Your Body at 35: a Brief History

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A day before you turn 30, you fly down to Miami Beach to celebrate your birthday. You spend your first afternoon frolicking on the beach and taking photos with your then-boyfriend.  The result is a series of photos that feature you standing on the beach in a hot pink bikini. Even five years later, you still love these photos. Not just because they commemorate a really great birthday weekend, but because they remind you of how you felt in that moment: free. You weren’t thinking about your body or what it looked like, you just put on your pink bikini and posed.

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This “laissez faire” attitude is what defines the relationship you have with your body during your first 30 years on the planet. Sure, you still remember the name-calling from grade school (skinny. bone rack. shrimp. skeleton) but in general, you don’t spend much time thinking about how your body should or shouldn’t look. You play sports. You dance. When you’re 18, you move to Toronto: a city where you’re always on the go and you make friends with women from diverse cultural backgrounds who also don’t think about their bodies. This helps.

But, between the ages of 30 and 33, things change. You end a long term relationship  and move across the country to live in your sleepy hometown on the West Coast. As your life evolves, so does the relationship you have with your body. Without the stress of the city, your body “grows to fit it’s new tank” and goes through what feels like a second puberty. Your rib cage expands and your hips widen. Your bust increases, you go up 2 bra sizes and your boobs become a force to be reckoned with. You go from 105lbs to 125lbs in just over a year. You walk less and drive more. Your body feels very different.

On one hand, you like this new you. You finally have what one would call “curves.” You feel solid; grounded. You like the way your body takes up more room in the world. Friends, family and lovers call you names that you aren’t used to hearing (curvy. thick. full figured. healthier looking.) Yet, it’s hard to get used to these changes. When you grab the fleshy mass around your waist, it feels alien – like it belongs on another body altogether. That’s when it bubbles to the surface for the first time and doesn’t let go: hate. 

You don’t hate your body. You hate the fact that you’re now spending time thinking about it, when you never did before. This new concern over your body feels not only like a betrayal to yourself, but to women in general.

You never used to feel this way. When you were a kid you danced ballet, swam and ran. You were taught to value your body not for how it looked, but for what it could do. How high it could jump. How fast it could move. As a thirty-something struggling with their body image for the first time, you long to go back to these carefree days.

So, you make some drastic changes. You remove the full length mirror from your bedroom. You start to work out harder than you have in years. You learn to kick and punch. You decide that if a piece of clothing requires Spanx, it’s not worth it. You start to feel really good. Scratch that – you feel strong.

Over the course of these three to four years,  the pop culture definition of what’s attractive also changes. Enter dawn of the Instagram/fitness model; with her rippled six pack and tiny bikini. She’s the latest version of unattainable beauty and she’s everywhere, touting the virtues of the paleo diet and squats. So. Many. Squats. After all, pop culture’s message is clear: it’s not enough to be healthy and fit – you also have to have an ass like a Kardashian.

You find yourself on a date with a guy who tells you that he’s attracted to fitness models and is “really getting into girls with big butts lately.” When he tells you that he encouraged his last girlfriend to do more squats (even going so far as to hire her a personal trainer because as put it, “a curvy girl at 26 is a fat girl at 30”) you want to throw up. It’s clear this guy is an asshole, but the experience still rattles you.

In a moment of insecurity you start to wonder not whether you’re fit (you are) but whether you’re fit enough. While ghostwriting articles for companies in the sex industry you stumble across the glossy, Playboy-esque photos on sites like Perth escorts and Brisbane escorts and wonder, “is this what men really want?”

You get angry when you realize that we allow so much of how we feel about our own bodies to be dictated by someone else. There will always be someone or something trying to make you feel less than, so you need to find a way to tune it out.

The next day at the gym, you imagine your date’s face as you pummel the punching bag and give it multiple roundhouse kicks.

You routinely tell yourself: I am beautiful. I am enough. I am strong. My body is a tool to do cool things.

Your body changes again. It doesn’t get smaller, but it gets more muscular. You kick and punch more things. A woman stops you on the street and asks you if you’re that “lady marathon runner that was featured on the news.” You laugh because you haven’t ran in years and tell her, “it must just be the pink shoes.”

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People have new adjectives to describe you (fit. muscular. athletic.) but your proudest moment comes when you overhear your Mom on the phone with your Grandma. “Simone has been going to this fitness class and now she’s freakishly strong. She helped me lift all these heavy boxes in the garage.” 

It feels good to know that your body can do cool stuff. 

You decide to stop worrying altogether about “how to get the perfect bikini body” and instead, buy a sexy one piece swimsuit that makes you feel like a million bucks. Shortly after your 35th birthday, you take this photo in Palm Springs.

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You make a promise to try and get back to a place where you don’t spend uneccessary time thinking about your body (unless it’s to celebrate it.) You know that it’s not going to be as easy as turning off a switch, but you’re committed to trying to find your way back.

You decide that you’re grateful for the struggle. It reminds you to enjoy the present moment. Because, there will always be a time in your life that you thought you looked better or worse than you do now. You can’t control the passing of time or what other people think, but you can choose to live your best possible life. Right now. Thick thighs and all.

How to Create the Perfect Sexy Smoky Eye

You’ve got the sexy outfit. Your hair is bouncy, curly, and voluminous. You’ve got that perfect shade of lipstick that makes you feel fancy, fantastic, and fabulous. You’ve got it all going on, except… that perfect sexy smoky eye that you’re lusting after.

There have been many times where I’ve attempted to get that smoky eye look, only to have my makeup look more “smoky the raccoon” than “smouldering sex vixen.” Even when I do get it right, it never looks quite the same as when a makeup artist does it.

Fear not! Since many of us will be dressing up for Halloween this Friday, I thought it would be fun to do something different & bring in my friend and beauty expert Carmen Rachel to provide some tips on how to create the perfect smoky eye. She’s responsible for creating Katrina’s sultry  Bachelorette Party makeup look featured in this post, so she definitely knows her stuff.

After all, just because Halloween is the scariest day of the year, doesn’t mean your makeup has to be (unless that’s what you’re going for…then, carry on!) FYI, if you are avoiding Halloween this year, these are great tips to use when putting together a lingerie or sexy boudoir look.

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There are three things you need to take note of, when creating a smoky eye. Saturation, Shade, and Shape. Let’s start at the beginning of sexy eyes 101…

SATURATION: No patchy color here! We want our eye to be deep and smouldering all over. Carmen recommends starting your eye look with a deep cream base – think chubby eyeliner, or cream eyeshadow. Press the product close to the lash line, and blend up toward your crease with fingers or a clean concealer brush. If you blend away too much product from the lashline, no worries! Just apply a bit more, to ensure that the most concentrated amount of product is closest to your lashes. This is going to be a base for your powder eyeshadow.

Top Product picks for a saturated Base:

Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow in Holey Smokes!

Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Color in Tuxedo

SHADE: We’re no longer stuck in the 20’s. Smoky eyes needn’t be BLACK. You can create this look with any beautiful colours you choose! Carmen’s favorite shades when creating a sexy look are Deep bronzes, or Vibrant plums. Experiment with different cream bases and shadows on the back of your hand to see what you come up with! You can put a vibrant purple on top of a black eyeshadow stick for a deep, but stunning vibrant violet. Remember when you are layering your powder over your cream, you want to press the color on with your brush/finger instead of rubbing or sweeping. Pressing will ensure you get even saturation and color all over your eyes.

Top product picks for eyeshadow colors:

MAKE UP FOR EVER Artist Shadow in Black Rose

Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Busted

SHAPE: But where does it end!? How far, how tall, how high, how much of a dramatic cat eye?? This is one question that you have to answer yourself. It’s all about how much glam and intensity you’re looking for! Carmen’s suggestion here is to keep your eyes open while you’re applying your powder eyeshadow. A fluffy blending brush is essential here, you can blend the colour on your eyelids up and our, using light back-and-forth strokes from the inside to the outside of your eye. Keeping your eyes open will allow you to see how the make up will actually look. The shape of your eyes are considerably different when they are closed – if you do all your make up in this position, it might be a bit disappointing when you finally open your peepers!

Remember that make up comes off, and not to stress yourself out! If it gets a little bit to intense for your personal taste, you can always take down the intensity with some make up remover and a Q-tip. To give your eyes an extra lift, draw an invisible line from the corner of your eye to the tip of your eyebrow – don’t let colour go beneath here. You can also add a bit of colour on your lower lash line if you feel comfortable.

Top product pick for shape and blending:

Sephora Pro Blending Brush #27

FINAL TOUCHES:

Here is where Carmen likes to add a shimmery bright eyeshadow right below the brow bone, and in the inner corner of the eye, for a little bit of glow and contrast. False lashes are your friend, and they definitely add some foxy goodness to this look! You can also layer some shimmer or glitter on top of this look for a fun burlesque appeal.

Top Picks for Final Touches:

To Hi-light Inner corners and Brow Bone: Laura Mercier Baked Eyeshadow in Ballet Pink

Natural false lashes: MAKE UP FOR EVER Nude Eyelashes in #156

For fully, fluffy lashes: Benefit Pin-up Lash

For Shimmer: MAKE UP FOR EVER Diamond powder in #15 Smoky

For Glitter: Stila Foil Finish Eyeshadow in Metallic Merlot

The most important thing is that you have fun and you feel fantastic. Have a great time to creating the perfect colour combination to suit your style and personality!

Photo by Steph Martyniuk, Model Roxie Woudberg, Make up and Hair by Carmen Rachel

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Got a fun event lined up? To contact Carmen Rachel for her rates, with questions, or to share your own smoky eye looks –  E-mail her at carmenrachel@live.com. You can also find her on Twitter,  Facebook & Instagram

Birthday Giveaway #2 | Conceived by Nature

Welcome to Birthday Giveaway #2!

I wanted to start off by giving a big congrats to Tom who was the winner of last week’s super sexy giveaway. Tom is soon to be the proud owner of the Jopen Vr16 Vibrator. His fiancé Anna is a very lucky woman 😉

This week’s giveaway is a little bit different and is focused on healthy, sexy, hair care. But first, the not so sexy truth: a few years ago I went through a bout of extremely itchy and sore scalp. After some investigation, I realized that I was actually extremely sensitive and possibly allergic to the Parabens and Sulfates that are in a lot of shampoos and conditioners. Luckily, I made this realization before it killed my social life (no one wants to be friends with the kid who has a perpetually itchy head.) Since then, I have been using a combination of Moroccan Oil and Macadamia Nut Oil products – neither of which irritate my sensitive scalp. Hair care can get expensive, so I’m always on the look out for affordable shampoos and conditioners that are Paraben and Sulfate free.

When I was contacted by Conceived by Nature about trying their line of hair care products, I was super curious. They kindly sent me out a set of their Balancing Lavender Shampoo and Conditioner so I could give them a try and share my experience with you guys.

Conceived by Nature is a completely natural and organic hair care line from the makers of Mane and Tail. Made from natural and certified organic components, each shampoo and conditioner is designed to be uniquely balanced for incredible performance, with fragrant aromas to provide a multi-sensory experience that leaves hair natural, healthy, clean and conditioned.

I hate worrying about whether the products I use contain creepy, potentially harmful ingredients, so I really like Conceived by Nature’s philosophy towards hair care:

“Hair care is an integral part of our daily routines, and should be thought of as another approach to treating your body, mind and spirit with the respect and nurturing care it deserves. Conceived by Nature combines the finest synergy of essential oils, herbs, micro-enriched proteins, and other natural ingredients blended precisely to fortify and nourish hair, leaving it soft, strong and shiny.” 

As a teenager I LOVED the Mane and Tail line (I still have a soft spot for their retro packaging!) so I was anxious to see how the Conceived by Nature line held up.

The Balancing Lavender Shampoo and Conditioner are made with a combination of lavender oil and essential oils. The conditioner also includes olive, sweet almond, and coconut oils and blended with shea butter (yum!)

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The shampoo and conditioner are quite light, and left my hair feeling clean and bouncy – perfect for my very fine hair that’s easily weighed down by product. Also, no scalp irritation! The packaging is sleek and modern, and as soon as you open the bottle you can immediately smell the natural lavender essence. As someone who enjoys the smell of lavender, I liked the fragrance. Lavender scents have the potential to go wrong very quickly, but because the product is made with actual lavender essence it smells more like something you’d find in your garden than in the old lady section of the drugstore. However, if lavender is not your thing, you might want to avoid this one and instead go for the Volumizing Citrus or Restorative Rosemary.

Interested in trying these products yourself? Conceived by Nature has provided me with a shampoo & conditioner combo to give away to a Skinny Dip reader! To enter the giveaway, please follow the prompts below. I’ll announce a winner next Wednesday!

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*This giveaway was brought to you by Conceived by Nature (Thank you!) which provided me with the product free of charge in exchange for my honest review. 

From Pyjamas to Gladiator: On Willpower & Learning to Kick Ass

If you’ve ever struggled to break a bad habit, this post is for you.

2013 will always be remembered as the year that I staged my very own “pajama-vention” – otherwise known as “that time I realized I was getting gross and decided to do something about it, and learned to kick-ass in the process.”

In December and January I participated in the Stratejoy Holiday Council. I learned how to let go of 50 things, made vision boards and set goals – some which I’ve already accomplished (!) I enjoyed the experience so much that when it came to sign up for the Stratejoy Willpower Council a few months later, I jumped at the chance. With my schedule now busier than ever, I knew I’d need to tap into my willpower to really “get shit done.”

One of our first tasks was to choose a bad habit that we’d like to change, or a good habit that we’d like to create. I knew right away what mine would be:

THE PYJAMAS.

As I’ve mentioned before, being a freelance writer and/or working from home does come with it’s shares of perks: a flexible schedule and dress code with a commute that never is longer than the distance between your bed and your laptop. The downside is that when you’re not even required to wear pants on a daily basis, things have the tendency to get gross pretty fast.

After almost a decade of working in a corporate office environment, when I started freelancing I embraced the novelty of being able to work in my pyjamas. However, what began as a fun and comfortable way to give the middle finger to my former office attire, soon evolved to the point where I was wearing my pyjamas all day, everyday. Unless I was leaving the house, I wouldn’t even bother showering or putting on clothes until late afternoon. As someone who is naturally prone to anxiety, my pyjamas weren’t just a wardrobe choice, they were like a security blanket – one that covered my whole body.

I jokingly nicknamed my well loved leopard print pyjamas my “freelancer’s business suit” and when I wore out my first pair, my Mom and sister lovingly purchased me new ones for Christmas complete with matching booties. You can file the photo below under “reasons I might be single.”

 I hadn’t realized how bad the situation had become until my Mom and sister sat me down and told me I needed to start wearing real clothes around the house again. I agreed, but then told them I thought they were enablers.

“If you want me to stop wearing pyjamas, why do you keep buying me such awesome ones?! I mean, the matching booties: genius.”

My sister looked me in the eye and said, “Put on some real clothes Simone or I’ll burn those pyjamas in your sleep.”

The irony is, when I envisioned what my life would look like as a freelancer I didn’t imagine myself wearing flannel all day. Instead, I imagined myself wearing cute, casual basics as I wrote and worked on projects in my fun, colourful office. In other words, I wanted my day to day life to look more like my Internet Idol & Girl Entrepreneur Crush Jen Ramos (top left & bottom left.)

I could totally be the kind of person who spent the day working in funky striped dresses or a pair of leather leggings & a fun top. I already owned these kinds of clothes, so what was stopping me?! However, instead I settled for some approximation of this:

I knew I had hit rock bottom when I caught myself doing a phone interview with the head of marketing of a major Canadian bank wearing only a pink nightie, with a brown blanket wrapped around me.

That’s the thing I have learned about bad habits: they’re self sabotaging. We want one thing but we do another. I picked out clothes that embodied the vision I wanted for life, but stashed them away in the closet and instead, did exactly the opposite because it seemed easier somehow.

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Review & Giveaway | Sweet like Candy…or Cake

Around this time of year it’s so easy to catch a case of the winter blahs. When I lived in Toronto the end of January only meant one thing: that there were at least another solid two months of snow and sub-zero temperatures to look forward to. Although the winters are thankfully a lot milder on the West Coast (it’s usually too warm here for snow!) it’s still the time of year when I start to think “Is it spring yet?”

So, I was super thrilled when the nice people at Eden Fantasys offered to send me some goodies to make my winter a little sexier. They also sent a little something for you guys, but I’ll get to that in a few minutes!

Along with a huge selection of adult toys, books and sexy lingerie, EdenFantasys carries an excellent selection of body care products. One of the lines I’m so happy they carry is Cake Beauty. As I’ve mentioned before, I love Cake Beauty products. The company is Canadian and makes Paraben free beauty products that not only smell delicious, but work great too! I’m kind of addicted to their dry shampoo, so I was super excited to try Cake’s Diamond Lipgloss collection.

My lipgloss came in the cute, holiday themed packaging above however, you can buy each shade separately for $9.99. Included in my package were each of the following colours:

vanilla frost: a creamy pearl with opalescent shine
pink icicle: sheer pink with diamond sparkle
gold glimmer: glistening nude with golden sheen.

Top to bottom: gold glimmer, pink icicle, vanilla frost.

The lip-gloss has a nice texture. It’s smooth on your lips without being sticky or tacky like some lip-glosses. I have really dark lips, so I find that a lot of light coloured glosses just look way too light and “cakey” on me. I was kind of worried that this may be the case with the two lighter shades (pink icicle and vanilla frost) however, I was pleasantly surprised that the glosses were super sheer, giving my lips just a hint of colour and shimmer, without that dreaded “whoa, I’m wearing glitter on my lips!” look. To give you an idea of what the product looks like I’ve created this photo-montage.

#1 is me without any makeup on my lips at all.

As you can see from the photo, ALL THE COLOURS LOOK EXACTLY THE SAME ON ME. Actually, that’s not entirely true – there are subtle differences between the shades, it was just hard to capture the subtleties in my badly lit self-portraits. As you can kind of see in figure 4 & 5 – the two darker shades did make my lips look a little more rosy, while the lightest shade (vanilla frost) provides a sexy, shimmery highlight in the centre of my lips.

The fact that there isn’t that much difference between the shades doesn’t phase me. The Diamond Lipgloss feels really moisturizing on the lips and smells absolutely delicious. The first time I wore it out of the house, I stepped into my friend’s car and the first thing they said was:

“Have you been baking? You smell like cake batter.”

As if successfully convincing someone that I’m the kind of person who actually bakes in the middle of the day wasn’t thrilling enough, Edenfantasys also sent me a Picobong Kaya vibrator to try out. In case you haven’t heard, Picobong is a spin-off line from the sex toy masterminds at Lelo. The line takes the look and feel of Lelo products and gives them a fun, younger, more budget friendly re-working.

I adore the Lelo Insignia Soraya (BEST. VIBRATOR. EVER) and also am a fan of the Lelo Ina. I’ve been dying to try the Picobong Kaya to see how it measures up to my two faves. The verdict? It’s kind of awesome.

The Kaya is a rabbit vibrator designed to offer external and internal stimulation simultaneously. This candy coloured toy is made of silky smooth, body-safe, FDA approved silicone and ABS plastic. With 12 different vibration patterns that can be enjoyed at different speeds and easy to use controls, all you have to do is turn Kaya on and she’ll return the favour.

So, what makes the Picobong Kaya different than other Lelo toys?! It’s battery operated. Kaya requires just 2 AAA batteries for up to 2 continuous hours of bliss. Because of this, the price point is much lower than other Lelo toys. As a bonus, this toy is waterproof! If you like to get it on in the bath, shower, swimming pool or enjoy frequenting babbling brooks, you don’t have to worry about Kaya because she’s fully waterproof up to a depth of 1 metre.

What I love about the Kaya: the shape. The Kaya combines my favourite features from the Soraya and the Ina. As you can see from the photo below, it has the length and shaft shape of my beloved Soraya but with the clitoral arm of the Ina. Although the vibrations aren’t quite as intense as my two favourite Lelo toys, they are deep, rumbly and more than enough to get the job done. Although I usually don’t like battery operated toys, I’ll make the exception here because the Kaya just works really well with my anatomy & feels awesome. The Kaya definitely gets the Skinny Dip stamp of approval!

L-R: Soraya, Kaya, Ina

Given the high quality and reasonable price point of this toy, the Picobong Kaya makes the perfect first vibrator. From now until Feb. 15th the Kaya is on sale for $62. 50, making it a great option for anyone who is looking to upgrade their current vibe to something more luxurious, without breaking the bank.

Now, here’s the best part! To help you kick the winter blues I’m giving away a $25 gift certificate to EdenFantasys to one lucky reader. To enter, please leave a comment & let me know what you’d like to treat yourself to from the website (some new sexy lingerie? Beauty and Body products? a discreet vibrator?) Get extra entries by following the prompts below.

I will pick a winner on February 14th!

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Sex toys - EdenFantasys adult toys store

This post was sponsored by EdenFantasys. I received the products and a gift certificate for free in exchange for my honest assessment of the products. All opinions are my own. 

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