Fashion

How Halloween Helped Me Challenge the Gender Binary

Halloween isn't my favorite holiday, but there is something liberating and quite beautiful about it that I've only recently come to realize. While reading Cameron Esposito's latest blog at the A.V. Club, in which she champions the "little gay kid" as the pioneer of gender-bending Halloween costumes, I began to reflect on my own affinity for the holiday.

Dressing up in a costume as a kid came with a sense of excitement, as it's an opportunity to be something you don't get to enact in daily life. But instead of embodying something of the fantastical, I always saw a different opportunity with Halloween. While I may not have realized it at the time, as a kid Halloween meant I didn't have to follow the rules of gender in our heteronormative society. I didn't have to be a princess because that's what every other girl my age was doing; I could be whatever I wanted, even if it was a costume made for boys.

Esposito says that little gay kids push the boundaries of gender on Halloween out of a necessity and a sense of survival. While I may not have recognized it at the time, or at least attached a label to it, I was one of those little gay kids who, as she says, felt something "off about heteronormative culture" and used the holiday to protest it. I distinctly remember my last childhood Halloween costume that was strictly feminine. I was Snow White, and I hated it. My older brother was the Red Power Ranger, and I can still feel my seeping envy over not being able to wear the same costume. No one ever said I couldn't wear that costume; I just never thought it OK to ask. After that I stopped dressing like girls for Halloween as a kid, because why was I expected to in the first place?

From there on I was all my favorite male characters, from Woody to Hercules to Zorro. I remember how liberating it felt one year when my brother and I decided to go as Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn as depicted in the Jonathan Taylor Thomas movie I loved at the time. We cut up old jeans, ripped baggy T-shirts and, literally, rolled around in the dirt. It was fantastic, and I finally felt like I was enjoying the fun of Halloween like every other kid.

erin travis halloween



Another year, circa fourth or fifth grade, I was scanning the aisles of the Halloween store and immediately spotted a rainbow mullet wig. I didn't know what it was for or what to do with it, but I knew that I had to have it. So I collected various ridiculous fragments of clothing, from a furry rainbow leopard-spotted vest to a shiny silver top, and I made my own costume. At the time I called myself a "punk rocker," but in retrospect I think I was embracing the oddity and androgyny of Ziggy Stardust. That felt more natural to me than anything with a pink skirt.

erin punk costume



As a young lesbian who was always drawn to androgyny, even if I didn't learn that word until high school, I always subconsciously embraced Halloween as my chance to dress how I wanted with no rules attached. I most directly embraced my gender fluidity when I made a costume that was both male and female. In 2005 I loved the film V for Vendetta and decided that I wanted to be not only Hugo Weaving's masked crusader but also Natalie Portman's Evey. So I wore a hand-made orange prison gown and the V mask, embracing the masculine and feminine strengths of the film I admired so much. Only later did I learn that Lana Wachowski, one of the filmmakers, had been struggling with gender for her whole life.

While I only began thinking more radically and intellectually about the gender binary in adulthood, I've been challenging it for as long as I can remember. Halloween served as that sore reminder each year of how I should express myself within the confines of "normalcy." Thinking back, however, I recall that for my very first Halloween I was Barney the dinosaur, who is assumed by most to be a male character, yet it's always remained somewhat ambiguous. It may be a stretch, but Barney is purple, a color associated with LGBTQ pride.

erin barney



Of course, discussing gender roles and representation with Halloween also opens up the larger conversation of gender neutrality in everyday life. That's still something I long for, when androgynous clothing lines aren't merely a few scattered online-based companies and finally begin popping up in department stores and mainstream fashion brands. So perhaps it was the holiday itself that allowed me to become more comfortable in my own skin in everyday life and better acknowledge my wish for a more gender-neutral society.

But since it's almost Halloween, we might as well celebrate the holiday for giving us the chance to not only explore our inner weirdo for a day but embrace what makes us most comfortable, sans judgment. After all, a little boy who feels more comfortable and free in a dress would make a much better Snow White than I ever would. Let him skip from door to door showing off his yellow satin skirt and red bow. Now excuse me while I go practice my Rust Cohle impression and try on a mustache -- I don't have much time before Halloween.

‘Eat, Pray, Love’ Author Elizabeth Gilbert Reveals Her Greatest Regret (VIDEO)

Elizabeth Gilbert's 2006 memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, sparked a global conversation about what it means to find your calling and fulfill your life's purpose. Her personal transformation -- from a devastating divorce to a yearlong, soul-searching quest around the world -- resonated deeply with millions of readers who could relate to Gilbert's search for authentic happiness.

While Gilbert was sharing a lifetime's worth of lessons with a live audience on Oprah's The Life You Want Weekend Tour, one reader asked her an interesting question: What's her greatest regret? As usual, her answer was honest and insightful.

"My greatest regret was that I didn't learn how to tell the truth sooner," Gilbert says. "That was a really big, hard thing for me that I actually have to say I'm still working on."

Gilbert admits she spent her childhood, adolescence and young adulthood telling people what she thought they wanted to hear. "You asked me a question, I didn't look into myself for the answer," she says. "I look into your eyes like, 'What do you want me to say?' and I try to bring you that. And that got me in so much trouble."

The reason is simple: we all want to be liked. "For years, I didn't say no to people and I didn't say the truth to people because I didn't want them to not like me, and I didn't want them to be mad at me and I didn't want them to be disappointed."

When she finally learned how to say no to people, Gilbert says exactly what she feared came true: they were disappointed and didn't like her as much. "And that's fine," she says. "You let them go and you keep around you the people who can live in your truth with you. And the rest of them, say goodbye."

Also during the tour, Gilbert shared her definition of God, gave tips on how to move past fear, and revealed her greatest spiritual teacher.

Find out when Oprah's Life the Life You Want Weekend Tour is coming to a city near you.

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A Cartoon Alpaca Voiced By Amy Poehler Explains Economic Inequality

Ever dream Amy Poehler would explain economic issues to you in the form of a cute alpaca? Well, you're in luck.

Directed by Adam McKay, a new video for We The Economy called "The Unbelievably Sweet Alpacas" features Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, and Sarah Silverman. The trio voices adorable alpacas who have just graduated from their sweetness schools and are about to enter the work force for the first time. Unfortunately, their quest to the lollipop factory in search of jobs takes a turn when they're met with the harsh realities of the current economic climate. Systematic inequality and social immobility have never been quite so ... rainbow.



H/T Washington Post

Vinnie Myers’ Amazing Tattoos Help Breast Cancer Survivors With Transition

One tattoo artist is using his talents to help breast cancer survivors who have undergone a mastectomy.

In a HuffPost Live interview on Oct. 30, Vinnie Myers explained how he helps survivors transition into their post-breast reconstruction bodies by providing realistic nipple tattoos. After a plastic surgeon asked Myers to assist with a few tattoos, he got more involved in the process for which he is now so well-known.

As Myers explained, the art of designing a tattoo that looks just like a nipple isn’t different from any other tattoo, but working with a reconstructed breast requires extreme care.

“You’re talking about women who have had all of their breast tissue removed. They’ve got a very thin skin flap,” he said. “Some of the women may only have a millimeter or two of tissue left on the outside of the muscle in the implant. So if you approach it in the same way you approach a regular tattoo, you could do a lot of damage to these women, and you end up doing a lot more harm than good.”

Myers, who now creates up to 2,000 nipple tattoos every year, is happy to see his line of work make such a difference in the lives of breast cancer survivors.

“I really wasn’t ready for the impact it would have. Not on them, but also on me,” he said. “And something so small and something as little as a nipple tattoo can mean so much and be so big in the lives of these women.”

Check out more amazing stories from breast cancer survivors here.

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Here’s How Men Should Respond To The Street Harassment Video

By now you've likely seen "10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman." The video, which illustrates the sheer volume of unwanted verbal attention a woman might face on any given day walking down city streets, has accumulated close to 9 million views since it was posted Tuesday. And for good reason: It's something that women everywhere can relate to.



By now you've likely also seen the predictably horrible responses left in the comments on YouTube and other sites that have shared it all over the Internet.


11 Witches From Fiction Who Embody What Feminism Really Means

Of all the spooky beings spotlighted on Halloween, none is more truly badass than the witch.

Sure, they may seem a little square in the age of sexy zombies and shimmering vampires -- the black pointed hat and broomstick have a musty, traditional air -- but let’s not turn our back on the supernatural beings that made fantasy exciting to the mainstream again. From "Bewitched" to "Charmed," witches have always maintained a cozy spot in the popular imagination, but with the arrival of Harry Potter, witchcraft exploded into a genuine craze. Though the changing tides of cultural fashion have elevated other fantastical beings, leaving witches in the dust, it’s worth asking whether we’d even be enjoying this bonanza of "The Walking Dead" and "The Vampire Diaries" were it not for J.K. Rowling’s internationally beloved witches and wizards.

Witches didn’t pop up in the 20th century, of course. Their historical record, which is largely quite grim, complicates a modern image glimmering with Hogwarts feasts and Melissa Joan Hart. Witchcraft was, for centuries, considered a capital offense. Historians have noted that those accused of witchcraft were predominantly women, especially women who didn’t adhere to societal convention. Witch trials enabled persecution of these more free-minded or unconventional female figures in society, such as those who were older and unmarried. Though witch trials represented an unpredictable and mortal threat to women of the time, this very fact is indicative of the close link between the concept of witchcraft and feminine power in a patriarchal and narrow-minded world.

Appropriately, many witches from fiction have personified female strength and supremacy, even as many of them have faced decidedly hostile circumstances. Here are 11 of the most badass witches from literature, who truly epitomize woman power:



Three Witches from Macbeth by William Shakespeare


“By the pricking of my thumbs, / Something wicked this way comes,” says one of the Weird Sisters as Macbeth approaches their coven. Though they seem evil and eerie, with their potion full of “birth-strangled babe,” “eye of newt and toe of frog” -- and worse -- they sense Macbeth’s guilty heart before they even see him. The portentous incantations of the three witches have probably done more to influence modern representations of witchcraft than any other depiction; their creepy repetition of “Double, double toil and trouble; / Fire burn and cauldron bubble” sets the standard for spooky witchery.



Elphaba from Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire


The Wicked Witch of the West finally gets to tell her own story, and while she may still seem rather wicked, she’s imbued with a complexity that allows us to admire the Wizard of Oz villain as well as deploring her. Elphaba is prickly, jealous and difficult; eventually her traumas lead her to increasingly vengeful and disturbing acts. But she’s also a person of conviction, who cares deeply about animal rights and social justice. She even belongs to a resistance movement to fight back against the Wizard’s oppressive policies. A gifted sorceress, she engineered that horde of flying monkeys you may remember. She seems like a lot more than the victim of a bucket of water once you get to know her a bit more.



Circe from The Odyssey by Homer


Circe was a bit of a predator, which is the primary connotation attached to her name in modern times. She bewitched men with her beauty and soft, nurturing demeanor, welcoming them to her home to rest and regain strength, only to curse them with sudden metamorphoses into livestock form. Only Odysseus himself, with the help of Hermes, escaped her snare. And of course, having overcome her spell, he threatened Circe with a sword until she placated him with sex... leading us to wonder if she was so unwise to turn all male comers to harmless animals. We’re not saying Circe was necessarily in the right, but hasn’t every proto-feminist felt a stab of gratification at the transformation of all those leering men into literal pigs?



Strega Nona from Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola


Strega Nona’s name roughly translates to “Grandma Witch” in Italian (though author Tomie dePaola says Nona is her given name), and this modern folk tale witch has the comforting solidity of your own granny. Strega Nona uses her witchcraft to cure the ailments of the townspeople and to feed herself from an endless pasta pot. Unfortunately she also has a bumbling servant, "Big Anthony, who did not pay attention." When Big Anthony secretly uses the pasta pot to make himself dinner, only to realize he doesn’t know how to stop the ceaseless flow of pasta, he panics as the town is slowly blanketed with an endless onslaught of spaghetti. Sensible Strega Nona, when she reappears, knows exactly what to do, immediately shutting down the pasta production and teaching Big Anthony a lesson by having him eat the spoils of his unwise venture. The best kind of witch, obviously, is just like your nana, but with unlimited pasta and magical powers.



Serafina Pekkala from His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman


Philip Pullman’s classic trilogy is peopled by badasses. Witches, in Pullman’s version of reality, have their own distinct brand of badassery, embodied primarily by the ethereal yet unbreakable Serafina, queen of the Lake Enara clan in Norway. Possessed of jaw-dropping beauty, Serafina appears young but is actually hundreds of years old; her lifespan could stretch on for centuries. She feels the cold, but, knowing it can’t hurt her, she simply doesn’t allow it to bother her, preferring to keep as little between her and the vibrations of the natural world as possible. She believes fate governs her, but remains committed to living with the principles of a person of free will. And though her life will far outlast any man’s, she has fallen in love and had a child with a human, despite the pain it would cause her to see him age and die while she remained young. She’s an enigmatic figure, but her strength and integrity shine through clearly.



Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling


Okay, you all knew this was coming. In fact, no list of badass fictional witches can exist without the inclusion of Hermione Granger, by law (or at least common sense). She’s courageous. She’s kind. She’s quick-witted. She’s erudite. She’s always prepared. And of course, her spellwork is impeccable. Unlike the hapless but well-meaning or powerful but evil varieties of witch, Hermione combines all the most admirable qualities a witch could have into one mop-headed package. As much as we love wizarding darling Harry, witchy Hermione is the true star of the series, having saved all their skins and the magical community at large at least once in every book. Sure, she can be a bit of a know-it-all, even a buzzkill, but given how much smarter and more dedicated to any given task she is than pretty much anyone else around, who can blame her?



Mrs. Which from A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle


Mrs. Which may not be a witch per se, but she certainly has fun with the "which"/"witch" homophone. An otherworldly (literally) being with an echoing voice and abundant supernatural powers, Mrs. Which could hardly be anything so mundane as a mere earthly witch. Her true form isn’t even human, though it’s unclear what it is; at times she appears to the Murry children as no more than a disembodied light. And yet when she does take human form, when circumstances require it, she once chooses to appear as a classic witch in a pointed hat. Rather appropriate, actually, given her many powers and rather eerie presence.



Morwen from The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede


A passel of stereotypes go along with being a witch, as Mrs. Which well knew. Pointed hats, broomsticks, a hunched posture, a black cat familiar, tattered robes. But just as Cimorene, the independent-minded princess at the heart of the series, refused to be hemmed in by such narrow-minded expectations, Morwen, her witch friend, scoffs at convention and turns up her nose at tradition. Despite the societal expectation that she will have just one cat, a familiar, she fills her house with cats, and she’s made a potion that allows her to understand their thoughts (why doesn’t this exist in real life??). She refuses to wear a pointed hat, or to hunch over, and she prefers to keep her house neat and tidy with normal apples growing in the garden -- not the behaviors of a textbook fairytale witch. Insisting on staying true to yourself rather than conforming might be the most badass quality of all.



White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis


Jadis, also known as the White Witch, might have been evil down to the bone, but she got shit done. Aside from Earth, the only world she encounters in which her magical powers don’t work, Jadis manages to rise to power and eventually gain total dominion over every land in which she’s lived. When her first realm is destroyed, Jadis falls into a charmed sleep until an opportunity arises to find a new kingdom -- Narnia, which she encounters at its birth. She retreats to the north to rebuild her powers, only returning when she’s ready to conquer Narnia and cast it into an eternal winter (but never Christmas!). An army of menacing creatures enforce her laws, and she’s able to punish offenders by turning scofflaws to stone. Jadis is the epitome of the terrifyingly evil witch -- with the political savvy, charm and sorcerous powers to rise above the rest.



Witches from The Witches by Roald Dahl


It’s one thing to reimagine vampires to make them infinitely more glamorous (sparkly, say?), but Roald Dahl goes in rather the opposite direction with his subversion of the witch trope in The Witches. They’re just as evil and far more insidious than the cartoonishly green and warty variety; though they not really human, they’re able to disguise their telling traits relatively easily. They have toeless feet that they hide in pointy shoes, bald heads that they cover with wigs, and claws that they conceal with gloves -- even in the summer. Most disturbing of all, these witches work by turning children into vermin or livestock so their own family will attack them, not realizing what they’re doing. These witches aren’t admirable or endearing, but Dahl knows how to make an old horror trope viscerally frightening once again. Say what you will about the witches of The Witches -- they’re genuinely horrifying.



Agnes Nutter from Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman


Agnes puts a comical spin on the tragic figure of Cassandra, the prophetess who was cursed with the power of accurate prophecies no one believed. Good Omens charts the arrival on earth of the Antichrist, in the person of a rather ordinary young boy, and the ensuing chaos -- all of which was predicted centuries before by Agnes in a book called The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch. The book sold poorly (perhaps because of, rather than in spite of, the plodding precision and accuracy of the forecasts), and Agnes was eventually burned at the stake, a fate she herself foretold and prepared for by packing her clothes with explosives that killed her executioners along with her. Bold, caustic, and possessed of an unerring inner eye that foresaw all the boring events that would come to pass, Agnes did the entire witching profession proud.

Asparagus Pee Is Real, But Only Some Of Us Can Smell It

Everyone's pee smells like asparagus after they digest it. Deny this all you like, but those green stalks contain something called asparagusic acid, among a couple other compounds, that gives urine that unique odor.

As your body digests food, it breaks down different compounds through the enzymatic process. In the case of asparagus, its compounds are volatile and released as a vapor through the urine. That's the aroma you smell when the compound exits your body, according to HuffPost's conversation with Dr. Anish Sheth, a gastroenterologist at Princeton Medical Group and author of What's Your Baby's Poo Telling You?.

If you insist you've never before smelled what's been informally dubbed "asparagus pee," it's because you lack the ability to detect the odor. The smell is there, you just can't smell it. "The digestive process is pretty constant from person to person, but a person’s ability to detect these odors varies," Sheth says. This is because our perception of smell -- just like our perception of color -- is completely personal. "We all have our own idiosyncratic smell perception of the world," Dr. Ian Davison, a biology professor at Boston University, explains to HuffPost. "Our experience of different smells is completely unique." The inability to smell this asparagus pee is an instance of specific anosmia, where a specific scent cannot be detected by a specific nose.


Illustration by Eva Hill




There are about 400 different genes for the different receptors in every nose. Some people have a mutation in one of these genes that affects the ability of that receptor to respond to the chemical that makes pee smell funny. The defect seems a bit arbitrary -- Sheth chalks it up to "an odd quirk of human evolution;" up to 50 percent of people can detect the smell. Davison guesses the mutation happened over time. He says that for many animals, sense of smell is key for survival. Humans, on the other hand, rely so strongly on their visual sense that smell devolved, and these random errors -- like not being able to smell asparagus pee -- started creeping through.

Asparagus pee is not the only scent for which people experience specific anosmia. Every two or three people out of 100 have a tough time detecting vanillin, the main compound found in vanilla. Some are particularly sensitive (or insensitive) to androstenone, a component of sweat. "It flips between weak and pleasant to powerful and quite nasty," Davison says.

We can't control much of this. But if your asparagus pee is really getting to you, Sheth suggests cutting off the tips of the vegetable before consuming it. "That's where the bulk of the compounds are found." He, personally, sees no reason to take this step, as he finds the tips to be most delicious and worth the consequences.

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Chelsea Handler Slams Instagram For Taking Down Topless Photo

Chelsea Handler posed topless on a horse, mocking that legendary photo of Vladimir Putin doing the same, and posted the photo to Instagram, only to have it taken down soon after. "Taking this down is sexist. I have every right to prove I have a better body than Putin," Handler wrote.

ET Online reports that Handler posted the photo again and wrote, "If Instagram takes this down again, you're saying Vladimir Putin has more 1st amendment rights than me. Talk to your bosses." Obviously, they removed it again.

Later, Handler posted the message Instagram sent her in response and wrote, "If a man posts a photo of his nipples, it's ok, but not a woman? Are we in 1825?"

If a man posts a photo of his nipples, it's ok, but not a woman? Are we in 1825?

A photo posted by Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) on Oct 10, 2014 at 6:54pm PDT






Head over to Jezebel to see a screenshot of the original photo before it was taken down.

The History Of The Pin-Up Girl, From The 1800s To The Present

She's risqué but never explicit. She's flirtatious but fiercely independent. She's erotic but always safe for work, a welcome sight for your teenage cousin and prudish mother alike. She's the pin-up girl, an all natural American sweetheart created to win the adoration of men across the country.

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By Alberto Vargas (c) the Max Vargas Collection

You'd know her if you saw her -- the rosy cheeks, bouncy curls, hourglass figure and penchant for thematic lingerie are pretty much a dead giveaway -- but how exactly did she come to be? Join us as we travel back in time and explore the origins of the pin-up girl, with the help of the newly released "The Art of the Pin-up." It's a peculiar journey, one that overlaps with both women's liberation and women's objectification along the way. Our timeline begins, oddly enough, with the invention of the "safety bicycle" in the 1800s.

Early 1800s: Enter The Bicycle
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A Lady's Safety Bicycle from 1889, via Wikipedia Commons
Here's a bit of context before we dive into the history. "Safety bicycles," as they were known, caused quite the raucous amongst Western women in the early 19th century when they were introduced. Doctors and ministers denounced the new fangled vehicles, claiming that bouncing harmed women's fragile insides and the friction of the seat was likely to get them aroused. To suffragists, however, the bicycle was the "freedom machine," freeing women of ties to a male escort.



Early 1800s: Women Wear The Pants
2014-10-30-800pxEllimansUniversalEmbrocationSlough1897Ad.png
1897 advertisement, via Wikipedia Commons
Soon after bicycles hit the scene, women eschewed their petticoats and layered skirts in favor of bloomers and boots. This small fashion shift revealed women's legs, and women's bodies, in mainstream culture like never before. Women were simultaneously more masculine and also more sexual. Things were getting interesting.



1889: The First Calendar (Girls)
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By Rolf Armstrong (c) Brown & Bigelow, via Taschen Books
Thomas Murphy and Edmond Osborne print the first calendar featuring ads beneath the images. The concept was inspired; calendars do guarantee an entire year of ad space. The first calendar, featuring an image of George Washington, and it unsurprisingly didn't do so hot. In fact, the calendar market didn't heat up until 1903 and the release of the first girl calendar, titled "Cosette."



1895: The Gibson Girl
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Original pen and ink drawing for "The Weaker Sex," illustration by Charles Dana Gibson, via Wikipedia Commons
Charles Dana Gibson, an illustrator for Life magazine, shook up women's fashion with his cover illustrations of bosomy women with hourglass torsos, dark piles of hair and full, luscious lips. Inspired in part by Gibson's wife and her family, this national icon became known as the Gibson Girl, a girl America loved, known for her simultaneous sensuality and independence. She was, in a sense, the first "dream girl," unattainable aside from pinning her photo up on your wall.



1895-1932: The Gibson Copycats
2014-10-30-Harrison_Fisher_illustration__The_Princess_Elopes_by_Harold_MacGrath__Project_Gutenberg_eText_173911.jpg
Harrison Fisher illustration, via Wikipedia Commons
After the success of the Gibson Girl, many other magazines followed Life's lead. Howard Chandler Christy crafted the Christy Girl for The Century magazine in 1895, and Harrison Fisher's Fisher Girl covered Puck Magazine and Cosmopolitan from 1912 until 1932. All the women were similarly beautiful and aloof.



1917: Pin-Up Propaganda
2014-10-30-Howard_Chandler_Christy__Gee_I_wish_I_were_a_Man_Id_Join_the_Navy__Google_Art_Project.jpg
By Howard Chandler Christy, via Wikipedia Commons
During World War I, American President Woodrow Wilson formed the Division of Pictorial Publicity to stir up patriotism and inspire new troops to fight. One of the main tropes of said posters included pretty women, often dressed in sexy military ensembles and announcing messages like "Gee, I Wish I Was A Man Man. I’d Join the Navy," and "Be a Man and Do It." Not the most subtle.



1920s: Those Roaring '20s
flap
Where there's smoke there's fire by Russell Patterson, via Wikipedia Commons
With their partners away at war, women in the 1920s had tasted freedom and weren't willing to let it go. The jazz age brought with it shortened hems, spiked illegal alcohol, bobbed hair and a heightened sense of youthful rebellion. The free-spirited flapper generation was wild, free and eager to show some skin. Artists like Rolf Armstrong responded to the trend, dressing his pin-up girls all the more scantily as well.



1940s: Psychologically Perfected Propaganda
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By Earl Moran (c) Brown & Bigelow, via Taschen Books
World War II captured the pinnacle of pin-ups, as carefully designed by the U.S. government to boost morale by presenting an all-American view of the sweetheart waiting for him -- the girls worth fighting for. These pin-up photos were found pasted inside barracks, hung in submarines, and tucked into soldiers' pockets.



1950s: People Realize Sex Sells
sex
By Peter Driben, via Taschen Books
Soon the erotic tactics employed for war advertising were extended to all advertising, as first actualized by Madison Avenue in the 1950s and 1960s.



1953: Playboy Is Born
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By Gil Elvgren (c) Brown & Bigelow, via Taschen Books
Hugh Hefner launched his notorious nudie mag, using pin-up magazines as his muse, yet aware that the future of the female image lied in photography. By 1955, most magazines looked more like Playboy than the pin-up covers so popular ten years before. Once the magazine had surpassed the pin-up in popularity, there wasn't as pressing a need to preserve the women's innocence. The images weren't above the bed, but in the garage.



1978: The Collecting Begins
pin
Zoe Mozert. Mitchell Mehdy Collection, via Taschen Books
Right when pop culture at large was losing interest in pin-ups, Charles Martignette was finally growing old enough to purchase them. Martignette, who'd begun lusting after pin-ups at only eight years old, acquired his first at 27, and spent the 1980s buying up all he could. The obsessive fellow amassed a 4,300-piece collection of pin-up artworks. They were stored in warehouses and never exhibited.



1980s and 1990s: Pin-Ups Get Artsy
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Zoe Mozert painting Jane Russell for The Outlaw film poster, via Taschen Books
Pin-ups emerged from their neglected state thanks to an exhibition organized by Louis Meisel in 1982 and the publication of "The Great American Pin-up" in 1996.



2008: The Collection Disperses
pin
By Enoch Bolles, via Taschen Books
Martignette died unexpectedly of a heart attack in 2008, at which time his extensive 4,300-piece collection was passed on to the Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas. It took 12 auctions over four years to disband the massive compendium, the largest collection of surviving original pin-up art. Pin-up artworks were removed from the warehouse and free to exist as they were always intended to -- where they could be pinned up.

Information and images for this timeline came courtesy of Taschen's "The Art of Pin-up." Check out our earlier coverage of the book here.

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Meet The Working Mother Taking Her Pregnancy Discrimination Case To The Supreme Court

WASHINGTON -- When Peggy Young became pregnant in 2006, she had every intention of continuing to work delivering packages for UPS in Maryland. At the urging of the company's occupational health manager, Young visited her doctor to obtain a note detailing any work restrictions she might need. Her doctor recommended that she not lift more than 20 pounds for the first 20 weeks of her pregnancy.

Based on the doctor's note, UPS placed Young on unpaid leave, an all too common experience for women nationwide. Although UPS often put workers with other conditions on light duty, it told Young that such accommodations wouldn't apply to an "off-the-job" condition such as her pregnancy. Not only would she lose her income, she would have to suddenly switch to her husband's health insurance plan, changing the hospitals at which she could potentially give birth.

"I wanted to work," Young told The Huffington Post. "I all but begged for them to let me work."

The unborn child Young was carrying in 2006 is now a 7-year-old girl named Trinity. Young no longer works for UPS, but she's still fighting the shipping giant for denying her accommodations while she was pregnant. Young sued UPS alleging discrimination, and her case, Young v. UPS, is now before the Supreme Court, with oral arguments expected in December.

If the policy enforced on Young in 2006 doesn't seem particularly enlightened, UPS itself would seem to agree. In a memo sent to employees this week, the company announced that it will begin offering light duty to pregnant workers on Jan. 1, the Washington Post reported Wednesday. The turnaround puts UPS in the peculiar position of defending before the Supreme Court a policy that it is already walking away from.

In a brief filed last Friday, UPS maintains that its decision to deny Young an accommodation was "lawful at the time it was made," a position it reiterated to HuffPost. The company said it decided to alter the policy to respond in part to new guidelines from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which investigates workplace discrimination.

"Laws have been changing, and there's a growing consensus looking at best practices," said Kara Gerhardt Ross, a UPS spokeswoman. "We want to provide good benefits. We saw this as a good thing for our employees."

Even though it may now be moot for UPS's own workforce, Young's case could have far-reaching consequences for working women throughout the country. The underlying question is whether or not the Pregnancy Discrimination Act compels companies to offer light-duty options to pregnant workers if they already do so for non-pregnant workers in other situations. The 1978 law, which amended the Civil Rights Act, forbids companies from treating pregnant workers differently from workers who are "similar in their ability or inability to work."

UPS maintains that its leave policy was pregnancy "neutral," treating workers like Young no better or worse than their colleagues who aren't pregnant. The circumstances under which UPS drivers were entitled to light duty, the company notes in its argument, were laid out in a collective bargaining agreement with the Teamsters union. Under that agreement, the company didn't have to provide temporary accommodations to workers with "off-the-job injuries or conditions," unless it was a cognitive disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Ultimately, the company argues, the policy "treats a lifting restriction resulting from pregnancy in exactly the same way" as, say, a "back injury sustained off the job."

Young's legal team says the policy violated the "plain language" of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, deeming the company's off-the-job distinction irrelevant. They note that the law includes no exceptions for a "pregnancy-blind" reason to deny a pregnant worker accommodations. If the company is willing to provide light duty to other workers, then it has to grant them to pregnant workers, they argue.

"If a person wasn't pregnant but was injured on the job and had the same restrictions, UPS would have provided an accommodation," Sam Bagenstos, a lawyer for Young and a professor at the University of Michigan Law School, told HuffPost shortly before UPS announced its policy change. "UPS actually accommodates a very large swath of its drivers who have lifting restrictions, but not for workers whose restrictions result from pregnancy."

Bagenstos said the case is more likely to affect women in low-wage and manual-labor jobs than anything else. After all, women in higher-paying, white-collar positions generally don't have to worry about heavy lifting in the course of their job duties, and are therefore less likely to find themselves having to request light duty from their employer.

Given the stakes of the case, a broad and rather unusual coalition of stakeholders have lined up behind Young. Those filing briefs in her support include not only a host of women's rights organizations and the American Civil Liberties Union, but also the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce and 23 pro-life groups. The interest of the pro-life crowd is obvious. As the groups note in their brief, "economic pressure is a significant factor in many women’s decision to choose abortion over childbirth."

Ariela Migdal, a lawyer handling pregnancy discrimination cases at the ACLU, said the ideological diversity of Young's alliance is an asset for her.

"They kind of came together around this because it offends many people to think workplaces should be forcing pregnant workers to make horrible choices," Migdal said.

Now 42 years old and a mother of three, Young works for a government contractor outside of Washington, D.C. Eight years after becoming pregnant with Trinity, she still has the same lawyer, Sharon Fast Gustafson, who pressed UPS to accommodate her pregnancy in 2006.

Last year, Young and Gustafson celebrated Maryland's passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a law that requires the state's employers to make reasonable accommodations for their pregnant employees. Similar laws have been passed in other states since Young first filed her case, and a federal version has been championed by Democrats in Congress, though it hasn't passed either the House or Senate yet.

Despite the progress that has been made, Young said that both the law and corporate America have plenty more catching up to do.

"It's not just about me; it's about all women considering becoming pregnant," Young said. "You're not pregnant forever, and a lot of families these days need both their incomes. I think if hard-working women want to work and become pregnant, then we should let them."

Petition Against Victoria’s Secret ‘Perfect Body’ Campaign Gathers …

The 6 Most Basic Bra Rules You Probably Didn’t Know

If you've never been fitted for a bra by a specialist, you should speed-read this article, run to the nearest lingerie retailer and make an appointment.

Truth time: More likely than not, you're wearing the wrong size bra. Yes, bras are expensive and yes, they aren't the most comfortable article of clothing, but the perfect bra can have a profound effect on how you look and feel. That first-layer is crucial; it's worth it to spend the time and money on some quality lingerie.

After a recent fitting, we've come to realize there are a few general bra rules that most women probably don't know about.

Let's celebrate the last day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and revamp those undergarments! And hey, we bet your significant others wouldn't be opposed to some new delicates.

1. Bras will never be a comfortable clothing item.
They're not sweats, people. More likely than not, your bra isn't too tight. Its primary function is to support your breasts, so it's supposed to be firmly hugging your torso. As a general rule of thumb, you should be able to stick no more than 2 fingers between your back and the bra strap.

bra

2. Clasp those babies.
To preserve your bras, be sure to CLASP them while they live in your underwear/bra drawer. Leaving them unclasped allows other garments to get caught on the closures, which can potentially rip or pull both articles of clothing.

3. You should definitely have more than one bra.
Bras are like underwear -- you should have more than one pair and rotate them. Answer this: Do you wear the same pair of underwear multiple times a week?

bras

4. Be aware of the gore.
The center of the bra that connects the cups in front is called a gore. The gore should lie flat against your sternum without any gaps between your body and the bra.

5. HAND WASH YOUR BRAS.
No dryers and no dry cleaners... there's no way around it, people. It doesn't have to be every day, but hand washing will maximize the life expectancy of your delicates.

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6. Your bra size is subject to change.
You are most likely a different bra size at various undergarment stores. Just like clothes and shoes, bra sizes run differently.

#BeenRapedNeverReported Trending On Twitter As Women Share Stories Of Sexual Violence

A powerful hashtag trended on Twitter on Thursday night as victims of sexual violence who had never reported their attacks spoke out in solidarity with women who were not believed when they came forward about their rapes.

The hashtag, #BeenRapedNeverReported, appears to have been started by Antonia Zerbisias, a writer for The Toronto Star who has been tweeting in support of actress Lucy DeCoutere.

DeCoutere is one of nine women to accuse former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi of sexual violence, and one of two to publicly come forward. Her accusations led to the rise of the #ibelievelucy hashtag. Tweeting in support of DeCoutere and other women who have come forward with stories of their own, Zerbias started the #BeenRapedNeverReported hashtag:

#ibelievelucy #ibelievewomen And yes, I've been raped (more than once) and never reported it. #BeenRapedNeverReported

— Antonia Zerbisias (@AntoniaZ) October 30, 2014


If all women who've been raped stepped out of our shame & shared, we would make the stigma go away! #BeenRaped#NeverReported #ibelievelucy

— Antonia Zerbisias (@AntoniaZ) October 30, 2014


Other women quickly joined in and their tweets were both harrowing and heartbreaking:

Hard to admit this hashtag relates to me. Was so close to getting away; still see my hand on the doorknob sometimes. #beenrapedneverreported

— Ann Davenport (@ann_davenport_) October 31, 2014


Being raped was horrible. Trying to report it & then being made to feel it was my fault was worse. #beenrapedneverreported

— kittypoet (@kittypoet) October 31, 2014


I had already lost my childhood, my virginity and my self worth I was afraid, and I didn't want to lose any more. #BeenRapedNeverReported

— Gabrielle Miller (@MillerGabrielle) October 31, 2014


#beenrapedneverreported a guy tried to rape me at McGill, saved when roommate walked in. Thx for everyone's honesty here

— Susan Swan (@swanscribe) October 31, 2014


Black women rarely report rape because this nation has been taught that we are UnRapeable #BeenRapedNeverReported http://t.co/uFXZ7x1jrY

— ♿Persephone Jones♿ (@galvezmiro) October 31, 2014


If you're nervous to post to #BeenRapedNeverReported, yes it's terrifying, but equally liberating and powerful. Set the shame free.

— Nadine Silverthorne (@scarbiedoll) October 31, 2014


Some men, including author Neil Gaiman, tweeted their words of support and empathy:

Reading the #BeenRapedNeverReported hashtag. It's hard reading. Makes me slightly ashamed to be human & much more ashamed to be male.

— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) October 31, 2014


#BeenRapedNeverReported is trending in #SF. Not sure I've got the courage & strength to check that hashtag. Need to find them somehow.

— SF Bud (@SF_Bud) October 31, 2014


I believe you.
It's not your fault.
You have options.
I'm here for you.
I stand with you. #BeenRapedNeverReported

— tim (@tim2pt0) October 30, 2014


This is one of the most powerful hashtags i've ever read #BeenRapedNeverReported Please read and do all you can to prevent this in future.

— Josh Elman (@joshelman) October 31, 2014


Visit Twitter to read more #BeenRapedNeverReported tweets.

Couple With 12 Sons Expecting Another Child; Will Baby Number 13 Be A Girl?

Kateri and Jay Schwandt, the Michigan couple who have 12 sons, are expecting another child. Will baby number 13 mark the end of their all-boy streak?

The couple says they’re not holding their breath.

“I just don’t think it’s in the cards,” Jay told WXMI recently of their daughter-bearing odds.

Last year, the Schwandts made headlines when their 12th child -- Tucker -- was born. The couple said at the time that though they'd been hoping for a girl, they were thrilled when their “perfect baby” was born.

“If we were to have a girl, I think we would go into shock,” Kateri, 39, told Grand Rapids Press after announcing her most recent pregnancy. “It would probably be disbelief.”

Although the odds seem stacked against them, Jay says he would love to have a daughter if he had a choice in the matter.

“I’ve experienced all the boy stuff,” he told the Grand Rapids Press. “As long as we are having all these children, it would be really neat to experience the other side.”

Kateri, however, seems slightly more hesitant.

“Why change things up?” she said to WXMI. “At this point, at this stage in the game, a little girl, we’d have to re-learn everything.”

The Schwandts’ 12 sons range in age from 15 months to 22 years. Kateri, who “loves being pregnant,” has said that juggling such a huge family can be challenging at times, but the family makes it work by sharing the load.

Baby number 13 is expected on May 9, WXMI reports. The couple says they plan to follow their tradition of not finding out the baby’s gender until he or she is born.

According to CNN, the odds of a couple having 13 sons in a row is about 1 in 8,000. That, says the news outlet, is about the same odds as having natural triplets.

Stories you might have missed this week

Victoria's Secret under fire for perfect body campaign, the new airline seat that could change the way you fly and the best sex positions for a bad back are among the quirky or offbeat stories you may have missed this week.

3 Breast Cancer Survivors: Stories on Faith, Hope and Purpose

In life you may come across a strong, bold, beautiful and courageous woman. One who inspires, motivates and has a zeal for life. These three extraordinary women are inspiring to me, women in general and to breast cancer patients/survivors. In the midst of their darkest hours, these women decided to opt for a fighter mentality instead of a defeated one. To them, life was worth fighting for, as it's a precious gift from God. Each survivor will share their story, key survival mechanisms, what they are up to in the world today, and will end with some words of encouragement. Meet Bershan Shaw, Robin Devonish Scott and Taneeka Brown.

Bershan Shaw

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Her Story:

In 2007 at just 33 years old, Bershan's dreams were abruptly eclipsed by the cold, hard reality of 1.2 cm tumors, endless visits to oncologists and having to face her own mortality at a young age. Bershan decided to face her illness head on, with a positive spirit, and with support from her family and her husband. To protect herself from infertility, she opted for radiation treatment instead of chemotherapy. All was well for a short while, but two years the cancer returned. Two weeks before her wedding, her doctors gave the bleak diagnosis: stage four breast cancer with six to nine months left to live. It appeared her fight was over.

The warrior in Bershan had been tested many times in her 33 years. But when she was told her cancer was unbeatable, and it was time to set her affairs in order, the warrior inside her rose up to meet the impossible with a spirit of hopeful defiance. Bershan leveled a steady gaze at her team of grieving oncologists and replied, "This is not my life. I will not die, because I was meant for more." True to her word, Bershan has done much more. Rather than living in the shadow of a stage four cancer diagnoses, Bershan chose to work tirelessly on her mental, physical and spiritual health. Seven years later, she is cancer-free (no evidence of disease).

3 Survival Mechanisms:

Prayer. "God is my all in all. I got on my knees and prayed if God keeps me alive then he could use me as a vessel to help millions."

Positive affirmations. "I say positive affirmations everyday nine times a day because it sticks in your head. Endless good comes to me in endless ways."

Eating healthy and exercising. "You have to eat healthy and take control of your mind and body. I changed my thoughts and attitude, which changed my life. Change your diet and make changes for the better because your body is your temple."

Her life today:

Bershan is a life coach, author and motivational speaker. Determined to be a blessing to others, she started a unique social network support site, URAWarrior.com. The site offers those struggling with life altering issues a safe, supportive place where they can find connection, comfort, inspiration, and above all, hope for a brighter tomorrow. Bershan is also the author of URAWARRIOR 365 Ways to Challenge You to a Better Life.

Words of encouragement:

Embrace your warrior spirit and "step into your greatness" and turn your pain into your purpose. Live life with no regrets because when you're done, you're done.

Robin Devonish Scott

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Her Story:

One day Robin felt a lump in her breast and arm pit, but she just associated with her menstrual cycle. After a series of examinations, Robin was diagnosed with stage IIB cancer in 2009. After hearing these three words from her doctor "you have cancer," Robin immediately started to cry uncontrollably as her husband Rory comforted her. Robin went through chemotherapy for six months, and radiation for seven weeks. During the times she experienced physical weakness, and the loss of her hair, she realized her circumstance changed her views and thoughts on life (for the better of course). She began to experience life through a different lens, becoming more empathetic and more spiritually in tune. The support of her friends, husband and church family kept her going during this difficult time.

Most importantly, she learned the importance of being humble. She stated, "Cancer has a funny way of stripping and humbling you in ways not otherwise imagined." She has been breast cancer free since her initial diagnosis in 2009.

3 Survival Mechanisms:

Focus on what's important. A lot of what we think and do is really not as important as living a life of purpose that is designed by God.

Learn to let things and people go. Learn to release the hurt and the people that have hurt you. Most people don't know they have hurt you so just let go, heal from it and move on.

Prayer. Prayer is talking; prayer is purging; prayer is cleansing; prayer allows you to forgive; prayer allows you to obtain mercy; prayer is surrender; prayer is rejoicing; prayer is crying; but most of all, prayer is so necessary.

Her life today:

Robin is a coach and the Self Publishing Maven who helps her clients share and publish their stories. She also has a book "The Gift of Cancer" scheduled to be released on December 8, 2004. She hopes to leave a legacy of books and information for people to glean from, for decades to come.

Words of encouragement:

There is nothing like the possibility of death to make you know what you want to do in life. Don't wait until death is knocking to choose life. Choose it now and make the decision to live, in passion, on purpose and with a sense of urgency.

Taneeka Brown
2014-10-29-FullSizeRender3.jpg

Her Story:

In April 2007 she felt a lump in her right breast. At the time she was in between jobs, experienced an insurance lapse, and didn't know when the next one would begin. This was a terrifying time for her. Soon after she landed a temp job, and within 3-4 weeks her employer offered her a permanent position with insurance. Although she was afraid to get a mammogram, she kept a positive mindset and went anyway. After her examination, her doctor told her that she had stage 2 breast cancer. All she could ask her doctor at that point was, "Am I going to live?" and "What do I tell my kids?" After her appointment she remembers driving to her kid's school to pick them up and thinking she couldn't look at them, because she knew what they were about to face.

Long story short, the cancer over seven years advanced to stage 4 and has metastasized to her brain, lungs, kidney, liver, back, neck, and chest wall. She's had multiple surgeries bi-lateral mastectomy, 10-hour breast reconstruction, hysterectomy, and a brain tumor removal. She endured three bouts of radiation, one to the brain, breast, and chest wall. To her friends and family Taneeka is considered a true survivor, although her cancer isn't completely gone. She has been an inspiration to many as she has fought tenaciously for her life. There were times when the results looked grimed, but she fought to stay alive to raise her three children. To this day, doctors are shocked she is still alive.

3 Survival Mechanisms:

Prayer. Taneeka attributes her presence on earth today by the doing of God. She prays, reads the bible and attends church.

Speaking. She speaks at various breast cancer events sharing her story and testimony with breast cancer patients, which is therapeutic for her.

Creative outlets. Taneeka has always been a creative. She decided to start her own jewelry and shoes line.

Her life today:

Taneeka, along with her son John Cunningham Jr., started a non-profit called All So Pink, where breast cancer patients can craft and sell their creations. She is also a great mom and role model to her three children. They live in Orlando, Florida.

Words of encouragement:

Put your faith in God! He made a miracle out of my circumstance and can do the same for you.

I was moved to showcase these women in hopes that women would draw strength, courage, and hope from these stories. And to keep in mind that when your circumstance looks grim, keep a positive mindset, embrace the love and support from friends and family, and allow your faith to carry you through.

Please show your love and support for these women by commenting below.

Vanessa Cunningham is a Huffington Post contributor, nutrition & wellness expert of Unhealthy No More, Inc., best selling author, writer and speaker. She helps busy professionals reduce stress, banish unhealthy cravings, lose weight and increase their energy levels. She has also been featured on CNN iReport, Black Enterprise, Essence, MommyNoire, Everything Girls Love and MindBodyGreen. Head on over to her website to get your FREE gift "10 Ways to Live a Happy and Healthy Life."

My Wife Told Me She Wants to Cheat, Here’s How I Feel

When Elloa Atkinson confessed to the Internet that she wanted to cheat on her husband, the Internet went crazy. Here is her husband Nige's side of the story.

Elloa and Nige:

We had reservations about republishing this, originally shared on The Good Men Project, here. Therefore we'd like to say at the outset that there is no prescription here, no recommendation or suggestion about how other people "should" conduct themselves. We do our best to live by the principle of emotional responsibility which states that I am 100 percent responsible for my experience, as you are for yours. The concept of honesty is one part of this, and while it feels risky, it is, as our teachers Duane and Catherine O'Kane write, "far less risky than acting out." We share this story for the people who want to believe that vulnerability, as scary as it feels, is ultimately worth the risk.

Elloa:

I wrote a post about wanting to cheat on my husband, and it went viral. The response was mixed, the opinions passionate. The only voice that was noticeably absent was that of my husband, Nige.

This didn't seem right, but it did feel significant, symbolic of the collective vow of silence that today's men are living under.

While some people expressed their outrage that I would hurt my husband in this way, others shared either publicly or privately that they too have had these kind of thoughts, fantasies and yes, even obsessions. Still others protested that if a man were to speak about being attracted to women whilst in a relationship, he would be lambasted.

This conversation, sparked by my article, appears to be one we are ready to have. The next step was clear. It was time for Nige to speak.

***

Nige:

A few weeks ago, when Elloa disclosed her secret attraction, I felt like my stomach had been clamped in a vice. Then, as her confession came, an inward surge of Hulk-like anger, all too familiar. My thoughts were no different than some of the judgmental comments that appeared in reaction to her article on The Huffington Post. Let's face it: the ego always speaks first, and often cruelly.

The difference was, I know enough about this part of my mind not to voice my thoughts at this point. The first thing I have to do in these moments is take a breath, then another one, then another one. If I react now, it's game on for the ego, but game over for the relationship -- and I won't let the ego win, because it viciously guards a set of mistaken beliefs that drive me further and further away from the one thing I truly want the most: love.

Therefore, Elloa and I have a contract about disclosing our secrets and dark thoughts to each other. We both understand that secrets kill relationships, and see so many couples playing a long-term game of hide and seek with each other. In our marriage, we are determined to fully know and be known by the other, and that means having the kind of raw, honest conversation that Elloa's article described. The purpose of this is to go beyond the secret thought to the fear of who we are underneath, the fear that is driving that secret thought, desire or behavior.

Having this depth of honesty in our communication is not easy. It is scary, vulnerable and unpredictable.

Fortunately, we have enough tools in our relationship kitbag to be able to work through any form of upset in a safe and contained way, without using the other person as a dumping ground. The critical element in the whole process is the intention that we both set at the beginning.

We did what we always do in this situation, utilizing a therapeutic process (adapted from Clearmind International) that forms a core part of our relationship. The process gives permission to the reactive, raging part of my mind to unleash its fury for three solid minutes without any kind of reaction whatsoever from Ell. Crucial to the process is that she remains neutral, and that no physical boundaries are crossed whatsoever.

When the other person refuses to fight back but also stays the course and remains in a place of neutrality (not always easy to do), something amazing happens: the brutal, vicious attacking part of our mind gives way and we literally "drop" into our feelings. This is the place no man wants to go -- a pit of despair, self-loathing, shame and loneliness.

My anger, directed initially towards Elloa for her "disgusting" behavior, was really masking a deep wound that I have carried since I was a boy -- the belief that I in fact am completely inadequate and unloveable.


***


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The root of this belief lies in my childhood, during which I lost a testicle after being kicked by another boy and the subsequent taunting, which dogged me for most of my schooldays. I grew up believing I was a freak. I called myself the odd man out.

Fast forward 39 years and there I am with my wife, feeling 6 years old again: raw, exposed and vulnerable, with my head in my hands. I am terrified to look up, afraid she will reject me. In that moment, I feel deeply ashamed of who I am.

I know there is only one way through this shame -- I have to make contact. I have to let her see me, otherwise I'll just be an empty shell. If I don't let her into my world, then I'm doomed to walk this planet as a zombie, a man with a plastic smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes. And yet there is so much I want to say. Somehow, I have to take a risk and open up.

As a man, I haven't been taught by our society how to express my feelings. It's as taboo as wanting to cheat, forbidden in daily life and permissible only in the direst of circumstances. Even then, only a few tears are allowed before the words "man up" come into play.

Even now, after nearly three decades of inner work, speaking about how I feel often feels clumsy and awkward for me. However, experience has taught me not to listen to the shaming voice that tells me that I'm weak if I cry.

So on the day Ell told me about her crush, I let her hold me while my body shook and the tears poured out of me. I told her everything I fear I am and she just listened, just held me and let me let it all out.

Eventually, I came to a quieter place. The dam, once burst, doesn't gush water uncontrollably forever. The wave subsides. I am left with my beliefs.


***


After the outrage and attack, after the shame and the guilt, after the tears, there is a moment of true choice. This is the state from which I can change my mind, because here, I am open. Here, I am willing to accept help. I ask my wife, this woman who just a few minutes ago I thought was the cause of all my pain, to help me remember who I am.

And the truth comes back to me. I am not the odd man out. I never was. I am strong. I am worth loving. I am good. And nothing can be taken from me because I have everything I need within.

This is not a theoretical or intellectual knowing, it is an experience I inhabit when I work through, rather than dance around or avoid, my deepest fears. The function of my relationship isn't to avoid experiencing pain or the realization of my fears -- it is to give each other a soft place to land when one of us needs to show up, knowing that the healing is always twofold.

Elloa revealing her attraction therefore became a catalyst for me to expose a war wound that I carry on a daily basis and to do the work of changing my perception of myself. I do not do this work alone. I do it from a mindset of making conscious contact with my wife and with myself.

I'm a normal guy; I have thoughts of sexual attraction towards other women almost every day. Some are fleeting while others linger. It's the ones that linger that trouble me the most. But I know that with each attraction there is an opportunity -- often not as dramatic as this one -- to take a step closer to my wife, to myself and to being the type of man I want the world to know exists.

And that is why, in our household, my wife Elloa is always welcome to tell the truth, and why I tell mine in return.

Find out more from Nige Atkinson about breaking the vow of male silence.



Join Elloa Atkinson and develop a miracle mindset to see things differently.



Watch and learn Clearmind International's approach to emotional responsibility in From Crisis to Celebration.

7 Ways For Women to Win and Succeed in Business

1.You Can't Do Or Have It . One of the downfall of many business and professional women is the "Superwoman Complex." Once you hang up the Superwoman cape and the Wonderwoman belt and recognize and accept this fact, your job will get a whole lot easier. Every successful person needs a dedicated support team or at the very least a wing man or woman. You don't have to do everything yourself! Trust your team to do the work, after all that's what you hired them to do. If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner, a great way to expand your staff is by engaging college students as interns. They can provide that extra help when you need it. Additionally, don't rule out family and friends. And do not wait until a project is in jeopardy or you are on the verge of being burned out or a nervous breakdown. Remember that delegating empowers others and allows you to focus on the future as well as the big pictures.

2. Positive, Positive, Positive. A negative attitude will never yield positive results. Having a positive attitude helps you to succeed. Surround yourself with positive people who will encourage, inspire, support and motivate you. They will carry you through the tough days and cheer you on when you feel like giving up.

3. Add Humor To Your Work Research shows that laughter affects health, creativity, relationships and the quality of life. Poke fun at yourself, not at others. When your day gets too high-stress, lighten up! Lightening up the workplace reduces conflicts and stress and builds teamwork and productivity. Not to mention it's great for morale. Converting your staff and customers from unhappy to happy is good for business.

4. Keep Up With Current Events And News. Staying informed about what is happening in the world and in your local community is critical to your personal and professional development. No matter what business you are in, current events have an impact on your industry and your clients. Do not be caught off guard because you haven't taken ten minutes to read the morning paper. Daily papers are good sources of industry and corporate news, as well as contacts.

5. Be Generous To Your Community, Your Staff, And Yourself
Reward yourself and your employees for hard work and success. Take time to give back to your community through volunteer work and charitable contributions. Let this quote by Winston Churchill you -- "you make a living by what you do, but you make a life by what you give. Keep a brave heart and a beautiful spirit.

6 Become A Life-Long-Learner Learning and growing both personally and professionally is a lifelong process that drives our creativity, intelligence and ambition. Make it a priority to take courses and adopt new techniques that help you and your staff think out of the box. Innovation and reinvention are the order of the day. Set aside time for brainstorming and idea sharing. Most important, don't be afraid to try new things and introduce yourself to new people. When you forego investments in yourself and your staff, you run the risk of allowing complacency to take root. How many times have you found yourself staring at the messy piles of paper in your office? Make sure to invest in an organizer to help clean your space. You will find this will lead to greater efficiency. Check out Napo.net (National Association of Professional Organizers). They offer a list of certified and reputable organizers like Hub Neat Organizer and Charles River Organizers both of whom are in my hometown. I am using them to help me better organize my office and my home.

7. Stop And Smell The Roses Take a minute for yourself every day. Get some exercise, read a good book, take a hot bath or socialize with friends and family. Your work is important, but it is not everything in life. Appreciate all that life has to offer, and your energy will radiate at work, at home and through everything you do.

Ghoul Power!

Picking out a Halloween costume can be tough, especially for modern, socially conscious women and womyn. How many times have you found yourself standing in the Super Halloween Emporium looking at row after row of $40 costumes made out of thin tissue paper and toxic glue thinking, "Gee, I'd really like to look like a cheap male fantasy, but isn't there a way I can do that while also promoting Female Empowerment?" Well, my uterus owner, hang on to your rhinestone encrusted broomstick, because now the answer is YES!

Yes, ladies, this year you can look both SEXY and SMART on All Hallow's Eve! Stand up for women's rights while sportin' more boobage than an underage Reno, Nevada Craigslist escort! This Halloween, look like you're turnin' Tricks while you're actually Treatin' womankind!

PRESENTING THE HALLO-WOMEEN COSTUME COLLECTION

Choose from:

Smokin' Hot Nuclear Physicist

Sexy Ass Social Worker

Leggy Criminal Rights Attorney

The U.S. Secretary of Skank

Bangin' Body Brenda, the PBS Documentarian

The CEO of Cleavage, Inc.

Dirty Guurll Governor

Trashy Tina the Fulbright Scholar

Horny Human Rights Activist

Vicky Vajayjay, PhD

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10 Lessons I’ve Learned as a Work-at-Home Mom

After I had my daughter, I felt the need to devote myself entirely to her. I became a stay-at-home mom and did just that. While my husband worked, I stayed home with our baby and nursed her, read to her, dangled toys in front of her, and took care of all of her needs while also taking care of our home. I was exhausted, but I also felt like something was missing in my life. I longed for assignments, to-do lists, and a little extra cash in my pocket. I realized that while motherhood enriches my life in myriad ways, it was still just one piece of my fulfillment as a woman and mother. So around the time my daughter turned a year old, I started working from home.

In online mom speak, I made the shift from SAHM to WAHM. Here are a few lessons I've learned along the way:

1. Being a work-at-home mom sometimes makes me feel like I've found this secret loophole in which I get to enjoy my kid but still get paychecks. For this I am utterly grateful.

2. If you work from home, you still need some kind of child care, or else both your work and parenting will suffer. The amount depends on your work commitment, ranging from working while a spouse or partner comes home, to nanny shares, to sending your child to day care.

3. Some people might think that because you're home, you should still be the person taking care of your home. But kids, work, and housework are a lot to handle! It can be hard to admit, but sometimes you need extra help. I wrote about this subject in my post, "I Hired a Maid and I Have No Regrets."

4. One of my job perks is having impromptu hugs whenever I want.

5. Not everyone understands what it means to work from home; some people think it means you can drop everything, any day, any time. In reality, you have deadlines and assignments you might have to work on every day like any other working parent.

6. Conference calls can always be muted if your toddler rushes into your office singing "Let It Go" at the top of her lungs.

7. Work-at-home moms need a dedicated office space in their home -- and don't even think a kitchen table is a suitable replacement. When I'm super busy and when I have someone watching my toddler, the most important feature of my office is the door. Because I know time is scarce, I can look at anything before me with hyper focus as long as I have a bit of peace.

8. My peak work hours are nap time, the evening after a spouse or partner comes home, and after my kid's bedtime. If you work during times that would normally be "family time," you have to work extra hard to achieve balance. I spend dinner with my husband and daughter because it's the only meal where she can spend time with both of us. Likewise, I will step away from my desk before bedtime so that we can all relax together.

9. Just because you work from home doesn't mean you aren't held to the same standards as any in-office professional. If you don't get the work done, you are not going to be employed very long.

10. Motherhood endows you with incredible multi-tasking skills, so you can handle various facets of work simultaneously. You also know that your hours are limited so you might finally be able to break that procrastination habit -- I know I did.

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If you like my writing, check out my latest post, I Hired a Maid and I Have No Regrets or find me at jaymiranda.com
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