HOW I’M UNPACKING YEARS OF SELF-OBJECTIFICATION

This narrative of “how to be a woman” hung over my head playing puppet master, making me do things I knew weren’t right for me.

When I was 19, I won a booty shake contest at a local bar (specifically, The ‘World Famous’ Palomino Club, if you live in Winnipeg).

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Me at 19 😂 Sweating profusely, wearing a Hollister plaid and clutching the cash I just won courtesy of booty shake Monday at The Pal. Exhausted, six or seven drinks deep likely and ready for an after-bar McDonalds run. I don’t regret participating, but I recognize now that shaking my 🍑 in front of a crowd of strangers and doing things to get them to cheer me on is the perfect marriage of objectification and self-objectification.  Self-objectification is what happens when you think of yourself as an object of others’ desire first, and as a person second. I wrote all about realizing the impact of self-objectification on @whatcomesnext.co this week, and wrapped it up with the things I’m doing in my everyday life to undo the damage. This post took too many drafts and discussions to finish, but it’s out there and I’m proud 🤷‍♀️ Link is in my bio. #tbt #truestory #olderandwisernow #throwback

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Why did I do it? I was drunk, a friend was egging me on and my boyfriend at the time was unimpressed when I said I was thinking about it. So naturally, I did it to prove a point.

But when I was up there, it felt weird and performative. Even with four (maybe even five?) shots of Fireball in my system, I couldn’t reconcile that feeling. But I walked away with a bunch of cash and bought myself a Big Mac so I wasn’t thinking too hard about it.

Self-objectification (SO) is thinking of oneself as an object of others’ desire first and as a person second. 

In simple terms, self-objectification is objectification coming in an incestuous full circle.  

According to a study done out of Eastern Michigan University by Kroon & Perez, “regular exposure to objectifying experiences socialize girls and women to engage in self-objectification, whereby they come to internalize this view of themselves as an object or collection of body parts.”

As someone who attended my fair share of therapy growing up, and went through an eating disorder treatment program, I’m surprised that the first time I heard about the concept of self-objectification was when I started trying to put words around this thing I was feeling and noticing.

Let me paint you a picture: A guy sees a beautiful girl in a crowd. Maybe she’s sitting in the corner, or has an imaginary spotlight following her as she floats around the room. Her personality or character doesn’t matter. Everything else melts away, and nothing shines through but her beauty. He chooses her because she’s a mythical creature who’s MYSTERIOUS!!!! Why? Because we know nothing about her other than what she looks like.

Oh, not to mention the fact that we’ve also been socialized to believe that beauty = goodness of character.

Iliza Shlesinger has a bit in her Netflix special Elder Millennial on the fun scenario I described above.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve shoved myself into a tight dress (the one in the photo below is leather and especially terrible) and hoped somebody noticed me. I was totally oblivious at the time how much I was setting myself up for disappointment.

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Typing that makes me want to light my computer, and my entire soul on fire. Don’t try to tell me that’s not what we’ve been force-fed in movies and TV. That’s what I ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner growing up; If we are picked out of a crowd based on looks, it means we are valuable and valued.

The danger with self-objectification is that it is associated with a number of ills including body shame, appearance anxiety, depression and eating disorders.

Think about how that manifests itself for a second: women who self-objectify put all their value on being seen as a sexual object, then when they finally get to the part where they are supposed to be *~SExuAl*`~and have sex, they’re supposed to shut off everything they’ve learned up until that point and “enjoy themselves and be free.” BUT they are typically so preoccupied with the way their *INSERT BODY PART* looks that they can’t. Even. Enjoy it. (NOT THE FIRST TIME I’VE TALKED ABOUT THIS FOR A REASON)

When I did let good men into my life, there was almost a part of me that discredited them for liking me for who I was as a person. After all, I had been completely brainwashed into thinking the only thing that was valuable about me was my looks, and I found it hard to believe someone was going to give a shit about my personality, goals, dreams and hobbies.

I shrugged off accomplishments and thwarted off feeling proud for YEARS. I didn’t think it all meant anything compared to the cultural currency of beauty.  This narrative of “how to be a woman” hung over my head playing puppet master, making me do things I knew weren’t right for me.

The worst part is — I had no clue.

My self-objectification was so internalized it was totally undetectable. I wanted to be mad at myself, but I know from reading other women’s stories that I’m not the only one.

Not only had I objectified myself, but I knew I had also done it to other women. For example, every time I would worship someone for their body on Instagram without any regard for their humanity.

I actually felt sick to my stomach when I initially started doing research for this article because it felt like too much to wade through. But here I am writing this, so I guess you could say I put on some rubber boots and I’m getting to work.

I don’t regret participating in that contest (being under 20 is the perfect time to do dumb stuff like that), but I recognize now that winning money by shaking my ass in front of a crowd of strangers and doing things to get them to cheer me on is the perfect marriage of objectification and self-objectification.

Once you understand self-objectification and see yourself acting it out, you can’t unsee it.

I’m still coming to terms with the catastrophic damage that years of self-objectification have done. The diet pills, drinking to be less self-conscious, jealousy, following fit girls on Instagram as weight loss motivation and the *all-consuming concern* that someone will see my cellulite.

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2015. Closest I’ve ever come to doing a boudoir shoot and I look so serious. I’m wearing a HUGE pushup bra (I have small boobs, don’t be fooled) and I didn’t want to take off my jeans because I was too self-conscious about my cellulite at the time. Photo by Kanisha Szekely.

When you strip it all away, it’s simply a way of existing in the world. A story we tell ourselves that has been told to us for generations. Awareness is everything. You can contribute to the narrative the media has rammed down your throat, or start to rewrite it.

For me, this isn’t in line with who I want to be, so I’m ready to let it go.

I read in a Psychology Today article that learning about SO reduces its impact (thank goodness), and they suggest that we actively work to…

  • Override self-surveillance (e.g. sitting a certain way to look skinny, looking in the mirror constantly to check yourself)
  • Reduce our contact with sexually objectifying media (e.g. stop reading appearance-focused magazines)
  • Reduce contact with sexually objectifying people or groups (e.g., discussing another woman’s appearance with your friends because of something they posted)
  • Choose clothing based on comfort
  • Challenge sexual objectification when we hear it or see it
  • Decline to participate in demeaning the appearance of ourselves and others
  • Counter critical self-statements
  • Compliment on things other than appearance
  • Cultivate sustainable ways to affirm our worth

Learning about SO helped me find the missing puzzle piece in understanding why my self-esteem was non-existent for most of my life. I’ve gotta say, it’s actually kind of a relief to know what to call it now.

I know it’s going to be a struggle. I know I’ve stumbled already. I know it’s worth it.

The most interesting thing about me has nothing to do with the way I look, and if there’s something I’ve learned in my self-love journey I know I’ll never be satisfied with a well of validation that always runs dry. I have a feeling the next time I get on a stage to prove a point, it’ll be empowering. Not objectifying.

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2014. Winning a community radio award. This photo captured a spark of genuine pride.

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GUEST POST: WHEN I LOOK IN THE MIRROR, I DON’T SEE A FAT PERSON

Charmaine Jennings’ weight loss journey didn’t start because of a lack of confidence

GUEST WRITER INFO

Charmaine Jennings is the owner of Strategic Charm Boutique, a boutique marketing and public relations agency in Winnipeg. She also created Hustle & Charm Community, a group for female entrepreneurs and bloggers to gather, learn and grow together.

She’s an entrepreneur, marketing and copywriting whiz and all around boss bitch.

I ran into someone I went to elementary school with the other day. As soon as she recognized me I knew what must’ve been going through her mind, “Wow. Charmaine’s still fat!”

Now let me be crystal clear, I NEVER call myself fat. Not out loud, not in my head – never. I mean do you know what fat is? It’s yellow globs of gloop (that’s the scientific definition) and I can assure you, I do NOT look like yellow globs of goop. In fact, I’m quite adorable if you ask me. But I’m not ignorant to the fact fat is a word many people use to describe people who are overweight.

Anyway.

I’ve been overweight my entire life. Even when I was just a little kid and it shouldn’t have been that big a deal. Looking back now at pictures of me when I was 8, I wished being 15 pounds heavier than the other kids was something I didn’t notice. Was something no one noticed. 

Charmaine at age 6 or 7.

 

I always had a lot of friends, but there was always someone who had to comment on my weight. Although I was only called fat a few times before I hit puberty, I can’t pretend it didn’t make me sad when I heard it.

Once I hit grade 5 or 6, I started to hear it more frequently. Mostly from grungy boys, but from some of the older girls too. But you bet your booty I’ve always been able to hold my own. Sure I would get sad and upset when kids teased me, but I wasn’t the girl to bite her tongue and go home crying. I mean crying came at some point, but it wasn’t my default reaction. I dished out what I had taken, and kept reminding myself that I was cute, generally a good person (I had my bad girl moments, okay!), smart, and ambitious. And funny. Yes, I was funny as a kid too.

In about grade 7 or 8 I started to notice a bit of a pattern between the people who would call me fat or allude to the fact that I’m eating once again.

“Gotta eat to live gotta live to eat, tell you all about it when I’ve got the tiiiiiiiiime” (name that Disney movie!)

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By this time the older girls had moved onto high school, so it was mostly those grungy boys in my grade who kept yapping. The pattern I noticed was that these were boys who weren’t happy. Boys who had a hard time with their school work, and who would have a hard time making it to high school graduation. It’s hard to put into words, but I decided that if calling me fat was the only thing that was going to put a smile on their face that day, then so be it. Plus, I was going to spend the summer after grade 8 getting nice and skinny before high school, so who cared what they had to say now?

Grade 9 rolled around and I still wasn’t skinny. I was close to 200 pounds if my memory serves me correctly. Although I was fairly confident in middle school, I was nervous about what might be in store for me with high school kids. I was scared I might get teased more than I was before, and that someone might dump pig’s blood on me at the dance.

I watched a lot of high school horror movies growing up, okay?!

I won’t bore you with all the details of my high school experience grade by grade, but overall I had a blast! Tons of friends, new positive experiences, and I was a total joiner so I had my hand in almost everything. Band, drama, student council, yearbook committee – you name it, I was in it. And you might not know this about me, but booty shaking is one of my not so hidden talents. This talent obviously stemmed from my love of dancing. So what was one of the groups I immediately signed up for? Cheerleading!

Again, I was all about high school movies so being a cheerleader on the field at the big game was totes one of my life goals. And I did it! Sure I was nervous because cheerleaders in the movies were always thin, but thin or not, I was getting myself on the squad. And just like grade 5, the older cheerleaders looked at me with judgment. Like, how dare I think I belong on the squad? But I wasn’t going anywhere so they were just going to have to deal. I defied the odds, but not the laws of gravity so obviously, I wasn’t tossed up in the air or anything. But it felt good to be part of the team.

As far as I can remember, there were only two older boys who teased me consistently throughout high school about my weight. One of them even threw a shoe at my one day as I was walking through the halls, and you know what I did? I picked it up and threw it in the toilet. Boy, bye!

When I dished out what was thrown at me (literally!) some people didn’t know how to react since they expected me to crawl in a hole and hide in shame. Some left me alone after they realized they couldn’t shake me the way they wanted to. Others persisted but with hesitation; they waited to see if others would join in or not before making a move. A select few continued until they dropped out of school – their coping mechanism for dealing with their own anger and emotions.

Every summer in high school was the summer I was going to lose a bunch of weight and be thin and greatly desired by all of the popular fellas. But nah. All I did was gain weight year after year as if someone had put an obesity curse on me. Ugh!

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Charmaine at age 18.

Once I hit my graduating year, I decided this would FINALLY be my chance to shed all the pounds and get it right and tight for university. Guess how that turned out?

Now here I am, 30 years old, still thinking this is going to be the year where I shock the universe and lose 100 pounds.

As you can see, I’ve been on a weight-loss journey my whole life. Last August I decided to make that journey very public by documenting my progress or lack thereof on the gram, using the hashtag #journeyto200 to categorize all of my posts about health and weight-loss on my way to 200lbs. For my first post of my public journey, I shared a video discussing what this journey was all about, and included a picture of me on the scale, weighing in at 327.4lbs. This is the first time I’ve ever disclosed my weight to anyone, and I decided to share it with the Internet. I paced back and forth in my apartment right after posting it, thinking I should take it down. But then I got immediate positive responses to the post, so I figured what the heck – it’s out there now for the world the see. Let the journey begin.

It’s 9 months later and I’m sitting at 315lbs. I haven’t even dipped my toes into the 200s yet. Ugh!

I’m frustrated by a number of things:

  1. I went from 312 to 279lbs in less than a year when I was living in Alberta, so I know I can do this
  2. Pastries are my weakness and I hate that I let them consume me
  3. My confidence about my body is part of my problem

When I look in the mirror, I don’t see a fat person. I see a woman with curves, a juicy booty, muscles, and cheekbones that make my smile cute. I never shy away from wearing a bikini to the beach or a short skirt to go dancing. I don’t go out of my way to cover my arms because they’re almost as big as my thighs. I truly and deeply love my body. And as grateful as I am for the confidence I carry, I can’t help but notice that that very confidence sometimes holds me back from becoming a healthier version of myself.

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Charmaine at age 27.

I’m not waiting until I lose 150 pounds to finally wear that two-piece I’ve been dreaming of or those short shorts that show a little extra cheek. I’m already there and I’m enjoying every minute of it. And I know a dramatic weight-loss isn’t all about how I look and what I wear – it’s about living a longer and healthier life. 

There are times where I want to stop documenting this journey because who the hell cares that I’m averaging a loss of 1.3lbs per month. What I remind myself is that I’m doing this for me — but I’m also doing it to inspire others who are struggling to get their voluptuous booties over the same hurdles. And hey, the feeling of knowing there are other people on a similar journey who can feel even the teeniest inspiration from my story, might be just the motivation I’ve been looking for all these years.


WHAT COMES NEXT FOR CHARMAINE AND HER JOURNEY TO 200

Guess you’ll have to follow her on Insta and keep up with her blog to find out!

I GOT A JOB WITH BUMBLE BY MAKING THE FIRST MOVE

How I landed my dream job by believing in myself and sending an email.

I first heard the backstory about Bumble when I listened to an episode of the How I Built This podcast with Whitney Wolfe.

I won’t rehash it for you, but I will say I related deeply to Whitney’s story for a number of reasons. Ultimately, she didn’t get crushed under the weight of an onslaught of online hatred. She took the hit emotionally, but her drive didn’t die.

Most of all, I related to the way she saw the world: it can be a cruel and judgemental place (especially to women and marginalized groups) but that doesn’t mean that’s the way it should be. Whitney used her experience as fuel to create something that is charting the course to radically change that way people connect.

After I heard her interview on the podcast I thought: yeah, that’s how I feel and what I want to do. I related to her vision and her rejection of the status-quo way people treat each other.

So I started following Bumble on social media, and watched closely what they did on the PR and marketing fronts. My background is in PR and marketing, and I was immediately impressed and quickly realized that they walked the talk and did things differently. Few examples: they banned guns in users profile pics after the Parkland shooting and partnered with the L.A. Clippers on a campaign promoting gender equality. 

They take risks, maintain their belief in making IRL connections despite scaling massively (they place a lot of importance on activating at a grassroots level) and speak to their audience in a way that empowers them.

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If you know nothing about the brand, read this letter from Whitney Wolfe about the Bumble philosophy and you might start to understand why I feel so strongly about Bumble.

I remember I had a sticky note on my cork board in my first apartment that said “email Bumble about being an ambassador.” I eventually took the note down when I moved. From my research, I knew they had something called the “Queen Bee” program in the US, but I figured it was a long shot.

With all of that being said, in April 2018 I found out that Bumble had created a Canadian Instagram page. I was excited, to say the least.

I found an email address for the Canadian market lead. There were no job postings or calls for resumes. I just figured “you don’t ask, you don’t get,” so I may as well just sincerely show my cards. I sent her the email below.

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I got an email back from someone at Bumble HQ later that day, and had a conference call later that week. I explained where I was from and why Winnipeg as a market was awesome and unique. I talked about the potential to promote the Bizz and BFF verticals in Winnipeg because most people in the city still think of Bumble as just a dating app, but I knew from experience it represents much more than that.

I remember I took a call with the head of field marketing (for Bumble as a whole) while I was at the library downtown and as soon as it ended I started crying because I couldn’t believe any of this was happening.

After some back and forth with Bumble, I plucked up the courage to talk to my boss to see if there was a way I could keep working in my position and also work for Bumble. It was funny actually because my boss and I both listen to The Tim Ferriss Show podcast, and a few weeks prior Whitney Wolfe had been his guest. He understood it was important to me, and we worked something out.

So now I’m the Community Marketing Manager for Bumble in Winnipeg.

BEING ABLE TO TYPE THAT IS SO SURREAL AND I STILL HAVE ZERO CHILL ABOUT ALL OF THIS.

I am so proud to represent a company that stands for equality, kindness, safety, respect and inclusivity. It’s more than an app – it’s a movement. And I feel so fortunate to be able to bring this brand to Winnipeg.

I could write some whole big thing about how dreams come true to those who work blah blah blah but believing in yourself is the key to manifesting some next level stuff in my opinion. Before, I would have never sent that email because I didn’t think I deserved to work for a company I admired like Bumble. It’s cheesy, but self-love and acceptance can move mountains within you — I can truly say that from personal experience.

Also, don’t be afraid to make the first move.

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‘ello London. 👋🇬🇧 @thetimes

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If you wanna stay updated on Bumble events in Winnipeg you can follow my personal Insta or Twitter, and/or follow Bumble’s Canadian Instagram account.

Oh, and download the app, of course.

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HOW I LEARNED THAT DOING THINGS ALONE IS AWESOME

Turns out riding solo is pretty great.

When I was 21, I went on a walking tour of St. Boniface alone. Being a person who grew up caring WAY too much about what people thought of me (to the point where I let people’s opinions shape who I was for many years), this felt like an act of defiance.

I was still really new to being single at the time, and I think it was the first time I purposely struck out and did something without a friend by my side. It was a Saturday morning and I had no plans that day. I remember when the tour guide asked the group if anyone was from Winnipeg and I was the only one who put my hand up.

I ended up chatting with the French-speaking guide and found out he was moving to somewhere in Europe the following month and this was his summer job. Then I walked with the tourists (most of them were retired folks) and talked to them about what they thought about Winnipeg so far and what they still wanted to do. I learned all these beautiful and unexpected things about an area of my city that had previously seemed so exotic to me.

Not only did the tour put a dumb smile on my face the rest of the day, but it also made me realize that going it alone was more about attitude than about the activity.

I’m now 24, and I now prefer doing most things on my own. In fact, I travelled through France, Switzerland and Italy alone for two weeks this summer and learned a ton about myself and enjoyed the hell out of it. Obviously, it wasn’t always this way. I’ve worked up to this point.

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

No seriously. Do you have a list, or something specific that you really want to do but nobody will do it with you on the day you want to do it? That’s an opportunity!

I’ve talked about this before in another blog post, but the summer after I finished my degree I wrote a long list of activities that I wanted to check off before the summer was over. Some of them I had to do with other people, but a lot I could do alone. That was the first time I went to the Planetarium alone — highly recommend it — and travelled on my own agenda to Halifax and had to entertain myself.

My advice? Make a list, or at least identify something you’ve always wanted to try or do. Go at it with fury. Stop waiting for your friends to have time or money or both.

Here’s a list of 50 things to do alone to get you started.

PUT YOUR DAMN PHONE AWAY

It’s tempting to go out alone and just be on your phone the whole time, but it really defeats the purpose and makes you less present. I think a lot of people reach for their phone instinctively when they feel uncomfortable as a reflex now (myself included), but it’s a cop out and we all know it. After watching a famous Simon Sinek video I realized that people are so uncomfortable with the idea of eye contact and looking bored that when someone goes to the washroom at a restaurant they’d rather scroll on social than look around the restaurant for two minutes.

For example, if you’re going take yourself out for food, at least put your phone away (out of immediate reach) while you enjoy your dish. Be present. Chew slowly. It’s really not that terrible.

GOING IN COLD

Fun fact: our tolerance for uncomfortable situations and the unknown increases the more we put ourselves in situations with elements of uncertainty. We can change our threshold for fear (in safe, non-threating situations of course) if we do enough to challenge it.

I like to call it brain blocking, or going in cold. I’m sure there’s a chapter in a sales textbook somewhere about this, but I think it especially applies to doing things alone.

I shut my brain off and start moving my body before my brain has time to stop me or catch up. I learned this tactic when I had to do journalism streeters in college (this is where reporters walk up to random strangers on the street and ask them for an opinion).  My brain would be screaming profanities at me, but I knew the moment I hesitate I would be done for and fail the assignment.

Get out of your car. Stand up. Move your legs. Walk through the door. The first movement is the hardest. Once you’re in the cold, it’s not so bad.

GETTING OVER YOURSELF

The biggest barrier initially was getting over the what-will-people-think mental block I was imposing on myself.

Here are a few tricks I still use when I start to feel this way:

1) I imagine the worst-case scenario: some dickhead makes a comment to the person or people they are with about me, and I hear it.

“Oh wow look at that person eating alone — how sad.”

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First off, I know I have people who love me. No question. Second, their words aren’t bullets unless I load the gun for them. If I take it to heart, I go down. I don’t have to though — because it’s not true.

Second, what kind of dickhead comments on someone minding their own damn business? Don’t be that person. Let people enjoy their time alone in peace.

Here’s the game plan if this does actually happen to you: look them dead in the eyes, smile and take an enormous bite of my food without breaking eye contact. Nothing says confidence like shoving half a sandwich in your mouth in one bite.

2) I laugh out loud. By myself. At myself. Works like a charm.

A recent example: I was zoned out and walking around Toronto alone trying to find a place to eat, full of anxiety about the thought of sitting in a busy restaurant alone. I accidentally walked in front of a car turning when I wasn’t supposed to and I screamed and ran back to the sidewalk and the car honked at me. There was a guy standing on the curb who had seen the whole thing and he said, “he sure told you,” and I started laughing really hard. Like so hard I almost started crying.

I think he was confused but it totally brought me back into the moment and reminded me to not take myself too seriously.

Don’t know where to start? Go to a movie alone — it’s a great way to dip your toe into the pool of trying things by yourself. Plus you can pick the movie, sit in a single seat, and don’t have to split your drink or snacks with anyone.

p.s. The first ever movie I ever saw alone was How To Be Single and I’m such a cliché BUT HEY IF THE SHOES FITS WEAR ITTTTT.

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Do you have something you love doing alone?

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11 PIECES OF SEX AND DATING WISDOM I LEARNED IN MY EARLY 20s

Dick pics, consent, condoms, exes, self-objectification and love. Love in the age of millennials.

I have enough exes that they could all get together and make a ska band. I used to be embarrassed about it, but now I know it just means I know better now, so I can do better. I feel like I’ve experienced it all: getting dumped and having my heart broken, dumping someone, having blowout arguments, being used, trying to have casual sex, getting played out, being an unsupportive significant other, being called horrible things — you name it, I’ve probably lived it and learned from it.

Taking a step back from dating for last little while has given me a new perspective on certain things and reminded me of others. Millennials are reinventing everything as a generation, including dating. In some ways it’s amazing because we have more ways to meet people than ever before, but all those avenues of communication can make us less connected than ever before.

Buckle up. If you are related to me, please, for the love of god don’t read this.

Mature themes and swearing ahead, kids.


1. Just because someone uses you doesn’t make it ok for you to use someone else.

Sometimes when we are hurt we do dumb things because we feel like causing pain will cancel out our pain. Meanwhile, it only makes things SO MUCH WORSE. Nobody wins when you act out of spite, especially not you.

For example, maybe he used you (emotionally, physically) and now you wanna get a baseball bat out and go to town on him like Beyoncé in the Lemonade film but you don’t want to reveal your rage and fulfill the “crazy woman” stereotype so you internalize it and take it out on some other unsuspecting guy you find at a bar or on Tinder. *deep breath*

A short-term self-esteem bandaid (in whatever form) won’t cover the gaping flesh wound this person left you with. That’ll only heal with time, my friend.

2. Stop playing the game of “who can care less about the other person”

Whoever can come away more untouched and unfazed from a one night stand or rejection is supposedly the “winner” of this game people play now.

Casual sex culture is scary because it can harden us and makes us think that it’s wrong to have feelings. If we don’t want to play the game, we can be harshly judged or cast out. Sometimes we end up participating even when we know it hurts us. I thought about things completely differently after watching Liberated: The New Sexual Revolution, and I still believe that adults are completely allowed to conduct themselves however they want — but this whole “I don’t have to show you any respect or treat you as a human” thing is just horrible.

The executive director of the documentary said this in an interview for Bundle Magazine and I think it applies to both genders:

“We live in a world where people wear very scant bikinis just to sell us burgers. And whether we like that or not, we are constantly surrounded by those images. We may be guarding our eyes, but we cannot escape them in culture. We might not be conscious of it, but when we pass a billboard, look at a magazine or turn on the TV, we are being primed to that kind of imagery. That commodifies a human being. It makes them an object. And as soon as we objectify someone, it’s a lot easier disrespect them. Or to not see them for the extraordinary creation that they are.”

— Sarah-Jane Murray

3. When it comes to anything in the bedroom — ask. Never assume. 

I can’t believe I have to say this but y’all would be downright SHOCKED at the number of conversations I’ve had with other women where guys will go to do something in the bedroom without any prior warning or consent and it turns out it’s something their partner isn’t into. In 2018.

ARGUABLY! THE! YEAR! OF! FUCKING! CONSENT!!!!

GO FIGURE SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO BE WARNED BEFORE ANAL SEX.

If you are scared to communicate or ask someone before you do something that doesn’t mean you get to just DO IT. If you don’t know someone well and you assume they are down to do something – that doesn’t mean you get to just DO IT.

This behaviour isn’t gendered by the way. I’m aware that trust, non-verbal communication and being under the influence all play a role in the quality of communications taking place.

People try to argue it isn’t sexy to stop and ask something in the heat of the moment but I really don’t know what’s sexier than safe and consensual intercourse with someone who respects you???

Honestly, Amber Rose said it best when she was on a talk show:

“If I’m laying down with a man — butt-naked — and his condom is on, and I say, ‘You know what? No. I don’t want to do this. I changed my mind,’ that means no. That means f-ing no. That’s it. It doesn’t matter how far I take it or what I have on, when I say no, it means no.”

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4. Always talk about testing even if it makes you uncomfortable.

Yeah sex is cool but some STIs and STDs can be undetectable friends. I was lucky enough to have a brother who volunteered at Nine Circles educating people about safe sex practices for a long time so I learned a lot — but mostly he told me that most sexually active adults really don’t have the right facts about this stuff.

If you can’t talk about testing you shouldn’t be having sex. Period.

Ask “when was the last time you were tested?” then go from there. It’s specific, direct and doesn’t pry into past partners.

5. Don’t shit talk your ex. 

No matter how it ended, it ain’t worth it. It reflects more poorly on you than it does your ex. Also, they don’t deserve that.

6. A smiling selfie is way cuter than a picture of your penis.

I know what you’re thinking: “Raegan, does that really need to be explicitly stated?”

YES. IT DOES. BECAUSE PEOPLE ACT LIKE BARN ANIMALS.

ALSO, INSTAGRAM AND SNAPCHAT EGGED ON THE FUCKBOIS BY MAKING IT SO THAT YOU CAN SEND PHOTOS THAT DISAPPEAR FOREVER.

There are people who like dick pics. They exist, and you may have met one. But there are also many women who don’t.

7. Don’t string someone along just because you want attention. 

I’ve done this in the past — I’ll fully wear it. I’m no saint. But thinking about how my action made the other person feel snapped me out of it. Are we really so used to be stimulated that we can’t stand to go unacknowledged for one night? You can’t outrun that fear forever.

I get that it’s easy to avoid ever feeling lonely with dating apps, DMs and Snapchat BUT dating and messaging people shouldn’t be a hobby. If you are only texting someone every Friday night, shut your phone off and go to bed fam. They don’t deserve to be used like that, and you’ve gotta consider taking up a healthier hobby. Like knitting.

 

8. Do believe that you deserve love.

I can’t believe how much of my life I wasted believing I didn’t deserve love. How much I believed that I was just lucky someone wanted me. How much I would turn into a puddle of shitty self-esteem when someone even remotely cool, attractive or interesting would pay attention to me. How I would just assume how it was a matter of time before that person found out too much and RAN because apparently I was such a monster???

Imposter syndrome is a bitch.

Speaking from experience, don’t waste another minute thinking that. If you’re lucky enough to find love, know that it walked into your life because you deserve it. If you can find it in your heart to accept yourself, you’re gonna give off this bright shiny light that’s gonna pull in some winners. If you haven’t found someone, love yourself like your life depends on it (as Jen Sincero says at the end of every chapter of ‘You are a Badass’).

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Which one drives you?

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9. Life is too damn short to not have great sex because you are worrying about how you look.

When people self-objectify it can actually lead to sexual dysfunction…amongst other issues. Translation: the more you see yourself as a sex object, the less fun you tend to have during sex. Sad but true.

We’ve all felt lackluster about our self image at one time or another (or always, for some people), but it can sideline you from sex for a LONG time if you let it. That breaks my heart. But we gotta stop being so afraid of not looking perfect and embrace imperfect pleasure.

We don’t get much for free in this life other than orgasms and library books so make the most of both if you can.

Also:

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10. If you ghost someone, you deserve to run into them looking like a potato. The universe is gonna take their side on this one.

There’s a way to be polite, direct and kind. Find that way. Use it. Next time, put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask how you want to be treated.

*Mutual ghosting is the ONLY exception to this rule.

11. Put your damn phone away when you are spending time with someone.

Nothing says modern romance on like sitting across the table from someone watching them text someone else who isn’t part of the present moment. Not face up on the table, not face down on the table, not in your pocket with vibrate on, not in sight…

A

W

A

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Love people. Use things.

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