you would never know from looking at it. She still looks good as new. 

Power

Fin packs a whole lot of power in a little hand held toy with multiple vibration speeds available. 

Battery

I hadn't even considered Fin's battery quality until I sat down to write the review and that is a very good thing. That means that the battery is lasting long enough for me to be happy with it. USB charging is also quite convenient. 

Price 

The Fin will set you back about $75.00, money well spent and way less than other vibrators that offer less enjoyment.

I got my Fin directly from Dame Products. You can purchase on their website or check out Unbound Box for toys, toy boxes, and great deals. 

ProTip I travel with my Fin. It's small, durable, with great battery life, easy to charge, and packs a punch. 

Have you tried Fin by Dame Products and want to share your experience? Leave your experience in the comments, would love to hear about it.

The Validity of a Sex Strike in a Feminist Movement

WhosIts'N'WhatsIts

IDENTITY: Any | ATTRACTION: Any | EXPRESSION: Any | SEX: Any

Wondering what this is? Read about it


I admire Janelle Monáe and her unabashed, Black girl, feminist beliefs. I happily take the time to fully understand and read her positions with care. There are an overwhelming amount of talking heads right now, most aren't worth paying attention to.

In a recent interview she endorsed a sex strike, as quoted below:

“People have to start respecting the vagina,” she told Marie Claire. “Until every man is fighting for our rights, we should consider stopping having sex. I love men. But evil men? I will not tolerate that. You don’t deserve to be in my presence.” - Janelle Monae Endorses a Sex Strike

I get what she's trying to do here and I'm following her... but, how does a sex strike help us accomplish gender equality in a deeply bias society?

Is a Sex Strike an Effective Tool to Champion a Feminist Movement?

The short answer is no, it is nowhere near the depth of change we need to make as a result this revolution.

This is the same bullshit advice society feeds heterosexual women about landing (Read: trapping) a man… Don’t fuck him until the 3rd date if you want him to respect you… Wait until he gets xyz right before you fuck him… Make sure you get crazy on his birthday … Make sure you sexually please him on the regular or he will cheat on you

News Flash: Fucking a man won’t make him respect you. Neither will waiting to fuck him. Getting crazy sexually for a man won’t make him stay and it certainly doesn’t guarantee he won’t cheat. This example applies far beyond male/female relationships, these rules cover all flavors of sexual relationships.

A sex strike is more of the same bullshit that society feeds women about everything:

Our bodies are inherently sexual and designed for sex

Our bodies are war zones where power is won or lost

Our bodies are used for good or evil

And, you know what? It is a fallacy.

You have a body and sometimes you have sex with your body. That’s it. 

Don’t get me wrong, the female body is beautiful and powerful. I never miss an opportunity to cheer at mentions of the power that the vagina holds; that women hold by simply existing. But, this idea that just by walking down the street we can either start WWIII or save all of humanity is fucking insane. I was just trying to get a venti, sugar-free, vanilla, latte with soy milk and now saving all of humanity is up to me and my nipples? Come on!

The Exchange of Energy That is Sex

Sex isn’t a commodity unless you make it one.

Sex, especially for humans with vaginas, is an exchange of more than pleasure and bodily fluids. You are allowing another person into your body, into your being. You are taking in the energy that person brings with them, the energy they’ve picked up from other partners.

 In my not-so-humble opinion, sex is an experience we share with another person because we want to enjoy that experience, not because we want something in return. Unless you're selling sex, in that case name your price, add tax, and be unapologetic about what your work is worth.

 Sex isn't a prize we give for good behavior. It isn't a commodity in the context of a relationship and if you are using it as a tool to control or punish another person that relationship is going to suffer because of it.

 Fuck a Sex Strike

A sex strike? No, I want much more from you and for you.

 I want you to change your entire mindset around sex and relationships; all relationships, not just those that include sexual interaction.

I want you to require every single person that gets to enjoy you be on your level, have your back, and earn your trust.

Stahp giving yourself to people who don't care about you. If he/she/they aren't willing to stand up, speak, act, and all out fight for your rights they aren't worth it.

 You should be outright disgusted and sexually uninterested in any human who doesn’t share your core values.

I know that's a hardcore stance & harder to stick to than said. I know because that is the line I've drawn in my own life - If you won’t march for me  - I won't fuck with you. If you don’t fully support gender equality - I won’t fuck with you. If you shame, limit or belittle my beliefs - I won’t fuck with you.

I don’t even consider friends or partners who aren’t feminists. Why would I?

The thing I've learned is that if you draw your line, there are days where you'll feel lonely in your pursuits, but life has a way of elevating the people and situations around you to match your requirements.

I'm Feminist Who Doesn’t Have a Good Relationship With Her Mother

Crazy, right? Through my interactions with many other feminists, this is something that is sometimes hard to reveal. Many of the feminists I know have their beliefs because of their usually amazing relationship with their mother. While my mother did help me become the strong person I am today, it was not because our relationship was good by any means. It was through the immense heartache that she put upon me that I have turned out the way I have.

I know I am not alone in my feelings about my mother, many other’s like me have been put through atrocities by their mothers.

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