10 Bona Fide Benefits Of Being Single
Not too long ago, I was having a conversation with a newlywed wife who I could totally tell is still in the honeymoon stage of her relationship. Her eyes were beaming, her man's name came up every third sentence and, when she grabbed my hand to say grace with her, she made a point to rub my ring finger. Then, with a completely-non-patronizing-but-still-kind-of-awkward way, she looked at me and said, "Shellie, we've got to find you someone."
I'm not sure if by "we", she meant her and her man or her and the Lord but either way, I'm good. Not that defensive kind of good that I've seen single women throw out into the atmosphere that almost comes off as resentful or bitter rather than believable. What I mean is, what I say all of the time—"Until a man can love me the way that I know I can love a man, I need to remain single." It would belittle the institution of marriage and myself (not necessarily in that order) to do otherwise.
Besides, it's not like living the single life is some sort of consolation prize or something. One of the perks of being a marriage life coach is you're able to see the good that comes with being married. At the same time, you also get to see all of the sacrifices that come with it too. And ladies, there are more than just a few of 'em. There are almost so many that I should've rubbed on my sista-friend's ring finger and "aww-ed" her right on back.
It was that meal that inspired this piece. So, if you're a single woman—especially if you're a single woman who really wants to be married—please take a moment to at least skim through all of the reasons why you should not only tolerate your relational status but do a little dance right where you're standing.
Marriage is a beautiful thing. But girrrrrl, so is being single. Why do I say that? Read on.
1. Your Bed Is All Yours
One of my girlfriends is hilarious. Although she has a heart of gold, she isn't big on physical affection. Meanwhile, she married the kind of guy who can't even sit on the couch without making sure that one of his limbs is draped all over her. When I was talking to her about penning this, one of the things she said was, "I love my husband. But I'd kill for us to spend at least three nights a week in separate beds. We can't agree on the temperature, plus he sweats a lot and then has hurt feelings if I don't want to cuddle all throughout the night."
If you're someone who hates going to bed alone, I could see how you might be tempted to roll your eyes about her gripe. But as someone who likes to sleep right in the middle of my bed with my thermostat set to around 68 degrees and some rain ASMR playing, and as someone who wants to wake up when I feel like it and not because my hubby always wants to eat with me at the crack of dawn (which is something else my friend's husband does), I totally feel her "pain". When you're single, you can pick and choose if/when you want to share your bed. When you're married, eh, not so much. And since you vowed "until death parts us"…sharing your bed with another person is for a really, really long time.
2. You Can Still Experience Dating Firsts
While talking to the newlywed who was giving me the puppy dog eyes, one of the things she talked about is how awesome morning sex is. Le sigh. I remember those days. I don't disagree with her one bit on that tip. As she was asking me if I wanted to find a man so that I could enjoy that long-term relationship perk, my response was, "Morning sex is bomb. But one thing that I have that you don't is the opportunity for more firsts."
I wasn't implying that she won't get any more firsts ever. I mean, there's always a new city to see or even a new sexual position to try. What I was referring to is the fact that some of my favorite memories consists of relational firsts—the excitement of a first date, the thrill of a first kiss, the first time you hear "I love you." Single folks are able to still have these opportunities. Married folks—at least the faithful ones—not so much.
3. You Can Do A Lot More Things on a Whim
Something that I like about most of my married friends' relationships with their spouses is that jealousy is close to non-existent. For the most part, all of them are pretty secure in what they've got with each other, so going out with single folks like me isn't that big of a deal. The challenge is when you're married, out of courtesy for your partner, it's still important to share your plans with them. Sometimes, that plan also includes a budget. Also, sometimes their spouse already has things scheduled that conflict with what your married friend is trying to do—whether it's with you, with someone else or even alone.
Chile, do you know the complete and total freedom that comes with simply checking my bank account online and then heading right out the door? Today. Tomorrow. Next weekend. Whenever. I definitely think that one of the most underrated benefits that comes with being single is, other than your job, your time is totally your own. You can do what you want, when you want. There is nothing that needs to be run by anyone. That leaves room for so much spontaneity and total freedom.
4. Compromise Isn't Required
Something that a husband once told me about marriage is, "You never realize how selfish of a person you are until you say, 'I do'." That'll preach right there because, even when I hear a lot of married people talk about why they are about to get a divorce, there tends to be a lot of "I, I, I-ing" going on.
Sometimes, I will sit in sessions with couples who are considering getting engaged and I'm like, "For what? You two are way too self-centered for that." And while there are some perks to being the type of person who is "concerned primarily with one's own interests, benefits, welfare, etc.", when you sign up for "we", it's unfair—and a bit delusional—to approach your marriage in this way. It's simply not going to work without compromise, loads of compromise, from things like what kind of toilet paper to buy to where to go on vacation and spend the holidays.
Single people? Please. While we shouldn't be jerks about it, we can be selfish without a lot of explanation or apology. If we want or don't want to do something, there's not really that much fallout. We are our top priority (more on this point at the end), so we can make decisions with that reality in mind.
5. Opposite Sex Friendships Aren't an Issue
Something that I get asked quite a bit, especially by engaged couples, is if I think it's appropriate for married people to have friends of the opposite sex. Yes. Actually, let me give that more emphasis and say "YES!" A good opposite sex friend can offer up insight and support in ways that oftentimes go totally underestimated; especially to married folks. I think the reason why there is so much hesitancy around it is because, even some single people wonder, if it is cool to have opposite sex friendships when they are dating someone. The key is to remember that a true friend is going to respect boundaries, is going to honor your relationship and is going to do their best to make your significant other feel as comfortable as possible as well.
Unfortunately (at least from where I sit), a lot of husbands and wives don't see it this way. As a result, they don't have opposite sex friends and neither does their spouse (at least, not to their knowledge). When you're married, you have to respect this. When you're single, you can call and hang out with whoever whenever. Your friendships are your business. No "running it by someone real quick" is necessary.
6. There Is Total Financial Freedom
Another one of my friend's husband is frugal. And that's the nice word for it. He is so tight with money that he pretty much isn't going anywhere without using Groupon and, when anyone in the house goes shopping, they always need to produce a receipt. When I asked my friend if she feels like she's in a financial prison of sorts, about 80 percent of the time she doesn't, simply because, before him, her finances were in total disarray. But what she does say is she envies the fact that I am able to spend money more freely and prioritize my coins however I want to without somebody yapping a few feet away about how they feel about it.
To be fair, in the article "Sex and Finances Are Better for Married People. Don't Worry, Singles —You win Sleep", the author does share that between sharing bills and a potential double income coming into the home, that can make things less stressful for married couples. But they also flipped the coin and said that, when it comes to being single, "No one can deny your dream of weekly mani-pedis or slam the door on your meticulously decorated fan cave." I don't know about you but that's a pretty stellar perk, if you ask me.
7. You've Got More Time to Do You. And Only You.
Just think about it. If you want to get up at 3am for the next week to work on a business plan, who is going to pull on you about coming back to bed? If you want to have a spa day this weekend, who do you need to check and see if it's in the budget first? If you and your girls want to take a trip next month, does it matter if it's for a day or a long weekend? If you up and decide to go to the movies after work or to a restaurant, who do you need to make sure is cool with your timing? If you choose to up and quit your job, take money out of savings or totally change careers or move to a new state or country, who will it really affect?
Something that is so awesome about being single is you can totally focus on what makes you happy and a better person. No one else needs to understand or agree. You have the space to do you, however you want to do it. This is actually probably one of the things that married people grieve the most about leaving the single life. Whether they choose to vocalize it to others or not.
8. Emotional Stability Is Totally on You
OK, when it comes to this particular point, if you're in a healthy marriage, emotional stability should be a given. So, by no means am I saying that only single people are, well, stable. However, I can't tell you how many times that I've been on the phone with a friend or a client who was in a totally great mood. That is until their spouse sent a "Say what now?" text or their partner came into the house with some totally f'ed up energy. Then, almost immediately, it was like my friend or client was irritated, sad or totally pissed. They were fine on their own; their spouse's influence altered them.
In response to this particular point, you might say that all married people should do is learn how to master their emotions. But when you're sharing a roof, a bed and even your body with someone on a constant basis, that really can be easier said than done.
But when you're single? It is a whole lot easier to not let the influence of other people either affect or infect you. And, if it gets too hard to not take in negative energy, no problem—just remove yourself from it. Single people can shut doors and close out drama. It's harder for married folks to do this if the drama is their own partner.
9. You Get to Tolerate Less Intolerable Stuff
Your husband's meddling mother or annoying friend. His work-related events. Your husband's way of wanting to hog the remote or how he makes scrambled eggs. His like or dislike for pets when you feel the total opposite of him. Your husband's value system that may totally differ from your own. How he keeps—or doesn't keep—a bathroom. The household chores that he prefers vs. doesn't prefer. Whether your husband is a morning person or a night owl. His sexual appetite and preferences that might totally differ from your own. The little things that he does that were easier to overlook when you were dating but are like fingernails on the chalkboard now that you are married to him. These are the types of things that, once you are married, you've got to find a way to, at the very least, tolerate. Some of which just might remain that way—wait for it—for the rest of your entire life.
When you're single, none of this is a factor. And what if you're dating someone whose lifestyle doesn't complement your own? Although a lot of single people seem to forget this, one of the benefits of dating is so you can find your right fit. If the relationship isn't working out, you don't have to go through the grueling process of a divorce. The beauty that comes with where you are is, all you have to do is break-up. Yes, it might hurt, but ask any divorced person and they'll probably tell you that once everything shakes out and you come out on the other side, a break-up is still (usually) so much easier to go through.
10. You Are Your Top Priority
"Priority" is a dope word. Among other things, it means "the right to precede others in order, rank, privilege, etc.; precedence" and "something given special attention". Real talk, I believe that a lot of women who desire marriage are currently still single because they need to learn the art of making themselves their top priority. They need to stop giving some man, a man who isn't even their husband, certain privileges and super-high "rankings" in their life. They need to take all of that special attention that he's getting from them and turn around and give it to themselves instead.
We've all heard that we have to teach others how to treat us. If you don't take the opportunity of this single season of your life to show you how to be loved properly, by properly loving yourself, how can you model it to someone else?
If you make you a priority, there's a far greater chance that you will choose someone who will do the same—and you won't waste your time with the fellas who don't. Girrrl, if that ain't one of the biggest and best benefits of being single…I don't know what is!
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Something that I honestly don’t mind doing, for the most part, is aging. Even though I absolutely know that genetics play a huge part in what I’m about to say, as time keeps on moving, I really do get that the more intentional I am about my health, the more I can be a poster child for what looking damn near magnificent at my age can truly be. If anything, the only thing that kind of gets on my nerves (just a lil’ bit) is that I have to proactively stay on top of things that I never had to consider before my 40s decided to show up. One of those things is how sensitive my vagina and vulva seem to be getting.
“Sensitive” in the sense that I can’t just eat whatever and not feel the repercussions down there on some level (check out “Here’s What Your Vagina Wishes You Would Eat LESS Of”). Also, it’s weird, but certain types of underwear seem to make “her” roll her eyes at me, too; I think it’s because, as estrogen levels shift as we get older, vaginal walls and vulvar skin tends to become thinner and more fragile.
Factoring all of this in is why, not only do I get new pairs of panties every six months or so, but I also am a bit more particular about the kinds that I buy — these days, cute is still a priority; it’s just that they’ve gotta look good and have some of the specific qualities that I’m about to share with you now. And you know what? Ever since I’ve been more intentional and hypervigilant when it comes to my panty shopping list, my vagina really has been that much happier. She really has.
Now for my top 10 suggestions as far as panty shopping goes, please look for the following.
1. Natural Fibers
For the sake of time and space, I’m going to use “vagina” for both the inner tube that connects your cervix to your vaginal opening (which is actually your vagina) and the outside of your vagina (which is your vulva) quite a bit. Just thought that should go on record to avoid any potential confusion.
That said, something that your vagina needs to do is breathe. That’s why, when it comes to the types of fabric that you should go with when it comes to your vagina, cotton needs to always top the list — well, that or bamboo, which is steadily becoming a fan favorite. That’s because it’s hypoallergenic, sustainable, contains antibacterial and antifungal, and (get this) it doesn’t shrink after several washes.
Another nice option is silk. It feels really soft on your skin, is pretty moisture-wicking (more on that in a sec), and, if you want panties that look and feel a bit more “high-end,” silk can get that done for you without irritating your skin like lace might. As far as synthetic fibers like nylon, polyester, and rayon? Eh, not for everyday wear. Satin is okay, but it really is best for lounging around in or for lingerie (same goes for lace).
As far as actual panty styles go, briefs (any cut), hipsters, bikinis, boy shorts, and mid-rise are wise options. They fit well and give your vagina and butt the space that it needs.
As far as the whole moisture-wicking thing goes, when it comes to your undies and your workout wear, look for items that say that on the package and/or labels. Moisture-wicking simply means that the material is made in such a way that it draws moisture away from your body and onto the outer layer of whatever it is that you have on; as a result, it helps the moisture to dry faster. Your vagina benefits from this because it’s already naturally lubricated and warm down there — so when there is too much moisture, that can make it a breeding ground for vaginal infections if you’re not careful.
If you’re wondering which underwear brands are best as far as moisture-wicking is concerned, Women’s Health can hook you up. Check out their article, “18 Best Moisture-Wicking Underwear, Per Gynecologists And Reviews”.
3. Built-In Gussets
You know that little pocket of fabric that’s on the inside of panties? It wasn’t until I saw a TikTok that featured a woman putting some dollar bills into it (you can get some context here) that I gave it much thought. Well, it’s called a gusset, and what it does is 1) make your panties stronger and 2) help to absorb moisture, so definitely get panties that include them (many thongs don’t, by the way).
Oh, and as far as that lil’ hack that I just mentioned? I’m not sure how you can discreetly get your moola out that way. Plus, money is dirtier than a toilet (which is why some restaurants have shifted to a card-only policy ever since COVID), so…there’s that. If you wanna test the hack out anyway, please wrap the money in a tiny plastic baggie first; just to be on the safe side.
4. Proper Fit
If you’ve ever heard that 80 percent of women wear the wrong size bra,HuffPost recently ran a piece that claims that this finding is still true (get professionally fitted, y’all…it makes all the difference in the world!). And if that many of us aren’t wearing the right size up top, I’m pretty sure that plenty aren’t down below either. One way to know is if the band around your waist or thighs feels too snug. Another is if you can see your panty lines through your clothing.
And here’s the thing — when panties are too snug, they also trap in moisture, which can trigger an infection (if not immediately, eventually). Not only that, but they can irritate your vulva “thanks” (which is really, no thanks) to the friction that tight drawers can create. Sometimes, finding the right panties can be a bit of trial and error. That’s okay. It’s worth it to find the ones that fit you like a glove. I know this firsthand.
5. Ones That Stay Out of Your Butt Crack (No, Seriously)
Thongs can be sexy. I get that. Personally, I can’t see comfortably keeping them on for more than a few minutes, which is why I think they’re a good foreplay option, and that’s about it (#Elmoshrug). Not only that, but they aren’t the most hygienic things in the world. You’ve got this thin piece of fabric that moves in and out of your butt crack, and that makes it easier for fecal matter to shift from your backside to your vagina (no joke). I mean, we’re taught to wipe from front to back, right? Thongs don’t care about that rule. And since there is reportedly one-tenth of a gram of crap in each pair of underwear already…yeah, wear things sparingly. Your vagina is begging you.
We all have “period drawers.” Still, if you’re someone who wears tampons or menstrual cups instead of pads, you really shouldn’t keep those around for more than 3-4 months tops. Although washing them (effectively) should get rid of the bacteria that come from the blood, there’s always a chance that it won’t. So, just to be on the safe side, don’t keep period panties forever simply because you only wear them once a month. Oh, and if you’ve always wondered about if period panties are safe — eh. Many do contain per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are potentially harmful. You can read more about all of that here, here, and here so that you can come to a decision that is truly best for you.
7. Super Dry
There’s nothing wrong with carrying a couple of extra panties along with you, just in case. Personally, I think the move is brilliant because if it’s a really hot day (for instance) and your panties are damp, putting on a fresh and dry pair will significantly reduce the chances of your vagina getting itchy and/or irritated. Yeah, if there’s one top rule for panties that your vagina absolutely adores, DRY ONES are what I’m sure she’s yelling from the very top of her lungs.
8. Not At Night
Any part of your body being covered up for 24 hours at a time, seven days a week, nonstop, is going to cause some problems at some point (which is why some women opt to not wear panties, pretty much…ever; check out “10 Women Told Me Why They Stopped Wearing Panties (And They Don't Regret It)”). This is the reason why it really is a good idea to sleep naked (or at least with no panties on) as often as possible. It gives your vagina some time to literally chill out before it has to go through another, what, at least 12-16 hours of being cooped up on a pair of drawers again.
While we’re here, make sure that your sheets are made out of cotton, bamboo, silk, or some other type of breathable fiber. It’s pretty counterproductive to have no panties on, and yet you’re still sweating because your sheets aren’t moisture-wicking. Feel me?
9. Annual Swap Outs
Listen, if there’s one thing that social media has taught me, it’s that some people have the strangest cleanliness (or lack thereof) habits on the entire planet. That’s why I take certain suggestions, by certain “folks”, with a grain of salt. For instance, even though some people think that panties don’t need an expiration date, I go with others who believe that they absolutely do (for instance, due to what I said about the whole thong thing).
I mean, if changing them a couple of times a day is a good move, why would I want to hold on to discharge, pubic hair and bacteria holders for longer than a year or so? Yeah, treat your vagina and yourself to no less than an annual new panty-shopping excursion. See it as self-maintenance self-love…because it is.
10. Hand-Washed Is Preferred. Because…
If you’ve been on the fence about getting your own washer and dryer, Google articles on how nasty a washing machine (especially) can be — especially one at a public laundromat; it’s literally a breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria. I’ve even read before that one dirty item will easily spread to 90 percent of everything else in the washer. Lawd. That’s why, if you do have your own washing machine, you should clean it every month (some use bleach; I prefer white vinegar). And when it comes to your panties, you may want to go with handwashing them.
Not only will that help to keep the “gunk” in your washer away from your delicates, but you can also keep harsher detergents from irritating your vagina too (if you want to take a stab at making some of your own, a cool recipe is here). By the way, if you’re like me and you’ve got a ton of undies, a salad spinner (that’s solely devoted to cleaning your panties) can save you some time. You can read more about it here.
Now that you know what kind of panties your vagina is actually into, if it’s time to get some new ones, budget for that. Underwear is certainly not a luxury. As you can see, a good quality pair is a necessity for all kinds of different reasons.
Your vagina does so much for you — take good care of her. Get some new (and vaginally responsible) drawers, chile. SOON.
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