The first MMA fight that I saw was by accident. I was visiting a friend at her apartment and her boyfriend and his friends were watching the last battle in a trio of fights between Quinton Jackson and Wanderlei Silva, two notable MMA fighters. I’d always had a healthy respect for the craft of boxing but this was unlike anything I’d ever seen. The extreme violence of it paired with the variety of fighting styles in the ring was especially jarring.
It was awhile before I saw my next fight. But this time it was between two women: Cristiane Santos and Gina Carano. I watched with a couple girlfriends of mine. All three of us were interested in fitness. We wanted to not only tone our bodies but also incorporate some kind of self-defense into our weekly workouts. The fight between Carano and Santos piqued our interest in not only learning how to fight in self-defense, but also in taking our fitness regime to the next level. Keep reading »
I didn’t think I was ashamed of the number of sexual partners I’ve had in the 20 years I’ve been getting it on until I found myself filling in a number half the true total at a recent gynecologist appointment. Although I know doctors are trained not to judge, and this doctor in particular had been particularly kind, helpful and professional when I’d seen her previously, in my head, all of a sudden the number (at best an approximation as I haven’t kept an exact count in year) seemed like cause for alarm. Even if I never had to say it out loud and its size was simply one more piece of data for her to use in evaluating me, something about it made me erase what I’d typed in the online form and halve it. As it turned out, she didn’t even ask me a single thing about my number, so that fretting was for naught—except that it taught me a lesson: slut shaming isn’t just something other people do to us, but something we can do to ourselves. Keep reading »
“I’m an empty essay, fill me out!” the words beckoned under the Self Summary section of my brand new, totally blank OkCupid profile.
Armed with a Diet Coke and a new resolve, I was actually signing up for online dating, something I hadn’t done in three years. And not because I was in a relationship during that time, but because for the most part I wasn’t dating, first by default and later having decided to take a deliberate break.
After a long dating hiatus, when January rolled around this year I finally felt like I was ready to dive back into the dating pool. My first thought when contemplating dating was, God, please don’t make me online date again! because in the past I’d tried JDate, eHarmony, Chemistry, Match, and Nerve, all to great disappointment and sometimes even despair. My experience with online dating thus far had been that the guys I liked didn’t like me back, and the guys who did like me made me want to flee the state and join the Dating Protection Program. Keep reading »
The flash went off with a “pop” and the photographer patiently told me to loosen up. My hands were sweaty and my heart was beating a mile a minute. Trying my best to concentrate, I twisted into an elegant pose and took a deep breath to soften my expression. The resulting photograph was beautiful but the experience was terrifying.
I was 20-years-old when I first took my clothes off for money. While it might seem sordid, it wasn’t as bad as you might expect. A sophomore in college in New York, I was completely broke and my babysitting job wasn’t going to pay my rent for the summer while I interned. An old acquaintance — I’ll call her Tania — had been posting censored nude photos of herself on Facebook, and out of sheer curiosity I wrote her a message about it. She quickly replied and said that she had been making extra money “art modeling” for photographers. I was intrigued.
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I’m not sure when or in what context I first realized that I have long labia. Maybe it was that teasing comment from an ex boyfriend, oh, seven years ago. Maybe it occurred to me at some point when I was watching porn and noticed that mine looked different. Maybe it was in the shower, as I haphazardly shaved my pubes into just a tuft. It was absolutely before I got my first completely bare wax, though having a hand mirror suddenly placed between my legs — so I could inspect the results — certainly made the point hit home. It was definitely in the last 10 years, though I’ve only made it a part of my self-deprecating comedy routine in the last five. Hey, if you’ve got long labia, you might as well joke about it.
But to be honest, and maybe this isn’t a surprise, I’m actually kind of insecure about it. I want to feel good about the way I look and, for the most part, I do, in part because there is plenty of outside messaging that tells me my straight teeth, slender physique, clear skin, etc. is considered conventionally attractive. (I’m not saying you need to be/have these things to be “attractive,” just that these are the qualities we’re told since birth are attractive and can inform how we view ourselves. And being told you’re attractive is also not necessary to being/feeling attractive. I digress.) But the messages being sent about what makes for a pretty vulva are less obvious; with the exception of hair removal trends, there aren’t three-page articles in lady magazines touting how to make your vagina/vulva* look its best or hide its flaws. And yet I’ve always felt distinctly aware that my long labia were not an asset. Keep reading »
It was a typical Orange County night at the tail end of a long, lazy winter break. The plethora of yogurt shops in the neighborhood were closing, and even if you craved a Starbucks treat, it was too late in suburbia. The few dive-bars in the area boasted their usual divorcee crowd. My mom, dad and I finished a late dinner and now it was time to select our entertainment. Movie night at the Gray house is not only standard, but also probably the best post-nine-o’clock activity in town.
“What do you want to watch?” my mom asked, flipping through the movies in On Demand. She stopped suddenly, staring at me with calm yet focused eyes, “Do you think you can handle ‘First Position’?”
“Sure,” I responded casually. I understood why she was tentative to suggest watching a documentary about young ballet dancers, yet I was feeling confident. Friends and former co-workers had repeatedly suggested the film and I was in a safe, comfortable environment. I was all in. “Let’s do it!” I took a deep breath and settled in (Snuggie and all) to watch the story of six young dancers dedicating their lives to ballet, as I had for so many years. Keep reading »
It was after L left and I looked in the mirror that I realized I might have a problem. My breasts and neck were covered in bruises and bite marks. One was even bleeding; that would leave a scar. I was heading to my parents’ house in two days for Christmas, and although I knew I could cover the mess that had been made of my boobs, my neck was going to be a different story. If I had a stockpile of turtlenecks, it would have been one thing, but I’m just not a turtleneck type of girl.
When I first started dating, I knew that I liked to be bitten. There was something both sensual and animalistic about it that I couldn’t help but be enticed by. When I masturbated it was always something I thought about: that aggressive devouring that would leave battle scars. However, high school, and even college guys, were hesitant to rock the boat in their sexual performances. So, when I’d whisper, “Bite my neck,” I would either end up with sad little hickeys or their efforts would be so weak that I would never bother to ask again. There’s nothing worse than a weak bite. Keep reading »
By the age of 16, I had been for multiple MRI’s, a sonogram, an ultrasound and five rounds of allergy testing, diagnosed with epilepsy, rediagnosed with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, hospitalized for dehydration, broke my wrist then got the chicken pox the following week, had my sinuses irrigated, a begin cyst removed from my skull, my appendix removed, and was the recipient of weekly allergy shots.
You’d think all this childhood infirmity would make visits to the doctor no big deal to me. Quite the opposite. More like, I’m severely phobic. I sweat. I shake. I cry. I whimper. Sometimes I bawl. I laugh like a mad woman. I start to panic when the blood pressure cuff Velcros around my arm. I have a full-blown anxiety attack if a needle comes out. At best, my patient behavior could be described as “babyish” at worst “freaking lunatic.” Keep reading »
When I came out as a lesbian, my mom cited my rabid N’Sync fandom as evidence that I was obviously mistaken. She was certain that my liking a group of effeminate, nearly prepubescent boys, gyrating to songs about feelings was indicative of my heterosexuality. I’ve used that story as the punch line to my coming out for years. But just recently, I’ve found myself yet again defending my sexual preferences to my own peers in light of some my pop culture life choices, namely “Magic Mike.”
I’m going to go right out there and say it: Channing Tatum is a rhythmic god. Don’t pretend you don’t like dance movies, specifically “Step Up,” or that you haven’t spent time in front of the mirror trying to perfect your own moves after seeing him effortlessly slide across that stage and into the laps of awaiting women. And, sure, maybe my seeing a movie about male strippers multiple times seems a little suspect, seeing as the audience was predominately straight women acting as though they were at the bachelorette party of their lives. I will tell you that I found my jaw on the ground through the majority of the movie. So what? Keep reading »
Did you know that about 10,000 “young” women will get breast cancer this year? I do now. I am one of them.
It all started while my boyfriend and I were away for a long weekend to celebrate my 29th birthday. We were lying in bed and I reached my arm across my body. There it was — a lump, in my breast. It was big, and it was bumpy; it felt like a mutant cauliflower had taken root in the soft tissue of my otherwise pillowy breasts.
This was new. Three short months earlier, I had had a breast exam during my yearly OB-GYN exam. My doctor didn’t feel a thing. I had always been hyper aware of my breasts, ever since an ex-boyfriend found a 2 cm jelly bean (which turned out to be a harmless fyberadenoma) and my doctor had told me that I should pay attention to it and watch for changes.
That jellybean was my first of what would be many biopsies. Keep reading »