Please don't run away! Trust me - you want to hear this.
There is nothing wrong with the word vagina. There is nothing wrong with your actual vagina. It is a word that describes a part of a human body, much like "elbow" or "femur." It's okay to say "vagina." Presumably, not at a work meeting, or in the grocery store, but you know, in private conversations with friends and family or medical professionals. For the purposes of this blog post, however, I mean specifically when talking to your children.
You do not have to say any of following, (unless it makes you super happy, but this is not just about you):
Maybe I saw the "Vagina Monologues" one too many times in college. But if being a mom has taught me anything, it's that kids are REAL. They are so real because they haven't learned how to fit themselves into a tiny box yet. They haven't learned social decorum, shame, guilt, etc. that keeps us wanting to take up as little space as possible with our bodies and our thoughts. When I talk to my daughter, I use the right words.
I learned in an adolescent sexual development class that there is no specific age to start being real about our bodies or sexuality with children - just normalize and be matter of fact from day one. If you are embarrassed, they will be too. I say "vagina" and once my daughter is older and has a larger vocabulary I will help her differentiate from "vulva" and "vagina." I remember hearing it called different things as a kid and I was so confused. I will make sure she knows the correct words so she can tell me if she is in pain or if someone (including other kids) touch her inappropriately (or if she happens to be exploring herself in public places, where apparently such things are frowned upon).
I never want her to associate her body or sexuality with secrets and shame. I want her to feel comfortable setting boundaries. I want her to be proud of herself and have high self esteem. I want her to know what is normal and what is not so I can advocate for her, until she can advocate herself, whether it's in the doctor's office or in her personal relationships. The shroud of secrecy over our bodies and sex is what leads to bad relationships, lack of sexual agency, abuse, sexual assault, etc. It's time to end the madness!
This goes for boys too - they should understand what's appropriate, what consent is, and how to appropriately handle any strong sexual feelings or surprise boners without thinking there is something wrong with them. They should know that a girl's short skirt or spaghetti strap is not an invitation or a "yes."
I'd like to see rape culture, body shaming and slut shaming end in my lifetime... a girl can dream. In the mean time, let's just start with calling our body parts by the right names, 'kay?
As a hobby seller on my favorite peer to peer fashion selling app, Poshmark, I have learned some great tips and tricks in the past year. I by no means represent myself as a power seller who makes an actual income from it - there are plenty of experts out there! This is very much something I do to clean out my closet, and share great items while making a bit of money in return. I've started this little series to share my favorite best practices in the hopes it will help someone else! This first volume is one of the most basic things and the first thing your customer sees when they place an order: Packaging!
I don't know about you, but I love getting packages and gifts. Online shopping is basically a gift to yourself, so why not make your buyer feel extra special with a pretty package? There's no guarantee it will result in a repeat sale, but there's no guarantee it won't! Here are some quick money and time saving tips for you to put your best foot forward with your Poshmark packaging!
1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
If your customer appreciates eco-friendly practices (which most people do) they will not mind a reused box or packing material. Do what feels authentic to you as a seller and is in keeping with your brand.
2. Get free boxes from USPS!
You can order them online here or pick them up in store. I tend to order in bulk and pick them up when I happen to be at the post office.
3. Order affordable supplies on Amazon
I also have these 10x13 and these 6x9 pretty pink waterproof vinyl mailers for clothing or jewelry. I just wrap the items in bubble wrap if they are vulnerable and they do fine. I always add some washi tape to the sealed area and then add extra packing tape to secure. I've received fun printed mailers and it always brings a smile to my face. It helps to add to your "brand" as a seller as well.
4. Make it pretty!
I wrap everything in tissue paper (good condition paper saved from birthday and Christmas or procured from the dollar store) and seal with my logo label and tie a nice ribbon or baker's twine around it.
I included a sample image in this listing so people know their package will arrive beautifully. People give my items as gifts also so it saves them the trouble of wrapping. Using special packaging, tissue paper, washi tape, twine, thank you notes, etc is a way to build a relationship with your customer and give them a nice buying experience.
5. Add a Thank you Note!
This is somethign that is completely optional but is very nice to do. It makes me feel good to write it and I love when I get one from a seller! You can either use thank you notes you have on hand, hit up the Target dollar spot for some cheapies, or just write on a piece of note paper. It's a nice little touch that goes along way.
6. Wow them with a free gift
Now this is something that not everyone wants to do, but it's very nice. I know I've been super pleased and felt really special to get one. If it's not for me, I just re-gift it to my own buyers the next time I sell something. Things I've included are make up samples from my ipsy subscription, lip glosses (from the party favor section at Target - super affordable!) and cute love-themed pins that I had leftover from my bridal shower. I will tape them to the thank you card with washi tape. It's super pretty and fun.
I hope you enjoyed these 6 tips. Know that you don't need to spend a lot of extra money to make your packages look pretty. I am a craft supply hoarder (and general hoarder) so I already had these things on hand. If you're just getting started here is a mini shopping list for you:
Stay tuned for Vol. 2. Leave a comment if there is a specific topic you'd like me to cover in an upcoming installment! Happy Poshing!
We live in a consumerist, disposable culture. Just watch The Story of Stuff and you'll realize it's not just a personal problem (though many suffer from disorders that cause them to hoard and I by no means wish to trivialize that). Learning about planned obsolescence was a real downer for me: the fact that companies make things specifically to break down faster so you'll buy the newer version. The Earth, and we as humans cannot sustain this forever. I'm sure you have plenty of things you could throw out, or are maybe saving for that magic day when you meet your goal weight, have somewhere to wear it, etc. You can't seem to part with it, but you can't hold on to it forever or you'll literally drown in stuff. If you're feeling stuck, it's time to make a change and start minimizing clutter, making some money, and living your best life!
Ready to get started? It's time to get real. Do some thinking about the following topics before you start decluttering:
Got it? Good! Here are 4 Methods to Minimize Clutter, Make Money, & Live Your Best Life:
GUYS. Hold. The. Phone.
I just came across this video in my Facebook feed via Practically Functional and immediately had to DIY it! Basically it involves putting a bunch of fabric scraps in a wipes container and letting your toddler go to town (like they usually do with a poor, innocent tissue box).
This is brilliant for 2 reasons:
Subscription boxes - surely you've heard of them. They can be anywhere from utterly frivolous to overwhelmingly practical. I believe sharing is caring so I'm rounding up some of the ones I've tried for better... or worse! Full disclosure - My posts do contain my affiliate links but this post is in no way sponsored or endorsed by any of these brands. I share of my own free will!
I recently read an article about how we need to stop using straws because our ocean and its lifeforms are literally choking on them. I get it - that garbage patch in the Pacific makes me super sad. I have tried to take action on this front by being more personally responsible.. I have a lovely collection of reusable straws in my home, use reusable coffee mugs and cups as often as I can. As I type this, I am drinking iced coffee out of a mason jar with a reusable straw. I use reusable bags in the grocery store. When I don't, I use the bags as garbage bags in my small garbage can. I wash Ziploc bags. I buy compostable plates made of wheat. I was told to carry a reusable spork (I bought one but can't bring myself to put it in my purse).
But how far can personal responsibility help us when literally every business ever uses a crap-ton of plastic? Order food from any restaurant or take home leftovers and you get styrofoam containers, disposable cutlery (in a plastic bag), salad dressing in a plastic pouch, in a plastic bag (why?).
Literally every food item I buy from the grocery store comes in a plastic container. I just made a grilled cheese and the bread, cheese, and butter were all housed in plastic. Even the butter cubby in my fridge is plastic.
Personal responsibility is important yes, but we should also lobby our local businesses and major companies to ditch the plastic and find alternatives as well. We also have to consider that not everyone can afford fancy reusable coffee cups and reusuable bags and fancy metal water bottles - there is a class issue with this as well. Not to mention, all those things had to be manufactured - how can we be certain that this trend of reusable items is not hurting the environment as well? The best option is to reuse what we have and minimize our desire to consume and buy more more more!
I still believe in making better personal choices for the earth. But plastic-shaming also needs to be directed at literally every business. Real change will not come from a few individuals as long as we are bombarded with plastic in every conceivable area of our lives.
This episode of Adam Ruins Everything has a lot of food for thought on this topic (with sources!) . You may also want to check out The Story of Stuff and Bag It, two great short films.
What are your thoughts on plastic overload? What do you do personally and politically to impact positive change?
This is a call to action.
I'm so over the #Oscars and other awards shows. I'm so tired of terrible men getting rewarded when they should straight up be in jail. We get so excited every time a small handful of women and POC get nominated for something as if it signals real progress and if we should be satisfied with so little.
I want more diverse and inclusive representation in my films, tv, music, and pop culture as a whole. People cannot be rewarded if they aren't given a chance. White (cis, able-bodied, straight) stories have been told again and again and frankly I am bored.
I am much more interested in the stories of those who are different than me, but with whom I may still share universal truths and values; or more importantly, from whom I can learn something new. Stories are what make us human, what keep us alive long beyond our years on earth. Stories matter.
Representation matters. What we see reflected in the media can either inspire or dishearten us. It's the difference between a child saying "that can be me one day" or "someone like me could never do that."
Time to move on from these antiquated awards shows that are behind society as a whole.
Since the election, I've been very interested in and absorbed by the many ways this new President has impacted our thoughts, feelings, and worldviews. One thing I am most excited to see is privileged people waking up to the reality of injustice in America.
It started in my babywearing group on Facebook. I am more of a hobby baby-wearer, and by no means on the level of many of the women in this group for whom it is a lifestyle. I enjoy seeing the beautiful wraps, cool finishes, the cute carriers, and occasionally add one to my Pinterest board Wear all the Babies.
Recently, women of color started sharing their experiences about being discriminated against or otherwise treated in racist ways while babywearing. Naturally, some white women in the group took offense to these revelations and asked that they not talk about race and keep the group "just about babywearing." There was a lot of tone policing (as if asking nicely is going to end oppression). The thing these women fail to realize is that for people of color, race is not separate from anything they do, think, or experience. That is the failure of whiteness and white privilege - we do not see the water in which we swim. Our race is the default and therefore devoid of examination and self-reflection - and that needs to change.
For the next week, the hashtag #youcantignorethis sprung up. Many women shared their experiences of racism while babywearing. I found them brave, refreshing, and honest. The topic of cultural appropriation while babywearing came up as well, which was also fascinating to read. It's something I didn't realize, being new to babywearing (and also being white as can be) that babywearing has been colonized and columbused to death by companies and white people in general. From taking traditional indigenous and African patterns and re-naming them things like "tribal" to the co-opting of the entire practice itself - these women were calling it all out on the table. I reluctantly (it's really very pretty) went to my pin board and removed one such wrap by German company Didymos which was called "Indio" - a racist slur used against Zapotec Mesoamerican indigenous culture. (To learn more, read here.) The term, which I had never heard before may not mean much to me, but to the people who were harmed by it, it's very upsetting. We should respect that. Furthermore, the company has since renamed the wrap to "Prima" due to public outcry. I'm not sure if that means that it's okay to continue using it, but that is an area for further learning and development on my part. My gut feeling tells me that I want to avoid this company altogether if they want to profit off of indigenous cultures and use insensitive language in naming their wraps. I can't stomach companies profiting off of indigenous people at the same time that indigenous Americans are being oppressed in real life, as they always have been.
That whole experience taught me two things:
1) Educating people is a LOT of work. I saw women of color get fed up really quickly and get justifiably angry. I also saw white women step up and and do some educating as well and was moved to do some myself. I immediately got tired of repeating myself and literally copy/pasted the same thing over and over just to keep it moving. I actually had to take a break. But I am privileged to take a break. My mental exhaustion and frustration is a scintilla of the lived experience of people of color. I have a great respect for those who continue to do the free labor of educating people but I also respect those who choose self-care and bid them adieu for their own sanity.
2) Some people just don't get it. I saw a lot of defensiveness, resistance, and hurt feelings. Everything from "I'm not racist" to "Bringing up racism is what causes these problems - we are all one." If anything, they made it about them and denied WOC's actual experience in favor of their hurt at being called out (the phenomenon known as white women's tears). You know, the typical. Very few said "Wow I didn't know. I will try to better" or things like "I am listening and learning."
It made me reflect on my own racial identity development and how far I've come. I do have some (some) empathy for those who are simply ignorant, haven't been exposed to other viewpoints or haven't taken the time to examine their own privilege. Not everyone went to a liberal college with diversity workshops and leadership training. I am very lucky and grateful for these opportunities to unpack my privilege and dismantle my internalized white supremacy. I still make mistakes, I still screw up - but I am trying.
So that brings me to the point of this post. We need to do the work. Many are finally starting to do the work, thanks to this election. We white folks need to take responsibility for our part in keeping white supremacy alive. We didn't ask for this but people of color didn't ask for racism. Anti-racism work is only half the battle - the big one is within. It's examining everything you think you knew and turning it upside down. It's both listening AND believing people when they tell you there is a problem. It's trying not to make it about you, but to make it about how you can work to fix it. It's recognizing that the concept of whiteness is a lie (both my Irish and Italian ancestors were not considered "white") and that our subconscious worldview that whiteness as the end all be-all is what is holding us all back. Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere - I do not enjoy living in a world where I have special unearned benefits and others have unearned hardships. The only way to empower others is to relinquish power, and the only one who can do the work is you.
If you are ready to start doing the work, don't expect a free education. Google is your friend. Start here with this awesome introductory post on Intersectional Feminism. Keep working at it and assume that the work may never end. But we sure will get a lot further a lot faster if you get on board.
Some people love to throw around "Social Justice Warrior" as an insult. Some people in our society seem to think that there is nothing to be so upset about, that we have equality between men and women, and racism is a thing of the past. Bringing it up is "divisive" and we need more unity they say. Calling out those that oppress you and others is nothing but crybaby nonsense meant to polarize our country. Clearly we need to "toughen up" and stop whining.
Honestly, I think that's a bunch of bull! Women and men are not treated equally under the law. Police brutality is a SERIOUS problem. Rape culture is real and it's terrifying. Families across the globe are being torn apart by draconian immigration policies and war. Nations are turning inward despite the fact that globalization is here to stay. Just because it hasn't happened to you or someone you know doesn't mean it's not a problem. That is called privilege. You should not have to know someone personally to respect their basic human rights or want them to be happy, healthy, and free.
If fighting for human dignity, standing up for what's right, and ensuring that all human beings are treated equally is being an "SJW" then sign me up. I'm a Social Justice Warrior and I'm ready for battle (well, not battle, but I will bring the snacks to your senator-calling and postcard-writing party).
Don't let anyone shame you into thinking that standing up for what you believe in is wrong. The truth is they are terrified of your power. The thought of you reaching your full potential and actually fighting back against injustice has them shaking in their boots. Women, especially, have been conditioned to be meek, weak, and take up as little space as possible both literally (with their bodies) and figuratively (with their voice and ideas). Take up space. Demand justice. Be a warrior and don't back down. It is literally life and death and we can't afford to not be "political" anymore.
Nice to meet you!
I am a tech pro, blogger, DIY'er, reader, TV binger, music lover, nerd and semi-crunchy mom. I write about professional development, being crafty, motherhood and politics. Thanks for joining me and letting me share my thoughts with you!