As a woman of a darker hue, I've always wondered why it always seemed less likely for me to be the object of certain men's affection and desire. Was it because I'm not thick with curves? Do I not fulfill the modelesque stature idealized by some guys because I'm barely 5'3"? But ever since I can remember, the back of my mind always screamed, "It's because you're dark-skinned."
Now, don't get me wrong, I love the skin I am in, but for a long time, it bothered me to think that I am placed outside of the dating pools of many men that, ironically, have the same complexion as me. Was it because of my own comfort in my skin color or is it something much deeper than that?
Recently, Gabrielle Union joined Ashley Graham on her podcast Pretty Big Deal with Ashley Graham. The two discussed everything from colorism, raising young black boys in today's world, and the concept of the code-switch.
The 45-year-old actress is consistently an open book when it comes to her life, and this time she opened up about her past experiences with learning to love her own dark skin and the effect it might have had on her own dark-skinned stepsons. Gabrielle mentions the fact that her boys and their friends may or may not have a subconscious preference for women who are of a lighter complexion. They recently had a much-needed conversation about the girls they chose to follow on Instagram and whether or not when they inevitably see girls that are the same complexion as they are, are they able to see their beauty in them and, in turn, within themselves. She says:
"We have to go a little deeper. What is it about your skin that you can't see a girl your skin color and see the beauty in her? Do you see the beauty when you look in the mirror? Because for me, I feel like you're projecting feelings you have about yourself onto these young women, in erasing them, and ignoring them, and not seeing their beauty."
In the conversation, Gabrielle also addressed a point in her life where she only dated light skin men as if it were a badge of honor to gain their affection. Presumably, her lack of confidence in her own skin needed to be pumped up by the affection of a man who might not normally date a woman darker than he was. Her inability to self-validate in her youth served as a catalyst to discuss with her stepsons the importance of seeing beauty in themselves and everyone else around them. She reveals:
"I somehow thought I was more visible and real and valid and worthwhile if a light skin boy found me attractive. Like it was somehow negating my darkness, and in the reverse, what is it about what you see in yourself that makes you erase these young women. I want you to be able to see that women are beautiful in every shade, shape, race, ethnicity, religion – along the spectrum there is beauty. And right now, I'm seeing a very, very, very narrow scope of beauty."
It's no secret that Gabrielle Union is an awesome bonus mom to her husband Dwyane Wade's sons. During their discussion, the L.A.'s Finest star goes into more detail about her very real fear surrounding the boys' safety in an increasingly volatile world, why their privilege doesn't translate when they are outside of the confines of their home, and what she is teaching them about interacting with authority figures in traditionally white spaces. She says:
"It's terrifying… it's terrifying. Once they're old enough to move around without being physically tethered to you, you just hope they come back. You know all the obstacles they could face in any given day. You know how their skin has been demonized and criminalized and weaponized, especially in Florida. Any one of my neighbors can kill my kid and get away with it and say, 'I was afraid.' That alone is terrifying...
"...there's a certain level of privilege and entitlement that they've been raised with – but that won't matter. You don't walk around with your parents' credit scores and their bank accounts on your forehead. You are just occupying space in a black body in traditionally white spaces. You cannot respond to authority figures, police officers, our neighbors' security officers, teachers in the same way your friends can. And it's that proximity to whiter or lighter privilege that they can see that is infuriating to them."
Ashley then asks her how are they raising their sons to be strong black men. Gabrielle acknowledges that while she is still trying to figure it out, she also wants them to never shrink themselves to please anyone else while doing whatever it is they need to do to return to their family safely if confronted by an aggressive encounter with an authority figure.
"That is the question, right? I haven't figured it out. What we do, which is part of what makes me fearful, is 'You are a strong, proud, beautiful, intelligent, world global citizen. Stand in that knowledge. Be proud of that. Own that space. Don't shrink for anybody.' But in the same breath, when you are in the presence of the police, if acting subservient will bring you home, you do whatever it takes to come home and then you let me whoop somebody's ass."
In her book We're Going To Need More Wine, Gabrielle discusses growing up in a very white world in which she feared others seeing and recognizing her blackness. This feeling transitioned when she used to visit with her grandmother's side of the family and being framed by her own family as "white". This combination led to real identity issues that took her many years to overcome.
Ashley posed the question of what she would she tell young Black girls struggling with similar feelings of not being good enough or too black or not black enough. She reveals:
"It's a journey to worthy, right? … I tell people first and foremost, 'Baby, you are worthy from birth. You are worthy as a thought. You are worthy as a zygote. So, as you move through the world, do not be afraid of taking up space. Do not be afraid of living your most authentic life. I get code-switching because I do it all the time, but you don't have to. Whatever your authentic voice is, that's what you ride with. You don't have to switch it up to be something to everyone because you will end up being nothing to you."
In addition to feeling the need to code-switch, as Black women, we also have to contend with the perception of perfection. What does it mean to be the "ideal" Black person? Who came up with this equation in the first place? To me, there is no measure to what a "real" Black person has to be. For others, people are ready to quantify your Blackness based on a list of things that would be highly impossible to adhere to at all times. For Gabrielle, regardless of your level of blackness, you are worthy and your journey is real. She tells Ashley:
"The other day I was talking about the performance of perfection. And we have this idea of what a 'perfect' black person is, and white folks have this idea of what a perfect black person is, which is usually a mute or somebody that amplifies white supremacy – that centers white supremacy. And I have been that person. And in my own community, this idea that you have to be the wokest, dopest, most natural-hair-wearing-est, most fully evolved, educated formed person at all times – it's impossible because we're all on this journey. And no matter where you are on that journey, you are a dope person, you are a worthy person, and who you are as a black person wherever you are on that journey is real and valid. However, you sound, that's okay too."
Colorism is a real thing that seeps into nearly every aspect of our culture, whether we like it or not. The truth is, without the proper amount of self-love, anyone can become susceptible to "only dating light skin" people, improper and unjustified run-ins with authority figures, fears of not being "black enough", and a host of other nuances that permeate our society. Until everyone is able to see the value in every person that walks this earth, we will forever be on an uphill battle.
It is important that as a community, we continue to promote love for all colors and hues, and uplift every young person enough to know and recognize the beauty reflecting back at them from the mirror. Maybe I am optimistic, but self-love and the promotion of diversity is an important step in overcoming the scourge that is colorism and racism.
To watch the entire podcast, click here.
Featured image by Sean Zanni/Getty Images
Michelle Schmitz is a writer and editor based in Washington, DC originally from Ft Lauderdale, FL. A self-described ambivert, you can find her figuring out ways to read more than her monthly limit of The New York Times, attending concerts, and being a badass, multi-tasking supermom. She also runs her own blog MichelleSasha.com. Keep up with her latest moves on IG: @michellesashawrites and Twitter: @michellesashas
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