While running Teddies for Bettys one of my missions was to educate women on bra fittings; the importance of why it was physically and mentally beneficial for them to know and to also understand what had kept them from bra shopping to begin with.
If you don’t have breasts it may not have ever occurred to you the amount of negative unprocessed emotions that come with them. The endless messaging and conditioning one hears that tells you what breasts are for. What they should look like. How they are meant to be used.
I spent 10 years listening to women recall intimate tales of their breasts that ranged from embarrassment about them coming in at a young age or not coming in soon enough.
Self conscious about nipples showing and the shapes they took on.
the despair of losing their breasts from body changes or cancer.
the shame of them being associated to their weight.
Sure, there were the women who embraced their breasts and had sweet stories of their first fittings and learned that lingerie was something that could make you feel good, but more than not they were stories that resulted from damaging messaging.
Then there is the obvious physical discomfort of bras because women weren’t educated on how to fit or know what styles to choose based on their breast shape and tissue.
Americans didn’t place great importance on bras and fittings because our culture has spent so much time sexualizing our breasts and nipples that if you were talking about bras you might be speaking in terms of sex. The map looks like this: Bras = lingerie = sex = you’re bad and going to hell.
More recently, marketing around female bodies, our parts and bras has become widely more acceptable and common. Well, certainly more marketable. This has to do in large part when Susan Nethero founder of Intimacy spoke on Oprah and shared that 1 in 8 women did not know their bra size and why it was important physically that she did, that the landscape of lingerie changed.
They called it a ‘bra revolution’ and the bra industry grew by 700 million that year.
The message was loud and clear, and bra shopping became normalized as a ‘need’.
Enter Victoria’s Secret. You see, Oprah was making waves, but Victoria’s Secret marketing and price point was available to the masses.
People always want to trash on the quality and sexualization of VS but in doing so, they fail to miss one very important message; They educated the American consumer on lingerie and bras.
In the 90’s it was all things sexy, exciting and feminine. I’ll never forget getting my first miracle bra. I bought one for my mom too. We both entered the grand dressing rooms for our fittings and just like that, my 2 weeks wages from the coffee shop were spent. I didn’t even care! It was one of ‘those moments’ that I wish more people experienced when bra shopping.
(My first bras were from Walmart, cotton front clasp with a t-back. Equally as excited to have this moment. It was an official Saturday errand the summer before 7th grade and I wanted to tell everyone. That I had finally arrived.)
They contributed to normalizing lingerie and bra shopping in America the way it is in France… Not entirely, but made a major dent. When I was in the lingerie industry a French woman was known to budget a 1/3 of her income to her foundations- something I rarely saw in my 10 years of working in the business from my clientele.
Victoria’s Secret educated the consumer in ways that I and other small businesses could not afford to do. What I noticed was that after a woman became more conscious of quality she would evolve to the higher end brands that I and other intimate shops offered. They were ready to invest in their lingerie drawers.
But we all have to start somewhere.
My feelings about the Goop Wand are very much the same; It’s educating the consumer and normalizing the conversations around sex objects, masturbating, cliteracy, finding pleasure and reaching the masses.
Goop is able to reach an audience and make a major assist in destigmatizing shame and the dated beliefs that have been impressed upon people forever.
For people who wouldn’t otherwise feel comfortable going into a novelty store. And not because they are judgmental of the shops or toys themselves, it’s because they are nervous of being judged themselves.
The lack of awareness, openness or general freeness around sex and sex toys are no fault of the consumer, but directly related to the puritan marketing and messaging that’s been fed to us all via our family beliefs, our church and schools, our friends and pop culture.
Sex sells. But if you are woman who is sexual, you are slutty.
Have big breasts and cleavage but if he’s staring at you, it’s your fault.
Have sex with your husband like a good wife but don’t think of masturbating or pleasing yourself.
Want to have mind blowing sex? Here’s how to please him.
Sex education? Practice abstinence unless married and reproducing.
I was the first ‘lifestyle’ store in Texas to offer novelty items or sex toys along with other products. The year was 2008 and the supreme court had just ruled that it was illegal to stop stores from selling novelty products.
And here’s a shoutout to Forbidden Fruits- they are the real MVP’s in Austin TX who helped pave the way.
Unfortunately, though the laws adjusted in favor of sex shops, the mindsets did not.
While trying to find a location, I was repeatedly told ‘no’ because I planned on selling lingerie and carrying sex objects.
I was denied business insurance and business loans.
One man and woman took a chance on me and leased me a tiny house on S 1st st. I didn’t realize the magnitude of their ‘yes’ at the time.
All of the ‘no’s were a result of me selling ‘sex’.
‘Influencers’ would shop in the store but not talk about it because it was ‘not on brand’ and that might reflect on them.
When I would invite someone to check it out I would hear all sorts of comments but the one I’ll never forget was ‘if I ever need anything like that I’ll stop by’ to which I replied ‘yah, when you start wearing bras and panties you should.’
I won’t lie; I grew resentful over the years. Tired, too. I found myself growing insecure, believing that what I did was taboo. That I was taboo. I softened my voice and worked hard at being seen as mainstream and commercial so that the customer would feel ‘okay’ about coming in.
I bought sex objects that looked modern and displayed them in high end jewelry cases. I don’t regret my merchandising, but I ended up doing a great disservice to the sex industry. I missed an opportunity to dig in, educate and normalize what is natural, fun and healthy.
Which is why I can’t talk too much shit about the Goop Wand or Gwyneth Paltrow when I see her doing the same.
When she’s quoted saying ‘we wanted to create something intellectual, “So many vibrators look hyper-sexualized,” she added. “They’re either really phallic or they look like something you would buy in a sex shop.”
Paltrow said she also wanted to create a vibrator that would “continue to diminish stigma” around sex toys.
“really pretty and cool, and that you could leave on your nightstand without embarrassing yourself or somebody else.”
Goop is playing it safe to reach the masses and producing a toy that looks pretty to ensure a comfort level.
Unfortunately, while Goop ‘soften the edges’ for some to feel comfortable and make the purchase it continues to perpetuate and reinforce the alternative as taboo and in which case NOT diminishing the stigma.
“Oh my god, Gwyneth. Look at her sex toy.”
Let me just say; a sex object is a sex object is a sex object. Regardless of where you buy it or how it’s packaged. They all have the same purpose. Pleasure. Embodiment. Your Well-being.
Which is precisely all they should be talking about when selling it.
How pleasurable it is.
Why it’s safe for you body.
What you can expect.
What to consider doing while using.
How to clean.
How many orgasms to expect.
Not how intellectual it is.
What inspired the color.
How pretty it is.
I mean honestly, I don’t care how ugly, hyper-sexualized or phallic you are so long as my tongue goes numb and I see stars. I will show you to all my friends. I’ll tuck you in at night and save a seat for you at the dinner table. Nobody puts baby in the corner.
And still, we must commend Gwyneth and Goop. They are succeeding at selling sex as pretty and it’s a step in the right direction. Every time a Goop Wand is sold, an orgasm is had. A body enlightened.
Unless you’re like me. In which case the wand is not for you- but is for some.
I tried the Goop Wand once and never went back. Too many buttons and things to figure out. All of the speeds and variations… Come on. Just give it to me!
Maybe I was feeling lazy. Maybe I need directness. Maybe it just doesn’t pack the punch I’m looking for.
I do believe the Goop Wand might be just the right object for first time users…
When my 18 year old saw it and said “Oh! That’s pretty!” I explained what it was along with my opinions. Which only created intrigue followed by questions. I ordered them their own later that night.
Much like my Victoria’s Secret, Goop has their market targeted.
And we can celebrate another human being learning about their body and it’s natural birthright to feel pleasure- and feel pretty while doing so.
I’ll give it Two O’s
Partner play: Wands in general are a great tool to use during partner play. You can use the cone head to vibrate on both of you or penetrate with the opposite end. Which could lead to double penetration. Or some good ol’ fashion anal play. The object itself looks like a microphone or ice cream cone. So much role playing to be had here.
Climatic: USB charger. Easy to clean. Quiet. Multiple speeds and pulsations for a variety of intensities. Water proof. “Pretty” is not an uncommon response by users and a factor in purchasing… which leads to awareness, sexual well being and cliteracy. Light frequency.
Anti-Climatic: Too much time spent trying to figure out what speed/ vibe and not enough pleasing and orgasm.
O Factor: OO