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"I feel like a really lousy for feminist for liking to be waxed down there… help?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

This is all so complicated because while feminism is rooted in equal rights for all, that word has taken one hell of a ride down the path of confusing as shit.

Body hair is just a tiny symptom of the larger picture. You shouldn’t HAVE to shave anything because society tells you to, ABSOLUTELY, but also… if you like the way it feels to have your legs shaved and your V waxed – you should not feel bad. Right? This whole thing stems from doing with your body AS YOU PLEASE and not answering to NOBODY *snap snap snap*

Feminism isn’t about proving women are better than men, it is about saying no one human is better than another. It’s about fighting for equality ALL AROUND, immigration, people of color, disability, men, women, students, senior citizens, hUMANS Y’ALL. We all deserve equal rights, we all deserve to be treated with respect, we all deserve to make decisions about our own bodies, our futures, our education, our religion.

You are a feminist because you believe in equality, not because you have hair on your hoo-ha.

Kristin Says:

Oh for Pete’s sake.

Listen, I understand what you are saying—as Dannielle already covered. Women have been trained to feel, over time, that they must be hairless, odorless, tiny-waisted human beings in order to be attractive, and that is fucked up. However, I have no ability, personally, to refuse myself a manicure here and there because I love the way it feels and looks and I KNOW THAT I WOULDN’T HAD I BEEN RAISED IN A DIFFERENT WORLD BUT I WAS RAISED HERE AND I LIKE MY NAILS PAINTED SO SUCK IT EVERYONE.

Sorry for yelling.

It’s quite a pickle, because you at once have things happening in your brain and body that are saying, ‘but I feel good when I have less hair on my hoo-ha,’ and other things happening in your brain that are like, ‘don’t listen to that brain, it is under the spell of patriarchy mwahahaha.’

Here’s a thought: every time you get waxed, put a dollar in a bucket labeled, “Feminism Offset Fees.” Every year, collect your dollars, and donate them to a Girl’s Rock Camp or a positive body image campaign or Gloria Steinem.

(OMG. Please dear god save up your hoo-ha waxing dollars and donate them to Gloria Steinem. Can we start a fund? This is now my favorite idea.)

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"At this point I have no clue how to identify on the gender spectrum, but I know I want top surgery. However, my girlfriend who I’ve been dating pretty seriously doesn’t think she will still be attracted to me despite the fact that she says she loves me for me. I’m terrified. HELP!"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

This is what they call being “between a rock and a hard place” UNLESS, this is the episode of Lizzie McGuire where she’s getting here first bra, in which case, it would be aptly / cleverly titled, “Between a Rock and a Bra” …. so…

I think you have got to do what feels right and you can NOT make this decision based on anyone besides your own self. If you don’t get top surgery, you will absolutely 100% resent your partner for it. Maybe not immediately and maybe not consciously, but it will happen. Don’t you ALREADY wonder if she might still be attracted to you and she just doesn’t know it yet?! You’d basically wonder that every second but to the millionth degree.

Also, gender is by far / hands down / without a doubt THE MOST confusing thing to navigate. So, don’t feel like you have to know where you fit on the gender spectrum. You know what you want, you know how you feel, you don’t need to know what it’s called or what it means.

You gotta do you.

Kristin Says:

I feel very conflicted about this question, because on the one boob (get it?), I’m like “Okay, obviously your girlfriend is going to feel a little confused/conflicted about things because this is a shift for you and for her,” but on the other boob, I don’t have a personal understanding of attraction being rooted in two mounds of flesh. Sure, boobs are fun. I like boobs. Fine. However, if the person who I love the most on this earth was having top surgery, I know (like, KNOW) that it wouldn’t alter my attraction to them. If anything, them being able to feel positive about their body would INCREASE my attraction.

What this leads me to think is two things:

1. Your girlfriend is unsure of what this will all mean and she is panicking and hesitant and unsure, but in the actual process, so long as you keep an open communication, she will find that she is still totally into you, and/or;

2. This is about way more than boobs. My advice would be to ask her, specifically, what she is thinking about when she says that she doesn’t know how your top-surgery will affect her. Is she thinking, Anonymous will be Anonymous but without boobs, and those boobs alone will alter my attraction? Or is she connecting this surgery to a larger process of self-understanding, and is she unsure and/or scared about how the overall process might “change” you?

If we are dealing with the latter, then this is all about the dialogue, and not about the boobs. Dannielle is right — obviously, you should never (and I am sure wouldn’t) make a decision that impacts your understanding of yourself because of the uncertainty of another human being. Talk to her about the specifics, be open to her fears, and try to walk hand in hand, as much as possible. Hopefully, her hand will remain in yours. If it doesn’t though, that is because there is another hand out there who wants to know and love you for the complete (and ever-growing) you.

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"Ok, so. My girlfriend is totally hot. She has the perfect body and the perfect boobs and i’m just like, blehhhhh. Is it weird that im kind of jealous of her?! And how do i stop this feeling and just enjoy her body instead of envy it?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

What an AWESOME PROBLEM TO HAVE.

“Hi i’m anonymous and my girlfriend is super hot and i love her body, HEEEELLLLP”

K, I’m done making fun of you.

I think you should talk more out loud about all the things you love about your girlf. AAAANNND talk to her about the parts of your body she loves. BECAUSE HERE IS THE THING, you’re jealous that her body is perfect for you, but your body is probably also perfect for her. Does that make sense? She loves your thighs, your back dimples, your stomach, your clavicle, etc. and you’re not even thinking about how awesome those parts of you are, because you’re too busy loving every part of her.

Look at yourself, appreciate yourself, love yourself. We are all so perfect in our own little ways. BTW if you do have this conversation with her, and the two of you talk about all the things you love about one another’s bodies… YOU WILL FEEL SO GREAT ABOUT YOU… aaaaaand you’ll probably end up making out AND STUFF.

Kristin Says:

Hear, hear.

I think that you should absolutely have those above conversations, and I think that your girlfriend’s image of you is crucial to understanding how beautiful you truly are —- but I also think that you should think more about why you are unhappy with your own body.

If you just love the way her waist bends and the way her boobs boob, then you are viewing specific parts of her body’s form which you can’t necessarily achieve for yourself (because you have your own waist bends and your boobs boob in their own unique way), but if you are like, “Man, her waist is a little flatter than mine and I like that,” or “I wish my thighs were a little more firm,” then this might also be about you wanting to start exercising or eating better or becoming more active so that you can feel healthier instead of aiming to look “as good as” your boo.

Does that make sense?

If this is about how your curves and bends make you appealing to her – then all you need to do is express those feelings you have and use conversation (and making out) to help you build on that confidence for yourself. If you think that part of that jealousy is coming from you wanting to be more motivated in the path toward being healthy – then this is a combination approach: talk to her about your feelings, and also make positive changes in your own life (and perhaps you can make them together!) so that you begin to also feel more centered for yourself.

Tadaaaaa.

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TRIGGER WARNING: This post contains themes/mention of self-injury and recovery.

"I have a lot of scars on my arms due to self harming and whenever I get confident enough to wear a short sleeved T-shirt my mam points out how marked they are and completely destroys my confidence again. No-one else mentions it and now I'm stuck with what to do; do I wear short sleeved things or hide my 'ugly arms' from view?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

I think you should talk to your mom about it, let her know how she’s making you feel. AND, I think you should continue to wear short-sleeved shirts.

The fact of the matter is, this is a part of your past. Maybe it’s not something you’re proud of, or something you care to harp on forever, but it is a part of you. NEVER let your past dictate the way you live in the present. You are who you are because of the things you’ve learned from who you used to be.

When people ask questions, try to answer them. It might take a while before you’re totally comfortable, but I think the more comfortable you are talking about your past, the more comfortable you will be putting on that short-sleeved shirt. Next time you put that shirt on and walk into the living room and your mom makes a comment, ask her if she wants to talk about and tell her EXACTLY how you feel. Tell her you are ashamed and self-conscious, but you’re trying to get to a place where you don’t feel that way anymore. Hopefully a conversation will help her understand you and where you’re coming from AND it’ll let her know you need her support.

Kristin Says:

I agree wholeheartedly with Dannielle, and I think that it is important to also think about why your mom is saying these things to you, so that it might be easier to understand her words as products of fear and confusion and not solely as harsh and hurtful judgements.

A lot of parents take on the responsibility for all of the feelings and experiences that their kids have… and so knowing that at a time in your life you were hurting so badly that you cut yourself may affect her in ways that she doesn’t even fully understand. She might still be stuck on the fact that she couldn’t help you enough to take away that hurt – and it might be coming out of her mouth in ways that sound unfeeling and rude… but with conversation you may be able to both get to a place of better understanding. So. Talk to her and talk to her not only about those scars, but about that time in your life. She may need to understand more to be able to forgive herself for your past experiences.

Insofar as your scars go, I understand that they draw a certain amount of attention and conversation, and I think it is wonderful that you are at a place where you feel comfortable enough to allow for those moments, those conversations, and that larger understanding of yourself. One of my very best friends on this earth has an arm covered with scars from her past as a cutter; those scars mark a horribly difficult time in her life that she was able to overcome. Her scars are no longer a source of shame, but rather a marker of her growth and strength. We all have stories and struggles and marks and imperfections that tell our stories. Those are the things that make us human, and that make us beautiful.

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"I have a complicated relationship with my body. I know I should be ok with how it looks and all that, but I just am not. I never have been. I feel self-conscious all the time, I don’t know what to do."

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

I think everyone has a complicated relationship with their body?? Right!? Everyone has too much or too little of too many things. Boobs, butts, thighs, nose cartilage, knuckle hair, etc. We all have things about ourselves we don’t like or only sometimes like. HERE IS WHAT I THINK.

I think you should be okay with the fact that you’re uncomfortable sometimes because the worst thing you can do is beat yourself up for having emotions. It makes everything so much more complicated when we try to force ourselves to feel something we’re not feeling. SO, recognize that you feel those things and then talk about why you feel those things. Is it because you feel unhealthy or because you don’t look like Ashely Benson #prettylittleliar ?! If it’s because you don’t look like [favey celeb] then have a conversation in your head about why you love that person. Chances are, you don’t love that person because of all the ways they are like you. You know? You love them because of all the things about them that are DIFFERENT. The same way you will love the differences about yourself.

SECONDLYMOST. Start to congratulate yourself on things that are great about you. I used to do this (i’m not kidding), I would look in the mirror and say ‘you have great hair’ and ‘your eyes are so pretty!’ and when I started to take care of myself a little more, I’d be like ‘NICE SHOES DANNIELLE’ and ‘Dannielle, your skin is really clearing up, good job on not eatin chzzz!’ IT SOUNDS SILLY BUT IT WORKS. If you focus on the things you love about yourself, you’ll feel a lot more confident and the things that were making you feel self-conscious before, won’t take over!

Kristin Says:

Yoga was my answer.

I know that sounds a little oversimplified and it might not be the answer for everyone, but doing yoga was what made me understand my body as a body and not as an image.

Before I explain my yoga-body-concept further let me also tell you that I have PLENTY of days where I wake up and try on all the clothes in my closet and everything looks shitty and my stomach curves push through my shirt and my future-face-jowls look too prominent and my short legs look even shorter than usual and I throw a fit and cry and hate myself. I think it is normal to have days where all of our emotions congregate around our body image and we feel awful. Those days should be balanced, though, with a much larger awareness of our actual self and an appreciation for our actual body and not our body as we perceive it in those moments of weakness.

I found the balance that you are seeking when I began to understand my body as skin and bones that wrapped around myself in a way that was unique to me. Yoga allowed me to feel mentally balanced and helped me to appreciate my skin, my muscles, and myself. Feeling how my breath is connected to my brain is connected to my muscles and organs – it gave me a clearer and fuller picture of what it is to be a human. I know that when people love me, it isn’t because of the way my stomach looks on Tuesday… it is because of who I am, how I carry myself, and how I understand myself.

Find what brings you to your center and do more of that. Focus on the reasons you appreciate other people and apply that to yourself. Be patient on the days and in the moments that you lose your footing and become disgusted with your appearance, but allow yourself the room and the peace to find moments where you really, really like parts of yourself – or, on the best days, where you really, really like your whole self.

Also featured in “The Hook-Up” on MTVAct and MTV’s It’s Your Sex Life

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