Category Archives: Health + Sex

Loving Yourself Through Chronic Illness

shelby westfall block

In January 2014, I went to the doctor with pretty severe wrist pain.  Visits like these were not (and still aren’t) uncommon.  I thought I knew exactly how the appointment would go: I would point to where it hurt, they would take an x-ray, they would tell me there was no problem, and they would send me on my way with a little less pride and a little less money.  I was no stranger to this system.  But this appointment was not as expected.  After the x-ray, my doctor came back in with a puzzled look on her face. “Does your thumb hurt? It- isn’t where it should be.”  And this, friends, began my long and (so far) difficult journey to loving myself with a chronic illness.


The Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome National Foundation defines EDS as “a heterogeneous group of heritable connective tissue disorders, characterized by articular (joint) hypermobility, skin extensibility and tissue fragility.”  Oh, yes.  Suddenly the previous 19 years of my life made sense.  Every ache and pain, every sprained joint, and every mysterious bruise could suddenly be put into a cute little zebra-print storage bin in the corner of my room.  I could finally fold up my “crazy” rug and sweep my symptoms into a pile, to be put in their proper home.  It was a lovely thought, one about which I had often fantasized, and an even lovelier reality.  But, then what? What happens after the “it wasn’t all in my head” high?

My mother taught me to love my body.  She taught me to see myself as beautiful in every aspect.  I grew up loving my body.  When I was in middle school, I used to stand in the mirror and flex my legs, admiring their definition.  When other girls started straightening their hair, I didn’t understand because I loved my frizzy hair just the way it was.  In this way, I was very fortunate.  But, at a somewhat early age, I had to face another challenge entirely: how do you love a body that doesn’t seem to love you back?  I remember the first time I realized that I was the only one of my friends still getting “growing pains.”  When I would complain about these pains, my friends would tell me that I was probably just still growing. I would pretend to agree.  When I would get dizzy, people would tell me that I just stood up too quickly.  I would pretend to agree. When my knees would buckle as I was walking to class, my friends would tell me I was clumsy.  I would pretend to agree.

I realize now that I never really loved my body.  Sure, I loved her in a superficial sense.  I thought she was beautiful.  I still do.  But I didn’t really love her.  In fact, I resented her.  I was scared of her.  I was in a toxic relationship, and I could not escape.  I was angry at my body because I didn’t think she loved me.  I realize now that I just didn’t understand her love.  My body loved me enough to let me play volleyball for seven years and basketball for nine, before making my hips too wobbly to run down the court.  My body loved me enough to let me get up out of bed, even though she was working harder than I knew.  My body continues to love me this much.  It is the least I can do treat her as she treats me.


This journey to self-acceptance has been anything but easy.  It is human nature to have hope.  Hope is an absolutely beautiful thing.  But, to someone with a chronic illness, hope can be dangerous.  When I dislocate a hip, people tell me to “get well soon,” which is a lovely gesture.  It is also something to which I certainly cannot commit.  Telling a chronically ill person to “get well soon” is, though very well intentioned, not exactly comforting.  Chronic illness means the opposite of getting well soon.  An important part of loving yourself with a chronic illness is learning how to be well without being well.  It is learning to love your body, even though she fails you every day.  Loving yourself with a chronic illness means learning to get better without really getting better.  And I am beyond happy to say that I understand this now.  I can say now that I love my body.  I appreciate her for exactly what she is.  My body is a warrior.  She is strong, despite her weaknesses.  Her creativity astounds me.  And through all of this, I have learned, perhaps most importantly, all of the ways she loves me.


Product Review: Earth Therapeutics Foot Scrub + Therapeutic Balm

janine hanover block

When it comes to keeping my skin healthy, I feel like I have to work twice as hard as everyone else.  Working in a kitchen has done so much damage to my body, it’s to the point of me needing to spend a nice chunk of change to keep it healthy.  I spend most of my money and time on my face, hands, and body, but for some reason I ignore my feet.  It may be that I stand on them a minimum of 8 hours each day and never see the bottoms.  So one day I finally took a peek at my soles and I was mortified.  They looked parched, like close-to-cracking-and-about to-bleed parched.  So I decided to take action.  In the beginning, I only used lotions and creams. Although they would provide some repair, by midday my feet would look like the Sahara.  It became frustrating buying more and more tubes of deep hydration or ultimate repair creams, only to come back with a temporary fix or no change at all.  I needed a product that could give me long-term results and wouldn’t break the bank either.

So I thought long and hard about what kind of product I was looking for.  It dawned on me when I used my three-step hand repair set from Mary Kay.  I needed an exfoliator, and so my search began.  My search began unsuccessfully, and it wasn’t until I walked into the Ulta by my house and discovered something amazing.  My mother casually pointed at an ordinary looking container and said “I’ve used that on my feet before and it was amazing!”.  So I bought this product, took it home, and used it for two weeks.

Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover

The product: Earth Therapeutics Refreshing Foot Scrub and Earth Therapeutics Foot Repair Therapeutic Balm. (Foot Scrub & Repair Balm: $7.99 each at

Pros: The first is that it worked.  Even if it wasn’t to the point of completely smooth feet, it still helped.  I think my feet have formed a protective hard shell on the bottom due to the fact that I’ve abused them for the past three years working in the service industry.  So when I used the Foot Scrub I expected irritation from over-exfoliating, and to my surprise it didn’t happen.  In fact, the scrub left my feet feeling smooth most of the day until I got home after a long shift, then my feet were a little rough again.  However, by no means were my feet dry, and that it is a win in my book!  My second favorite thing about this product is how easy it is to use.  It takes maybe 5 minutes total to exfoliate my feet, rinse off with warm water, pat dry, and put the lotion on.  It’s not complicated and I easily fit it into my morning routine.  My other favorite thing about this product is how easily I can take it places.  The tubes are not too big, and I can easily throw them into a travel bag to take with me on a trip.  I like being able to carry my beauty products with me.

Cons: My complaints are small ones compared to the effectiveness it had on my feet.  The first is the smell.  It’s not stinky by any means, but smell of “tea tree” isn’t something I’m into.  It’s too woodsy for me; I’m more of a fruity person when it comes to scents.  My other complaint is that it didn’t delivery fully on completely smooth feet, however, this is nitpicking since it did leave my feet smooth for most of the day.

Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover

So, should you buy this product? I think if you have problems with your feet, especially in dryness I’d give this product a go.  It’s not going to work for everyone, and those with severe foot problems need to consult a doctor, but for those with mild dryness or who like myself, have a job where your feet are abused daily, I’d give this product a chance.

Overall: 4/5



adriana allen block

There comes a time in a young human’s life when he or she will become intimate with another human being.  That’s gucci and all, but it’s one of the most dangerous things a person could do with another person.  Why?  Easy.  SOME PEOPLE ARE A LITTLE BIT SLOW WHEN IT COMES TO THINGS LIKE PROTECTION.

gosling idk

We’ve heard it all, haven’t we?  “It just doesn’t feel the same,” “I’m on birth control, it’s okay,” or my favorite… “I’ll pull out!”


blaine um no

The subject of sex can get a bit tricky sometimes…  It’s understandable.  But the fact that here in the U.S people don’t care about safety as much as they should blows my medulla.  Now I’m not making a generalized statement here, I am using the information that I’ve been given over the years through sex education, friends, family members, the media, notes in the sky, telegrams, smoke signals, etc.

Condoms are a necessity people…  A NECESSITY.  They are not just a rubbery substance used to prevent pregnancies, or to make weird smelling balloon animals.  They are a safeguard to protecting your lovely reproductive organs and various other wobbly bits.


Personally, I think one of the main reasons a lot of people (specifically the younger generation) are afraid of condoms (or even talking to their partner about sex) is because they’re embarrassed.  I think that somehow the society we live in has put it in our brains that talking about contraception is something to be ashamed of.  We need to stop this type of thinking right now because we are shooting ourselves in the foot here.  For instance, HPV is so common nearly every sexually active person will contract it in their lifetime.  That’s huge!!!  According to, 1 in 4 teens will contract an STI before their 20th birthday.

Things like this can be prevented!!

Now for the good part…


  1. Don’t make this weird…  It’s not weird.
  2. Sit them down and go through the DUN DUN DUN….  Checklist.

A.  When’s the last time you were tested and what were the results?

B.  Do you have any allergies that prevent you from using latex?  If yes, here are some awesome brands that make specialty condoms: Lifestyles, Trojan, and Durex!  Boom.

C.  Have you had more than 4 partners in the last year, and if so have you been tested per partner? (This question is kind of personal, but ties in more with the first question.) People that are sexually active with multiple partners are at a higher risk of obtaining STI’s. There is absolutely nothing wrong with casual sex as long as you’re properly protected. This is just a question to make sure the person you wanna get weird with has been tested after each partner.

See that wasn’t so hard…


Every time you become intimate with someone new you need to go through this.  Find out what kind of person you’re going to be with.  At the end of the day, the only one responsible for your body is you.  Show your body that you love and care about it by being safe every time.

dont catch em all

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Genitals

adriana allen block

It was All Quiet on the Western Front, so to speak.  I went into work with a positive attitude, somehow feeling like the universe was going to be on my side today.  Unfortunately I was in for a rude awakening.  Like most workplaces (specifically in the service industry), it is quite common to have inappropriate work talk.  Now I am generally used to this type of talk, but nothing could have prepared me for the load of crap that I was in for that day.  Somehow I ended up being the only female scheduled, and  as a result my coworkers and I stumbled upon the subject of it being a woman’s responsibility to keep her vagina clean-shaven.  So of course seeing that I was the only woman in the entire restaurant, they all looked to me as the voice of all the women in the world/ the ruler of Venus, our home planet. One of my coworkers started right off the bat with: “I think it is completely disgusting when women do not shave their vagina.  I mean how am I supposed to go down on that when I have a mouth full of hair?   Also, I think that women that don’t shave are going to be naturally smelly.  This is 2015!  Why on earth are women still trying to do the sixties thing?”

girl shaving

Now when I tell you that my head spun completely around my body I mean it.

That was completely baffling.  I did not know somebody could be about as dumb as a bag of rocks still. I thought that they stopped making the male models like this; that they had worked out all of the kinks in the male brain motherboard…  Obviously I was wrong.


After he finished his spiel on how there are requirements for a woman’s body before any kind of sexual encounter, I politely turned to him and asked, “Does it hurt being as exceptionally ignorant as you are?”  In the heat of the moment I pulled out my book of insults, but quickly realized that I didn’t need any.  This person, this poor, poor man, has had to live with these thoughts his entire life.  No one has ever told him that he has absolutely no fucking right to dictate what a woman should and should not do to her private parts.  After a few seconds of eye-twitching, I soon realized that he was not the only one with this thought process: my fellow coworkers that happened to also be male had the same idea.  Instead of allowing myself to become angry, I took the time to grasp the teachable moment.  I looked on to these young men as if they were my young padawans and I gave them the biggest schoolin’ of their lives.

owen cynic

  1. If you are in a relationship with another person, you need to have this conversation before you engage in any kind of sexual activity.  Everyone has preferences.  That is understandable.  But subjecting women to the idea of changing themselves for your own personal pleasure is pretty much borderline ridiculous…  Actually it is absolutely ridiculous.
  1. It is a very well-known fact that vaginal hair is there to protect us, as is genital hair for men.  For women, we have a pH balance to uphold.  A pH balance in a woman’s body determines whether or not she’s going to have a shitty day.  And what I mean by a shitty day is that when the pH balance is off, women are more prone to bacterial infections such as vaginosis and yeast infections (which are not in any way, shape, or form lovely).  When you shave your genital area, you leave yourself exposed to the various other bacterias that are in the world.
  1. Vaginal hair is actually known to lessen your chances of obtaining certain types of STI’s, mainly ones that are contributed from skin to skin contact.

Here…  Have some reading material.

  1.  The next time you want to bitch about a woman’s body, you need to think about your mother, your sister, the women that hold a high regard in your life, and you think to yourself: would you want somebody to say that to them?

We unfortunately live in a society where the ruling of a woman’s body by men is completely normal. It’s an easy fix: we must start young.  Teach our boys that women are not their play-things. Women are the makers of us all.  Let’s start treating them as such.  Stop bullying women into altering themselves to fulfill your translation of this crappy norm.

k jlaw

How to Reduce Yourself to Nothing in Ten Years

adriana allen block

When I was 14, I broke up with my body. I told her that she was no longer worth my time, and that she and I were just in different places in our lives. She didn’t take it very well at first. She called me constantly, begging me to feed her with love and support like the good ol’ days. I thought that I was doing the best thing for both of us by listening to my friends when they said “you don’t need all that extra space,”that I was doing myself a service. But it wasn’t just my friends that had negative things to say about my relationship with my body. Seventeen magazine, Vogue, Elle, America’s Next Top Model, and so many other forms of media seemed to have somehow tapped into my personal relationship with her. I constantly compared my relationship with my body to others’. Everyone around me seemed to be so happy with their bodies, and here I was trying to convince myself that I was happy even when they told me that I wasn’t due to their standards. What I had grasped from the various messages around me was that if my body wasn’t thin and white with easily-tamed hair, then I was in a very unhealthy relationship and I needed to change it immediately. So after 14 years of a well-loved partnership, I finally did what everyone wanted me to do: I cut ties with my so-called dead-weight of a body. The media and people that didn’t matter around me gave me the skewed idealism to finally say: “You know what body? You’re worthless! You’re a waste of space! You no longer make me feel like I am supposed to feel.”


From then on, I was on my way to picking up a relationship with someone that wasn’t me. I was FINALLY on the path to becoming a skinny white girl with perfect hair and teeth. The supposed gates of hell, also known as my life, were finally closing, and the bridge to heavenly  white-washed and fat-shaming victory was within my sights.

most popular girls

After nearly Atkinsing myself to death, frying my hair to oblivion by attempting to straighten it every day, and wearing clothes I knew didn’t really fit my style, I soon realized that I had made a terrible mistake.

I tried to call my body, but she sent me straight to voicemail. She was trying to teach me a lesson on giving up to be someone else. She was trying to teach me that life isn’t easy, and that I should never have to compromise myself to make others happy. She was right. I soon realized that it was the people that I surrounded myself with that had an issue with  me and my body. That’s when I understood that the only opinion of myself that I needed was my own.


My body and I now are in a very loving relationship. It took about 10 years to mend it, but I am positive that she and I are now on permanently good terms.

Adriana and her body are now happily married and living in Kansas City, MO with their 2 dogs.

Women’s Nipples Terrify Us All

brit twenter block

You know what’s hilarious? The fact that although we are literally surrounded by sexual images in media and advertising, the moment a woman’s nipple is shown, it’s “pornographic” and “NSFW”.
Oh, did I say “hilarious”? I meant totally screwed up.
We are bombarded with beer ads plastered with scantily-clad women, magazine articles telling us what type of dress is most “sexy” for our body type, and the constant reminder that our bodies are supposed to be aesthetically pleasing for the enjoyment of others. However, women who bare it all, whether it be for sunbathing, breastfeeding, or any other non-sexual reason, they are immediately greeted with shock, anger, and a general “put that thing back where it came from or so help me” attitude.

Monsters Inc

Nipples are a natural part of the body that just so happen to be over-sexualized. We as a society like to make everything about sex in a not-so-subtle way, and then slap you on the wrist for “having your mind in the gutter”. Sex is an easy sell because it’s not only instinctual, it’s over-glorified; we do the same thing nowadays with food (but today I want to talk about boobs, not burgers).

boobs vs burger

It’s truly one of the fascinating double-standards that really shows us how odd our culture has become since the dawn of first-world civilization… Men’s nipples are not sexualized. It is not at all strange to see a shirtless man in public. In fact, when a guy is at the beach, it’s supposed to be weird if he is wearing a shirt. He (assuming he’s not too fat or too skinny or too pale or whatever other exciting standards we hold each other up to) is encouraged to prance around in the sand, nipples free to fly. But if you see a woman topless on a beach — SHIELD YOUR HUSBANDS’ AND CHILDREN’S EYES!


No really. Why?
It’s because we are making a bigger deal out of a non-sexual body part than necessary.
The thing people are confused about is the difference between sexual body parts and sexualized body parts. Men and women alike cover their sex organs in public because we believe for some convoluted reason that sex is shameful. Branching off of that, we deem nipples on women to also be shameful. The source of food for every newborn mammal who has ever existed is shamed because we cannot get over the fact that women have these wonderfully bouncy, sensitive fun-bags that men don’t.


It’s hard to see a future where it’s okay for everyone to walk around completely naked, but we could at least start small. We can each personally acknowledge on the most basic level that a woman’s nipples are no more scary than a man’s. Then we can start to accept the fact that breast-feeding in public is not a way to turn anyone on/ make anyone uncomfortable, but a way for a woman to feed her infant. Maybe once we’ve established those norms, we can go to a beach and see a woman topless without deciding that she is being indecent.


Until that day of nipple freedom comes, all we can do is keep making noise. Do what our generation does best: Tweet about it, write a Facebook post, pin articles on Pinterest, Instagram it up. Talk to your friends! Nothing will change until we make it change.