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Here's What Your Vagina Wants For Christmas (No, Really)

Whether "she's" been naughty or nice, treat her to something special this year.

Women's Health

Vaginas are dope. That's why I write about 'em so much. I like to provide tips on how to care for them, facts that you may not know about them, ways to keep them as youthful as possible, how to properly wash them, foods that you should feed them, what to do if yours is stressed TF out—the list really does go on and on. Well today, in honor of being just a couple of weeks away from Christmas, I thought it would be a good idea to offer up a wish list on behalf of every vagina owner who is reading this right now. Because, when you really stop and think about all that your vagina—and vulva and clitoris—do for you, don't you think you should put together a little stocking with your vagina's name—relatively speaking, of course—on it? Me too, sis. Here are 10 gift ideas that your va-jay-jay will be oh so very thrilled with. I can promise you that.

1. Some New Panties

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As we all prepare to go into a new year, an article that I wrote for the platform, a couple of years back, that I would encourage you to check out sometime is, "When Should You Replace Underwear, Make-Up, Bedding, Washcloths & Towels?" You might be floored by how much stuff you should've tossed—chile, years ago. When it comes to panties specifically, did you know that we're all supposed to get new ones every six months? A big part of the reason is because between passing gas and the washing machine, our panties eventually end up with tiny amounts of fecal matter that remain in them and can ultimately lead to an infection. So, if some of your panties have been in your life, shoot, since your college years, I can confidently speak for your vagina when I say that it's begging for you to treat it to some new underwear this year. At least 12 pair. Oh, and organic cotton is best if you want your vagina to "breathe", by the way.

2. A Menstrual Cup

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As I sit here waiting to go into menopause (I'm not kidding; at 46 and in total peace about not birthing children, every time my period rolls around, I'm like "REALLY?!"), something that I wish I took more seriously, hell, years ago, is menstrual cups. I've been using one for many months now and it truly is one of the best things to ever happen to me. Since most have the expiration date of a decade, I don't have to spend money on pads (which makes them economical and good for the environment). When I make sure that it's "sealed in" properly, there is absolutely no leaking. Also, since they're made from silicone and adjust to the shape of my body, I don't feel them at all.

While there is a learning curve when it comes to putting a menstrual cup in and taking it out (without making a mess), I really could do an entire commercial, TED Talk and novella on the benefits of having a menstrual cup in your life. If you don't own one yet, it's a stocking stuffer for your vagina that you definitely will not regret.

3. An Herbal Heating Pad

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If your period comes with cramps that would make you say all of the worst cuss words, if only you had enough strength to do so, I'm pretty sure that you probably already have a heating pad. This year, take it up a notch and cop yourself an herbal one.

The cool thing about products that have all-natural herbs in them is the aromatherapy benefits are unmatched. Aromatherapy reduces stress, soothes discomfort, strengthens immunity, induces sound sleep and even kills bacteria.

And the great thing about a lot of the herbal heating pads that are currently on the market is you can zap them in the microwave for 60-90 seconds and they're ready to go. An affordable one that's worth checking out is located right here.

4. Padded Biker Shorts/Panties

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If you like to ride your bike or you're in a spinning class, do your vagina a huge favor and invest in a pair of padded biker shorts. Not only will they help to take stress and strain off of some of your lower pressure points, they can reduce any irritation that can occur from all of the friction that comes from riding too. Another great perk? Padded biker shorts tend to absorb more moisture than regular ones, so that your nether regions don't cause you to end up with a nasty lil' yeast infection. Give thanks.

5. Vulva Exfoliant

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Something that I don't think gets brought up enough is the importance of exfoliating—not your vagina (the inner tube that extends from your vulva to your uterus) but your vulva which is the outer part of your vagina (the outer skin that is around your vaginal opening). If you're prone to getting ingrown hairs there or you notice that your skin is slightly scaly or discolored, something that can help is a vulva exfoliant. Certain brands on the market that can help you out include Bikini Bump Blaster Ingrown Hair & Bikini Bump Eliminator, Grumari Body Exfoliant or (a personal favorite because it's Black-owned and I totally dig the name) Nookie For Your Cookie Scrub.

6. Sweet Almond and Avocado Oil Blend

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When it comes to keeping the skin of your vulva nice and moisturized, it really doesn't get much better than sweet almond oil. That's because it's an oil that contains vitamins A and E, along with omega 3-fatty acids and zinc. Vitamin A helps to produce new skin cells, Vitamin E supports the healing of damaged ones, fatty acids prevent premature aging (yes, our vulva can age, just like the rest of us) and zinc has anti-inflammatory properties that can fade any scarring that you may have. If you add to sweet almond oil, some avocado oil, its Vitamin E, potassium and lecithin will help your vulva to produce more collagen while keeping its skin super smooth too. This non-irritating blend is ideal as a lubricant (only if you're NOT planning on using a condom; oil and latex do NOT mix) or if you want to apply an all-natural moisturizer to your vulva after stepping out of the shower or bath.

7. Rosemary, Mint and Parsley

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This is definitely the cheapest recommendation on the list, but that doesn't make it any less relevant or necessary. Now listen to me on this—the belief that foods can make your vagina taste just like them is about as ridiculous as thinking that there is a product that can repair your hair's split ends (there's not). The reality is that, for the most part, vaginas taste like a combo of water, metal (blood), salty/sour (sweat). Based on how much water you consume and the time of month it is, some of those tastes may be stronger than others—and all of them are perfectly natural and normal.

That said, there are foods that can make your vagina taste less acidic and/or smell more inviting. For instance, try drinking water that has some rosemary, mint and/or parsley leaves in it. Because rosemary is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, mint is a great detoxifier and parsley is loaded with antioxidants, putting one or all of these into your water can help to make your vagina smell and even taste more refreshing (still like a vagina, though which is just fine).

8. Nonporous Sex Toys

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Looking to get yourself a new (or upgraded) sex toy this year? If so, please make sure that you go with one that is nonporous. Not only do they feel a whole lot smoother, since they are also water-resistant, you can enjoy them in the bath or shower. Actually, though, those are not my main reasons for making sure that this goes on the list. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out in these streets who don't clean their sex toys as often and/or thoroughly as they should. As a result, bacteria gets stuck up in them and—I'm pretty sure I don't need to expound on where that can lead (eww). Nonporous sex toys make this a non-issue. So, although you still need to cleanse those bad boys, you significantly decrease your chances of irritating your vagina in a major way if your toys are nonporous to begin with.

9. At-Home pH Balance Kit

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I'm pretty sure that you know, at least a little something about what a pH balance is. Still, just to make sure that we're all on the same page, the simplified technical breakdown is it's the balance that lies between the acidity and alkalinity levels that are within your system (for the most part, your lungs and kidneys play a key role). When it comes to your vagina specifically, a healthy balance is somewhere between 3.8-4.5. When it's too acidic (above a 4.5) or too alkaline (below a 3.8), it can result in an overgrowth of bacteria. One way to proactively prevent this from becoming an issue is to test the pH balance of your vagina from time to time. You can do this by taking an at-home pH balance kit.

And what if an at-home test does reveal that your va-jay-jay is a little "off balance"? Well, if you're not noticing any itching, burning or irritation (and you've been having safe sex), drinking more water, taking some probiotics, eating garlic (it is a powerful anti-fungal food), using condoms (semen can throw off your pH balance), getting more exercise, sleeping naked (so that your vagina can breathe) and de-stressing are all things that can help to bring your balance back. If you'd like to get yourself a few pH balance tests, some options are here, here and here.

10. At-Home STI/STD Kit

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Here's the deal about STDs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 20 million new STD cases annually with half of them being people between the ages of 15-24. Y'all, not only is that a good enough reason to wear a condom during sex, it's also a reminder of why it's important to get tested, preferably every six months, too. And when it comes to a new sex partner, if you want to be extra sure that they're "I'm good" is accurate, there are at-home STI/STD tests that you both can take. Many of them, you can take in five minutes and get your results back within one business week. I won't lie to you, at-home STI/STD tests aren't the cheapest things on the planet (they are roughly around $100). But if they can assure you that you and your partner and your vagina are safe—isn't it worth it? I totally agree. Happy Christmas (Va-jay-jay) Shopping, y'all!

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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This article is in partnership with Staples.

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