Let me make something clear: you don't owe ANYONE an explanation about your sexuality, values, beliefs or behavior.
If recent conversations on sexual consent have taught us anything, it's that you have the right to change your mind at any time when it comes to what you choose to do with your body, whether you're butt naked underneath Chris Brown and one of his boys or if the only thing filling you is the Holy Spirit during Sunday service. You have to live with your choices and shouldn't feel pressure to have a press conference every time you drop your panties. But when it comes to celebs, the popular belief among the public is that those same rules don’t apply. With that said, I can kind of understand the backlash coming reality star and hip hop heir Angela Simmons’ way after announcing her pregnancy via Instagram on Friday.
Rumors flew that the Foofi and Bella fashion designer was pregnant after she announced she was engaged to a mystery man a few weeks ago. As I scrolled through my Instagram feed I even dropped a comment or two in Angela's defense. Not everyone who seemingly gets engaged out the blue is secretly planning a shot gun wedding. So of course I found myself brushing some Morton crystals off my shoulder when Simmons who has always been very vocal about her virginity announced that she was expecting. Sadly, it almost seemed as if she was forced to make announcement as pictures began to surface on social media of her bare belly exposed while on a run with fiance who has since been revealed as Sutton Sean Tennyson.
Simmons' Instagram pics as of late have been modest especially when compared to past posts where she has never hesitated to show her abs fresh from a workout. Of course when she broke the news, her comments’ section was filled with as much criticism as congratulations:
“I bet its a lot for Rev Run to swallow that not ONE of his three oldest kids are married, but had kids out of wedlock. Its not the worse thing in the world but I know it had to bother him.”“The fact that she was doing them work outs like that is irritating to me lol you ain't got to lie Craig.”
“He's overjoyed because he is set for life now!! Smh. She preached it but did not live by it!”
When two people can come together in a healthy relationship and build a family, that's always something to celebrate, but I must say I'm not completely surprised by the backlash as people criticized the fact that her religious family already includes at least two siblings that have brought children into the world outside of marriage. Fans equally jumped to Simmons’ defense expressing that as a grown woman, she doesn’t own anyone an explanation on her life choices:
“First off... people announce they are pregnant in their own time... There's usually a time frame people wait to make sure it's a viable healthy pregnancy... she owes none of u idiots an explanation... are u gonna fund her baby or hospital bills??? And how many of u b**ches have babies and NO husband??? Let's alllll wait on that”“Was she our black "Madonna"? Another 28 yr old virgin crumbled 🙄🙄🙄 like really people... It's not a scandal!!! Shoot if she's been holding out that long she should be applauded... Girl is financially able... Ready to be a mother obviously!!!”
While I wish her the best, I'm not exactly losing sleep over what fans are speculating might be a "Brandy Norwood" situation where a celeb uses marriage to cover an unplanned pregnancy or what they feel may be a blemish on their moral character. We all have to live with our choices whether they become trending topics or not. However, I do think Simmons' situation offers insight into the idea that celebs are some of the best people to start open honest conversations about sex. If we can applaud the choice to be celibate or celeb virginity announcements, why can't we have those same conversations about consent, contraception and STD testing? I don’t believe celebs should be on the payroll of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned pregnancy, but if they are going to make such a big deal out of being public about their sexuality, why not use those powers for good? Maybe it's the sex ed geek in me but you might catch me dabbing a time or two when a singer slips a lyric in about grabbing some protection before commencing the back breaking session or seeing one of the Kardashians mentioning the birth control pill they may have missed. There’s a whole gray area between celibacy and the decision to have sex. Angela has repeatedly discussed her moral and religious values in the past, so it’s no surprise that many fans are now wondering, “What happened?”
[Tweet "Celebs love to kick the “I didn’t choose to be a role model” line, but it happens by default."]
I’ve worked as a sex educator for almost seven years. The reason I chose the field is because I felt everything from media to the laws in America send conflicting messages about values in regards to how people behave in their personal lives and what they choose to publicly express about their sexuality. What bothers me most about celebrity pregnancy announcements and the bold statements some choose to make about their personal lives are the stigmas they can perpetuate. As much as celebs love to kick the “I didn’t choose to be a role model” line, the truth is it’s a role that often happens by default. Let’s not act like how you appear to your fans doesn’t matter on some level. It matters when you’re selling albums. It matters when you’re getting ratings for your reality show. It matters when they’re purchasing your sneaker line. But suddenly it doesn’t matter because you’re just living your life and people have opposing opinions? While I feel that celebs shouldn’t have to sign over their private lives in blood to public to maintain their success, I do think they have to be mindful of catching feelings over the push and pull game they play with the public. We probably shouldn’t be basing our personal life decisions on the examples set by celebs or anyone else for that matter, but let’s not delude ourselves by saying celebs have zero influence on public perception and behavior. Making a pregnancy announcement on Instagram isn’t an invitation to be bullied or shamed, however you can’t catch feelings when people express their thoughts on your lifestyle or point out when your values conflict with your behavior. (For the record, Simmons has yet to make a statement on the backlash and whether she is personally offended by it all or not and debates seem to have occurred between fans only at this point).
It's understandable to see why her fans are upset. Simmons made statements about her virgin as recently as this year when appearing on the morning show “The Breakfast Club” and I even recall her making those same claims on her own reality show “Growing Up Hip Hop” which filmed in 2015. Let me be clear once again: Angela is entitled to change her mind. Raise your hand if you hopped back into bed with that trifling ex a time or two after just telling your homegirl you were through with his sorry a** or treated yourself to that Popeye’s $5 box knowing damn well the way your diet is set up, fried chicken isn’t an option. Even if Simmons decided she wanted to have sex, get pregnant and be a wife within a week’s time, like Bobby Brown said: it's her prerogative. Behavior that completely contradicts what we say we stand for is the human condition, but with that we also can’t be offended when people call us out on our hypocrisy. Specifically when it comes to celebs, their platforms grant them a position of power to either perpetuate a stigma or fight against it. I don’t think fans are offended by Simmons’ right to change her mind as much they are her sudden departure from a lifestyle that seemed to endorse celibacy. They’re only making what she chooses to do with her body a big deal, because she once did.
I do question the message that this situation sends to young women who had idolized her as a moral figure that was proud of her virginity, but not as proud of her choice to have sex.
It’s a stigma that unfortunately has plagued women since the beginning of time and probably will continue to do so until we stop placing virginity as some sort of precious prize. I also can’t help but notice that none of the male Simmons siblings seem nearly as pressured to detail their sexual behavior to fans. When I was pregnant almost 2 years ago, I still remember the unnecessary impulse to defend my baby bump when people tried to sneak a glance at my left hand. There was even one incident when a man who worked in my building who never hit me with more than a “Hey, how are you?” took it upon himself to mention, “I hope he put a ring on it.” I even found myself holding my tongue to keep from reciting the rehearsed speech about how I got pregnant AFTER getting engaged because I did things the right way and a whole bunch of BS that he wasn’t entitled to before I stopped myself when realizing it was none of his damn business and that there really wasn’t a “right” way, only the way that worked best for my life. When Simmons made multiple statements about her virginity in the past a part of me wanted to scream that she didn’t owe anyone that explanation whether she was Reverend Run’s daughter or Hugh Hefner’s. Just as some fans feel she doesn’t owe anyone a reason for her choices now, my only argument is that she didn’t owe anyone an explanation about waiting for marriage to have sex either.
If anything, what I think we can all take away from people’s criticisms as well as defenses of Angela Simmons’ personal choices is the need for more open, honest conversations about sex and less normalizing of certain behaviors over others. I honestly think more celebs should pull a Kerry Washington and completely keep their personal lives private if they’re not prepared to for the opinions that follow the Instagram pics they choose to share with the world. Let’s take this as a lesson learned that when it comes to your bedroom, what does (or doesn’t) go down in it is your own damn business, but when your sexual moral code is a selling point it’s only matter of time before people will want receipts.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
The Fall Equinox begins on September 23, 2023, and it’s time to embrace abundance, gain clarity, and know that you are worthy of your desires. The Fall Equinox marks the beginning of fall and the end of summer and is a turning point of the year, where things settle in and come to fruition. The energy that fall brings is one of harvest, but it is also one of release, letting go, and finding your ground. Coming from a summer of intensity, drama in love, and overall moving through a space of deep spiritual growth- now that fall is here, we are ready to decompress, dream, and enjoy that which we have created for ourselves.
What Is the Energy of the Fall Equinox 2023?
The energy this fall is opening up new doors of abundance and is a time of reaping your rewards in life. Fall begins at the same time as Libra Season, and a lot of these blessings have to do with love and the relationship developments that will be taking place over the next few months. With a New Moon Solar Eclipse in Libra occurring a few weeks after fall begins on October 14th, something enchanting is happening in romance right now. The scales are coming into balance, new beginnings are occurring, and clarity prevails.
Relationships over the next few months are about focusing on the gifts and gratitude you find in them and accepting where things need to change as well.
By the time winter begins, most of the planets that are currently in retrograde will be direct, and this signifies the change of pace that fall is bringing. This fall highlights Eclipse Season overall, and the Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in Taurus on October 28th will be a time of creating boundaries, honoring your values and energy, and closing a chapter in your life that doesn’t align. Financial worlds are growing and finding new ground, but with Jupiter still in retrograde in Taurus until December 30th, patience is needed here.
Over the next few months, give yourself the space to gain some new perspectives, make room for love, and grow in abundance.
Your guidance this fall is to take those first steps toward the goals you have been pondering over this year. There is a Full Moon in your sign a week after fall begins, and you get the opportunity to enter this season with less baggage and more closure. You will possibly be starting a new position or working in a new field, and you need all the good energy to back you right now. Know that you can count on your skills and talents to move you further in life and that help will be there when you least expect it. This is a fall of abundance for you, Aries, claim it.
Your lucky days this fall are: Sep. 29, Oct. 13, Nov. 13, Nov. 21
Patience, patience, patience, Taurus. You are creating something beautiful in the world right now, and the time it’s taken to get you here will all be worthwhile. Your guidance this fall is to nurture your world and your dreams and to bring more love and compassion to your life. You are preparing for a new reality but need some more time to dream it up and define that which you want for yourself and your future. The Full Lunar Eclipse happening this fall is occurring in your sign, and you are moving through some major closures in your life right now. This is a creative time for you, Taurus.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 28, Oct. 29, Nov. 6, Nov. 20
This fall is all about taking care of yourself and valuing your time and energy, Gemini. The way you see yourself and your life are coming up for review right now, and you are being urged to look at yourself in a better light. Your ruling planet, Mercury, goes retrograde for the last time this year on December 13th, just before fall ends, and this time is all about taking what you have learned and choosing better for yourself. You may be tested to be more confident or true to yourself right now and over the next few months, and it’s about owning your part in this life and standing up for what you want.
Your lucky days this fall are: Sep. 25, Oct. 21, Nov. 20, Dec. 12
This is an abundant fall for you, Cancer. You have worked diligently on claiming the opportunities and new doors that have been opening for you, and you are feeling free to be your successful self. You are encouraged in your independence right now, and you have proven to yourself just how talented you are and how much you have grown. No major aspects are happening in your sign this fall, giving you the space to breathe, create, and receive your rewards. Happiness fills your world, and even though you still feel like you are just getting started in a sense, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the gifts that are presenting themselves today.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 13, Oct. 15, Nov. 12, Nov. 13
This fall is a turning point for you in love, Leo. New developments are taking place in your relationships, and you are being received especially favorably. This is the time to open your heart to growth and new possibilities and to get creative with what you are looking for right now. The Last Quarter Moon happening in your sign on November 5th will be a turning point for you this fall. Your unique charm and charisma are enough, and you attract many to you through your natural energy and love for life. Your ship is coming in this fall, and your heart is fulfilled.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 1, Oct. 31, Nov. 5, Nov. 14
Virgo, this fall is a blessing for the heart space. You are feeling in tune emotionally, and there is positive energy coming your way and into your love life. You have spent a lot of this year healing, forgiving, and finding your voice, and over the next few months, you will be creating the spaces you have been looking to enter in your life. Venus enters your sign for a month on October 8th, and there are some pleasant surprises in store for you during this time. Fresh starts are coming in for you, and spiritually, you are awakening to the gifts within you and in your heart. Your beauty is showing, and love is coming in for you this fall.
Your lucky days this fall are: Sep. 25, Oct. 22, Nov. 5, Nov. 20
This fall is a new beginning for your financial world, Libra. Autumn begins the same day Libra Season does, and you have some extra motivation and energy within you right now. You are ready to put the action behind the intentions you have been setting for yourself financially, and this is a time of plans coming together and falling through to success. The more you stay focused and diligent, the more opportunities that can come for you right now. The first month of fall, the Sun is in your sign, and this is really the time to get things moving in your life, especially with a New Moon Eclipse in Libra on October 14th happening as well.
Your lucky days this fall are: Sep. 27, Oct. 14, Oct. 30, Nov. 20
It’s all about the vision for you right now, Scorpio. You are focused on the future, your path ahead, and manifesting your dreams, and there is something passionate about the next few months for you. You may be taking some risks this fall as you test the boundaries on how far you want to go with something and what worlds are opening up to you now. Mars is in your sign from October 12th until November 24th, and life is exciting for you right now. You have your eyes on the prize and are ready to move forward toward the things that are lighting you up right now.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 12, Oct. 13, Nov. 6, Nov. 13,
This fall is about taking a leap of faith, Sagittarius. Your guidance over the next few months is to do the things that you would do if you knew you would be supported in doing them. Less self-doubt is needed now, as you are walking on new ground. You are moving towards personal healing you have been wary of from the beginning, and you are ready to let go of some energy that has been holding you back. Trust that once you decide on something, the universe instantly begins to make it happen for you. Your season begins on November 22nd, and it’s time to put yourself first more. Have courage in yourself this fall.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 8, Nov. 22, Nov. 24, Dec. 12
This fall is all about clarity for you, Capricorn. You are a wise soul, and you are owning this energy about yourself right now. Over the next few months, you will be developing spiritually, helping those who need your sound advice, and evolving in life. You have found a new sense of enlightenment and are enjoying the clear perspective that has been gained. Mercury goes retrograde in your sign on December 13th, right before fall ends, and this is when you will be feeling more tested to take the lead in your life and use your voice. Overall, fall 2023 is your time to surrender to the good within you and in your life, Capricorn.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 10, Oct. 23, Nov. 4, Dec. 1
Things are moving fast for you this fall, Aquarius. This is a successful, harmonious, and passionate time for you, as many opportunities come your way at once. It will be hard to settle down with all the energy flowing through your life over the next few months, as you have so much to do and so many people to see. Overall, however, this is positive energy that you have been looking forward to in your life, and everything is coming together and moving forward where it was once stagnant. Fall is giving you the closure and the opportunity to reinvent yourself and start on new, solid ground in your life.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 30, Oct. 31, Nov. 20, Nov. 28
Your guidance for fall is to have balance in your life. There is a lot of new coming in for you, but you are also working on letting go of what has fallen. You have grown in many ways this year, and financially, you have seen growth as well but may be feeling the weight of responsibilities this has come with now. To move through this season with the most grace, give yourself more time to rest, to be, and allow things to fall into place on their own. Saturn has been retrograde in your sign since June and goes direct this fall on November 4th, Pisces. This is your opportunity to see things more clearly, protect your energy, and feel more in tune with your internal guidance system.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 22, Nov. 4, Nov. 6, Dec. 12
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