• I think it helps to understand that our society has not managed to separate a woman's value from her value as a potential mate/conquest. And as a potential mate/conquest, America has determined that it's desirable for a woman to be 21 years old(!) (and hairless for a reason I struggle to understand—I get that beards and perhaps chest hair are a characteristic that tends to separate males from females in our species, but women have leg hair and pubic hair and underarm hair—that's just what a woman's body looks like!) (and of course, it's best if no one ever knows that she menstruates or has any smells, etc. etc.)
• It breaks my heart that there's no chance a woman will meet society's standards (which are then her own) for more than a fleeting moment, and unless she works very hard on modifying her appearance (and/or self-worth) and is very lucky, she will spend most of her life feeling needless shame and dysphoria and disgust at her own body 😔 See also
• But as long as we're in this world, not only will I fight for things to get better, I will also try to help women feel better about themselves, even if it means going along with the trap that we're all in. (Definitely open to arguments or advice if there's a better way to approach the problem!)
To be clear, I think it’s pretty great that women have so many ways to decorate themselves, and if we were only encouraged to do so on high festival days or during courtship rituals or for our own delight, I think that might be overall good (and on that dimension I’m a little sad for the more limited options available to men), but every day?? Essentially zero examples in the media of women’s bodies in their default state?? Even while sleeping, women in movies or on TV have a full face of makeup, and women’s armpits are always shaved whether they’ve been shipwrecked for months or whether they’re an alien race or whether they’re depicting humans from a thousand years ago, and don't get me started on the insanity of everyone needing to wear bras (often starting in middle-school!)
Be A Lady They Said
Be a lady they said. Your skirt is too short. Your shirt is too low. Your pants are too tight. Don't show so much skin. Don't show your thighs. Don't show your breasts. Don't show your midriff. Don't show your cleavage. Don't show your underwear. Don't show your shoulders. Cover up.
For Female Appearances:
UV-B rays are the ones that cause most sunburns and skin cancers.
UV-A rays are the ones that make your skin age via wrinkles, sagging, liver spots, etc.
Ideally you'll want to protect against both every day with a "broad-spectrum" sunscreen. There are two (non-chemical) sunscreens that I tolerate well on my face:
- bareMinerals Prep Step SPF50 - Limited availability in the US, one of the few sunscreens I'm willing to put on every morning. It's a physical sunblock (Zinc Oxide + Titanium Dioxide) so I don't worry about the chemicals, and it has some sort of magical color-changing quality to combat the default white.
- bareMinerals powder foundation SPF15 - low SPF (and I don't actually put much on...), but again, it's something I'm actually willing to put on every morning (and potentially reapply if I'm headed outside).
- See also (note that it is a chemical option)The Best Sunscreen (for people who hate sunscreen)
Here's a study about people under 55 using sunscreen for 4 years vs. not and
Here's a study that includes a powerful image of a trucker with skin damage on the side of his face that was exposed to the sun.
(I don't have it on my recommendation page, but my dad had the brilliant idea of cutting off the sleeve of an old dress shirt and leaving it in the car for sun protection — works great!)
I am fair and freckled and my dermatologist likes me so much that I've been requested to come in every 4 months 😬 Other than covering up/wearing sunscreen, and using a moisturizer, the only thing that office seems to care about/recommend is a potion for my face that I'm assuming causes increased cell turnover that I'm meant to put on every other night before bed — I imagine there are various formulations, but mine is 4% Niacinamide (derived from vitamin B3) and 0.05% Tretinoin (retin-A, derived from vitamin A). I do think it makes your skin more vulnerable to the sun though, so I don't know if it's worth the tradeoff if you aren't diligent about sunscreen.
St. Ives Blemish Control Apricot Scrub (I use it daily, but some people just use it once a week).
Uncoated aspirin mixed with a few drops of water (I love this and don't really know why it works so well).
The blue chapstick brand is the best combination of moisture and smoothness and (mild non offensive slightly sweet) flavor. For inside, the original orange burtsbees gets my vote.
In the winter, or when hand washing is causing issues, there’s nothing I’ve found that’s more powerful than neutrogena hand cream (but I put it on the backs of my hands and rub just those surfaces together because my palms are never in need of such intense treatment).
I also find that my cuticles need a little extra care, so I keep something like this in my bag to brush on around my nails, sort of like chapstick for my fingers 🙃
It would actually be best if you could find one that would work while plugged in (so you're not dependent on battery life). I think they discontinued that feature in order to make it usable in the shower, but I think it works better when your skin/hair is dry.
Remember to exfoliate to prevent issues as the hairs eventually grow back. Since they weren't sliced, the ends are soft, and they can sometimes have trouble making it through the top layer of skin.
I find it better than waxing, in part because you can get purchase on shorter hairs which means you don't have to wait as long.
I hated the stubble from shaving :/
This method is painful, but you get used to it (or maybe your body gets used to it?). Legs are easiest. Try to pull the skin tight as you go.
Hair removal = sensory removal which is kind of a sad sacrifice 😕.
I have a mitt from a drugstore that's been hard to find online. Maybe this is a good substitute (Koreans are famous for their exfoliating):
Trends change, and even if you currently feel disgust at your body hair, that might not always be true.
I worry that if young children, girls and boys, don’t see normal women's bodies, it will cause them shame as they reach puberty or cause them to shame others. I don’t (yet?) have children if my own, but I worry about my friends’ kids who have never seen body hair on a woman in their tribe.
Bodies have hair on them—I am definitely a woman and it seems pretty twisted that I’ve been taught that the natural state of my body is…shamefully manly? Hopefully we can fix that at some point.
These are wild — If you're creating a bun, instead of wrapping around with a hairtie, you screw these directly into the bun to hold it without needing something to cinch it at the base. (They're like bobby-pins if bobby-pins were created by alien geniuses.)
They have long ones and short ones. I tend to use a mix of both if I’m putting all my hair up.
Goody Hair Simple Styles Mini Spin Hair Pin, Great for All Hair Types, Colors May Vary, Pack of 3 Pins
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(French pins are also useful, but not nearly as revolutionary or stable. My hair is very fine, so even when it’s long, the mini size is enough)
Kristin Ess Mini French Pin Set U Shaped Hair Pin for Buns, Chignons and Top Knots - Black - 2ct
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There are two types of hair ties that are so good, I can't use regular ones anymore.
These ones from Goody look pretty standard, but have rubber woven into them which increases their grip.
These ones are much thicker than regular ones and are somehow stronger without me worrying about causing damage or pulling/ripping my hair at all. They're so good that I can throw my hair up in a messy updo, sleep on it, and go all the next day without much droop at all. Perfect for a high ponytail with staying power. I don't know why they give you 100 because they last forever...I'm now realizing that I should've divvied them up amongst my girlfriends as stocking stuffers.
These hold so well. The paint does chip off after a while, and sometimes your hair will get caught in the little hole (I've seen some people put something over the hole to prevent this), but despite the downsides, they're still the best (if hairclips are the right tool).
Blowing or brushing your hair separates the strands in a pretty crazy way. I think it’s at least worth testing out finger combing/air drying your hair to get a sense of what that’s like. (That’s my default 99% of the time and I find my hair almost unrecognizable when I need to dry it in a hurry for whatever reason).
As a leave-in conditioner, I’ve recently been enjoying “it’s a 10” but as with all hair products, I use very little and just scrunch my ends with it.
I feel a little silly posting anything here, but I sometimes have pretty long hair and it’s something I get asked about a surprising amount so:
If you want long hair, just stop cutting it. 🤷♀️
If hair grows 1/2” per month, and you cut 1/2” off every two months for a trim, your hair will only grow 3”/year instead of 6”/year.
That said, you may have to be more gentle with your hair to protect those aging ends. And you may find that you really miss the psychological boost from having a fresh cut.
I sometimes have my hair pretty short, and one year I made a new year’s resolution to cut it at least once every couple of months, (short enough to feel the wind on the back of my head), and it was so energizing every time. When my hair gets really long, it’s often a sign that I’m not living life to the fullest.
For Female Plumbing:
Great for backpacking (and everything else!). There are usually separate sizes for people who haven't had vaginal childbirth and those who have.
This is the one that initially got people's attention, but it’s maybe not as good if your vagina is on the shorter side:
DivaCup - Menstrual Cup - Feminine Hygiene - Leak-Free - BPA Free - Model 1
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I've heard good things about this one too:
Cora Menstrual Period Cup | Comfortable, Easy to Use | Soft, Medical Grade Silicone | Flexible Fit | Leak Protection, Foldable, Sustainable, Reusable Alternative to Tampons/Pads (Size 1)
Designed to be the most comfortable and simple-to-use cup, possibly ever. The Cora Cup is a premium, ultra-soft, reusable and sustainable alternative to tampons, pads, liners, and other disposable period products. Our menstruation cup offers barely there comfort versus reusable pads or tampons. P...
Before I switched to a menstrual cup (already more than a decade ago), my favorite tampons were o.b. non-applicator “silk touch” in the various sizes.
In general I think it’s good to be gentle with your vagina and putting things there yourself makes sense to me + the outer surface of a lot of tampons seems pretty rough/abrasive, but as-advertised, these are silky smooth going in and out. They can be a little tricky to find (silk-touch is not offered on all their tampons) —walmart used to be the most dependable place to find them and also offered the best price.
They’re also better for the environment and due to their small size, it’s very convenient to have them stashed in places for emergency use (I just bailed my sister out because past-me thought it was worth sacrificing the space of a tootsie roll to keep one in my little emergency kit I carry in my backpack with a flosser, a Benadryl, a couple Aleve, a needle and thread, an emergen-c packet, etc.).
This is particularly useful if you or your employees have made the switch to using a menstrual cup, but even if not, it makes life easier 😅
This is good for camping/roadtrips, but especially good for
At Burning Man, the ecosystem is so delicate and there are so many people all in one place that you can’t just pop a squat on the playa — you need to go visit the porta potties or you need to have a solution for peeing in your camp. Guys usually have a jug (I recommend a detergent bottle for camp and I’ve saved the day with a more portable Gatorade bottle while in-place with my friends waiting for the man to burn), but women need a little more planning to manage the same level of stress-free hydration.
- I think the pStyle is a great place to start. Cheap, small, easy to pack, easy to wipe clean, etc. They call these devices “pee funnels” but I think it’s better to think of them as “pee redirectors” — much easier to use than a funnel would be and much easier to clean.
pStyle | Stand to Pee with Ease While Fully Clothed | for Women, Non Binary, & Trans Men | Made in The USA | Reusable Pee Funnel is a Game Changer for Camping, Music Festivals, and More!
Pee standing up without undressing. It is a simple design that works exceptionally well. Because it is made of rigid plastic, the device is easily maneuvered through clothing and properly positioned. The rounded back edge is used to wipe with so there are no drips! It can be cleaned with soap and...
- The Tinkle Belle is more expensive and has softer contact points and a longer reach. But is more likely to attract lint and is a little more cumbersome to deal with since you’re meant to fold the chute under, but it also comes with a zippered carrying case and is less likely to crack if mistreated.
The Tinkle Belle Female Urination Device | Portable Urinal with Case! Stand to Pee While Staying Fully Clothed! Easy, Compact, Reliable for Hiking/Camping/Travel/Concerts/Festivals/Dirty Toilets
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More tips on nighttime peeing:
- practice before you go, potentially in the shower).
- if you have the equipment, naturally or otherwise, I recommend peeing into a laundry detergent container — no one will confuse it for water, it has a nice handle for carrying to the portas, a tight-fitting lid, and even a gauge on the side to remind you to dump it. I’ve heard of some people cutting off the narrow pour-spout, but I’m not sure how much that actually opens things up.
- even if you get good at using your funnel, bring a wide-mouth container with a tight-fitting lid that’s easy to squat on, for times when you’re completely exhausted and can’t be bothered — e.g. the mixed nuts containers from Costco.
- keep in mind that your tent-mate might envy your setup, so maybe try to get them to either plan for themselves or commit to ensuring that your containers are always sufficiently empty that you won’t be dissuaded from using them.
- A very small amount of RV septic treatment will help prevent your pee bottle from getting gross, even if you don’t dump it daily. I’d approach this option with caution - the chemicals seem corrosive.
BV is the most common cause of vaginal symptoms among women: https://www.cdc.gov/std/bv/stats.htm and I've heard countless stories of it being chronic. Based on the findings of this medscape article, I would ask your doctor about this course of action:
1. Metronidazole (topical or oral) for 7 days (gel before bed)
2. Boric acid suppositories, 600mg, daily for 3-4 weeks (each morning until the metro gel finishes, then switch to nightly for a total of 10-14 days, then twice weekly for the next 3-4 weeks).
3. Probiotic (need to find brand with strains friendly to vaginal mucosa — the two mentioned in the study are: lactobacillus reuteri and lactobacillus rhamnosus).
4. Estriol vaginal suppositories (or a “minisert”, which is tic tac sized and preferred by women over vaginal creams or suppositories, although more expensive) Use this for a month after finishing the metro gel to recondition the tissues.
5. Limited vaginal washing as this might also affect pH negatively.
Always pee after having sex.
If I have to go through a course of antibiotics (which I try to avoid due to possible effects on all of my microbiomes) I always take probiotics just in case, and I look for these two specifically: lactobacillus reuteri and lactobacillus rhamnosus. e.g. fem-dophilus from Jarrow Formulas
Cotton/breathable undies and loose pants are also good.
“Taking Charge of Your Fertility has become the Our Bodies, Ourselves for our time. Alternately silly, whimsical, and exhaustingly specific, the book was published fifteen years ago and is ranked higher by customers on Amazon than all other books except the third and fourth Harry Potters.” (New York magazine)
There are a number of reasons to track your cycle; with this app, I like that you can add your own metrics, e.g. "moodiness" in order to see whether there's a correlation with particular phases of your cycle. It also has a thermometer that automatically syncs — a great idea but not something I can vouch for myself.
There are useful things I could/should put here, but I'm a bit too shy to list them on the internet, even though I think they would probably help people. I'm going to work on that in myself, but in the meantime, you can maybe try reaching out, especially if we're friends?
OK, I did think of a couple broad things I could say:
- This whole area is much better when you feel safe. (Life overall is much better when you feel safe, but this is a vulnerable area and so I think it goes off the rails more quickly if things aren't really ok).
- You can get there by trusting yourself and/or your partner (hopefully earned trust via communication and action), and you can get there by being in a more defensible position — by coming to believe that you are desirable and that it's ok/good that you want what you want. For whatever reason, working out seems to help with part of this — in particular I've heard a number of anecdotal accounts that Zumba () has been a godsend.Dance Fitness
- It can be really hard to want something from someone who isn't displaying that they themselves 110% want to engage in that thing, and it often takes bravery and vulnerability to show that you want that thing.
- In the face of that, it can be really difficult to deny someone who wants something from you.
- Especially if you care about them and/or care how they think of you.
- Especially if they seem to want it more than you don't want it.
- And extra especially if you also don't want to then deal with their response (emotional or otherwise) to what they perceive as rejection — I think people have done a better job with the concept of consent over the last few years, but there's a more nuanced issue here that seems harder to defend in the moment than "no means no." I don't have an easy solution, but
- I think it's powerful to know that this problem is real and is faced by others.
- I think in most cases I would recommend trying your best to stay true to yourself first, even if the consequences seem worse than the damage caused by giving in to something that you don't want.
- If this has happened to you or is happening to you, try spending 20 minutes writing about it and see if that can help you untangle your feelings and then maybe find someone to talk to? 🤗
And a more practical cryptic hint:
- douching is bad, but water can be magical
(Emma Watson strongly endorses omgyes.com — I haven’t been in a mental space to be able to check it out, but I think there are enough good signs for me to list it here. It’s an educational website resulting from over 20,000 interviews with women 18 to 95 about their sexual pleasure, carried out in collaboration with Indiana University and The Kinsey Institute researchers.)
- Many/most women don't need underwire. This solves the comfort problem and the straps falling off and/or digging in problem.
- "Bralettes" are also good. e.g. this one from Gap Body (I would size up once or twice)
- (I added a better version of this to the )Wish List of Innovations
I actually think that panty lines eventually dent women’s butts over time(!)
Society doesn’t want to see the edge of your underwear, and so tons of people willingly hide the back part in their butt cracks (thongs). Or they go commando in yoga pants.
And it seems silly to need to shave your pubic hair to conform to tiny undies.
Boy shorts and boxer briefs make more sense and provide enough coverage that you can wear them as sleep shorts without needing to put on PJs.
Note: make sure all underwear you try have a gusset so there isn’t a seam that goes straight down the middle!
These are low-rise and for whatever reason, the grey ones are a slightly smaller size and tend to hold their shape better. (Update: I’ve tried the pack with all heathered ones instead of some striped and they are indeed more like the one grey heathered pair — smaller and better at retaining their shape; I like them considerably better, but size-up.) They don’t have a proper waistband, which I see as a feature.
These are mid-rise and I originally got them for doing gardening work because I was tired of constantly getting burned on my lower back. (I’m now testing overalls for this!) They’re longer in the leg and so I feel more chill wearing them around the house, but the cotton doesn’t hide the shape of your lady parts in the front, so proceed with caution. They have a waistband, but I think if you choose the right size, it will be fine.
I typically start by taking the insoles out of my everyday Merrells and putting them in a new shoe. If that goes well, I have that as a viable option, or I can buy and trim other inserts like these (or these thicker ones which I think are better for mitigating some of the badness of high heels). This has dramatically increased the wearability for both for cheap flat-footed boots (I'm not much of a shoe person, but I needed these blue boots to wear with my space leggings) as well as fancy high-heeled boots.
If you start to feel a “hot spot” stop whatever you’re doing and stick something between your skin and whatever was rubbing it. I was at a wedding this past weekend and asked the front desk for a piece of scotch tape, which worked perfectly to prevent a blister on a toe in my tights that had started to bother me.
For whatever reason, women's pant pockets are laughably small, and at the same time, cell phones are getting larger. In the winter, I get by with pockets in my jackets, but in the summer, a slim fanny pack might work for you in situations where you don't want to be burdened by a purse or backpack.
The clothes are often more fun, almost always cheaper, and depending on the garment (and your height), you maybe don't need full length (e.g. capris, shorts, t-shirts). A number of stores even carry plus sizes these days (including Target and Gap).
I think the girls' sizing is roughly based on age, so I'm generally a 16(XL) in leggings made by
- try men's slim/fitted long sleeve shirts (e.g. at Banana Republic), but size-down 1 or 2 sizes
- Advice: If you're thin with long arms, look for shirts with thumb holes