With the innocent days of key parties and free love behind us, Not Your Mother’s Playground: A realistic guide to honest, happy, and healthy open relationships is a how-to guide for navigating today’s very different world of modern-day non-monogamy. From swinging to polyamory, it walks readers through the many ups and downs they may encounter along their journey. Samantha injects the honest story of her own open marriage throughout to provide readers with insight, humour, and refreshing personal experience. Whether you are new to non-monogamy or an experienced veteran, Not Your Mother’s Playground is sure to challenge your mind and validate your heart.
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It doesn’t feel like that long ago that Steph and I were considered the strange misfits among everyone we knew for being non-monogamous, but on the other hand, yeah ok, it sort of does. If 2014 still has us living in a society where we have so many backwards thinkers wandering around wreaking havoc, then 2006, when we first opened up, feels like the cave-people times. (I would’ve just said caveman times, but it’s 2014 as I write this, so I’m feeling more progressive, you see.)
The other day a fact about my life nowadays smacked me over the head, hard. As I look around at the four gals and one dude I’d consider my besties, I see all of them either in non-monogamous relationships now, or being in them in recent times. Sure, there’s the old adage “birds of a feather flock together”, but it still seems pretty wacky that that many people in my life now identify as poly / poly-leaning.
You’re wondering my point, I know, and to be honest, I’m trying to figure out how to word it without sending incredibly obnoxious. I might fail. Lord knows I try to not be obnoxious most of the time, but that doesn’t mean I succeed, so here goes nothing.
As I realized that not only in my closest group of friends, but in the next layer of friends, and next layer after that, all the way to some more casual acquaintances I have on Facebook, suddenly I’ve got tons of people around me that are poly / non-monogamous / insert their own label here … it hit me …
I AM NO LONGER A SPECIAL SOCIAL-MISFIT. I AM NOW JUST A FACE IN THE CROWD.
There were definitely parts about being one of the first couples we know that openly discussed our open marriage with the world that were hard. We had to defend ourselves a lot to friends. I lost friends. I lost jobs! We were always the weird ones, but not for more normal reasons like how I won’t eat raw tomatoes unless they’re cut into a specific small size, or how Steph makes the jokes that nobody else even sees existing. No, we were weird before because of our relationship status. And now? Well now we’re just normal, or at the very least more normal-ish.
I’d daresay … we’re boring, even.
Steph hasn’t “dated” anyone else in almost two years. My recent relationship history, when compared to the first 6 years of non-monogamy are a strange combo of hot sex meets heartache meets what-the-fuck-you-slept-with-a-rockstar?? We’re not nearly as actively “poly” as SO MANY OTHER PEOPLE ON OUR FACEBOOK OR TWITTER FEEDS. We’re not busy with the need for Google Calendar like we used to be. We’re not living in a poly family, feeling the love from all sides, or meeting mysterious new lovers in town for business – ok, no wait, I did that one a couple of weeks ago … maybe I’m doing more than I actually realize!
Anyway. I guess my whole realization is that maybe we’re simply not paving the way anymore. I’ve said countless times that I haven’t wanted to be the poster child for polyamory in the city, but I still enjoyed my time in the spotlight because I felt like I could offer something and help control the message in the media which, to be honest, has rarely painted us good ol’ sexual deviants in a light that doesn’t just make us look like good ol’ sexual deviants. I felt like if me being in the newspaper, or on television, or even in a full multi-page article in Toronto Life, could make other people feel more comfortable with their lives, their relationship choices, and their decisions to be out and proud about it, then hey, I would do it.
So now it’s been done, and the way has been paved – obviously not just by me, but by lots of other wonderful people sharing their stories – but it still feels a little strange to be in the world we are now. I know that I’ve been writing this blog since 2008 and I know that I wrote a pretty good book (if I do say so myself, and I do), but I’m struggling to comprehend if my poly voice is even necessary anymore.
I have a lot of writing to do soon, but it’s more to get things out of my head, and not really for any other purpose. It’s been a very busy couple of months and I’m even sure if I have an audience anymore. I’m also not really sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing to me. Maybe my audience has grown and I haven’t even realized it. Maybe there still is a place for me amongst all of the amazingly brave souls that share their stories on the daily. Maybe, once I get used to the fact that I am just a face in the crowd now, maybe I can find a new way to be a louder voice and to support people in new and different ways.
Don’t get me wrong though about my feelings of uncertainty and perhaps discomfort in not being so “special” anymore, and I promise, I’m definitely not “fishing” for compliments here. These thoughts are genuine, even if it does sound like I’m knocking myself. I’m well aware of the importance of the work I have been a part of. I have years and years of emails from people who have thanked me for being out when they couldn’t. I see the value in all of it, 100%. I have worked long and hard at being a social misfit when it comes to relationships because I want us to get to this place where people can say “I’m non-monogamous” as easily as they say “I have blonde hair and I like cheeseburgers.” I am THRILLED that this change is happening and feel blessed to be / have been a part of it, in whatever way I have been / am, even if it does push me a little more toward being obsolete.
I know this to be true though. There is absolutely nothing wrong with handing the torch over to the next amazing group of misfits who want to have their turn. I’m proud to be a part of this team and look forward to years of learning from them all.
From my closing speech at Playground with Dr. Ruthie, here are some tips that I tweeted earlier today for dealing with media burnout, especially when things are as heavy as they have been lately (this entire YEAR has been so hard, especially for women.) I hope this helps.
- You are under absolutely no obligation to stay up to date on every piece of news out there. It’s ok to take breaks. It’s ok to close tabs. It’s ok to walk away and do something else for 5 minutes, an hour, a week, forEVER if you want;
- Ask yourself who in your community you can turn to for support when you find yourself getting wrapped up in it too much. If news affects you more or less than other people, either way of being is fine;
- If people cry about an issue that you’re not crying about, you’re not better OR worse than them for not doing so. Our lenses and experiences are different. You might be sensitive to another issue that I’m not, and vice-versa. It’s not a competition;
- I can’t stress this enough. The guilt that you might feel when you don’t want to click the latest story but feel that you must? Let it go. Don’t clickbait yourself;
- Take time for the things that make you smile. Whether it’s food, exercise, film, friends, etc. You need to balance the heavy with some light;
- Try to find the good stories in the media; trust me, they’re out there! If a cat video makes you smile, watch the shit out of that kitty vine compilation;
- The news this year has been awful, but know that there will be more good to come. Allow it to come into your heart when it happens;
- I don’t care if you call yourself a feminist. I care about what you DO as one. A moniker alone does not a good person make;
- You’re not a bad feminist for smiling. You’re not a bad feminist for disengaging, laughing at jokes, or simply not being up to date on the latest humanity horror of the week;
- There’s something to be said for trying to fight every fire but there can be peace in the realization / acceptance that you can’t fight them all and that it’s ok;
- Try to find or carve out what your role is. Maybe it’s in educating others. Maybe it’s offering support. Maybe it’s yelling as loud as you possibly can. Maybe it’s keeping quiet and helping to make or support spaces for others to speak and be heard;
- Support those that do take on more leadership roles, either online or off, by offering them soft places to fall, or whatever makes it easier for them to step back. Sometimes people fall into these positions and need to know that should they want to step back, things will be ok. Help them be ok;
- You can choose to engage with every idiot out there. You might change some minds but it’s more likely to just cause you harm.
- Those morons/assholes/MRAS/misogynists/etc. etc. etc. out there that we call trolls? They think WE’RE the trolls harassing them! (I know, right?) You can say the smartest stuff ever and they’ll still turn you into the teacher from Charlie Brown;
- Does that mean give up? Stop fighting? Don’t be angry or loud? Not at all. It just means that some people are dumb or hopeless and we can’t win ‘em all;
- Sometimes? Nothing can feel as good as a head shake at the internet & a look around to be reminded how great your community is;
- Don’t feel like you have community? You don’t have to be loud to be a member. Quiet observers are always welcome. We are in this together;
- And finally, if you sometimes need to feel defeated, ok, do so … but know that you’re not actually. Help each other up as we dust ourselves off and get back to making the world a better place.
A few years ago a friend of mine put me in touch with (my now friend) Eric Haywood, who was, at the time, working on a movie called Four of Hearts about four people, one open marriage, and a foursome that changed everything. (Sorry, that totally sounded like a pitch!)
Eric really wanted to approach the topic with as much of a realistic and honest approach as possible, and it was my role to help consult with him on what exactly that meant.
As anyone who’s involved in non-monogamy knows, there’s a million different ways that relationships can go. Sometimes there’s more of a focus on relationships, sometimes more on physicality. In Four of Hearts we might not see the poly relationships that *we’re* used to, especially as the open couple seem afraid of emotions outside of their fun sex life, but I think it’s fair to say that there’s some characters / character traits that we’ve probably all seen. From the ridiculous melodrama that jealousy can bring, to the judgment, to the insecurity … it’s all there.
It might not be the absolute best guide for reasonable and completely healthy non-monogamy (not that any movie is required to be that), but I think it’s a very fair, non-sensational look at ONE set of people navigating these waters. It’s very fair to say that there’s definitely some character flaws that go unresolved by the end of the movie … but saying that, how many people live without flaws? Who says that these characters don’t continue learning and growing after the credits roll? (In theory, of course.) There’s a lot of overreacting by the characters and they for sure make a lot of mistakes that wouldn’t necessarily be considered “role model worthy”, but it also seems pretty real to me. Humans fuck up. I know I do, and I especially did when new to this way of being. I wanted to scold ALL of the characters at multiple times throughout the film, but just because I could see the silly mistakes they were making because they were being guided by ego.
It was an honour to help with the process (and so cool to be able to tell the parts where my talking with Eric really made a script difference!), and I’d love to hear your thoughts.
I’ve had the DVD for a while, but it’s now out on Netflix, hopefully Canadian as well (I watched it on U.S.).
September 24, 2004, Steph and I tied the knot. We decided to get married not for the normal reasons you’ve probably come to expect, but mostly because my dad was sick and I wanted him to walk me down the aisle before he died. We loved each other, so it seemed like a good idea at the time. Ten years, and much hard work later, it’s obviously one of the best decisions we ever made. I decided to write this open letter to my husband on our anniversary because I wanted the world to see how much I love this man. Here goes.
September 24, 2004. “Love makes fools of us all.”
Hey Steph, Remember that scene in Superbad where Jonah Hill and Michael Cera are so drunk and they want to shout off rooftops how much they love each other? Followed by a little “boop” on the nose? That’s what I’m feeling right now. I thought long and hard about what to give you to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary today, and kept coming up blank. I didn’t want to just buy a “thing” for the sake of buying a thing, and not like I really could because you took some surprise extra cash we fell into and bought yourself a PS4, so there goes that. Haha. Tenth anniversary gifts are pretty dumb, traditionally anyway. Ooh ooh, here’s some tin and aluminum! Or how about the more “modern” version of here’s some crappy diamonds that I spent far too much money on! DUMB. Hypocritical sidenote though: even though I love plastic jewelry and just wrote that last sentence, I would still enjoy diamonds one day should you ever feel like giving them to me. I’ll wear them to the fanciest dive bar I can find and look like a real piece of work you’d be proud to have on your arm.
ANYway, I’m getting off course. The point is, even though we don’t normally make a big deal out of our wedding anniversary (which makes sense considering that the moment we got together was much more significant, and the moment we opened up our marriage was way more significant), this year, it being ten and all, it seems like the time to write you this open letter and channel a little Hill and Cera for a few minutes. This is a pretty big year for us. We’ve owned a house for ten years, we’ve been without my Dad for ten years, and we brought 50 people together to watch me wear a pink dress and marry you wearing white shoes, and then sit around and eat cold chicken and take lewd pictures of our gnome centrepieces, exactly ten years ago today.
Ten years married isn’t something I ever aspired to or thought I’d reach when I was younger. And, let’s face it, during our first few years before marriage was even a thing, I wasn’t sure it would ever happen with us. The people we were then are very far away from the people we are now. There were many times when I wondered if we would last, but somehow decided to stick it out, and yes, fine, I’m glad I did, ok? So you’re probably starting to wonder why I’m writing this in the first place. Honestly, the reason is simply to tell you, and the world, how great I think you are, and how wonderful a man you’ve become. Because life with us is often so simple and easy, I tend to talk about other people more on my social media feeds or my blog; it’s others that are causing me the turmoil, while you’re providing me a soft place to fall.
Ok, ok, before you go getting a super gigantic ego, let’s be honest for a second. We haven’t always been the best. Sure, every moment we’ve been together has been better than the moment before – and I’ll take a lot of credit for that as someone who always pushes for improvement day in and day out, and it’s clear that when we check back in on the Sam & Steph of yesteryear, we’re miles ahead now of where we used to be. To start with, can you even believe we’ve been together for almost 14 years and are actually stronger than we were? This is probably the part of the letter where others reading it might want to go and barf, and that’s fine, but it needs to be said. We’ve had to go through our fair share of absolute shit. I’ve been bitchier to you than you’ve acknowledged, and you’ve taken years to grasp some concepts that have taken me mere days. You know this is all true, which is why I feel fine saying it. But through all the shit, we’re still here. And I’ll dare to say it … we’re happier.
Relationships on their own are always throwing curve balls at you, and we decided to throw non-monogamy into the mix 8 years ago because life just obviously wasn’t tough enough. And you know as well as I do that it’s been one helluva hard ride, at times, along with one helluvan amazing one too. Being open has forced us to examine our true selves at our very core, it’s put us onto so many life paths that we would’ve never gone down before, and it’s taught us what true honesty really means. I cringe when I hear people saying that the secret to staying married is just putting up with the other person’s crap for years on end, and saying shitty heteronormative bullshit lines like “Yes, Dear.”
Yes, there is a certain degree of crap acceptance (you’d probably say “crapcceptance”) and compromise that goes along with any relationship – you accept that I leave my clothes everywhere, I accept that you can’t get the grocery stores in our neighborhood right, even though we’ve lived here for ten years – there are many, many times that we meet in the middle, because you have to sometimes for your own sanity and just to get through the day. But the real reason that we have not only survived a relationship this long, but thrive in it more and more every day, is because we’ve dared to be brutally honest with each other a lot, while also finding ways to accept those truths and grow from them.
This hasn’t always been easy. It’s incredibly challenging to have a conversation about the things that aren’t so great in your love life or your sex life. Whether you’re saying the things or hearing the things, there can be wounds that are so deep they can take years to heal, but when they do? The scars left behind are worth it. We’ve been able to discover who we really are while walking side by side; we know our strengths and we know our weaknesses. I don’t want to ever say that we’re perfect, because we’re not. There’s things that I long for, that I need; some things that you can give me and some that just go against you’re wiring. And there’s things that I’m sure you wish I could do or would be for you, but I’m not. Accepting that we cannot be everything we hope for isn’t a death sentence like so many people fear; I’d say it’s the thing that keeps us together and helps us truly cherish the things that are so great about us.
And wasn’t I supposed to be talking about what’s great about you? Yes, yes, I’ll get to that now. To start with, you’re a handsome devil who’s really grown into his looks. You look better as you age (and it’s almost impossible to believe that you’re 37), More importantly though, your character is one of great strength and conviction. A lot of people likely don’t know much about you and your real opinions on things that matter because you are the obvious introvert complement to my extrovert self. Sure they know when you complain about things you hate – you’re certainly never not vocal about that – but when it comes to really important issues like equality, gender politics, racism … all of that stuff, you’re one amazing ally who supports by simply allowing others space to be who they are and need to be. You stand up for things vocally that require it, but don’t always feel the need to as you respect that other voices may be more appropriate in certain moments. You don’t take up the space of others who deserve it more, and rarely try to take up even your own allotted space. In short, you’re pretty great.
You also support me like I don’t even think I deserve. I know that when you say that my happiness is really important to you, that you mean it more than anything. Sure, there are many days when I would much rather that you push me, that you don’t accept certain things about me and would, for once, hold me accountable. But this accountability that I long for so much, I can find elsewhere. Whether it’s in a job, a personal trainer, or with a Daddy dom that you’re fine with me having, I can have both that accountability and your support. And your support, let’s be honest, is huge. You’ve supported me as I’ve quit jobs for either no reason or to complete passion projects. You’ve supported me as I’ve told you that I liked to be fucked in a different way, even if it’s not what’s on offer at the moment. You’ve supported me when I do that thing you hate, but secretly love, when you’re going upstairs to pee and I magically have a list of like THREE things that I need you to bring downstairs for me. You support me in ways that I can’t even describe. Though I know I’ve complained at times about the way that I’M wired and the way that YOU’RE wired not always lining up, I would be lying if I said that you don’t treat me like an absolute queen, in your own way, each and every day.
Can we talk for a second about your (dad) jokes? I’ll admit it, they’ve gotten so much funnier over the years. You know as well as I do that I really do love them even though I groan and complain about pretty much all of them. When you’re so proud of yourself for hitting a good one, I can’t help but love you the most in those moments. You know you’re being a pain in the ass, and you thrive in that moment in possibly the most adorable way imaginable. Finally, before I just go on and on for far too long about everything that you do, I want to make a list of some random things that come to my mind about why I love you, so here goes:
- We do this thing now where we always put toothpaste on the other’s brush. You definitely started it. It’s pretty freaking romantic, if you ask me;
- When I turn onto my left side in bed, even if you’re asleep, you always roll over and spoon me. Whether it’s because you love me or are just a filthy perv who wants dat ass, Ill take both options, because it’s sweet;
- You love me even when I look like death. And no, I don’t think that as a woman I have a duty to put on pretty makeup and fix my hair every single day, but I still like to. But on those days when I haven’t, you don’t care. You kiss me and you treat me with the same amount of love and respect that you would if I’d gotten all snazzy. You might laugh at my weird outfit choices though, but I totally support that;
- You go to Walmart. Seriously. I hate going to Walmart, or any store, really. But you’ll go when we need things. You’ll deal with the flourescent lights and the horrible people, and you’ll take care of this house and the people in it;
- You’ve loved me as a blonde, you’ve loved me a strong girl, you’ve loved me skinnier, and you’ve loved me as a fat kid;
- You’ve told me before “If you love him and want to be with him more than me, than you should do it.” I believed it then, and I believe it now. I’m glad I stayed. I’m glad it’s us against the world, even though I often want many others to join us (me), I don’t want you to not be there, either way;
- On that note, when I fall in love or even just blind lust with others – whether during the happy moments or the sad ones like breakups – you are there for me. You carry on with our life together, sometimes a bit unaware of what’s going on with me, but if I tell you, you get it. You listen when I tell you how I feel about others, you don’t judge, and you let me be who and what I need to be at the time, even if it’s hard for you. You are unbelievable;
- You’ve been far more accepting of my extra-curricular activities than I have been of yours, but you’ve also done everything you can to learn about why we’re different and what works for me and doesn’t;
- You blow me kisses when I watch you bike or drive away to work. It’s because this thing that reminds me of when I used to watch my dad leave for work, and you’ve embraced it. My day doesn’t feel right unless I’ve waved goodbye to you as you leave for yours, and you know it;
- You make dinner when I’m still working, or even when I’m not. You take care of things and you take care of me;
- You support me and don’t *really* complain about it when I need your help for all of the many passion projects I do. Whether it’s conference load-in or tear-down, or simply driving me so that I can enjoy a drink and relax, you do it, without question, every time;
- You rub my back or my shoulders, or wherever else, even when it hurts you. You don’t even know how important to my actual well-being this has become. I just have to make a silly little squeak and look at you with a pout in my eyes and you know, you always know;
- I don’t feel ugly or stupid or unloved or unwanted when I’m around you. Sure, you get lost in your own world at times, who doesn’t? I feel truly accepted, loved, and admired for who I am, always.
Stéphane Goulet, I love you. And while I’ve loved many men and women since knowing you, and will likely love more in years to come, I know that, as much as I often want others to also be by my side, my life wouldn’t be complete without you there first and foremost.
You are my rock. You are my world. You are my bestest friend. I love you. Happy tenth anniversary. Let’s get drunk and be inappropriate.
(Or realistically, let’s get drunk and watch Supernatural or Star Trek and probably pass out, because, hey, marriage. Am I right??)
Cheesy puns aside, I was pretty excited to try the Nuru gel recently. Obviously the circumstances had a lot to do with it: Ridiculously planned out threesome with a close friend and a musician friend of mine who requested the stuff in the first place.
My good friends at Ohhh Canada provided me with everything I needed to get this body-on-body massage completed: one small bottle of massage gel: $19.99 and one matching massage sheet: $27.99.
Before we got to our host’s hotel room, we thought we’d watch some Nuru videos online so that we’d know exactly how to use this stuff. That was definitely an experience, a cheesy, cheesy experience. Also, a little bit scary. When the video showed the big jug of Nuru concentrate that you pour into water and mix with your hands, it all started to feel a little bit like The Abyss, and I wondered if the small bottle was going to provide the same plasma-esque goop ride that its larger counterpart seemed to offer.
Our host was convinced that the small bottle of Nuru was going to be crap; I remained optimistic that the folks at Wet had manufactured a small product that would emulate its larger cousin, and told him to be patient; this would be totally sexy and perfectly fiiiine.
Turns out I was wrong. After we spread out the official Nuru reusable massage sheet – which is basically a $28 painter’s tarp that you feel compelled to get to go along with the gel because it’s made by the same company and what IF a cheapo painter’s tarp wouldn’t actually do the trick, but honestly honey, just get a tarp if mess concerns you that much – we then tried the gel. (Seriously though, if you want to cut up a body, Dexter style, maybe this tarp is for you, because it’s pretty great at not absorbing smells and also maybe blood, probably, I don’t actually know for real, but this seems like a good selling feature if that’s a thing you like? If it is, please tell me in the comments and I promise I won’t call the police at all.)
The videos showed us that it works best if you warm it in a bowl of hot water first. We didn’t do this. Maybe we should have because then this review would have been completely different. Perhaps if we had, it would have been the wet, slippery, beautiful body-on-body gliding experience we were hoping for. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. The “oops this is” very cold gel did go on smooth. It did feel absolutely glorious when rubbing one naked body against another body, but it required a lot. I was constantly pouring the stuff on myself to stay “slippery”, which seemed excessive. I know I’m a big girl and have a lot of ground to cover, but it felt like I was going to run out of gel way faster than I should have just to keep up the slippery feel.
Instead of slippery, it turned sticky unfortunately quickly, which is not a very comfortable feeling when you’re trying to be sexy and sensual for an extended period of time. If you’re looking for a short little naked rub down, and don’t plan on the massage being the majority of the experience, then maybe Nuru gel is for you. But when you’re trying to have an entire experience based around it, I will suggest that not so much. Luckily we brought some other unscented massage oil and made the switch, or else the massage may have been ruined. Night over!
Thankfully, Ohhh Canada has an amazing return policy so you can try something from them and get a refund if it really doesn’t work for you, like the Nuru didn’t really work for us. And also thankfully, if you’re looking for something sexy and massage related, Ohhh carries a bunch of other products including the intoxicating Jimmyjane massage candles, and my personal favourite the lickable massage bars that come in NINE sexy flavours (super big-ups to the chocolate-orange and coconut), which are actually also really great for deep tissue massage!
Check them out, and other sexy, slippery products, online or in-store at Ohhh.
My friend Wil wrote a wonderful piece on Facebook about this Thought Catalog article on the Fat Acceptance Movement. (You should probably read it before reading his response.) I didn’t want his amazing thoughts to stay locked up behind the wall of social media, so I asked him if I could share them with you here. As someone who’s struggled with weight my whole life, his support means a lot to me.
I’m currently struggling with the fact that working from home means a lot less movement in my life. I’ve gained a bit of weight in the past year. I’ve lost muscle strength. I feel ashamed and embarrassed by my choices and completely feel that I’ve let myself, and my husband, down. I literally hate this stomach of mine and dream of slicing it off somehow. But am I still worthy of love and affection without mockery? Absolutely. A few bad choices when I was younger, and some odd circumstances now, doesn’t make that any less true. Am I doomed to be this way forever? That’s up to me, but I’m totally aware – and VERY informed – of all the things I can do to make being
smaller stronger, a reality for me. I’m very careful with my diet and I’m figuring out how exercising fits back into my new work life. I need unsolicited advice from people telling me how I can be “skinnier” about as much as I need them to tell me that I’m “not fat” when I’m trying on clothes that don’t fit me. It’s not a surprise to me to find out that I’m fat and that’s suddenly why that dress won’t fit. I’m pretty sure this body is attached to me every single day.
My recent brush with death, thanks to a blood clot caused by trauma in my leg, had nothing to do with my weight, and it turns out that my blood pressure, cholesterol, and all those other health indicators that people use to shame fatties, don’t apply to me. My scores are consistently perfect and very pleasing to the many medical professionals I’ve been dealing with this entire year.
So fine, I won’t be able to run very far in a zombie apocalypse because my cardio is currently shit? I don’t really have much interest in living in zombie hell anyway.
Onto Wil’s points. I’ve bolded things that I really love / agree with.
So I’ve been waiting to weigh in on this issue because I wanted to make sure I had my ducks lined up first. As a personal trainer and health professional there are a lot of nuances in this article that are covered in very loose and generally poorly represented arguments. I’m not a fan of it feel like it could have been discussed not only more tactfully but also more intelligently. As a former self admitted “fat nazi” back when I had less experience in the industry and less compassion for others I might have been guilty of saying many of the same things in the same way. But I have more insight now, both into the lives of my clients past and present and friends who I think this article speaks to and ungraciously about. She did write a follow-up piece but it was really more of a supplement argument that sort of back pedals as a “sorry you’re offended” piece than following up with more information.
There are a few things that the author notes first which was nice because often you don’t get a sense of who the writer is especially when writing about personal health and here she includes a bit of her background and even her dress sizes. It should also be noted that she doesn’t ever really give an outline of what she considers fat. She states her size as a 6-10 fluctuating while the average size in the US is a 12-14. The average BMI (body mass index or the general percentage of fat in your body composition) in the states for a woman is about 26.5 and the healthy ideal is somewhere between 18-25%. Over 30% is considered obese in North America as a rule. To give you an idea in comparison of what is considered aesthetically healthy, the average model is 14-16.3 and the average female fitness competitor/model is about 15-17%. For men across the board a BMI of about 6-7% lower is about average.
Now on to the article. Probably the best way to tackle this is to go through each point she’s made (although there will be some crossover.) Keep in mind this is just my opinion as well, informed by my own research and experience and knowledge of the industries that relate back to health. That said, here we go:
1. “America is extremely accepting of fat.”
America is extremely misinformed about nutrition and as a result there is a systemic problem in the culture of food. Awareness of nutrition, consumerism and misrepresentation showcase food in a way that requires so much unlearning that there is no surprise that there is an epidemic of food/health related problems. But it is NOT accepting of fat. As the author notes, at every turn in America fat is a source of mockery, bullying and general intolerance. As she says an environment that is tolerant of unhealthy lifestyles but those that engage in those lifestyles but stay under the obese radar are not treated as others that don’t. I definitely agree though that the first step is cracking down across the board and providing real transparent nutritional information about the food and put a leash on the fast food lobbies.
Also let’s undo the decision to make pizza a vegetable legally (that’s a real thing that happened).
2. “Body positivity” should include health.”
Absolutely it should. But let’s also include mental health in those parameters. Let’s stop using models and fitness pros as realistic and sustainable averages. For the most part, they are part of an enormous industry that drives that image and huge amount of discipline and monitoring to make sure that it is maintained safely. For those people, their physique is their livelihood and the BMI levels of many include some very unhealthy habits that they monitor to give themselves a break off season. Mental health needs to be included in body positivity because depression, bullying, unsafe dieting and food related illnesses can swing both ways. Teaching someone to be ashamed of themselves is much different than educating someone about their choices.
3.”Health at every size” seems physically impossible.”
It might seem that way and there is a definitive extreme in which it is not but there is a marked difference between what is healthy and what is considered conventionally aesthetically pleasing. The point in itself is a valid jump off. Someone who is morbidly obese has a greater likelihood of many health problems than someone who is not, but that smaller someone also has to have good cholesterol, blood pressure, insulin levels and healthy organs. Not all bigger people are rotting away on the inside as many people would have you think, just like not all average sized people are glistening pulsing pink unicorns under their skin either.
This is where the article really tends to slip for me, because here is the first instance where the author really feels the need to say something but feels that she cannot for fear of reprisal “saying otherwise would be shaming them”. Well it really depends on what you’re saying and if anyone asked for your expert opinion, doesn’t it? Is this you ordering a salad and making a face because the size 22 beside you is eating a cheeseburger? Or are you a health professional that has been asked by said size 22 for a consultation? Reading a lot of blogs does not make an expert opinion nor does it entitle you to voice your opinion without reprisal. Otherwise every asshole with a fashion Tumblr would be justified walking up to you and telling that your shirt and hat combo are terrible.
4. “People are not allowed to not be attracted to certain body types”.
I have a problem with this one; The author isn’t talking about body pride, she’s looking for permission to say “ew, oh my god how could you?” to the people that would date those who she wouldn’t herself date. You’re absolutely allowed to say that you aren’t attracted to certain body types. But some people are. Saying “no fatties” in your dating profile doesn’t mean you’re honest, it means you’re an inconsiderate dick. Like anything you’re “allowed” to say what you want, but if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Some people like other body types. The author admits that some people may not find her body type appealing, but how would she feel if someone stopped to tell her? Or sent her a message to tell her? Or wrote a breakdown detailing why they don’t get how she could feel good about herself looking like someone they wouldn’t date?
Feel free not to date a person larger than yourself but don’t preach to others that they can’t. That’s their business, mind your own.
5. “Food addiction is a real medical problem”.
Yes please, let’s address the underlying issues: Consumerism, misinformation and class warfare. Not the guy buying a larger than yours burrito with a soda. He’s not your problem. Just like with drug use, alcohol consumption and smoking there are obvious health detriments. But you’d be right pissed if someone tsk tsk’d every time you took a sip of alcohol and started into a lecture on the billions it costs taxpayers every year in medical expenses. We’ve put up no smoking signs everywhere, people know it’s bad for them but they choose to do it anyways. It’s on the decline in some areas and still growing in other areas, again mostly in areas with less access to health care, education and financial resources.
The author and many others who write about obesity and the cost to taxpayers & employers don’t seem to make mention of the other legal and promoted consumerables that North Americans enjoy and then suffer from daily. Fat people know they’re fat. I don’t think they wake up one morning surprised about it. They certainly don’t need to be told that eating junk food isn’t helping to lose weight. There are enormous factors that go along with a person’s eating habits: cultural influences from preferred body types, financial status of being able to afford luxury food items, emotional attachments to food rewards and comfort and legitimate addictions to foods chemically engineered to trigger cravings.
6. “Childhood obesity is something we can’t be accepting of”.
Well when you say “can’t be accepting of” do you mean working to change the underlying issues that create nutritional/exercise misinformation or do you mean “don’t tell my kids not to call your kid fat because your kid shouldn’t be fat cause you’re a bad parent.”? I’m all for one, guess which one? Let’s start by pushing back health education into the system. Let’s teach positive mental health to the forefront of that as the much needed guideline and support people that want to make an effort. But if you have a kid who is overweight, first inform yourself, is this kid truly overweight or just doesn’t look like the model kid? Next let’s assess is this kid happy? Cause first and foremost making a happy kid sad about the way they look is the worst kind of parenting. Are you leading by example? Do you crash diet, binge eat, go on self prescribed unsustainable exercise practices and food exclusions?
At the end of this it comes down to take care of your own business. Educate yourself and create your own environment. FAM or HAES, it doesn’t matter, if these people are happy in their bodies, let them be happy in their bodies. And being accepting of your body shape doesn’t mean that it’s the last word in your body shape. There are people who are in great fitness form that hate themselves and no amount of exercise or vascularity or ripped abs will ever be enough. They punish themselves constantly and bemoan the water in their skin for blurring their definition. If the news of late in regards to mental health has shown us anything it’s that demons come in all shapes and sizes. Exorcising your demons doesn’t always mean exercising yourself. I’d much rather someone be happy with themselves, who they are, their values and their lot in life and happen to be bigger than someone who is ripped but tortured.
Things change, outlooks change and habits change. When someone wants to change their body, the information is out there.
When someone wants your opinion, they’ll ask for it. If they haven’t, it’s probably because you don’t give very good advice.
I’ve never been into the concept of “forever.” It’s always felt like a hetero-normative, monogamous fairy tale. Forever is what you should aspire to when growing up and imagining your prince/ss is taking you away. You’ll meet, you’ll fall in love, and then you’ll live happily ever after … forEVER. Barf barf puke glitter everywhere barf.
To be frank, forever sounded like a curse, more than anything. You make a choice, and then you’re stuck with that choice for the rest of your life, because that’s what you’re supposed to do. Never mind if it turns out to be the wrong choice; it’s more important to save face and pretend that it’s the right one because, hey, you’re in it forever. Who the hell knows from the beginning if a choice is the right one or not? You have to live with a choice for a while to learn that truth, not expect to be an expert on something you know nothing about at first.
It’s this kind of reasoning that keeps so many people in relationships that they shouldn’t be in, with people that I’m sure they love dearly, but aren’t right for them. I’ve known plenty who have been too afraid to leave their relationships for fear that their community, friends, and family, will look down on them; they’re more worried about being judged or dealing with the mess of a breakup than ripping off the bandaid to examine their happiness.
I think there’s a valid reason that a lot of people don’t ask themselves if they’re truly happy, because they would likely find out that they’re not.
The thing about happiness though, is that it’s ok not to feel it all the time. It’s ok to feel frustration with your partner, and long for days of the single life. You’re not a failure if you’re not happy 24/7 in your relationship. You’re also not a failure if you realize that you need to end your current relationship in search for a more fulfilled you. I think that (some) people who leave stagnant situations are brave self-aware souls. (Acknowledging that yes, some are just greedy dickheads.)
This is what I’ve determined to be a key ingredient in a realistic forever. My husband and I have been together now for almost 14 years. Yesterday we celebrated 8 years since we first opened up our relationship, and in one month we celebrate TEN years of marriage together. Once I get over how old all of that makes me feel, there’s something that really sticks out for me. I never thought that we would make it this far. That doesn’t mean that I thought we would break up, just that I only ever saw us in the here and now. I objected to thinking about us in forever terms, because it made me want to barf on a pile of Cosmos. When people would ask me “What if you fall in love with someone else?”, I would always start with “Well first, that’s happened, but if we find someone we love more, then I guess that’s where our paths will lead us.”
I don’t feel that anymore. I think it’s a combination of putting in the time and talking realistically all the time, but I feel very forever with Steph now. I used to worry that if we separated it would be this big deal that the girl who talked about successful non-monogamy had failed. It would be very public, and I was terrified by that notion, but now? Now I feel this amazing weight of certainty that keeps growing year after year. We are forever. Other lovers may join us and become forever as well, we don’t know for sure until it happens. It’s wise to start any new relationship thinking about how you’ll treat each other when it ends, because inevitably, every one does end in some way, but we’re in it literally until death do us part. (Fuck, I hope that I don’t have some sort of random car crash tomorrow and this post becomes a weird premonition. I guess I wouldn’t know though, right? Hmm. Anyway.)
So, what’s the secret? Well, it’s pretty simple, but still seems impossible for many people. We talk about things. We talk about the things that we’re happy about; we talk about the things that we’re longing for; we acknowledge what we’re great at; we acknowledge where we fail. We’ve had to learn to live with the fact that maybe, on some levels, we are terrible for each other, while recognizing the areas where we are the strongest team you’ll ever know. And the truth is that sometimes, just being able to acknowledge “Hey, this sucks and we’re not very good at it” is enough to make things ok. Are there things that we both want and need that we might not always get at home? Absolutely, but we’ve made peace with them.
We also talk about the things that ARE great, and not just once. We constantly talk about them because good things make you feel good. We also talk realistically about wants and desires and discuss things like my fantasy of living with my husband AND another man like it could become a reality (which I can’t deny I really really want.)
It might seem scary to admit when and where things fail in your relationship, but on the flip side, after some blood, sweat, and tears, the rewards can be huge.
You might even say they can last a lifetime.*
*Yes, I fully acknowledge that life can change and something can happen that could change everything, but the feeling that I feel deep within me is stronger than anything I’ve felt before so for ONCE, I’m going with it.
So, I think there’s something wrong with me.
I’m not sure I know what it is though. I know I’ve gained weight lately; working at home and not having access to all my gym equipment temporarily has taken its toll on me. I have a little more cushion than I did before, so obviously I’m less desirable in the eyes of the dating world. I’m a little bit squidgier, I suppose.
Or maybe, if I stop fat-shaming myself – which is hard lately because I’m not strong like I used to, and my eating and moving habits are currently TERRible – I’m simply too authentic? Maybe people aren’t used to talking to a woman that knows what she wants, is vocal about it, and is generous with compliments, time, and affection when she likes someone. It doesn’t fit into the societal narrative that women are supposed to be chased, at least by men. We’re not supposed to be excited to meet someone, or to want to adjust our schedule to make time to do so. We’re supposed to be hard to get. We’re supposed to be challenging. We’re supposed to play dating games and make you wonder if you’re doing it right, but still have to pretend that you think you are, because that’s how gender roles work. You chase us with pure confidence and we make it challenging until you finally get through and you’ve “won.” Tee hee and all that.
That’s a whole lot of bullshit right there, isn’t it? I’m digressing a bit.
I’ve now had six dates with six different guys all fall through, in the last couple of months. I’ve been stood up the day of. People have been “sick / busy” and asked to reschedule but then when I get back in touch to do that, they’ve disappeared. People that were super communicative with me up until we were supposed to meet have just walked away. It’s easy to walk away from a woman who’s already married. She’s obviously not going to be upset, right? o_O
Honestly, I can’t figure it out, but it makes me think there’s something wrong with me. I’ve never had dating luck like this before, but my life is in a different place now, so perhaps I’ve changed and am too weird to date.
In my perfectly reasonable and logical mind, I know that’s not true. Lots of people say wonderful, great things about me all the time. Lots of people throw sexy compliments my way about me as a person (duh!), and my face (which I love) AND my body (which I currently am in a fight with), and that’s lovely and I’m grateful, but it doesn’t take away from that awful feeling that comes from having all of that anticipation and build-up – those days or weeks of excitement – turn into nothing. One of my less self-defeating theories is that people seem to think they like the authenticity but when it comes right down to it, they’re not used to someone as upfront as me. So they run. Because it’s easy to.
Yesterday I was supposed to meet someone I’m ridiculously excited about. Right now, he’s the main guy on the radar. He’s lovely and kind and handsome. Considerate and dominant and all around great. I could fall for him, easily. He was sick though and we had to cancel. This is a perfectly, completely valid reason to cancel, but when every single date that I’ve had lined up for months has cancelled the DAY OF, I cried. I definitely cried out of frustration for my entire summer (and because, let’s face it, the last two weeks have been really, really shitty in the world.) I cried like an idiot who shouldn’t have been crying, but did anyway because shut up with your shoulds and should nots.
Because eventually, even when my Vulcan brain tells me that there’s nothing wrong with me and I’m either dealing with a) valid excuses from kind people or b) shitty excuses from shitty people that I shouldn’t want around anyway, my Betazoid brain just wants to weep. Weep mostly because I’ve got so much buildup and need for submission inside of me, and so many unfulfilled promises of spankings and instruction and being held up against the wall. 5 out of 6 dates have definitely had conversations about kink wrapped up in them and, to be honest, at this point I just need the release. It’s been a frustrating summer (year), and I want (need) to fall into the arms of a not so gentle, gentleman. (or pretty lady!)
Thankfully, Steph (husband) has been really wonderful lately. When I fall down, he picks me up. When he can’t help with something, he supports me finding someone/thing that can. And because of him, and our upcoming TENTH wedding anniversary, I can easily say that I’m definitely marriage material.
Always the bride, never the slutty girlfriend?
(This can’t be true. Is this my new reality??)
Hey guys, a sexy TV show is doing some casting in Toronto and the production company has asked me to help find them some brave and interesting people of all genders and sexualities to join their cast of characters and do some fun things on camera (end of August to mid September.)
I’m meeting with one of the producers tomorrow to offer a bit of an education about some of these things (as I’m not super fond of some of their initial wording and descriptions that were sent over to me), and to confirm that they’re going to be presenting everything from a healthy and supportive angle, instead of fetishizing people and using them to shock their audience. (I will try and remember to add an addendum to this post once I’ve met with them.)
If you fit any of these descriptions and you’re interested in applying to be a part of the show, please let me know by sending an email to email@example.com. ALL of your emails to me will remain strictly confidential and I will only send your information to the producers with your full consent.
- Erotic Wrestling - A new couple plus an experienced couple, along with “background wrestlers.”
- Puppy Play - new couple plus an experienced couple, along with “background pups.”
- Trans Sex – A couple where one person is trans and wants to try out their new “equipment” with their lover on camera.
- Pregnant Sex – A pregnant lady in her second or third trimester, and her male partner.
- Cuckolding – A married couple in which the husband wants to watch his wife have sex with another man.
- Skype Orgies – Male and female couples and singles who participate in this.
- Daddy Play – A daddy domme and his younger “daughter” girl counterpart. This couple should roleplay 24-7 and be willing to show all aspects of this roleplay on camera.
- Race Play – A couple who will roleplay in a raceplay scene.
- BDSM Family
- Sex Club Demos
- Liquid Latex - Man and woman to demonstrate.
- Insects - Someone to demonstrate and an insect wrangler.
Public speaking isn’t usually top of the list when thinking of “fun activities”. What about if we narrow it down to be public speaking about your sex life? Even worse, right? Well, somehow we’ve managed to bring together at least 100 people monthly to watch others do exactly that, and let me tell you, it’s glorious.
It was January of this year when my friend and the Art of Blowjob all around wonder-lady, Sophie Delancey, had just returned from California where she attended the wonderfully successful Bawdy Storytelling. Bawdy is a curated sexy storytelling event that features some of the biggest names in the sex/uality education/entertainment communities. Check them out here. Sophie posted something online about wanting to do a similar event in Toronto and, of course, my non-stop project creating brain, had already been thinking about it so I replied. Within a matter of weeks we had our first location The Beaver (now, all events are at the Gladstone Hotel), prizes, a theme, and a Facebook page. Tell Me Something Good (TMSG) was born!
Unlike Bawdy’s curated show, TMSG offers everyone, from the experienced to the newbs, the opportunity to become a part of the storytelling magic by opening up the floor to the room. We kick the evening off with our own stories, and then hand the mic over to our judges to share theirs. Realizing quickly after our first month that we needed our judges to be more than just scoring machines, we also give them the opportunity to play a little American Idol style feedbacking, complete with score boards. While we realize that for many it’s their first time on stage, and even more frightening, their first time talking about their sex life publicly, the judges add an extra element of humour and togetherness that really helps make the event feel safe. We’ve been lucky to have so many great judges from all over the sex-positive community from porn stars and directors to educators and playwrights. Some even come from different communities and bring an entirely new perspective to the evenings!
It’s their role, along with ours as event hosts, to entertain the crowd in between stories and to make sure we give props to people for sharing such an intimate part of themselves with us. It’s also our role to enforce our very important rule, “Don’t be a dick.” That means no phobic language, no racism, no slut/fat-shaming, no generally hateful behaviour. If the butt of the joke is at someone else’s expense, we don’t want it on our stage. We’ve been very lucky so far, after 7 events, to have not had any bad experiences and hope that this trend continues.
Every month has a different theme and so far in seven months we’ve covered so many things including first times, pride, porn, voyeurism, and the very popular “Butt Stuff”. Last night’s “all things kink” theme did not disappoint and we had another full house with some very talented and sexy storytellers turning me into a puddle in my chair.
Nobody knows who’s going to end up telling a story, and that’s part of the excitement. Potential storytellers put their names in the box and we draw 10-15 of them over the course of the evening to come up and tell us something good. There’s no requirement for people to tell stories if they don’t want to; TMSG is as much for the audience as it is the storytellers.
What I personally love about TMSG is the energy in the room. It’s why we put the event on as a passion project every month. The audience is made up of people for whom these types of stories are old hat and others who are hearing some sexy language for the very first time. Everyone is there to be a part of the experience together and we’ve – so far – had some of the most supportive audiences that any event hosts could ask for.
On a personal note, I used to be the girl that wasn’t comfortable giving people compliments, even on things as insignificant as the shirt someone was wearing. I didn’t want the recipient to end up thinking “Oh geez. Is the fat girl flirting with me? Gross.” And so it took a lot for me, at first, to start talking about my sex life on stage. (Doing it here on my site is one thing. Telling a room full of people that I masturbate? Another.) I was scared at first to “gross people out”, especially when I look up and see so many people in the room that I have mad crushes on. Then something quickly came over me, and it’s the realization of how normal it is for us all to have needs, wants, and desires. However I feel about my own body, or my dorky self, pales in comparison to how powerful it can be to help others normalize their own fantasies or activities. I might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but who says I need to be? So every month I get on stage and talk about my sex life like it’s a normal thing, because it is. Because everyone’s is. Because yours is.
And that’s the beauty of TMSG. There is no real “normal” in the world, but in a room filled with freaks of all sizes, shapes, colours, backgrounds, sexualities, and so on, there can be the most wonderfully validating solidarity buzz that sticks with you for days and days.
Be sure to check out our next event on September 3rd at the Gladstone Hotel and stay tuned for the TMSG podcast which we think is currently in development! Until then, check out the very special Sex City Radio edition of TMSG featuring myself, Sophie, and some of our favourite past judges / winners, Wil, Tynan, and Elle!
Join TMSG on Facebook // Follow TMSG on Twitter // @nympsam (that’s me) // @sophiedelancey