Call me old, and maybe I am, but I'm just now learning about the world of K-pop, and the degree of which it is celebrated.
K-pop, short for Korean pop, is a popular music genre originating in South Korea that's basically taking the world by storm. It's highly influenced by styles and genres from around the world, such as rock, jazz, gospel, hip hop, R&B, reggae, electronic dance, folk, country, and classical, on top of its traditional Korean music roots.
One of the most impressive things about K-pop, is their loyal fanbase, reminiscent of the early 2000's boy band saga. And like so many others, there's a black following of listeners who have also gravitated to the movement, causing many of its artists to take note. For example, BTS, one of the more popular K-pop bands, took the initiative to show support and label themselves as allies by donating a million dollars to Black Lives Matter--ultimately encouraging their avid fanbase ARMY to match the donation. This was a huge gesture, considering there have been talks of anti-blackness in K-pop fandom.
The appeal is magnetic and we found some ladies willing to discuss just what that appeal is. Here are their stories:
Sequerstin | 23 | Memphis, TN
Courtesy of Sequerstin
I grew up living with my mom and my dad separately. My dad introduced me to the world of video games and anime. I was always the weird introverted cousin, preferring to be alone most of the time, and as my old English teacher would put it, "I was scarily quiet"--the biggest contrast to my loud, outspoken family. My interest in mostly pop and anime made me stand as well. I felt like I didn't fit in--not just in my family, but the black community as a whole. I've grown to not be ashamed of it now.
I discovered K-pop on YouTube one random day. I was searching for Keri Hilson's "Pretty Girl Rock", but instead, I found nine Korean girls dancing to it. The actual music video of Girls' Generation was linked. I was super intrigued, so I clicked on it, and was sent to another one of their music videos. Before I knew it, I was in a hole watching the next music video and the next and the next. I had instantly become a fan.
I loved their choreography, the music, the concepts. It was so refreshingly different from Western artists. The fact that they train for years before they even debut shows on stage with each performance. They also have so many variety shows and you get to watch them doing the simplest of things: cooking or enjoying a water park. It's fun seeing them interact and grow.
Admittedly, I don't participate in the fandom as much as I used to when I was younger. Now, I just enjoy their music, watch performances, vote, and go. There's so many toxic fans, and a lot of them like to stir up drama, I see it up and down Twitter and in Facebook comments. It gotten pretty bad, honestly.
Not only did I sense anti-blackness from the genre, but also non-black K-pop fans. It's a sad world really. For instance, South Korea's beauty standards include pale skin (white as a ghost), skinny, v-shaped jawline, and high bridge nose. It speaks for itself. I've watched Korean variety shows where they made fun of an idol who wasn't as pale, saying they needed to bathe and scrub off the dirt.
When I saw that clip it made me wonder, "Well if they're dark then what am I?" Or "Will my idol consider me ugly?" Sometimes I think they forget international fans are watching, but they continue on or they just don't care.
There's so much cultural appropriation, yet I still read/watch videos of black people facing racism in Korea. International fans are referred to as "Koreaboos", meaning we're trying to be Korean. I can't speak for everyone because there are some out there who try, but most of us just enjoy the music and appreciate the culture. I do find their culture fascinating but never tried to participate myself. I watch from the sidelines.
Oh, and Western media likes to say we're young teenage fans, when a lot of us are grown grown.
At the moment, my favorite group is TWICE. Their concepts are very cutesy, which isn't common in America but it works for them. They're chemistry is amazing. Yes, they were put together by a company, but strong bonds is what keeps them going for so long. And every song they've put out—a bop.
As far as BTS donating to Black America, I'm proud of them. They do nothing but promote peace, loving yourself and others. This is coming from a group that is heavily influenced by black culture. Their discography includes R&B and rap/ hip-hop. They've had a lot of eyes on them since the Billboard Awards and it's only right they lead by example.
Akilah | 29 | Miami, FL
Courtesy of Akilah
I was a quiet and imaginative child. I was always creative and curious and loved putting and making things, but I was never confident to show who I was or be myself. I was the type of girl who followed what her brothers did; from TV shows I watched, all the video games I ever played, to the sports I later played, I grew to love because I was with my older and younger brother. From there, I became immersed into gaming, comics books, cosplay and anime and even falling in love with something that was considered not normal at the time, aka K-pop.
It was really easy for me to get into K-pop since I was already really into watching shoujo anime and listening to tons of J-pop and J-rock artists. But what really made that extra push, was getting into K-drama, or Korean Dramas (Boys Over Flowers, my first K-drama). That's what really opened my doors fully because I got curious to explore more of the music and culture.
K-pop is fun, K-pop is free. K-pop allows you be your best self. Beside the music and the videos, what really draws you in, is the idols themselves. A lot of them you could relate to being different and doing what makes you happy. With that I feel K-pop aids you to find a voice to inspire!
As a fan, I've honestly heard a lot of crazy stuff questioning my blackness. I have a few friends I have met over time from going to different K-pop events and concerts, but a lot of my closest friends are either curious about the music or simply just don't understand. I often hear from non-fans that I must be lost or the music does not speak a message or oftentimes people would jokingly say that "I'm gonna marry a Korean man" or "I fetishize them."
It is never the case.
I grew to understand who I am as a person and not let a language barrier be the factor as to why I can't listen to music. At the end of the day, music is music. And I LOVE music. My favorite K-pop artist would have to be the renaissance man himself, Jay Park! Jay Park really made a name for himself in South Korea with his music. He is a man with drive, a vision, and he keeps going and going. His hustle don't stop! PLUS, I was able to see him live in person and his performance was AMAZING! He carries so much stage presence and confidence. Who wouldn't love a man like that!?
Anyway, K-pop has seriously came a long way with understanding black culture and I feel like K-pop as an industry is still learning. I honestly felt when BTS donated the millions to Black America, it was expected.
BTS is about healing the world and being yourself and loving yourself. If you love yourself, it will heal others around you. I feel it was just of them to do what they did to help spread love and to aid those who need help and that love. Love heals.
Chelsea | 24 | Washington D. C.
Courtesy of Chelsea
I grew up in Plano, Texas, a suburb outside of Dallas. My brothers and I went to a predominantly white, Christian private school that I don't have fond memories of. I struggle to talk about it because I find myself trying to downplay my feelings, trying to "oh, it wasn't that bad" myself into oblivion, but growing up like that was hard. I never felt like a person, I always felt like an Other. I felt unseen and unheard and alone, more often than not. And when I did feel "seen", it was when I was being tokenized, or used, or paraded like a show pony at a circus. "Look at how smart/kind/sweet/articulate/well-spoken she is!" white people would exclaim, as if I was an anomaly. It was weird. It's still weird.
In the summer of 2011, I was up late one night on YouTube and I was recommended the music video for SHINee's "Lucifer". You know that moment when Alice jumps down the rabbit hole? That music video was it for me. I was hooked. I needed to hear every album they had ever released and see all of their music videos and watch all of their variety show appearances. But, at first, I resisted. I told myself that I couldn't like SHINee. I refused to download the song to my phone. I was already getting weird looks for the anime I watched at home and the manga that I brought with me to school. I knew my peers and my family thought the things I liked were strange and I told myself I didn't need the extra attention another unconventional interest would bring me.
I don't remember when, exactly, I finally broke and downloaded the entire Lucifer album, but I'm glad I did. The music and the fandom and the friends I've made through it—I can't imagine these past nine years without any of it. Some of the most loving, genuine friends I have in this life I met because I was listening to K-pop on my phone in public or tweeting about it. The community, when it's good, is amazing.
As far as the music, I love it, of course. I've always been a boy band/girl band person. I loved B2K and *NSYNC, and when I listen to songs like EXO's "Growl" or "Bad Boy" by Big Bang, I get those 90's pop/R&B heartthrob vibes that I'm a sucker for. I love the music videos, too, and I love how conceptual K-pop is. How each album is an "era", and each era brings a new sound, new styling, new hair.
It's also fascinating to me on a scholarly level. Seeing the way Korean culture is being spread through K-pop and how it's interacting with/taking from Black culture is so intriguing to me. So much so that I wrote my senior thesis on it in undergrad!
People outside of fandom can say all sorts of crazy things. I've had people assume that I only like/date Asian men because I listen to Korean music, people insinuate that I'm not Black enough (or Black at all), that I'm weird, that I want to be Asian. And even within fandom, there are stereotypes. When I first got into K-pop, every time I found another person who liked it (which was a rare occurrence back then), when it came time to ask about who our favorite groups were, it was always assumed, every single time, that mine must be BigBang or 2NE1. Because if the black girl is into K-Pop, it must be the rap/hip-hop leaning stuff, right? Not the worst thing in the world, but a hurtful microaggression, nonetheless.
Actually, this is disheartening to admit, but anti-blackness is something I expect from fandom spaces and music genres. K-pop is not exempt. I've seen Mamamoo in blackface, heard Zico drop the n-word, seen him wear confederate flags. Non-black K-pop fans like to appropriate AAVE to hype up their faves, and then turn around and call a black fan a racial slur or tell them to "go listen to rap music" when their opinions differ. It's ugly. It's hurtful. I have a hard time being active in fandom because of it and it sucks to feel like even my would-be happy place is full of anti-blackness.
With that said, I do think it's nice that BTS and Big Hit and other Korean artists like pH-1 and Jay Park and CL are donating and speaking out about the things that are happening to black people—I was especially pleased by CL's statement, where she acknowledged the K-pop industry is inspired by black culture and she encouraged fans and other artists to give and support and show love.
Black people deserve love and support (always, but especially now), and all the black artists that have passed through K-pop idols' lips when they're asked about what "inspiration" deserved their flowers. I am, however, concerned with performative donations with no action or change or any real heat or meaning behind them, but that's a concern that's not just limited to K-pop.
Feature image courtesy of Chelsea Irvin
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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.
An author by the name of Alexandra Katehakis once said this about orgasms: “Great spiritual teachers throughout the ages have stated that orgasm is the closest some people come to a spiritual experience because of the momentary loss of self. Why is this true? Because with spiritual sex, you move beyond orgasm into a connection with yourself, your partner, and the divine — recognizing them all as one.”
If it’s counterintuitive to what you’ve ever thought about orgasms, believe it or not, there are even pastors who have said that climaxing is the closest comprehension of heaven on this side of it: it is an extreme kind of bliss that is indescribable and is best experienced between two people who share a sacrificial kind of love for one another.
Although this might seem like a heavy way to intro this particular topic, because the O Method is an orgasm-achieving technique that centers around housing energy, embracing the mental practice of manifestation, and the attempt to achieve the best climaxes ever — it all works together pretty well if you ask me. If you want to take your orgasms to the next level, it’s important that you get out of yourself (to a certain extent), that you see the spiritual role that manifestation plays, and that you are open to trying new things. No doubt about it.
So, let’s learn more about what the O Method is all about and how it very well could be just what you’ve been looking for…even if you didn’t know it.
What Is the “O Method” All About?Giphy
Question: When’s the last time you’ve had an orgasm? Not just any orgasm — I mean a really mind-blowing one (I’ll give you a second to think about it). Now, what if you could manifest that experience to the point where it wasn’t a rare occurrence but something that happened almost every time that you and your partner had sex with each other? How absolutely awesome would that be?
That is pretty much what the O Method is all about — helping you achieve the kind of orgasms (and sexual pleasure, in general) that you desire through the practice of manifestation. And since your biggest sex organ is your brain, it would make perfect sense that even with all of the tips and techniques that you might learn to do as far as your body is concerned, honing in on what you think about is super imperative to sexual fulfillment, too. And that’s just where manifestation comes in.
What If You’ve Never “Manifested” Anything Before?Giphy
Before we get into a quick lesson on manifestation, I think it’s important to mention two things. One, for the cynics, there is a lot of truth in the fact that it’s got some solid spiritual basis to it because even the Good Book says that as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7). At the same time, that same Good Book tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26). So, while it is always a good idea to focus on good, positive, and productive thoughts, just thinking about them isn’t enough — at some point, you’ve also gotta get out here and DO something (bookmark that).
Okay, with that mini-sermon out of the way, whether it’s in the bedroom or not, manifestation is basically about focusing on something tangible that you desire, harnessing your energy in such a way that your words and actions are directed towards that longing until what you want, well, manifests. For the record, aside from this having a spiritual backing to it, in many ways, science cosigns on manifesting, too. There is actually a scientific process known as neuroplasticity that consists of reframing your mind so that your actions ultimately end up aligning with your goals — and that is another way to look at manifestation.
So, what if you’re someone who has never set out to do a manifestation practice before? No worries. Something that’s awesome about it is there are several different approaches that you can take.
Some people manifest what they want in their lives via:
- Visualization/Creating vision boards
- Writing down their desires before going to bed (so that they can “download” them into their dream state)
- Creating mantras and affirmations
- Applying the 369 Manifestation Method (you can learn more about that here)
- Learning more about what you want to manifest (which brings forth clarity)
This is important to keep in mind because, when it comes to manifesting the types of orgasms that you want to have, as you can see, you can try different manifestation methods until you find one (or ones) that you are truly comfortable with. One that can ease you into the entire process rather smoothly is something known as sex journaling.
How Sex Journaling Can Actually Help You to Have an OrgasmGiphy
As a writer, I’m a big fan of journaling. Mostly because it’s a way to get out some of your deepest thoughts and feelings so that you’re able to really process what is happening inside of you in a private setting. And when it comes to sex journaling, specifically, it’s all about centering yourself on the things sexually that you want to “unpack,” get clarity on or come to some revelations about. For instance, if there’s only been one partner from your past who’s been able to help you achieve the type of orgasms that you wish to manifest, journaling about what makes him different from the other guys can provide you with some solid ah-ha moments.
Or if you need help getting as specific as possible about the sexual experiences that you’re after, journaling can help to make that happen for you — because one thing that manifesting reminds us all to do is be as specific as possible.
Yeah, simply saying, “I want to have better sex” isn’t detailed enough when you want to get your energy to match with your desires — instead, describe how all of your senses should feel in the experience, along with why, that can get you so much closer to achieving your goal. Once those things are documented, you can segue into creating mantras and/or meditation that are based on them. Yeah, sex journaling really is an underrated superpower on a lot of levels (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”).
5 Tips for Making the O Method Work for YouGiphy
Now that you know more about what the O Method is and how manifestation plays a direct role in its process, let’s talk about five ways to make the O Method truly effective in your own (sex) life.
1. Focus, FULLY, on your feminine energy. What do rose quartz, amethyst, moonstone (which is a Gemini birthstone as well; yes, I’m a Gemini), selenite, and rhodonite all have in common? They’re crystals that help you to go deeper into your divine feminine energy. Traits that are associated with this include compassion, creativity, kindness, gentleness, and sensuality (feminine energy is also accepting and forgiving). If you were to study energy from a biological standpoint, it’s about producing change, responding to stimuli, and having the ability to do what needs to be done (work). So, when it comes to manifesting the kind of orgasms or sexual experiences that you want, using things like your creativity and gentleness in your thoughts and actions can play a role in bringing balance to your partner’s masculinity, which can create a profound sense of pleasure — after all, opposites do attract.
2. Don’t hold back on what it is that you desire. Whenever I interview sex therapists, something that they all say is, a huge mistake that people make as far as sexual satisfaction is concerned is, they have walls up — not just with their partners but even within themselves. Sometimes, there is intimidation, fear, or even shame around what they really want to happen during sex to the point where they aren’t able to channel their energy fully in those directions in order to manifest what they want. For the O Method to work, you can’t let those types of negative emotions hinder you; the more you are able to articulate what you want and how you want it, the better chance you have of making it happen. So yes, get graphic. As graphic as possible.
3. Make manifestation a daily practice. Repetition is important when it comes to manifestation. That’s because the more you declare what you desire (a mantra), get still and think on it (meditation), or look at the “art” that you’ve created surrounding it (visualization), the quicker it becomes a part of you. So yes, make manifestation a daily practice. For instance, if one of your mantras is, “I am going to have intensely passionate orgasms, one right after the other,” don’t just state that 15 minutes before sex is going to happen. Wake up and declare it. Then say it on your lunch break. And again before turning in. The more your thoughts are “streamlined” in this way, the easier it will be for your body to follow suit.
4. Share this practice with your partner. If you were to do even more research on the O Method, one thing that most of the articles will mention is it’s a practice that you can do alone or with your partner. Indeed. However, I just want to make sure that you get into your psyche that great sex is, in part, about good communication. And so, the more comfortable you are sharing with your partner what you are doing as far as the O Method is concerned and what you ultimately want to happen as a result of the practice, the easier it will be for him to “match your energy” — both in and out of the bedroom. And when your partner is on the same page as you? That definitely increases the chances of attaining your sexual desires — exponentially so.
5. Stay in the moment. While I was reading one article on manifestation, I really appreciated something that the author said: manifestation isn’t some supernatural power. In other words, while it can be beneficial, it’s not like you can just think of something, and it instantly appears out of nowhere. Manifesting is a discipline, and it must be accompanied by action, consistency, and patience — this means that you must also practice mindfulness. Meaning, now that you know better what you’re looking to achieve as far as sex is concerned, every time that it transpires, maintain a level of positive energy, remember what your end goal is, and then determine in your mind to enjoy the moments as they come. Remember, manifestation isn’t to add stress…it’s to cultivate clarity.
At the end of the day, the O Method is simply a way of reminding you that your mind plays a huge role in your sexual pleasure, and when you channel it and your energy exactly where you want them both to go, you’ll be amazed what your body is capable of doing…and accomplishing.
So, what kind of orgasm are you wanting to achieve? You’ve got a tool to get you there. USE IT.
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Featured image by Giphy