EMBRACEABLE Cover Reveal and an Opportunity for Bloggers!

There is little as butterfly-sy and beautiful as a book release—especially when the subject matter practically is your heart. Or so I’m learning!

In the coming weeks, my first non-fiction book, Embraceable: Empowering Facts and True Stories About Women’s Sexuality, will be available. The e-book format will release first, followed by the paperback. To say I’m stoked is a ginormous understatement. (Hey, sometimes oxymorons work. ;))

I’m thrilled to share with you all the front cover, created by gifted artist and illustrator, Emily Ford:

ebook cover v5-3

Here’s how the back cover will read:

A provocative blend of memoir, anthology and inspiration, Embraceable is a celebration of women’s sexual empowerment. Learn how August McLaughlin, creator and host of Girl Boner®, found her way out of the sexual repression to which too many girls and women are prone. She then weaves research and inspiring facts around stories contributed by women who’ve cultivated sexual empowerment in their own lives—on topics ranging from asexuality, kink and burlesque dancing to religion, “slut”-shaming and surviving sexual assault. Learn what girls do (and don’t) learn in sex ed, the truth behind widespread damaging messages, the role body image plays in embracing our sexual selves and more.

Includes a foreword by Susan Harper, PhD and stories by:

Velda Brotherton         Trish Causey     Kitt Crescendo     Elle the Author

Mona Darling    Jean Franzblau     Lana Fox      Erica Garza    Lea Grover

Lauren Jankowski        M      Nicole LaBonde     Emily Linden        Jann Robbins

Kendra Tanner      Rachel Thompson        Dani Longman       Kelly Wilson

Each of these women will be featured on Girl Boner® Radio over the coming months. Some you’ll recognize from earlier episodes. As I mentioned in my last post, they are all powerful examples of bravery in motion. I can’t wait to share their voices and stories!

Opportunity for bloggers:

Girl Boner® is all about conversation, and so is this book! If you’d like to participate in my Embraceable blog tour, please email me here—or directly, if we’re already email connected—sharing a link to your blog. Participating bloggers will send me 5 – 8 questions related to the book (nothing’s off limits!), for a fun chat-style Q&A post to publish on their blog during a designated week starting in January. As a thanks, you’ll receive a Kindle copy of the book upon release. I’ll also promote your post on social media and my blog. I have limited available slots, so please contact me soon, if you’re interested!

You really are, you know—EMBRACEABLE. ♥

Bravery for Breakfast: The “Small” Acts That Change Our Lives

Three years ago last week, I launched Girl Boner® on my blog. I heard a range of reactions when folks first learned of the series. “OHMYGOD, you’re doing porn?” asked one woman. (Um…no. But good guess!) “Girls get BONERS?” asked others. (Yep! Learn more here.)

Numerous others told me how brave I was for openly discussing sexuality. I appreciate that sentiment, trust me—but to me, Girl Boner® has always felt natural and exciting. So while I’ve certainly had my share of giddy butterflies along the way, I’m not sure brave is the term I’d use.

There are many definitions of brave: possessing or fearless, exhibiting courage, daring beyond discretion, to defy. To me, brave doesn’t mean an absence of fear, but moving forward in spite of it. A brave soul lets something greater than fearfulness drive them, often accepting scariness as part of the deal.

I’ll tell you about a time I really felt heroic.

I was in my early twenties, and had decided to turn my life around amid my struggle with a severe eating disorder. I’m not talking about the day I collapsed in Paris many of you are familiar with, but the morning I woke up after an intense binge, having consumed enough to feed a small family for a full day in one sitting. Stomach distended and palms sweating, I sat at the kitchen table with a bowl of cereal, struggling to put spoon after spoon in my mouth, reminding myself of the commitment I’d made the night before:

I won’t let you live this way anymore… Try something new.

As I savored these banana pancakes and veggie sausage the other day, the ease wasn't lost on me.

As I savored these banana pancakes and veggie sausage the other day, the ease wasn’t lost on me. #savoredeverybite

To end the binging/starving cycle and heal from the disorder that ruled my every moment, I knew I had to wake up that morning and eat a post-binge breakfast. No attempts to “compensate” through starving. No excessive, self-punishing exercise. Just…breakfast. The seemingly simple act billions of people around the world do daily without much thought seemed to shatter my heart that day, as much as it would begin to make it whole again.

Forcing thoughts of I love you…You’re going to be okay, I made it through the meal I, for once, hadn’t measured or over-analyzed, finding a smidgen of light on the other side. It would take months (upon months) of such efforts, but eventually the “love” I’d professed felt authentic and I wasn’t merely okay, but more vibrantly alive.

Not long after, I began to recognize the link between my body image issues and a lack of sexual empowerment, changing the course of my life and eventually leading me to Girl Boner®. I can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened had I let E.D. win and skipped that meal that day. Sometimes it’s the seemingly smallest of steps that have the most profound impact.

I’ve had bravery on my mind a lot lately, much thanks to some very special women.

Very soon, I’ll release my first non-fiction book, Embraceable: Empowering Facts and True Stories About Women’s Sexuality. It features not only my own story of self, body and sexual embracement, but those of over fifteen other women who’ve fought their way to the same.

One common thread throughout the book is bravery. It’s tragic to me that embracing our full selves—including our sexuality—has become such a rare and bold act, particularly considering the devastation that can derive if we never do so. All of this, I feel, makes this book and these women’s stories particularly important.

I can’t thank you all enough for sharing in my Girl Boner® journey thus far, and hope you’ll stay tuned for more details on the book. In the meantime, as the incredible author Cheryl Strayed shared at an event last week—on Girl Boner®’s third birthday, as chance or fate would have it—stay brave! I’m cheering for each and every one of you. ♥

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When have you felt brave? Has a seemingly “small” act made a huge different in your life? If so, I’d love to hear about it!

#AskDrMegan: When Is Porn-Use a Problem?

“Ultimately, sexuality and intimacy are about giving and receiving pleasure.” — Megan Fleming, PhD

Last year after speaking at the National Women’s Studies Association annual conference on ways the digital age affects how women feel about their bodies and sexuality, I hung around to take one-on-one questions. I quickly realized that the entire presentation could’ve easily centered on one of my sub-topics: porn.

“My boyfriend uses it every night and I feel weird about it,” one woman said. “I feel guilty about that—and a little prudish.”

No one is “prudish” for having concerns about porn. It’s common to have mixed feelings about it, especially in a culture with messages around sexuality just as mixed.

“I’m all into visual sexual expression,” said another, “but why is porn so violent and over-the-top?”

Thankfully, it’s not! If you like the concept of porn but find the content offensive, I highly recommend feminist porn as an alternative. The genre dedicated to gender equality and social justice doesn’t demean women, or anyone. IMO, that’s dang sexy. I’m also a big fan of Cindy Gallop’s efforts to bring authenticity into sexy TV. (You can hear my interview with Cindy here.)

So how do you know if porn is detracting from your life or relationship(s)? I couldn’t think of a better resource to explore this than Girl Boner®’s resident relationships expert, Dr. Megan Fleming.

Check out this short video I recorded during my recent NYC visit. You may recognize the audio from the latest Girl Boner® Radio episode. In this excerpt, Dr. Megan answers two common questions about porn-use, including one of the above. I have a feeling you’re going to love what she has to say.

Stream the full episode, which also features my chat with adult star Moe “the Monster” Johnson, on iTunes, Stitcher Radio or my homepage.

How has porn affected your sex life? Any questions of your own you’d like answered on Girl Boner® Radio? As always, I welcome your respectful thoughts! ♥

Bipolar and Hypersexuality: A Chat with Suzy Favor Hamilton

Last week on Girl Boner®, I had the honor of interviewing Suzy Favor Hamilton, a celebrated athlete and three-time Olympian whose newly released memoir Fast Girl — My Life Spent Running From Madness details her struggle with bipolar disorder and the hypersexuality it brought on.

Suzy Favor Hamilton credit Daniel Acuna

Prior to being diagnosed, Suzy led a double-life—one as a mother, wife, realtor and public speaker, another as a high-end escort in Las Vegas. While she doesn’t blame the disorder for that work (and has tremendous respect for sex workers), she doesn’t know how vastly her path would’ve been had she learned of her disorder sooner.

Her story is one we can all learn from, whether we’re directly affected by mental illness or not. In our chat, Suzy shared what it was like growing up with a brother with bipolar, how silence about his illness plagued her family and how she ended up developing an eating disorder and having breast reduction surgery after being shunned for her less stereotypically runner-like body. She talked about the day she made herself fall at Olympic trials when dark thoughts had taken over, why she decided to share the truth publicly and more.

Fast Girl jacket art

I hope you’ll listen to the full interview (links below), but I had to share this particularly insightful portion—a message that should be heard and absorbed by many.

When I asked Suzy what she hopes people will most take away from her story, she said this:

I want people to understand that life I went through all this, but life isn’t a fairytale right now. It’s not all happily ever after. It will be a struggle for the rest of my life. There’ll always be situations that come up about this that I’ll deal with, and I know I’ll deal with them and strength, and no shame.

I want others to feel that the stigma of mental illness should not make them feel shamed—one bit. We need to, as a society, really come together and understand mental illness… It’s an illness, just like cancer. And once the disorder takes over the brain, things are going to happen—look at the rate of suicide, how high that is. We can prevent this by educating ourselves to help the ones around us, to recognize the signs.

I’m hoping that people will read this book and look at bipolar in a different way and reach out to ones that they see destructive behaviors happening. Because my story shows and tells so much that is personal, that always isn’t shown in somebody—so maybe asking the right questions, and looking at my behaviors and asking that hard question about the hypersexuality.

Doctors even have a hard time talking about that. They may be embarrassed. So we need to look at sex in a different way, not as a taboo or in a bad way. There is the component of this disorder and sex, and somehow people have a hard time when it comes to sex and a disorder. They don’t want to talk about it. And we need to go there.”

To listen to our full interview, which also features thoughts from Dr. Megan Fleming on how to differentiate between hypersexuality and a healthy, happens-to-be-high sex drive and more, click one of these links:

iTunes    Stitcher Radio   AugustMcLaughlin.com

PS If you’ve enjoyed Girl Boner®, I’d love to have your vote in Kinkly’s Sex Blogging Superhero awards! Simply click this link and then “vote.” Thanks for any support! ♥

6 Signs Your “Lifestyle Plan” Is a Risky Diet in Disguise

The number of people who say they are dieting is at an all-time low, according to research released in 2013. To anyone who realizes how risky dieting is, fueling everything from nutrient deficiencies to obesity, this could seem like spectacular news. But here’s the thing:

Many people are now dieting without realizing it.

The weight loss industry is extremely smart from a financial standpoint. (They must be, to profit over $60 billion per year.) As dieting’s risks and almost zero percent success rate became widespread knowledge, many diet makers have responded by changing their packaging. “It’s not a diet,” many claim. “It’s a lifestyle plan!”

While this may be true in some cases, I’ve come across loads of “lifestyle plans” that are merely risky diets in disguise. If you’ve developed one or more of the below problems since adopting a dietary plan, it’s time to make some changes.

An unhealthy diet can take many different forms.

6 Signs Your “Lifestyle Plan” is a Risky Diet in Disguise

1. You have wretched breath. Halitosis is a common side effect of ultra-low carbohydrate, aka ketogenic, diets. Without enough carbs, the body releases chemicals that stink up your breath—and that’s only one of many known risks. When I was working as a consulting nutritionist, I could almost always tell if someone was “low-carbing” with one whiff.

2. You’re lethargic and grumpy. There’s a reason psychologists coined the term “Atkins Blues.” Carbohydrates are your body’s main fuel source—and the cells in your brain need twice as much as the rest of your body’s cells to function normally, stay energized and produce the feel-good chemical serotonin. (Ideally, most of your carbs will derive from nutritious sources.)

3. You’re anxious and stressed. Stress and anxiety are two of the most common downsides of dieting, and derive from physical and emotional factors. Without enough carbs, your body can’t efficiently produce calming brain chemicals. The highly restrictive nature of many diets also brings a sense of deprivation, which is stressful. You can’t dine out with ease or end up fighting perpetual hunger—which is another red flag.

4. Sleep is a problem. The same chemicals that promote positive moods make way for restful sleep. Consuming too few carbs or calories can make it really difficult to snooze restfully. Stress and anxiety from dieting (aka “lifestyle planning”) can also fuel insomnia. You could also end up exhausted over all, feeling as though all you want to do is stay in bed.

5. You’re prone to diarrhea, constipation or kidney stones. High-protein diets commonly contribute hugely to constipation and kidney stones, especially if you skimp of fiber-rich carb sources, such as legumes. If you can’t stick to a diet plan without taking laxatives (including herbal forms, such as senna or “detox tea”), it’s not a sound plan. Juice fasts that promise detoxification often also cause digestive upset, along with a slew of other complications.

6. Your sex life is suffering. Risky diet plans lack balance. They’re often way too high in protein or far too low in calories, carbs and sometimes fat. All of this can tinker with blood flow, which is crucial for arousal and sexual function, and brain chemicals linked with turn-on and orgasm. Low moods and bad breath from dieting can also make the naked tango less appealing.

So what’s the answer? Listen to your body. Respect it, rather than starve it. Aim for a diet based on whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Eat when you’re slightly hungry, stop when you’re comfortably full. Avoid diets that make grandiose promises, while, of course, avoiding any foods you’d don’t tolerate. Incorporate enjoyable activity into your lifestyle, cultivate a healthy sleep routine and pursue your passions. (Stress and unhappiness play a huge role in physical health.) Allow some wiggle room for foods you eat purely for enjoyment, keeping in mind that no one eats perfectly. The good news is, you don’t need to.

*If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms and they don’t seem diet or lifestyle related, or if they’re severe or long-lasting, seek guidance from your doctor. 

Related articles:

Can you relate to this post? What have dietary plans taught you? What steps do you take to gain wellness without losing your self? I love hearing from you! ♥

5 Ways to Choose the Best Shoes for Your Feet #HeelFree

“She wins who calls herself beautiful and challenges the world to change to truly see her.” — Naomi Wolf

Most articles on choosing the right shoes for your feet aim at managing problems caused or worsened by high heels, or athletes, who tend to care more about their extremities than the average Joanne. One thing my #HeelFree campaign has taught me is that foot care is an invaluable form of self-care. We should all prioritize it.

1. Know your foot type and needs.

Back in my acting and modeling days, I was a leg double for a film actress in a photo shoot. I spent hours walking up and down a runway in shoes that were too small and narrow for my feet—which haven’t been the same since. Shoes that don’t fit aren’t worth it (even if you’re being paid to wear them).

Size is only one important consideration while shoe shopping. Stop by an athletic store or see a podiatrist for a proper fitting. If you have high arches, you need a flexible shoe with good cushioning, says sports physician Dr. Low Wye Mu. If you have flatter feet, you need greater arch support and stability. If you have bunions you’ll need a roomier toe box, and all shoes should fit comfortably—while you’re sitting, standing and walking.

Women are encouraged to have fittings for bras, dresses and even jeans—yet our shoes, apparel that play a significant role in our safety and well-being, get little attention…until something bad happens.

2. Avoid heels.

If you really want to prevent or manage foot and body pain, keep your body in proper alignment and guard against heel-related injuries, such as sprains and fractures, and chronic conditions, such as bunions and osteo-arthritis, you’ve got to stick to supportive shoes. If you simply can’t let go of taller, angular shoes yet, shift to lower heels. While you’re at it, limit time wearing them. (To learn more about high-heel risks, click here.)

3. Avoid non-supportive flats, too.

While they don’t offset your alignment or bring as much pain as heels, flip flops aren’t the safest or most supportive bet either. Don’t make flip flops, ballet slippers and anything that strips of material tied on with string your regulars. Wear them around the house, if you’d like. Take your flip flops to the beach. For other daily activity, stick to more supportive options such as quality flats, walking clogs or sandals, athletic shoes and heel-free boots.

4. Invest in quality.

Very often, we get what we pay for in the shoe department. In some cases, lower prices brings the greater risk. A recent study showed that women have an average of 20 pairs of shoes. I’d rather have five or six pairs of sturdy, comfy shoes that cost a bit more than loads of cheap, potentially hurtful ones. Find deals by shopping the clearance section of athletic and quality shoe stores. (These shoes are often simply last season’s model, and still great quality.) As a bonus, quality shoes last far longer. The investment will pay for itself over time.

The turquoise number are Pasadena Drea sandals by Dansko—love them!

The turquoise number are Pasadena Drea sandals by Dansko—love them!

5. Choose styles you dig.

No matter what your shape, size or height, you can look and feel sexy in ultra-supportive shoes. (Shut up, society. You’re wrong.) To do so, you’ve got to shop for shoes that bring you joy, says motivational stylist Rayne Parvis of Style by Rayne. “If you’re going to go out and buy cheap flip flops, they’re not going to bring you joy,” she said on Girl Boner® Radio last week. Choose styles and prints you love, she suggests. Dress in color and start seeing your own beauty precisely as you are.

To learn more about #HeelFree fashion and ways to feel sexy no matter what your height or size, listen our chat here or watch the video below. The episode also features Shannon Hammer, a healthy living advocate who overcame decades of disordered eating.

What’s your favorite pair of comfy shoes? How much time and consideration do you invest in foot care? What’s your favorite way to nurture your feet? I love hearing from you! ♥

Common Services for Indie Authors: Are They Worth It?

I’m in the process of finalizing my first non-fiction book for publication. (So stoked!) I’ll reveal more about that soon, but today I want to explore a topic all indie authors face: where to invest our money.

It’s no mystery that self-publishing requires a financial investment. The last thing any serious author should do is write a book, attempt to edit it themselves, slap on a makeshift cover and send it to Amazon. But we also need to be mindful of that little thing called a budget.

Circulation in business

Most indie authors don’t make huge income quickly or at all through their books—though both are possible. It takes awhile for most of us to break even upon publishing, then go on to profit. (It took me a good year to start profiting from In Her Shadow.) Many companies profit far more than writers from self-publishing, and there can be a fine line between a worthy investment and being taken advantage of.

1. Quality cover design — worth the investment

In some cases cover cheapness really shows, and could serve as the only sign a writer published her own book versus was published traditionally. There’s no shame in self-publishing, of course, but we want our books to be as respected as those on traditional shelves. And folks really do judge books by their covers.

Do your research. Shop around, ask for artist work samples and referrals from trusted author friends whose covers you adore. Go to Google Images and search for your genre, noting which covers immediately grab your eye and attention and what you dug most about them.

2. Contests and awards — sometimes helpful, sometimes a money drain

Some contest companies charge hefty fees and give out loads of awards purely for the sake of their own profit versus celebrating worthy writers. In such contests, virtually everyone wins and has the option to purchase extras, such as award stickers and certificates. They promise exposure on their website, which may have low traffic. While these awards may influence buyers to some extent and sound groovy in your bio, they aren’t known to boost sales over all.

There are plenty of credible contests, which charge more modest fees (say $10, versus $99), care at least as much about about writers and the literary world as personal bank and whose kudos would shine more brightly.

Research contests before entering. Find out important details, such as who is hosting the contest and who the judges are. Any contest that is not transparent about its judging panel may not be worth your time or entry fee.

To learn more, read this Salon article: Vanity Book Awards.

3. Professional editing — hugely worthy

No one can edit their own work well, and writing and editing are completely different skill sets. Again, do your research. Get referrals and make sure your editor is credible. I was fortunate to meet mine at a writers’ conference. After he critiqued a sample of my work, I knew he was the right fit for me and my story.

To save your editor time and you money, do your best to get your book in tip-top form before handing it off. As my novel’s editor—who’s also a prolific author—Mike Sirota says on his blog, “You’ve already put a lot of blood, sweat, tears, time, and coffee into your story, so why dash to the finish line?”

4. Credible editorial reviews — potentially helpful

Kirkus Reviews reviews indie-authors’ books. In this case, the fee, while steep, isn’t wonky or misleading. Traditional publishers pay for these services, too, and at least in the case of Kirkus, the review process is exactly the same. You can submit to Publishers Weekly for free, but your book won’t necessarily be chosen for review. (You can also pay PW’s indie program, PW Select, for a listing in their guide.)

I’m a bit biased, as Kirkus gave my novel a pretty shiny review, but regardless, I like the fact that these publications critique books with a critical, professional eye and are well-respected throughout the literary world. They’re known to be tough on books, which is something I desired. A positive review from either may influence agents and publishers, should you decide to go hybrid or traditional later on, and can add impressive light to your bio.

If you have the funds to submit to Kirkus, consider it. If not, fear not. The review won’t make or break your success as an author. If you get a negative review, you can ask that it not be published on their site and bypass using a blurb or the full review yourself. Steer clear of paid reviews that seem sketchy or unethical; they probably are.

5. Any service that seems necessary, but that would suck our time and energy if we did it ourselves — wise and worth it!

I know me. I am not going to take the time to learn how to format my manuscript for each outlet. It would be tedious, headache-inducing and draining, and my energy seems best spent elsewhere. Like many writers, I wear multiple hats and would rather pay someone.

I’m hiring Jenn Oliver of The Author Sidekick to take care of this for me, and I’m thrilled already. She’s sharp, experienced, enthusiastic and reasonable price-wise. To check her services out, visit theauthorsidekick.com.

As in life, choose where you invest your time, funds and energy wisely. ♥

“Hot Girls Wanted” and Problems with Porn

Young women clicking through Craigslist ads, lured by notions of free trips to Miami, quick cash and escape from their small town lives. Here opens Hot Girls Wanted, a documentary produced by Rashida Jones, that follows a group of 18 to 25-year-old women as they navigate the paid amateur porn world as performers.

hot-girls-wanted-poster_0

Seconds into the film available on Netflix, they’re flashing their blurred breasts for the camera, going for joy rides and discussing newfound opportunities they’d never have in their hometowns. But as their Twitter and bank accounts flourish, their well-being gradually suffers. One woman acquires an STD. Numerous feel pressured to participate in violent scenes known as facial abuse.

As the film progresses, Tressa, aka “Stella May,” a 19-year-old from Texas, grapples with whether she’s made the right decision in pursuing porn, particularly after she’s told to (unnecessarily) slim down, to practice fitting an unfathomably large dildo into her vagina and offered big pay to perform BDSM, a style she doesn’t seem comfortable with.

Tressa’s story is important, as are many of the issues brought featured—but the film doesn’t offer solutions for the problems it raises, clarity about these problems or highlight the more positive side of the adult industry.

Directors Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus originally planned to cover male consumption of porn on college campuses, according to the Telegraph. When they discovered that girls fresh out of high school appeared in these films, they shifted focus.

People are watching and appearing in adult films at strikingly young ages.

People are watching and appearing in adult films at strikingly young ages.

Why young women enter the adult industry through sketchy online ads would have been a fascinating exploration, yet the film seems to tell another story: The porn industry is bad and the ultra young women entering it are misled, abused and exploited.

When the adult industry is vilified, sex workers suffer. They are “slut” shamed, seen as low-class citizens and, in some cases, threatened. All of this seems hypocritical, seeing as porn remains one of the largest industries in the world, watched readily by Americans of virtually all ages, including women.

Viewers suffer, too, but not because of porn. Without comprehensive sex education, a lack that remains throughout the U.S., kids turn to porn for sexuality answers at continually younger ages. Porn depicts sex as entertainment, which is far different from physical intimacy in our lives. Extremely few are taught the difference, and that takes a tole.

This is the message most kids learn about sex, which causes more damage than good.

This is the message most kids learn about sex, which causes more damage than good.

No film should be expected to solve the complex problems involving porn—but any responsible documentary should at least mention potential answers and alternatives. Feminist porn, for example, depicts performers of all ages, races and orientations in healthier acts. (Think erotic sensuality versus hard-core violence.) The only alternative Hot Girls Wanted seems to present for performers is quitting, and none are offered for viewers.

Comedian and former porn star Alia Janine relates to the film.

“Although, I found the film to be edited and presented in a way that will want to make people look down on the adult film industry (as every other documentary done on the industry from people with no background in it), I found this film to be fairly accurate,” she said on her podcast. “I only say this because it is basically how I got into the industry, from Craigslist’s ads in Florida. It’s how most of the girls get into the industry.”

Industry executive Jack Spade agrees with Janine. After working as a porn actor, he launched his own agency and now runs two professional representation firms.

“Unfortunately, [Hot Girls Wanted] does show a real part of the industry, but I was upset that they didn’t show other aspects, a more professional side,” he said. “I wish it acknowledged that there are people that try to do it a better way.”

Spade, whose agency prizes professionalism first, pointed out that Reynolds, the agent featured in the film, lacked licensure at the time of filming.

“If you’re going to do a documentary on a mainstream agency,” he said, “would you go out and find an unlicensed one, and let that be seen as the norm?”

Yes, even the porn world has credible agencies and other firms looking out for its talent.

Many viewers of Hot Girls Wanted are concerned about the young age at which females are entering the business. Janine says that’s a social and economical issue—not an industry one.

“If people don’t like seeing 18-year-old girls being ‘taking advantage’ of, they should ask their government to raise the legal age of an adult to an age where the human brain is more developed,” she said, “or simply raise the age to be able to shoot adult content.”

“If the general public is bothered by women using their bodies to make a living wage in America; they may want to talk to their government and ask them why a middle class family can barely support their family, and can’t pay for college,” she added. “The sex work industries are only going to get bigger, and pay rates are going to get lower if the bigger picture isn’t looked at. But blaming the adult industry seems so much easier than trying to figure out why so many people are having to turn to it, instead of wanting to.”

Most of the problems within or related to the porn industry are cultural, yet the industry itself consistently takes the heat.

Reviewers have called Hot Girls Wanted “a damning portrayal of an industry in crisis.” I don’t think that’s accurate. In a society where kids learn virtually nothing about sexuality in early education and violence is celebrated in the very films nipples are banned from, the real culprit seems obvious; it’s our culture, not porn.

hot girls wanted

How a woman expresses her sexuality is her choice, made complex by our society’s harmful attitudes and mixed messaging. The idea that women are “sluts” or “prudes” depending on how we dress and behave is an antiquated and unjust mentality that needs to stop.

I’m grateful for the conversations Hot Girls Wanted has spurred, but wish they did more to offer solutions to the risks many women (and men) in the adult industry face rather than shun them or the entire industry. If the film had gone beyond seedy side of porn, it would have provided more sound and helpful messaging.

Rather than discuss whether porn is good or evil, let’s talk about ways to empower females to embrace their bodies and sexuality from early childhood up and men to respect women and their sexuality—no matter how they choose to express it.

Regardless of your career path, one message from the film rings markedly true: Never trust a shady Craigslist ad at face value. When it comes to sex as entertainment, remember that every performer is a human being with thoughts and feelings like the rest of us.

To hear or watch my Girl Boner® Radio episode on Hot Girls Wanted, visit this link

When Lingerie Models Are Body-Shamed #moonbodylove

I was a healthy sixteen-year-old the first time someone told me to lose weight. With one sentence the renowned photographer affirmed my long-held fears that I was destined for fatness and flawed as I was.

“You could be modeling in Paris if you lost 10 or 15 pounds,” he said.

So I did, gradually losing not only weight but my sense of self, until I nearly died of an eating disorder.

It would take years of hard, healing work to recognize that what I’d really feared was not mattering or measuring up—not by a scale’s standards, but the world’s.

In a culture where females are told in countless ways that we must appear certain unrealistic ways to be considered attractive or even valuable, every person who stands up for authenticity matters.

When I first learned of Neon Moon, an empowering lingerie company that features un-photoshopped images of models of varying shapes, sizes and races, I about burst out of my too-snug undies from excitement. (Yes, I got rid of those!)

Earlier this week, the company and its philosophies were under attack. A photo of one of their gorgeous models was nipped, tucked and shamed for all the world to see. Heartbreaking doesn’t seem a strong enough word.

To learn more, read Body Shamers Photoshopped Our Lingerie Model To Make Her ‘Perfect’ on Neon Moon’s blog. 

In response to the bullying Neon Moon launched a campaign, asking women to post photos of themselves online, stating what they love about their bodies as they are and including the hashtag #moonbodylove.

That is how we better the world—by standing up in the face of adversity and shedding light on what counts.

I’ll share my entry but first, here is a “before” image. Before I’d learned to fully embrace myself. Before I realized my true passions. Before I grew from recovering emotionally from the ED to healed, past tense. Before I learned that “model perfect” is a complete failure of words, even when you’re being paid to present it.

Me, circa 2004

Me, circa 2004

I recall the makeup artist working hard to hide my tan lines with what seemed like tan paint better suited for fences. (Even with sunscreen, a partial tan prayed tell of my beloved, mind-clearing Miami beach jogs in shorts.) The stylist chose a suit that covered my appendectomy scar, which I’d adored since the surgery saved my life a few years prior. In effort to avoid the need for editing, we waited all day until the “golden hour,” when the sun begins to set and all the world glimmers sublime.

The photo is lovely in some ways. The scenery indeed shines, and I liked the suit that reminded my of my dad’s long career with UPS.

But it’s far from authentic. I never looked like this woman, even then. Where is my smile? My fervor for life? The scars and lines illustrating that which kept me whole? The image wasn’t photoshopped but I was caked in makeup, spritzed with glossy-something and performing as someone else versus living freely as me. And while I was no longer anorexic, I was still investing more time and energy in thinness than wellness back then.

What would happen if the world glorified women in more real, natural states (as Neon Moon does)? Would the young girls desperate for approval see hopes and dreams instead of diets and reasons for shame? I have to think so.

Here is my #moonbodylove entry, a photo taken a few months ago during my first ever cruise. Now in my mid-thirties, I feel lovelier than I ever did in my twenties or while modeling—not because of my looks, but because of my improved relationship with myself. That relationship has attracted more beauty of all kinds into my life. Everyone deserves that.

MoonBodyLoveWhether you’ve learned to love your body yet or not, I hope you’ll join this campaign. I can almost promise that doing so will strengthen you while inspiring others, and let bullies who wish to keep women small (physically and emotionally) know who’s boss! We are, if we choose to be. United, we’re much stronger than on our own.

To participate, post your photo and why you love your body as it is, on Instagram, Facebook and/or Twitter, including the hashtag #moonbodylove. I can’t wait to celebrate real beauty with you! ♥

4 Things You Need To Know About Your (Beautiful) Vulva

Don’t play with her heart. Play with her vulva. It feels better. 

I couldn’t find a single happy vulva quote archived online. Can you believe that? Considering the mighty wonder of the area, it’s remarkable that vaginas get most of the attention. Don’t get me wrong—vaginas rock!  But what do you say we take some time to celebrate its pleasure-centric, splendiferous sister, Ms. Vulva?

vulva quote

4 Things You Need to Know About Your Vulva

1. It’s not your vagina. 

If your first thought when spotting this post was, “My vulva… I know it’s somewhere down there, but…what is it again?” you’re far from alone. Many folks confuse vaginas with vulvas. Your vagina is the passageway into your body. Your vulva is everything outside of it—including your labia (lips), the mounded area over your pubic bone, your clitoris. To see medical drawings via the Cleveland Clinic, click here.

2. You shouldn’t scrub it.

The vulva secretes oils that protect its delicate skin from friction we all experience regularly. Scrub away those oils with cleansers or douche, and you’re likely to experience irritation. Keep it clean by washing it gently with warm water when you shower and letting it be. For added health and safety, avoid thongs, girdles, feminine sprays, scented tampons and rough toilet paper.

3. It’s super capable of pleasure. 

Women experience intense amounts of pleasure outside the vagina—which is one reason intercourse alone doesn’t bring most women to climax. The combo of both, however, inner and outer “down there” play paves the way for mind-blowing, intoxicating pleasure.

4. It’s beautiful as it is.

Your vulva isn’t ugly, stinky, oversized or wrongly hairy. Far too many women feel pressured to futz with their genitals in order to feel beautiful or merely okay. Do what makes you feel most comfortable, keeping safety and well-being your top priorities. When you feel pressured to alter your gorgeous girl parts, ask yourself why. Chances are it’s societal messages that need changing—not you. ♥

For more on this topic, check out my DAME Magazine article: Stop Futzing With Your Vagina!

My Latest Product Fave!

Speaking of vulvas, I have to tell you all about my latest product crush. *drum roll* …VULVA BALM! Did you know it was a thing? Sensuous Beauty makes it, and it’s fabulous.

Vulva balm

Dab it on your gorgeous vulva to prevent chafing or manage dryness. Vulva Balm is formulated for menopausal women, but as a younger woman, I found it luscious and fun. (Even when we’re wet inside, some added gliding power outside is nice, IYKWIM!) You can also use it as a gentle lube. The body and eco-friendly deliciously scented balm has a smooth, decadent texture you’ll wanna slather on (think Carmex, only natural + sexy. ;))—but you won’t need to. A small amount goes far.

Disclosure: This is an honest review for a product sold by Good Vibrations, a company I’m affiliated with. If you purchase Sensuous Beauty Vulva Balm for $12.99 – $18.50 through this link, a portion will support all-things-Girl Boner.

You can also support GB by purchasing other products. Simply click the Good Vibrations image in the sidebar (or below, if you’re reading on your phone) to shop away! The company is women-friendly, discreet and all around AWESOME.

What do you love about your vulva? Did any of these facts surprise you? Think you might try Vulva Balm? Remember, there’s no shame or judgment here—just gratitude, love and respect.