Tag Archives: beauty

Want to Improve Your Sex Life? This Tip Works Every Time!

Three women with their backs to the camera, all wearing rhumba panties. One Latina, one Black and one white woman, all fat with curves and cellulite showing. Caption reads "Fat Bottom Girls Make My Rockin' World Go Round"

Sorry for the click bait title, but it got you here. Now for some actual substance.

I have been talking to a lot of folks over 40 about sex. This is partly due to the fact that I am over 40 and I have a lot of friends over 40 and we talk about sex. The other part is, there is next to no good info out there about sex for folks between 40 and 65. Those of us in this age group disappear from the media. Sex over 40 is seen as such a turnoff that several major magazines have accepted pitched pieces and then when they ask for a bio and see I am over 40 reject it explicitly stating their readers are only interested in sex info from folks between 25 and 39. Blick!

In my conversations with older folks one thing that arises pretty consistently is how much better sex is after 40. There are lots of reasons for this, of course. But one overarching factor that predicts individuals reporting better sex after 40 is more comfort with their own bodies. This actually kind of surprised me.

Why am I surprised? Because aging bodies can be harder to love! For me, my joints ache more. I have a ton of gray hair- everywhere. I am fatter, saggier, and less bendy than I was in my 20s. I miss those days where I could crash on a friend’s floor for a night and not feel like I was hit by a train the next morning. I miss being able to go out drinking and not have to plan a three-day recovery session. I miss not dealing with boob sweat. But… here I am.

Despite all of this sex now is so much better than it was even five or ten years ago. I find this is true for a lot of peeps over 40. A huge part of sex leveling up is the fact that even as our knees crack and balls sag a bit more and we get salt and pepper pubes, we are cool with it.

Get Comfortable with Your Body

Getting comfortable with your own body and whatever flaws it may have doesn’t just come with the aging process. The people I know who got comfortable with their own bodies did a lot of work. Here are the steps a lot of us take.

The first part is unlearning the culturally dictated rules of beauty. This gets easier as you age. Magazines, television, and pretty much all media including social media, holds young, ridiculously skinny, white, folks with perfect teeth, skin and hair as the pinnacle of beauty. Even as corporations find it profitable to jump on the body positive bandwagon, they still stick to the typically “acceptable” bodies.

For example, there is a legging company that touts in all its ads that they make leggings and bras for “all sizes.” There is not a single model in any of their ads over size 2 or a bust size of a B cup. Shout that you make appeal for “all sizes” but you xxl is a 16 and your biggest bra accommodates a 38D and you are only fooling your ad team about being “inclusive.”

As we age, we see fewer and fewer folks that look like we do. So the ability to see the absurdity of the American/Western beauty standard becomes easier. If you start to seek out images of people who look more like you (and there are plenty of folks on Instagram, Tumbler, and blogs) who cover all body types, sizes, races, abilities, hair styles, and ages it makes it easier to start seeing yourself as acceptable. I strongly suggest seeking out folks on Instagram and bloggers who look like you! There is something really empowering about seeing yourself reflected as beautiful and fashionable outside of your own home.

Your Changing Body

Second, folks who get comfortable with themselves accept that their bodies will change. Longing for the thigh gap you had at 20 or the flexibility and strength you had in high school, or the hair you had in your 30s will only make you miserable. Its not coming back. That is simple physiology.

This doesn’t mean you cannot be strong, or flexible, or healthy or fit. I know plenty of runners and crossfit enthusiasts and yoga practitioners over 40 who have incredible physical skills. Some of them are even stronger or more flexible or have better mile times than they did in their 20s, but none of them have the bodies they had two decades ago. Accepting this as a fact of life makes it easier to love your own body.

Start trying to accept small changes. Instead of violently plucking out the gray hairs lamenting that you are aging, either decide you want to dye it away or embrace the gray. You don’t have to sport a mane of ivory locks to prove you accept yourself. Its perfectly fine to dye the gray away and love your look. Accepting yourself does not have to mean going au natural! You can love yourself and still embrace make-up, hair dye, lifts, tucks, and pretty much anything that helps you feel beautiful. Its about what drives the desire to do the “upkeep.”

How can I say love yourself and be cool with a facelift? Because sometimes we need a little extra help to feel good. Its your emotional state and what drives the decision which will determine if you love yourself post facelift. If you are getting one because you believe it will fix your flaws and will be the thing to make you happy I have disappointing news. No matter how talented your surgeon, when the swelling goes down, you will still hate yourself and see your flaws. If you go in liking yourself and happy with yourself but want a bit of sprucing up, you will most likely be happy with the results.

For example, I am comfortable that my face is aging. I have laugh lines and crows feet and I am cool with that. Overall, I am pretty comfortable with my own body. However, a good facial or dermabrassion that helps buff away a bit of the dead skin and gives me a glow makes me feel fantastic! I don’t need the facial to like myself, but I do enjoy the extra kick it gives me.

Learn to Live with Imperfections

Finally accept that you have imperfections. This can be hard. There are always going to be things about our bodies we don’t like. Look, you don’t have to like everything about your body, but you do have to be able to live with it. Think of your imperfections like a roommate. You don’t have to go to the bar and hang out every week, you don’t have to chill every night and have dinner with them. But life is a lot better if you don’t mind that they are in your space.

For me, one of the things I used to HATE about myself is my facial hair. I am very pale but I got my dad’s hair, which means it is very dark (we are both typically “Black Irish”). I get a little mustache and pointy-ass chin hairs. If I just let it be, I’d probably look like a 13 year old Irish kid trying to grow out a mustache and beard. Not cute. I pluck and wax regularly to keep the hair at bay. It used to make me really hate my face.

Now… its there. I have to do a bit of maintenance to keep it at bay. Its just part of me and my routine.

But How Does This Make Sex Better?

How does any of this make sex better? The more comfortable you are with yourself the more honest and intimate you can be with your partner. If you are not worried about hiding your flaws and trying to keep some mask on during sex, you can be more fully who you are. You can relax. You can start to enjoy the deeper connections and intimacy that come with good sex.

When I was younger it was really important to me that my partners find me sexy. I worried about what my face and tits and butt looked like during sex. I wanted to get into poses I saw in magazines and in porn. I wanted to sound “right” during sex. I wanted to do the sexy hair flip thingy when I was in cowgirl. My lawd was that exhausting and distracting!

Worrying about if my breasts looked perky enough when I was on my back or about a pimple on my buns during doggy meant I wasn’t concentrating on my partner or my own pleasure. Seriously. If you are there getting railed from behind and your thoughts are, “OMG! What if she notices the big pimple on my left butt check?” you are not actually experiencing most of what is going on in the moment. You are caught up in worrying about that stupid pimple.

Being able to let that worry go and concentrate instead on what you are feeling, what your partner is feeling, and just becoming present allows for a deeper connection and intimacy. You begin to notice your partner’s breathing, the way your bits are contracting or expanding, what your partner is saying or not saying comes to the forefront instead of your brain going, “OMG! What if that pimple pops while I am getting reamed?!?”

True story. Last weekend I was with my partner. I trimmed up his beard and mustache for an event we had that night. Whenever I do this, his beard hair gets everywhere. The stuff has launching power when its cut that makes me question what I know about physics.

Anyway, after I finished trimming him up and we cleaned up we started making out. He was on top of me kissing me. When he pulled up to look at me he noticed a hair on my upper lip and went to brush it away. It didn’t brush away at first so he tried again. It was still there so he said, “Oh! I thought that was mine. Its attached.”

I was able to bust out laughing. Fifteen years ago I would have been mortified by this statement. I would have got into my head and started the self-abuse I do about not being perfect, how gross facial hair is on women and regardless of his touches and such, I would only be experiencing my own hate of my body.

Instead, now that I did the work to accept this flaw, I was able to laugh. Which then turned into some really satisfying sex and a midday nap. And that is way better than worrying about some random lip hair.

#beauty #culturalstandards #sex #connections #love #intimacy #relationships #sexover40 #40 #women #facialhair #pimples #relationships #aging

What 100 Hours of Talking to Sexy Peeps Taught Me

I launched my podcast project Fat Chicks On Top a few months back. I have been recording and building content since March. Its been a perfect excuse to call sexy, powerful people I have long admired and talk to them about their bodies.

The folks on the show have a huge range of careers, personal histories, sexual orientations, gender orientations, races, and romantic styles. From comics to sex educators, porn stars, nurses and software engineers, they have a few things in common. They are self-assured but not to the point of cocky. They embrace the bodies they have but do not necessarily love themselves unconditionally. They are kind. They are successful in their chosen careers.

Each interview is unique in its focus and questions. My goal has been to delve into conversations about how people come to love and care for themselves in a world that tells fat folks, queer folks, POC, and disabled folks our bodies are wrong, unlovable and incapable of being sexy.

I have just past 100 hours of conversations about these things with the folks on my show. Here is the key things I learned;

Photographs, specifically nudes, are critical in learning to love yourself.

This one kind of surprised me. I have written about how home porn helped me change my perception of my body in my book Love Letters To A Unicorn and I was aware a few of the women in my photo essay project reported that seeing photos of themselves when they felt sexy helped them love their bodies. I was taken aback of how many of the people I interviewed mentioned sexy pics as a major part of their self journey to love. From Dirty Lola to Alice in Bondageland Elle Chase to Andrew Gurza, guest after guest mentioned how taking sexy pictures of themselves changed their perspectives about their own body.

In the stories from my guests, there were some key elements about the photos which served to be transformative. These were not necessarily “boudoir” photos. They were photos where the person chose their outfit (or lack thereof) and was feeling empowered and sexy at the time the photo was taken. Some were selfies, some were taken by partners, some were at professional shoots. Regardless of the photographer, the key was that the person in the image was feeling sexy and empowered at the time.

We often imagine how we look in a given moment. To have that moment captured on film can be very personally revealing. We may be feeling sexy but that image in our head isn’t what we see. Our idealized self is confounded with media messaging about what is sexy. This means we are usually thinking “young, White, thin, able bodied” and generally photoshopped. These images get mixed in with our own self image at the moments we feel empowered.

Seeing a photo of ourselves without our internal ideals messing it up – a more unvarnished image if you will- shows us in our moment of power and beauty. To look at yourself- folds, wrinkles, boobs akimbo, missing body part – whatever you really are and that image is sexy can be transformative.

Its an amazingly simple thing… and gut wrenchingly terrifying at the same time. We all have cameras on our phones. We all have moments where we feel strong, empowered, and beautiful. Catching that on film can be difficult. For those of us who this is just a fleeting moment, it may be a hard image to get. But… after 100+ hours of talking to people who have bodies we have been told are wrong, shameful, ugly, and unlovable, it is critical we take steps to learn to love ourselves for who we are.

I’ll be honest, I don’t always love my body. Its not always a happy or safe place for me. But there are times I do feel great in it. Taking nudes has been part of that. So I’ll start…

Here is a photo including my thighs and belly at 300 pounds, a weight I never thought I would possibly get near, that I find sexy:

2015-10-31 01.02.06-1

 

#bodypositive #nudes #selfies #empowerment #selflove #health #weight #fat #photography #naked #sexy #pictures #women #men #gender #AndrewGurza #DirtyLola #ElleChase #AliceInBondageland

 

Want to Feel More Beautiful? Try This!

Most of us, whatever our gender, whatever our sexual orientation, do not love our bodies. Or, we do not love our bodies most of the time.

I have been working on a series of interviews for my new podcast (Fat Chicks On Top) with a wide variety of folks about their bodies and their relationships with their bodies. Universally people have expressed frustration or discomfort with some aspect of their own body– even folks most of us would describe as sexy and self-assured.

The other universal thing which come up in these interviews is that people became more comfortable in their bodies and more self assured as they saw themselves through someone elses eyes who saw them as beautiful.

Sometimes this person was an intimate partner, sometimes a friend, and sometimes a photographer who understands how to make bigger folks look beautiful. One story that comes up over and over with kinky folks is the power of sexy pics.

Dirty Lola (Check her out @DirtyLola on Twitter and IG) was interviewed and talked about how she had a dominant give her an assignment to send a nude picture every day to him. She tried to get away with the move many of us have tried of the shot from above, focusing on the face and hiding the body through angles. He didn’t let this go. He insisted she do a full body naked shot, not cutesy angles. Over time, she grew to see how beautiful she was.

Other folks have described the power of having their intimate partner take photos of them and show the person what they find beautiful. Still others have described having a friend or a partner look at them and tell them what they find really beautiful about them.

When we feel comfortable in our own bodies and when we feel sexy, that translates in how we relate to others. So here are some suggestions to try with intimate partners or close friends.

  • Work with your D-type to arrange a protocol where you send a sexy pic (fully naked or otherwise) to them on a regular basis and they provide feedback. D-types, think about asking your s-type to send a naked full body picture to you on a regular basis and provide honest feedback.
  • Take sexy pictures with your intimate partner(s) and have them tell you what is sexy about you.
  • Have a good friend or intimate partner take pictures of you. This helps you see yourself through their eyes.
  • Ask a good friend what they think are your best features.
  • Tell your friend or partner about the part(s) about you that you find objectionable. See what they have to say. So much of the time what we hate about ourselves makes us beautiful to others. That curve of your belly you want to banish may be sexy to your partner. Your laugh lines around your eyes you can’t stand may signal joy and happiness to your friend.

What I have learned from talking to lots of people about their bodies is that most of us fail to see our own beauty. Most of us are terrified that others think we are unattractive or ugly. We don’t want to talk about what we don’t like about ourselves because we don’t want to bring attention to it. When we get past our own egos and tell people about what we struggle with, we learn what others find beautiful and we find support we have craved.

 

#bodyimage #body #bodypositive #kink #bdsm #beauty #intimacy #photography #sexting #confidence #love

On Being “Beautiful Ugly”

Guest Author: Joie de Vivre

Joie de Vivre is a the co-producer of Peepshow in San Francisco and a burlesque performer. She regularly performs with the Hubba Hubba review and other troupes. I have been a huge admirer of hers for some time. She graciously agreed to be a guest blogger about being beautiful ugly.

You can find Joie at on Facebook.


Not everyone gets to be beautiful, and I’m one of them. That isn’t self-hatred, it’s statistics — a few of us are beautiful, a few of us are ugly, and the rest of us are some degree of what society deems average looking.

This is the part where I *don’t* say: but that’s OK. Because I’m not yet OK with it. But I’m working toward it, and the French concept of “jolie laide” is giving me hope about being beautiful on my own terms (more about jolie laide a in bit).

Now I hear you protest, but, but, everyone is beautiful just the way they are.1 Lots of body positivity movements use that sort of language, when what they really mean everyone can, and should be, worthy, desired, valued. It’s a reflection of how 50 shades of fucked up our culture is that even these sorts of messages, by women, for other women, get ensnared in the beauty myth.

No, what I’m talking about is “beauty” in its narrower, more traditional sense of the word: “A combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight. One that is beautiful, especially a beautiful woman.” Or as Soul Coughing’s “Screenwriters Blues” described aspiring Hollywood starlets: “Aesthetically pleasing, In other words: Fly.”2

(While we’re thinking of Hollywood, can we stop pretending that beautiful people *aren’t* beautiful? “Ugly Betty” was probably the frumpiest that network TV has ever allowed a woman to be. But underneath the braces, the hideous glasses, the garish clothes, America Ferrera was, and is, a gorgeous woman. It’s beautiful pretending to be ugly — a kind evil, anti-jolie laide)

Nor am I talking about the sort of “oh, I’m so ugly” bonding that all too many women engage in, nor the sort of body anxieties all too many women fall prey too. I’m no saint here. With the right wig, the right make-up, the right camera angle, the right lighting, I can feel beautiful. But I generally detest casual photos of myself. Especially when I’m in photos with other women. I invariably feel like a hulking Princess Fiona — only without the the benefit of a tiara and green skin.

Like all too many other women, I’ve stood in front of the mirror are cataloged what society sees as my flaws:
– Statistically, my height and size are at the far, far end of the chart. My hands and feet are all too big — trust me, trying to find size 13 shoes is a constant reminder of how off the chart I am.3
– I wasn’t blessed by the androgyny fairy – I’ve got the bulky body type that runs in my family all the way back to the babushkas built to survive long Russian winters.
– I’m not an hour-glass, I’m V-shaped. While estrogen is now giving me a booty, it won’t ever give me hips to balance out my broad child-bearing shoulders, I’ve got an apple belly just like my mother. (Any plus-size fashion designer wanna give some love to us apples?)
– I’ve got an average-looking face with a Karl Malden-nose (thanks Mom! <sigh>). I’ve got a gap-tooth grin and my open-lip smile often looks odd.
– While estrogen is starting to give me breasts, I’m still a member of the itty bitty titty committee.

I’m unbeautiful. Not ugly. But unbeautiful.

In short, like a lot of trans women, by many objective measures I’m not terribly close to the cisnormative, heteronormative “feminine ideal” for women in our culture. Very few of us look like Janet Mock, Carmen Carrera, or Laverne Cox. When Cox says, no matter how well-intentionally that “I am not beautiful despite my big hands, my big feet, my wide shoulders, my height, my deep voice and all the things that make me beautifully and noticeably trans. I am beautiful because of those things.”4 it rings a bit hollow, well because it’s easy for her to say, she’s Laverne Cox.5

Another big factor is that, ironically, is that the burlesque world probably has made my body dysphoria worse than it might have been otherwise — since I’m seeing (and comparing myself) to lots of sparkly nearly-naked women. Who I’d argue, on the whole, are probably more attractive, with “better” bodies, than the general population.

While burlesque does talk a lot of about being a body positive space (which it is to a greater or lesser degree depending on the area), it definitely does help boost one’s confidence if you’re closer to cisnormative, heteronormative standard of what’s considered beautiful. So there is a bit of self-sorting that goes on, as far as who even attempts it. Even many (self-described) fat performers often have very pretty faces. Not in the sense of “oh, she’s got a pretty face” as a euphemism for “fat,” rather faces that fit the mold of what’s conventionally considered “beautiful.

(And just an aside, mad props to those who *aren’t* the stereotypical burlesque performer – a skinny young (white) woman with a pretty face and big boobs – and who still get up on stage and own it. Especially if you’re got a face that’s not “pretty” and/or a body that’s “unconventional.” That takes a fuckton amount of courage.)

A final factor is that I transitioned into being a woman “of a certain age,” that age where at best one’s beauty’s is considered fading, that age where women become invisible. I hear about other woman having to deal with unsolicited dick pics and most of me rages with them — but a small part of me is bothered that I don’t get them, like I’m not even pretty enough to merit sexual harassment. Which needless to say is a feeling that’s fucked up six ways from Sunday. But there is it.

Honestly, it all can feel a bit crushing.

But other cultures don’t have such a narrow concept of beauty. There’s a French phrase, “jolie laide,” which literally means “beautiful ugly,” but is more commonly translated along the lines of meaning oddly beautiful or unconventionally beautiful.

Opinions differ in interpretation. At one end of it’s the flaw that punctuates perfection, for example supermodel Lauren Hutton and her famous gap-toothed grin. On the other, it’s sometimes offered up as a homely woman, whose personal magnetism overcomes her looks, such as the celebrated 19th-century diva Pauline Viardot, who was described by a contemporary as “the kind of ugliness which is noble.”6

However, more commonly it refers to a woman who’s seen as beautiful not in spite of — but actually, because of — her unconventional individual features. Anjelica Huston, whose “regal asymmetry defies the norms of magazine ‘pretty'”7 is often cited as an example. (Benedict Cumberbatch is a good example of the male equivalent.) It’s more of an earned title than a compliment.

But there it’s more than just features that come together in an unexpectedly pleasing way — it’s often described as women who are “not conventionally beautiful but radiate a kind of magnetism that goes beyond their features,”8 a woman who “draws you in in an entirely different and unique way. You can’t take your eyes off of her, but you often don’t know why” and “her allure and perfection comes from a presence of an inner life that informs her outer appearance.”9

Although I personally like an earthy version of it that I heard: “I’m an acquired taste; if you don’t like me, acquire some fucking taste.”

When researching the concept of jolie laide – and there’s a surprising dearth of articles on it – I ran across three quotes that eloquently summarize my feelings:

“I love the idea of jolie laide because it suggests that we do not need to be cookie cutter beauties to be attractive. Suddenly features like tiny eyes, a jutting chin or a prominent nose could actually be deemed attractive. That these features need not be ‘corrected’ by plastic surgery in order to be considered beautiful. The motto of jolie laide is ‘work with what you’ve got’, and that is very refreshing indeed.”10

“Jolie laide offers hope for the rest of us. It opens up the democratic possibility that a woman can be beautiful because she thinks she is, in spite of her oddities. She loves herself, and that love shines through in how she carries herself, in how she expresses herself to the world. Others who would not otherwise be drawn to her looks are yet enchanted because of who she is.”11

“French women are attractive, yes, and stylish, yes, but the mystique and appeal that they wield as a whole isn’t located in [dare I say] mere perfection of proportion. They believe in their beauty, and so convince the rest of us. We should take a lesson.”12

And one final quote from Anjelica Huston herself: “I remember overhearing a conversation between my mother and father… to the effect that Anjelica wasn’t going to be a beauty. My way dealing with that, even then, was I’m going to make myself beautiful. I might not have physical perfection, but I’m going to think myself into being beautiful.”13

Likewise, I may never — make that, *will* never — be a paragon of cisgender, heteronormative ideas of “beauty,” but I can still be beautiful.

I *am* fucking beautiful. And if you can’t see it, it’s your fucking loss.


Footnotes

1. Which is a phrase that’s really off-putting to trans people with body dysphoria. See Sam Dylan Finch’s excellent “I’m Transgender And I Need Body Positivity, Too

2. Yes, it is 5 a.m. and I am listening to Los Angeles.

3. Although obviously there are other women out there who are my size, otherwise I’d be running around naked and shoeless.

4. See: http://www.elle.com/…/news/a44830/laverne-cox-we-day-speech/

5. Admittedly, Cox is trying to make the point that “trans is beautiful” and that is shouldn’t matter if someone is “visibly trans” as so many of us are. (And she acknowledges it took years for her to reach that sort of self-acceptance.) She’s also acutely aware not all trans people can, or want to, embody this ideal, nor should they. See: http://lavernecox.tumblr.com/…/on-may-29-2014-the-issue-of-…

6. http://www.nytimes.com/…/tm…/the-unfairest-of-them-all.html…

7. “What French Women Know: About Love, Sex, and Other Matters of the Heart and Mind” by Debra Ollivier

8. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/fearless-about-the-body_b_1…

9. http://romantiqueandrebel.com/jolie-laide-beauties/

10. https://dailyconnoisseur.blogspot.com/…/wallis-simpson-and-…

11. http://english.globalrencai.com/the-beautiful-french-notio…/

12. http://marytboctor.blogspot.com/2013/04/beautiful-ugly.html

13. I’ve seen the quote appear on various websites, but never tracked it back to a source. But if it isn’t true, it should be.

#bodyimage #trans #transgender #lgbtq #image #beauty #acceptance #ugly #women #ideals