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Every Body is a Bikini Body

Oppressive beauty standards make billions for diet and beauty industries.

Laci Green is a sex education activist. She uses her YouTube channel to teach the internet-goers of the world about safe consensual sex, feminism, and identity. In this video she pairs up with MTV’s Braless to explain the history of bikinis. What initially started as a symbol of girl power, the bikini has now become a weapon used to shame women into buying more diet and beauty products. Businesses convince women that they are not beautiful if they do not fit a specific body size and appearance. This fosters an unhealthy culture of judgment and self-hate.

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It doesn’t get more sex positive than Cindy Gallop. The advertising maven turned startup queen is on a mission to depornify sex. Her MakeLoveNotPorn platform provides a forum for people to discuss sex. Real sex. Not that lights, camera action stuff.

“We live in a puritanical double standard culture,” explained Gallop during her 2009 TED Talk. “Where people believe that a teen abstinence campaign will actually work. Where parents are too embarrassed to have conversations about sex with their children. And where educational institutions are terrified of being politically incorrect if they pick up those conversations. And so it’s not surprising that hardcore pornography defacto has become sex education.”

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An American Oddity: Sex Ed That Actually Talks About Sex

I spent my adolescence terrified about sex, all aspects of which seemed to me to be coated with a film of physical and emotional disease.


This week's New York Times Magazine profiles an American oddity: a high school sex educator who actually talks about sex. Al Vernacchio teaches a series of classes on sexuality at a private Philadelphia high school, where he and his students discuss oral sex double standards, chart their sexual boundaries, and watch videos on female ejaculation. Vernacchio's students are 18 years old, tops. Reading the piece, I was struck by how many of his lessons I could still use at 26.

I was raised on what the piece calls "disaster prevention" sex ed—it was not strictly "abstinence only," but it may as well have been. At the tail end of elementary school, I sat in a darkened gender-segregated classroom and watched a VHS tape of a pretty young everywoman navigating puberty. After discovering blood in her underwear after gym class, she returns to school the next day armed with a backpack full of sanitary pads. Before she manages to transfer them safely to her locker, she bumps into her crush, strewing the pads across the school steps. The boy picks them up and returns them to her with a rakish smile. She is a woman, and he's into it.

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