Friday, July 24, 2015

Naked Parenting

My husband and I have always felt comfortable with our naked bodies in front of our children—one daughter and two sons.

Being nude around them was never a planned, fleshed-out idea, but just more of what felt right and natural as a family.

Just doing a normal naked thing
We have never shied away from our kids seeing us naked because we want them to grow up with a healthy idea of bodies in all forms.

via Daily Mail Online
I couldn’t agree more.

Of course, coming from an ex-stripper, it probably isn’t such a surprise that I believe nudity is OK.

We let them take the lead in what feels comfortable to them. And even though we never try to hide our nakedness, all the kids seem pretty healthy so far. They don’t run out in public and strip off their clothes.

And now that my daughter is reaching puberty, she’s setting her own limits of who can see her naked.

I also always make a point about respecting other people’s bodies and their wishes. If my youngest son wants to poke me in the belly button and it’s bugging me, it’s a great opportunity to teach him respect about other’s wishes when it comes to their bodies.

“That’s bothering me. Please stop,” I say to him when his exploration of my belly button feels intrusive. “Always stop touching someone’s body when they say to.”

It’s never too early to instill in children a sense of naked bodies being normal and natural in private. And to have respect for ourselves and others and to learn about boundaries, about ways that are okay to touch and see and how to love our bodies and others’ with respect and safety.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Body Image Talk is Great, But How Much Better When We (Hopefully) Don’t Need to Do It Anymore

I am all for positive body image and helping others feel good about themselves no matter how they look.

On a good day, I can totally rock that feeling myself.

But on bad days, I curse my wrinkly belly and flabby butt. Like Eva Longoria, I want my twenty-year-old body back.

Photo of Eva Longoria via
Not my twenty-year-old life—just the body.

Then I feel guilty for not just loving myself as is, then the guilt multiplies and becomes anger.

I’m happy to see so many actresses and other celebrity people being honest in the news.

File under “Women who get it”: Patricia Arquette: There's more to women than looks in the Belfast Telegraph.

Photo of Patricia Arquette via

Arquette articulates this issue well:
I don't want to do anything to my face. But I also reserve the right to do that if I choose to, you know? And without apologising to a million strangers, because even having a conversation about, 'You don't look natural, you did something weird to your face,' we are making it about the way women look…It's none of your f**king business what they look like.
I love that she speaks so honestly about not knowing if one day she might want to change how she looks surgically, but how that is totally up to her.

As long as we put so much emphasis on a woman’s looks, we are only going to move women’s right forward so much.

It’s great that we’re in the cultural phase of openly speaking about all aspects of body image, but I do look forward to (hopefully in my lifetime) the time when we won’t need to talk about it anymore…

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Target's Trophy Shirt is Not the Problem

Have you heard about the Target shirt that says “Trophy” in bold white letters across a black tee?

It’s causing a controversy because, you know, women aren’t trophies.

Oh, you knew that already?

So it’s supposed to be a “fun wink” according to Target’s official statement on the issue.
It is never our intention to offend anyone and we always appreciate receiving feedback from our guests. The shirt you’re describing is part of a collection of engagement and wedding shirts that are available in our women’s and plus size departments. The collection also included shirts that say ‘Team Bride,’ ‘Mrs.’ and ‘Bride.’ These shirts are intended as a fun wink and we have received an overwhelmingly positive response from our guests.
My head just kind of aches with the attention this shirt is getting (and yes, I see the irony as I am talking about it now, too).

I mean, I would never wear the shirt because I think it’s stupid. I think a shirt that says “Bride” or “Mrs.” is stupid though too.

There’s even a petition started over the shirt. 

Personally, I don’t see much use of putting so much energy into fighting a stupid novelty tee-shirt.

Does it promote rape culture? Does it demean women?

Or should everyone just chill out with the politically correct nonsense?

I mean, why are there are no petitions to ban Hooters restaurants? Or the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition?

Those are things that are just as much out there in young girls’ view.

It is not the gag tee-shirt that is the problem, it is the “real,” non-joke items that are marketed and accepted as normal.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

If You Are a Stripper, Then You Must Also Be...

I remember being so frustrated as a young woman who stripped and posed nude because of what people assumed about me.

Since I was a stripper, I must also be a whore. I must also be a slut. I must also want to be talked to like an object.

This was probably the most infuriating aspect of my adult entertainment experience. I didn’t know how to put into words what I felt.

The actress and feminist Caitlin Stasey says it so well in Jezebel’s When a Magazine Only Wants You If You're Willing to Pose Nude.
But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Nudity in the abstract is not the issue, and my body is not the issue either. What is the issue is the way that many men like Ben Naparstek-your-head-in-the-oven believe they have an inherent right to both because of my recent projects and my candor. It’s the same logic we apply to a woman’s sexuality. Just because she’s fucked one guy she must be available to all of them, right? Just because she’s wearing a short skirt, just because her shirt is sheer, just because she is a woman, she must be available to me.
Men were surprised when I didn’t want to be paid to have sex.

Men were pissed when I didn’t show them everything they wanted.

Men were enraged when I told them the truth.

Why was I making trouble? Why was I fucking with their view of women? Why was I insisting on being a person with my own ideas and feelings?

The sad thing was that often I listened to what they said. It’s not that I didn’t know I could say differently and stand up for myself, but that I was not properly equipped to do it.

I was young. I was scared.  I was vulnerable.

Today I am still trying to impress completely upon myself that I have agency and that I make the decisions about my body and it doesn’t matter what others think.

I have a right to be who I am just as I am. Clothed or naked.

I do not need to explain my choices to anyone if I don’t want to.

It’s been a long journey to get to where I am today and I am grateful for who I have become even as I acknowledge I still have a long way to go to truly understand and forgive myself.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Body Positivity in the Age of Trolls

Be this size; be that size.

Be thin; be skinny; be healthy; be curvy.

This is good; this is bad. No, wait…I mean, the right amount of thin, but not too skinny.

Curves, yes, but just in the right places.

Lord, help us!

How’s a woman supposed to be on the Internet without questioning her body type?

Body issues? Try Instagram on for size by Julia Carpenter points out how Instagram has been great for body positivity, but the trolls still abound.

This just makes me think about my friend Wendy Wisner’s latest blog post Crazy Commenters on Social Media (Or,What is Wrong With the World?). As a writer on parenting sites, she’s had a crazy amount of negative talkback in the comments.

The anonymity of the Internet seems to make people feel bold behind their computer screens. Things that most people would never say out loud becomes easy to spout at a distance.

Perhaps the only way around this negativity is to not read comments at all? But then we miss the opportunity of receiving the positive messages, too.

I for one am happy to hear criticism about my work in any form if its aim is to point out ways to improve upon the work, but when people attack a person based on their opinions, that’s really taking it too far.

Whatever happened to…if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Let Them Be #Curvy

The word “curvy” has been used a lot on Instagram to hashtag photos containing nudity, but other more explicit words like #penis or #vagina are apparently ok to search for on the site.

The example of the reverse being banned, thinspo, is very different, right? Thinspo has been banned because it encourages the use of too-skinny girls as inspiration for what some worry are anorexics browsing for pics of inspiration.

Is Instagram afraid women are going to start looking at “curvy” women as inspiration to gain weight? We wouldn’t want that now, would we?

Actually, the whole idea of banning certain words from searches is ridiculous. Yes, I know Instagram is a private business and so can make the rules. But the rules don’t make sense.

When will we learn that “hiding” things, or banning them, just makes them more attractive and another #curvy word will just come to replace the one left behind.

If someone wants to fins naked pics on Instagram, they will find them, regardless of the words they are tagged with!

If a woman wants to empower herself by using the term #curvy as an awesome way to identify her body positively, then by God, let her and let people be able to find her and celebrate her.

I may not be curvy, but today I am #curvy!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Warning: Degrading Job Ahead

Which is a more degrading occupation? A stripper or an office worker?

Apparently, they both suck. In A former female tech worker turned exotic dancer says both are‘degrading in their own ways,’ we are told both jobs leave "Tiffany" unhappy.

I couldn’t agree more. I remember when I made the transition from stripper to administrative assistant that I had moments where I would wonder which was worse—dancing naked for dollars or fetching coffee and faxing for dollars.

“Degrading” could be seen by another individual as an entirely different occupation.

A lot of it has to do with the eye of the beholder, or in this case, the eye of the worker. Different things make people feel shame or humiliation.

Of course, there are certain tasks or how someone is spoken to that can inherently up the degrading factor, (like being called names, having drinks poured on you, or being asked to, ahem, for $20), but we all have different tolerance levels.

Have you ever had a job that you felt was degrading that didn’t involve shedding clothes?