OK, so maybe it's been a little more than a decade since I first started having sex. I lost my virginity sometime around my sophomore year in high school and I'm currently in my early 30's. In the time between that fateful summer night when I gave it up to my high school sweetheart (with the tune of 112 playing in the background) to now, I've learned my fair share of lessons about owning your sexuality, getting the best out of your body, and understanding how to deal with the ups and downs that come with carnal pleasure.
1.Body Positivity Leads To Great Sex
When I was younger, I can remember being in sexy situations that sometimes didn't feel so sexy. Insisting on wearing a t-shirt during sex to cover up my soft mid-section, turning off the lights to avoid too much up-close eye contact. Ultimately, this had more to do with my own confidence than a man's opinion of me.
The bottom line? Once you take a long hard look in the mirror and fall in love with what you see, you'll find better orgasms will ultimately follow.
2.It's OK To Explore Your Comfort Zone
When I was 19, I had what I fondly refer to as my "summer of love." Translation: I decided to sleep with a girl.
It was an important part of my sexual development that defined my preference and identity as a woman who considers herself to be pansexual. But gender preference isn't the only thing that's important to explore. Safely and responsibly trying out different elements of the sexual spectrum will lend itself to the most beautiful and awakening self-education.
3.Unapologetically Ask Potential Partners For What You Want
There was a time when I felt like telling a man what I wanted him to do to me in bed was too dominating, too upfront and possibly mood-ruining. But, the truth is – depending on how you say it – telling a partner how you like to be pleased serves two very important purposes. Not only is it great foreplay, but it kind of cuts right to the chase and eliminates guessing games.
No one wants to play a game that doesn't come with instructions.
4.School Yourself In Some You
In order to tell a partner what you want – you kind of have to know what you want. The best way to get to know your sexual self? Self-satisfaction. Invest a little time and a little money in the pleasure of your own company. Discover what makes you come alive (wink) so that when it's time to teach your partner what you like – you'll know exactly what to say. Not only is it the perfect way to fill those chill Sunday mornings, scientists have also discovered that it has a laundry list of health benefits.
5.Family Planning Doesn't Have To Be Painful
We can't talk about sex without talking about birth control. If you're like me, you've literally tried everything under the sun to prevent unwanted pregnancy. For me, one of my priorities was finding a way to do this without harming my body – or my chances of getting pregnant when I was ready. In my early twenties, I started tracking my periods and cycles, writing down details about everything from discharge to what my body felt like each day. After about a year of learning the signs of ovulation, I dropped my prescription birth control and went all-natural.
For those too scared to try the rhythm method, there are devices like Natural Cycles that read your basil temperature and tell you each morning if you're ovulating. This very accurate form of birth control is 100% accurate and imposes zero threat to your reproductive health.
6.Don't Have Sex With Partners You Don't Trust
I can remember the last time I was with a man who cheated on me. I had been suspicious for months and when his side chick called my phone, it was the confirming moment that I needed to move on. Of course, it also lead to a very scary trip to the clinic when I went to make sure everything below was nice and healthy. The lesson I took from that experience? Don't entertain partners who you even think could be cheating. If you're not quite ready to leave (we all have our reasons), at least abstain from unprotected sex in the meantime.
You're just as likely from catching an STD from a cheating partner as you are from a stranger on the street.
7.Never Apologize For Being Polyamorous
Between committed relationships, my dating status is always 'open'. As in, I will sleep with whomever I want, whenever I want. Being single is about being free and learning all about who I am and what I want and I am staunchly against strings during those periods. Plenty of men have taken this philosophy into question through the years and I make it a point not to entertain the naysayers. Monogamy is something I enter into with partners I think deserve that level of commitment from me and it sets the tone for a relationship that I want to last a long time. I'm okay with being selective about that and about exploring my options between boyfriends.
Don't like it? Bye.
8.Healthier Body = Better Sex
Believe it or not, we are what we eat. What we eat also has a huge impact on how we sex. Drinking plenty of water, getting plenty of sleep, and staying away from unhealthy eating habits doesn't just ensure a longer life – it ensures a better sex life. When I wasn't taking care of myself, my desire decreased and I even had a hard time having orgasms.
Our bodies function better when they are being taken care of and that includes how we perform in bed. Kind of adds a little extra motivation for working it at the gym.
9.Foreplay Can Be Incredible When It's Edible
I'll admit it – I like blowjobs a lot more now than I did back in the day. There's something to be said for what happens when your sexual palate matures. Part of it was growing up, but the other part of it was all about learning different techniques. Everyone approaches oral sex with a different comfort level but what I learned is that for mind-truly-blowing sex, it's a must-have every time.
For me, oral sex is something I'm more comfortable with in a committed relationship, which is why I tend to believe committed, safe sex is the best sex in the world.
Featured image by Shutterstock
Ashley Simpo is a writer, mother and advocate for self-care and healthy relationships. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @ashleysimpo. Check out her work and her musings on ashleysimpocreative.com.
Chief Mom Officer: 23 Quotes From Working Moms Finding Their Balance
The truth is, Black moms create magic every single day. Whether we're juggling motherhood with a busy 9-5, a thriving business, or staying at home to run a household, no day is short of amazing when you're managing life as a mommy. This Mother's Day, xoNecole is giving flowers to CMOs (Chief Mom Officers) in business who exemplify the strength it takes to balance work with motherhood.
We've commissioned these ladies, who are pillars in their respective industries, for tidbits of advice to get you through the best and worst days of mothering. Here, they share their "secret sauce" and advice for other moms trying to find their rhythm.
Emmelie De La Cruz, Chief Strategist at One Day CMO
"My mom friends and I all laugh and agree: Motherhood is the ghettoest thing you will ever do. It's beautiful and hard all at the same time, but one day you will wake up and feel like 'I got this' and you will get the hang of it. After 4 months, I finally felt like I found my footing to keep my kid and myself alive, but it took vulnerability to take off the cape and be honest about the areas that I didn't have it all together. The healing (physically and emotionally) truly does happen in community - whatever and whoever that looks like for you."
Alizè V. Garcia, Director Of Social & Community Impact at Nike
"I would tell a new mom or a prospective mother that they must give themselves grace, understand and remember there is no right way to do this thing and have fun! When I had my daughter three and a half years ago, I was petrified! I truly had no clue about what to do and how I was going to do it. But with time, my confidence grew and I realized quickly that I have all the tools I need to be the mother I want to be."
Nikki Osei-Barrett, Publicist + Co-Founder of The Momference
"There's no balance. I'm dropping sh*t everywhere! However, my secret sauce is pursuing interests and hobbies outside of what's required of me and finding time to workout. Stronger body equals = stronger mind."
Lauren Grove, Chief Experience Architect, The Grant Access, LLC
"I try to give myself grace. That’s my mantra for this phase of motherhood…grace. I won’t be able to get everything done. To have a spotless house. To not lose my cool after an exhausting day. Those things can’t happen all of the time. But I can take a deep breath and know tomorrow is another day and my blessings are more plentiful than my pitfalls."
Rachel Nicks, Founder & CEO of Birth Queen
"You have the answers within you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Curate your life to work for you. Ask for help."
Tanisha Colon-Bibb, Founder + CEO Rebelle Agency + Rebelle Management
"I know love doesn't pay bills but when I am overwhelmed with work or client demands I take a moment to play with my baby and be reminded of the love, energy, science, and Godliness that went into his birth. I am brightened by his smile and laugh. I remember I am someone's parent and not just a work horse. That at the end of the day everything will work out for the good of my sanity and the love within my life."
Christina Brown, Founder of LoveBrownSugar & BabyBrownSugar
"Learning your rhythm as a mom takes time and can be uncomfortable when you’re in a season of overwhelm. Constantly check in with yourself and assess what’s working and what’s not. Get the help you need without feeling guilty or ashamed of needing it."
Mecca Tartt, Executive Director of Startup Runway Foundation
"I want to be the best for myself, my husband, children and company. However, the reality is you can have it all but not at the same time. My secret sauce is outsourcing and realizing that it’s okay to have help in order for me to perform at the highest level."
Jen Hayes Lee, Head Of Marketing at The Bump (The Knot Worldwide)
"My secret sauce is being direct and honest with everyone around me about what I need to be successful in all of my various "jobs". Setting boundaries is one thing, but if you're the only one who knows they exist, your partners at home and on the job can't help you maintain them. I also talk to my kids like adults and let them know why mommy needs to go to this conference or get this massage...they need to build an appreciation for my needs too!"
Whitney Gayle-Benta, Chief Music Officer JKBX
"What helps me push through each day is the motivation to continue by thinking about my son. All my efforts, though exhausting, are to create a wonderful life for him."
Ezinne Okoro, Global Chief Inclusion, Equity, & Diversity Officer at Wunderman Thompson,
"The advice I received that I’ll pass on is, you will continue to figure it out and find your rhythm as your child grows into new stages. Trust your nurturing intuition, parent on your terms, and listen to your child."
Jovian Zayne, CEO of The OnPurpose Movement
"I live by the personal mantra: 'You can’t be your best self by yourself.' My life feels more balanced when I offer the help I can give and ask for the help I need. This might mean outsourcing housecleaning for my home, or hiring additional project management support for my business."
Simona Noce Wright, Co-Founder of District Motherhued and The Momference
"Each season of motherhood (depending on age, grade, workload) requires a different rhythm. With that said, be open to learning, to change, and understand that what worked for one season may not work the other...and that's okay."
Janaye Ingram, Director of Community Partner Programs and Engagement at Airbnb
"My daughter's smile and sweet spirit help me to feel gratitude when I'm overwhelmed. I want her to see a woman who doesn't quit when things get hard."
Codie Elaine Oliver, CEO & Founder of Black Love
"I try to listen to my body and simply take a break. With 3 kids and a business with 10+ team members, I often feel overwhelmed. I remind myself that I deserve grace for everything I'm juggling, I take a walk or have a snack or even head home to see my kids, and then I get back to whatever I need to get done."
Jewel Burks Solomon, Managing Partner at Collab Capital
"Get comfortable with the word ‘no’. Be very clear about your non-negotiables and communicate them to those around you."
Bridget Bogee, Marketing Lead At Meta
"Ask for help and always prioritize making time for you."
Julee Wilson, Executive Director at BeautyUnited and Beauty Editor-at-Large at Cosmopolitan
"Understand you can’t do it alone — and that’s ok. Relinquish the need to control everything. Create a village and lean on them."
Salwa Benyaich, Director Of Pricing and Planning at Premion
"Most days I really try to shut my computer off by 6 pm; there are always exceptions of course when it comes to big deals or larger projects but having this as a baseline allows me to be much more present with my kids. I love the fact that I can either help with homework or be the designated driver to at least one afterschool activity. Work can be draining but there is nothing more emotionally draining than when you feel as though you are missing out on moments with your kids."
Brooke Ellis, Head of Global Marketing & Product Launches at Amazon Music
My calendar, prayer, pilates class at Forma, a good playlist, and oatmilk lattes all help get me through any day.
Courtney Beauzile, Global Director of Client and Business Development at Shearman & Sterling
My husband is a partner who steps in when I just can’t. My mom and my MIL come through whenever and however I need. My kids have many uncles and aunts and they will lend an ear, go over homework, teach life lessons, be a presence or a prayer warrior depending on the day.
Robin Snipes, Chief of Staff at Meta
"Enjoy the time you have to yourself because once kids come those times will be few and far between."
Monique Bivens, CEO & Founder at Brazilian Babes LLC.
"For new moms, it is very important that you get back into a habit or routine of something you use to do before you were pregnant. Consider the actives and things that give you the most joy and make the time to do them."
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Featured image by Westend61/Getty Images
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This Is Why Your Bright Under-Eye Technique Is Not Giving
If you are a fan of the bright under-eye, then you have the legendary makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin to thank. The bright under-eye is only one of the major techniques that Aucoin brought to the forefront of the makeup industry in the ‘90s. The purpose of concealing the under-eye area is to hide blemishes and discoloration, redness, dark circles, and under-eye bags. However, according to Aucoin’s techniques, its main purpose is to lift and sculpt the face adding a new level of dimension.
The bright under-eye can be difficult to achieve. These are some of the common mistakes that are holding you back from sculpted bright under eyes that are giving!
1. You are not using the correct concealer shade.
Using two concealers makes a huge difference. Start with a shade 1-2 shades lighter than your skin tone. Followed by a shade that is 3-4 times lighter and placed closer to the inner eye to do the heavy lifting and give the bright effect.
Two shades diffuse well into each other and give a cohesive result.
2. You are not blending enough.
Don't underestimate the power behind a complete blend-out! Blending your concealer fully is a make-or-break step for the bright under-eye look. Fully blending allows for a seamless transition between the areas of the face meant to be highlighted, and the areas meant to create depth and shadows. So take your time and make sure there are no harsh lines.
3. You are not properly setting the under-eye area.
Set the under-eye using a loose setting powder or brightening powder. The key here is to choose a powder complementary to your skin's undertone and proper placement to prevent creasing. Focus the majority of the powder on the inner eye and defuse the remaining powder to the rest of the powder under the eye.
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Featured image by Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images