Photo By: Brian Rouble of Shuttered Moments
Aka ‘Can I Really Lose Inches Using A Corset?’
After tons of research (click here to check out part 1 of this series) I made my decision on which corset to buy. I chose a size 22 (5.5 inches smaller than my natural waist) black satin underbust corset with 24 flat and spiral steel bones. Although there were cheaper options, all my research had lead me to realize that if I was serious about waist training then it would be difficult to find a corset that was going to be effective for under $100 USD. So, I invested.
Here is what happened over the next two weeks (including before & after photos and a special Free Your V discount code from Alter Ego Clothing for those of you who are in the market for your own corset!):
When I first tried on the corset I immediately saw a difference in my figure. I had a 27.5 inch waist at the time, and I saw my figure reduced instantly before my eyes. Although the difference appeared to be drastic while looking in the mirror, it was actually only a 1.5 inch difference when I measured my waist in the corset.
I had to fight the urge to do up the corset as tight as I possibly could, but during my research on corset training I had learned that it was important not to tighten my corset past 2 inches of reduction during the first 2 weeks of corset training. The first 3 weeks of wearing your corset is referred to as seasoning and it protects your new corset from being damaged. I found this fantastic graphic detailing the corset seasoning process in Waist Training 101 group on Facebook.
The easiest way to explain the seasoning process is to equate your new corset to a new pair of stilettos. When you first put them on, they look fabulous and you feel sexy! However, if you were to wear them for the next 12 hours straight, on your feet, with no breaks, chances are you would end up very uncomfortable, with big blisters on your heels, and no interest in putting your stilettos on again the next day. The same idea applies to a new corset.
I thought that the first would not be difficult, but I will admit, that I was happy to take the corset off that evening. Although it was not uncomfortable to wear in general, I spent that evening at a hockey game, alternating between sitting and standing up to cheer, while stuffing myself with popcorn. The restriction of the corset made the overeating process less appealing, which was likely a good thing. Who needs an extra large bag of popcorn to themselves anyways?
I wore my corset for 2-3 hours each day, while working. I managed to hide it under my clothing, without anyone noticing (as far as I know). What they did notice is how ‘fit’ I was. I got a ton of compliments on my figure (from men and women) and felt particularly confident.
When I took my corset off each day there were slight indentations in my skin, but nothing more than a tight part of pants would cause on my thighs.
Although I had been a healthy eater before starting to wear my corset, but wearing something tight while eating made me more aware of how much I was eating. There was no question that I was eating less during the meals when I was corseted, than the ones when I wasn’t. I also tended to choose items that were lighter; I was more likely to go with additional veggies on my plate then rice.
I will be honest, my lower back started to hurt near the end of the max seasoning time each day. I was concerned at first, as the pain would go away almost as soon as I took off the corset. The pain was only happening when I was sitting down. By the end of the first week I realized that was happening… I had better posture while wearing the corset and that was making my back muscles fight against the new position. As the days went on this discomfort began to fade.
The more I wore my corset the more comfortable I found it to be. The constant compliments from friends, colleagues, and strangers helped me to forge onward on the days where I wanted to take it off early. Although the lower back pain was almost gone by this point, I did began to notice other small annoyances, the worst of which was the increased gas and burping that I would get after meals when I wore my corset.
However, I also began to notice some really exciting changes. I lost an inch off my waist in the first 2 weeks. Although I did exercise (but NOT while wearing the corset- that’s just dangerous!), I did not exercise any more often than I did before wearing my corset. I did eat less during the meals when I was wearing a corset, but those meals were only once or twice a day, so I don’t think that the reduced diet alone can be to blame for the inch loss. Overall, I think that the combination of diet, exercise, and corset wearing had equal benefits.
Corset training clearly works, but it is certainly not easy. It takes self control to not over tighten or wear your corset for too long during the seasoning process. You need to be disciplined in order to wear the corset on a daily basis. Corset users also have to be willing to deal with a degree of discomfort (but this does reduce over time). And, like all forms of weight reduction, you need to be patient for the effects to occur. .
I am quite happy with the results that I achieved in 2 weeks and am looking forward to what will happen to my waist as I continue to train!
Hey lady! Where is that special Free Your V discount code from Alter Ego Clothing that you promised us?!?
Here it is: all you have to do it put in the code freeyourv when you go through the check out process on Alter Ego’s website. Be sure to check out their signature product, the Waist Trainer Steel Boned Corset.
Alter Ego Clothing Discount Code Corset Waist Training
I will be documenting my waist training journey for Free Your V. Click here to check out the other articles on corset waist training!
This guest poster is not a doctor, nor is she advocating that anyone try corseting before weighing the decision with a medical professional. While some medical professionals say that wearing a corset has no risks, others say that the risks are the same as wearing other constrictive devices, such as Spanx or skinny jeans; skin irritation and restriction to the area. Free Your V decided to post this series after reading Dr. Ann Beaumont‘s take on modern corset use:
“The corset controversy spans centuries, as it had defenders in both camps. Opponents cited that dislodged organs caused various health issues, and proponents who claimed that even the most extreme forms of lacing were without consequence for health. As evidence was never gathered in a scientific manner, it is difficult, but not impossible, to find a relationship between the two.”
aka What the hell is “female ejaculate?!”
You may have seen it in porn, or you may have experienced it yourself: the expelling of copious amounts of liquid through the urethra during orgasm, generally after the stimulation of the front wall of the vagina (aka the “G spot”).
Otherwise known as “squirting”.
The female sexual experience seems to be much more convoluted than the male sexual experience - large parts of our experience is hidden from view, for starters. It is surprising, therefore, that there is controversy surrounding the phenomenon of “female ejaculation”: here is a very visible sign of the sexual experience, and we still aren’t sure what it is or how it is produced! Because there are so many theories out there, we thought we would break them down.
Theory 1: Squirting is Urine
The fluid that is squirted comes from the urethra, so it makes sense that it could be urine. Since urine comes from the bladder, one recent study conducted pelvic ultrasound scans on 7 women after they peed, and during sexual stimulation (both before and after squirting). They found that during sexual stimulation, the recently emptied bladder filled very rapidly, and was empty again after squirting occurred.
To be sure, urine samples were analyzed before sexual stimulation, and after squirting occurred. Urine contains urea, ceratinine, and uric acid: all of which were found in both the samples taken before sexual stimulation, and the squirted fluid. However, prostatic-specific antigen (PSA), a compound secreted by the Skene’s glands (which are often referred to as the “female prostate”), was also found in the squirted fluids of 5/7 of the women.
Why this theory is problematic:
- Many women and their partners report that the fluid that is squirted during orgasm does not smell, look, or taste like urine.
- Women say the sensation of squirting feels nothing like voiding their bladder
- The study used only 7 women - that is a very small sample size
Although the sample size is small, the evidence is extremely convincing. The bladder was empty, filled up again very rapidly, and then was empty again.
Where did all that fluid go, if not out through the urethra?
The fact that the squirted fluid doesn’t smell, look, or taste like urine could be due to the fact that it is extremely diluted - the bladder fills so quickly that there isn’t time for the waste to accumulate in the urine. The highly diluted urine is mixed with PSA from the Skene’s glands when it exits the urethra, which could also contribute to the differing taste and smell.
Theory 2: Squirting is not Urine
The Skenes glands. (Photo from here)
Some studies purport that the fluid squirted during sexual stimulation is produced in the Skene’s glands (the female prostate), and is not, in fact, urine.
According to this study, the glands have long ducts that lead to the urethra. This leads to the possibility that the fluid squirted during sexual stimulation could have been produced in these glands, and travel to the urethra to be ejaculated. In this case, the squirted fluid would be mostly prostate secretions like PSA.
Why this theory is problematic:
- The Skene’s glands are very small - it is unlikely they could produce and store the amount of fluid that is often squirted
As this OB/GYN states:
the Skene’s glands are tiny, about the size of a pea, and are just not physiologically capable of producing any more than a few milliliters of fluid at best
Although the wet spots many women experience are due to the secretions from the Skene’s glands, it seems unlikely that the copious amounts of liquid some women squirt could be produced from these tiny glands.
Theory 3: “Female Ejaculate” is Not Urine, but “Squirt” IS
This theory is mostly semantics. Some studies say that there needs to be a distinction made between the secretions that come from the Skene’s glands, and the large amounts of squirted fluid that comes from the urethra during sexual stimulation.
One study explains:
“…female ejaculation is the release of a very scanty, thick, and whitish fluid from the female prostate, while the squirting is the expulsion of a diluted fluid from the urinary bladder”
Secretions from Skene’s glands = female ejaculate (likely named since the Skene’s glands are often called the “female prostate”): milky, whitish, small quantity.
Squirted fluid = dilute urine: clear, larger quantity.
WHY DO WE CARE?
What do we even want to answer the question: “what is squirting”?
- Many women feel inadequate because they cannot squirt. Understanding what squirting really is might help them realize that it isn’t the magical unicorn of sexual experience.
- In our mind, more research is needed about the female sexual experience in general, so we see this research as a step in the right direction.
That being said, we don’t NEED to care.
If you squirt - is it pleasurable? Is it fun?
Then who cares what the chemical composition of the squirt is, or where it comes from?!
In fact, if it is diluted urine, does that make it any less a part of the sexual experience? (As in: “Oh, it’s just pee. That’s not sexy.”) No, of course not. It is no grosser or more weird than semen.
If it’s pleasurable and fun, keep squirtin! (If it bothers you, or you think it might be indicative of other physiological problems, see your doctor!) If you have never squirted, don’t worry, you’re not any less of a sexual creature.
My bra size measures at 30G.
Yes, G as in Gigantic!
Okay, that is likely not what it really stands for, but it sure feels like it does when I have to buy a new bra.
I want you to take a moment to think about what what you think someone who has 30G breasts looks like. If you’re like the majority of people (men and women) you’re likely picturing a buxom pornstar-esque Barbie type who has trouble standing up straight because of her giant funbags. Well, I can assure you that they look nothing like the world’s largest breasts, which are 32Z and belong to German nude model Beshine. They actually look just like this:
They look pretty normal don’t they? I bet your even beginning to question if they are even that size. Well, that’s because I am wearing a bra that fits properly!
I was one of them, and chances are that you are too. I first suspected that my 34D bra might not be quite right when I got the photos back from a boudoir photoshoot. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the photos, but when I started to take a closer look, I noticed a few odd things.
The band was too big. See that sneaky thumb that is in the middle of the bra? It’s not some attempt at a sexy hand position, it’s there to hold that bad boy down! Without the thumb, when I tried to pose, my bra would lift away from my rib cage, giving the photographer a view of a lot more than I intended (sorry!).
The cups were too small. Looking at this photo now, I am surprised that I did not end up with a nip slip. The cup is barely covering my nipples. That was just an accident waiting to happen.
No seriously, the cups were way too small! Do you see all the boob out the side of that bra? That’s definitely not how a bra is supposed to look.
I was one of the 40% of women that were wearing both the wrong band size AND the wrong cup size (the other 40% are only making one of those mistakes).
Even though Free Your V is a big fan of boudoir photos, I am not saying that everyone should go get them done in order to get an objective look at your bra. Instead, head to your local specialty bra shop. I chose Marianne’s boutique in Ottawa, Canada after reading some rave reviews. I was surprised when the bra consultant gave me a bra to try on without measuring me. All of my experiences at the big chain retailers (where I my got my totally wrong sized bra in the first place) had involved a tape measure being used over my clothing (and over the bra that I already had one). Thinking back now, it’s no wonder the measurements were so far off! Still, I asked this consultant why she was not going to measure me and I was pleasantly surprised to here the following response:
And she certainly knew my shape. The first bra she gave me was nearly a perfect fit, and the second one fit like a dream. When I informed her I was hoping to find a bra that wasn’t beige (let’s be honest, ‘big’ bras don’t have the best reputation for being cute not sexy) she inquired about my budget and the types of clothes that I wear before presenting me with some beautiful choices.
While I was shocked to see that my purchases were all size 30G, I eventually got over the shock of that size and focused on the fit. For weeks I had been going to the well known lingerie stores, only to leave empty handed when I found that I was continually busting out of their bras. But, that day, I left the boutique with a big smile and a positive attitude towards buying a bigger sized bra. The next few days were the first time in a long time that I happily wore a ‘real bra’ all day, rather than switching to a sports bra as soon as possible in order to be more comfortable. It turns out, wearing the right size makes wearing a bra significantly more comfortable.
My advice, to both big busted ladies and their smaller chested sisters, is to go to a specialty lingerie store for a fitting. Maybe you’ll still end up fitting into the typical sizes that the chain stores carry, but at least you’ll know what size is truly right for you.
The Importance of Safe Words in BDSM Play
One of the best known things surrounding BDSM is the safe word. In kinky circles, the use and necessity of safe words are often debated. In this article, we will take a look at safe words, whether you need them and when to use them. This isn’t meant to cover all instances of safe word use, nor all the subtleties involved, but simply to give a general overview.
The easiest way to let your partner know what’s going on with you is to communicate in plain language. Checking in and communicating is essential to many play scenes. People should feel able to talk to their partners during a scene: to talk about how they are feeling and indicate if something is wrong. However, there are times when this is not possible or appropriate, which is when safe words (or signals) come into play.
If you are engaging in consensual non-consent (CNC) or resistance play, you may want to use a safe word.
CNC and resistance play can refer to scenes where the Top ‘forces’ the bottom to perform activities, and the bottom resists (verbally or physically). These activities are negotiated beforehand, so the resistance is more role-play than genuine distress.
Safe words allow partners to engage in this type of play, where the bottom may be saying ‘no’ or ‘stop’. The Top then knows that they can continue in their actions, even overcoming resistance, without having to figure out if the bottom really wants them to stop. If the safe word is used, the Top then knows to check in and find out what the bottom wants or needs.
Safe words are also very useful when engaging in many types of pain play.
A well known line in the kink world is “ouch is not a safe word”. A bottom receiving intense pain play will often say/yell things that would make us think twice about continuing. I’ve been called a bitch (and much worse) by bottoms while in one of my sadistic moods. I know that they are simply processing the sensation rather than genuinely upset with me in part because they aren’t using their safe word.
Of course, if a Top is ever unsure about the reactions a bottom is having, it’s best to check in using plain language!
Safe words are also used in public dungeons and many private play parties.
This is one of the ways dungeon monitors (DMs) can keep track of play. You wouldn’t want a monitor stopping your scene to make sure everything is ok, just because one of the people involved is role playing distress. While it is a general rule that you must let the DM know that you will be engaging in this type of play before hand, they do expect a certain amount of dramatic yelping during play. A DM will step in (or should step in) if they hear a safe word used and the Top doesn’t stop play to check in with the bottom.
If a bottom is gagged or unable to speak for any reason, safe signals can be used.
A safe signal is a non-verbal cue that takes the place of the safe word. Safe signals can be whatever you agree on, as long as everyone involved is clear on what they mean. Tapping out is probably the most well known signal and it works great if partners are close to each other or able to use their hands. Dropping a ball or an item that will make noise is another common signal to use and works well if partners have some distance between them.
Likewise, safe words can be any word (or combination of words) that you would be unlikely to use during sex or play. At parties there are usually house safe words - ones that all participants are expected to use so that the DMs can identify when a safe word is used. Common ones include:
- ‘safe word’
- the traffic light system of ‘yellow’ and ‘red’ (with yellow meaning slow/ease up and red meaning stop)
Feel free to create your own safe words, but I prefer to use these as they are easy to remember or say and understood by kinky people everywhere.
A safe word should be used if play is getting too intense, but that’s not the only time it’s applicable.
Bottoms can indicate that they have a muscle cramp, for example, or that there is an issue with bondage that needs adjusting. Safe words can also indicate a withdrawal of consent - if the bottom changes their mind about the planned play, they can revoke the consent they previously gave by using their safe word. When I play, a safe word is reason for a check in, where what is said will be taken at face value. My partner can tell me that something needs to be adjusted, that they want to continue, but without me using a specific implement that is becoming too much or that they want to stop our scene for whatever reason.
Safe words are not just for bottoms, Tops can use them as well. Most of the time though, Tops simply stop the scene or change what’s needed instead of using a safe word. They are able to do this because they are directing the play.
When a person uses a safe word, they should never be ridiculed for it.
BDSM isn’t a competition and bottoms aren’t expected to just take whatever a top decides to dish out. A safe word should not be looked at as a bad thing, but rather for the tool of communication it is. Having a safe word in place doesn’t do much good if the bottom is afraid to use it or too proud to use one when it’s needed. As a Top, I rely on my bottom to use a safe word (or otherwise communicate with me) when they need to do so. As much as they trust me to stick to our negotiated play and keep them safe, I trust that they will let me know if something is wrong.
Again, safe words are optional, use them if and when you see fit. Safe words are not a magic word, they only work if the people playing respect their use. They are another way that partners can use to communicate. Be sure that you cover the use of safe words in your negotiation before play and don’t assume that everyone uses them or uses the same words.
Today is National Narcolepsy Awareness Day in Canada (also known as Suddenly Sleepy Saturday in the United States) and in honor of that fact we reached out to NAPS: Narcolepsy Awareness Programs and Services to request a guest post on how living with this rare sleep disorder can affect dating and sexual relationships.
Everyone deals with their own share of problems in the bedroom. Many women feel alone, because certain glossy magazines purport that achieving a stunning and satisfactory sex life is as simple as cooking bacon for your partner in lingerie. This is not the case, as many women well know. One woman has been dealing with the unique effects of her health condition on her sex life, and decided to share her story with us. Narcolepsy and sex - This goes well, well beyond being “too tired for sex“.
Narcolepsy Not So Sexy
I have Narcolepsy with Cataplexy. What this means for me, is that my body has no way of regulating sleep and wake cycles, so I am left with some pretty interesting symptoms. The 5 main symptoms of Narcolepsy with Cataplexy are:
–EDS (Excessive Daytime Sleepiness): This symptom causes an unusual amount of fatigue throughout the day and can result in sleep episodes that feel like an irresistible urge to sleep.
-Cataplexy: Thought to be REM sleep behaviour that intrudes into wakefulness, this symptom causes a complete lack of muscle tone in everywhere but my diaphragm and eyes. It is the function that paralyzes the average person during sleep to protect them from acting out their dreams. It is triggered by strong emotions such as laughter, surprise, fear, etc. (I will come back to this, as it was the main culprit in my sex life for a long time)
-Hypnagogic Hallucinations: quite simply, dreaming while you’re still awake. This symptom can cause visual, auditory and tactile hallucinations upon waking or falling asleep.
-Sleep Paralysis: this symptom occurs upon waking, and feels like a heavy weight is sitting on your chest. This symptom can be accompanied by hypnagogic hallucinations.
-Disrupted nighttime sleep: pretty self-explanatory. People with Narcolepsy have sleep that intrudes into wakefulness and wakefulness often intrudes upon sleep. Our bodies have no natural internal clock.
So there I was, a young adult in what was supposed to be my physical prime. My early twenties were straight out of a comedy of errors. I would have several episodes of cataplexy every day, which not only resulted in a huge shift in priorities but concerns for my safety (and sexual safety) as well. When I finally felt comfortable enough to share that part of myself in a relationship, it was not without its challenges.
When I met members of the opposite sex, I felt I had to disclose certain parts of myself that I wouldn’t be able to explain in the heat of the moment. There were awkward questions, of course. I had just discovered that when I was close to having an orgasm, my entire body would collapse underneath of (or even more embarrassingly on top of) my partner. I was awake for these cataplexy episodes, unable to do anything except try to look away and will my muscles to be within my control again. There were people that I knew I was never going to have sex with based on the question “If you have an episode should I keep going?”.
Then came treatment. Finally I had a medication to help get my stubborn brain into submission. The only problem was that it was a drug called Xyrem. More commonly known as GHB – gamma-hydroxybuterate, or quite simply, the date rape drug. I thought I had problems with Cataplexy! Never was I more suggestible or in a sexier mood than the time I spent on that medication. It had it’s own awkward set of questions. “Can I accidentally rape you?” “How do I know if you actually want to have sex?”. If you’re curious, the answers are “No” and “Because I said so!” respectively. Using Xyrem also meant that I was likely to fall asleep before I had the full experience of the drug’s ability to put me in the mood. (Cue another set of facepalm- worthy questions and explanations.)
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all of this, it’s that sex can be complicated enough without having to worry about a sleep disorder as one of your bed partners. Since my time on Xyrem I have opted to use other, less expensive medications and I have found that my sex life has become significantly less embarrassing over the years.
I am now in a long-term relationship with a person who accepts me for who I am and celebrates the milestones I achieve, both in the Narcolepsy community and as an individual – separate from any disorder or diagnosis.
For those who don’t know, the practice of vaginal douching involves squirting a substance into the vaginal canal, usually with the use of an applicator. The substance can be anything from water, to an acetic (think: vinegar-like) substance, to a scented “medicinal” product. The idea is that the substance flushes into your vagina, and comes back out again. (It’s definitely not the same thing as washing your labia!)
Why do some women douche?
Most women report that they douche for “hygiene” reasons: to cleanse the vagina after their period, after sex, to get rid of symptoms like odour, itching, or discharge, or to prevent sexually transmitted disease.
It’s actually quite common.
The thing is, there is very little conclusive evidence to support these reasons - in fact, douching can cause some pretty serious side effects.
What douching does to your vagina
Of course the exact effects of douching depend on the type of substance used. However, generally speaking, douching can result in the following effects:
- Reduction in the density of normal vaginal bacteria
Douching with any antiseptic substance kills off the normal vaginal bacteria. Even douching with water reduces the native bacteria - it physically sweeps the bacteria away, and damages the pH balance required by the good bacteria to live (the pH of water is close to 7, the pH of your vagina should be less than 4.5!)
The bacteria that is normally present in your vagina helps maintain the pH of your reproductive tract nice and low: this low pH prevents certain other bacteria from colonizing because they can’t live in such a low pH environment.
The “native” bacteria also physically prevents pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria from entering, and stimulates mucous production - another important line of defense against pathogenic bacteria.
Without the native bacteria, there is plenty of room for other bacteria to colonize and grow: bacteria such as Neisseria gonorrhoeae or Chlamydia trachomatis - yeah, the stuff that causes gonorrhoeae and chlamydia - or bacterial vaginosis.
One study found that
…women who reported douching 12 months prior to their clinic visit were twice as likely to have cervical chlamydial infection and that, as the frequency of douching increased, the likelihood of chlamydial infection also increased.
Using douching products with “antiseptic” qualities causes even larger changes in the normal vaginal bacteria.
So clearly, the removal of the good bacteria leaves plenty of room for infection and disease causing bacteria to get in on the action.
- Forcing bacteria from the lower genital tract above the cervix into the uterus/fallopian tubes
Bacteria that is normally found in the lower bit of your vaginal canal can be physically forced up by the stream of liquid into places it isn’t supposed to be. This can lead to inflammatory scaring… and that inflammatory scaring can lead to ectopic pregnancy, early miscarriage, and even infertility.
Another effect of bacteria getting up where it isn’t supposed to be is pelvic inflammatory disease.
That shit is serious.
It was estimated that 20-30% of women with pelvic inflammatory disease would be hospitalized. It is also a very common cause of reduced fertility and even sterility.
One study reported that vaginal douching increases the overall risk of pelvic inflammatory disease by 73% and the risk of ectopic pregnancy by 76%. Those percentages are HUGE!
- Irritation of the mucous lining
Physically irritating the protective mucous lining can reduce how effective it is at keeping unwanted bacteria out.
Douching has been scientifically linked to:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Chlamydia, gonorrhea, bacterial vaginitis, cervical cancer
- Reduced fertility
- Ectopic pregnancy
Douching has NOT been scientifically linked to:
- Promoting a healthy vagina
We cannot in good conscience recommend that women douche. If you are worried about a funky smell, or about your vaginal canal being clean of blood or semen or whatever … go to your doctor. The vagina is SELF CLEANING! Don’t douche.
Violence against women hasn’t stopped.
And until the violence stops, we need to keep fighting against it.
That’s the purpose of “V Day“. It is a global movement to help end violence against women. Activists in cities all over the world participate in benefits and events to raise both awareness and funds for the cause. Rape, battery, incest, sex slavery… they are all still very real in today’s society. We may not like talking about them, but they happen all the same.
Until the violence stops, we must fight against it.
In Ottawa, Ontario, a benefit production of the famous play “The Vagina Monologues” is being performed by a talented cast as part of their contribution for VDay 2015. The funds raised by the performance go towards The Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa, The Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre, and the One Billion Rising Revolution.
“The Vagina Monologues” is an episodic play composed of a variety of women speaking monologues on topics related to the feminine experience, including violence against women. It is powerful, funny, and emotionally stirring.
Free Your V had a chance to speak with two of the talented cast members from the production in Ottawa.
“Samantha Oxley is a civil servant who has recently discovered a passion for performance arts and is thrilled to be making her theatrical debut with this performance in her first VDay.”
“Shirley Manh has been on stage, behind microphones, and in front of cameras since the 5th grade […]This is Shirley’s 5th Vagina Monologues show (her 2nd in Ottawa), and her 6th monologue.”
Why did you get involved with VDay 2015 and The Vagina Monologues?
Samantha: I wanted to become involved with VDay and TVM for many reasons. I wanted to surround myself with the beauty and power that the group of women in this production bring. I wanted to be a part of the change I hope for my future. My mother is a survivor of abuse. I am a survivor of abuse. This movement has a very powerful personal meaning to me.
Shirley: I consider myself fortunate to have been a part of the VDay movement since my first year in undergrad at Wilfrid Laurier University; the Women’s Centre at WLU produced the show every year on campus. That was about 12 years ago! I auditioned ‘just for fun’, and for a chance to perform in an interesting, well-known show. I got cast, and despite the fact that it was my first year, I performed both “My Vagina Was My Village” and “Cunt”, two monologues at either end of emotional extremes. The experience I got from being in that show was not just fun; instead, it was very powerful. I was connected to a deeper part of myself and to others who already had, or were just, experiencing the same transformation. And that’s what has kept me involved, year after year.
What, in your opinion, is the message of The Vagina Monologues?
Samantha: TVM celebrates the beauty of women. TVM is about personal empowerment, growth, and triumph. It honours the collective experiences of women and unites us as a community.
What is the most challenging aspect of being part of this performance?
Samantha: The most challenging part of being part of this performance is channeling the emotions that the content evokes. It’s made me think about who I am, reevaluate myself as a woman, changed how I feel about myself and my gender as a collective. Those changes have been amazing but powerfully emotional. Being part of TVM has made me more aware of who I am, made me love and accept myself and my fellow women as we are, for who we are. That shift in paradigm, although beautiful, completely changed my world.
Shirley: I’m not sure if I’ve ever told anyone this, but personally, I find it a challenge to be an audience member during “My Vagina Was My Village”, despite the fact that it was the first monologue I ever performed. I’ve heard it rehearsed and performed now by many, many other women over the years and it still brings tears to my eyes every single time. You become that girl, who once was living a beautiful life, and then became a victim of unimaginable violence. The dichotomy between those two worlds is stark; the imagery is vivid and can be difficult to listen to. I take a deep breath after every time I hear anyone rehearse it.
What is the most gratifying aspect of being part of this performance?
Samantha: The most gratifying part of being part of this performance is the beautiful and talented women I have had the privilege of becoming friends with. We’ve created a family. We care about each other, we support each other, we are invested in each other. We are all very different individually, but cohesive and collectively. I admire my fellow cast and crew and have learned so much away from them and through this experience.
Shirley: It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to share stories that aren’t your own. It’s definitely fun to create characters around a monologue, but I really appreciate knowing that these stories come from actual people that Eve Ensler met with. Every time I perform a different monologue, I try very hard to do justice to the women who are giving me the honour of sharing their story, and I find that to be a gratifying process.
Did you learn anything from your involvement in this project?
Samantha: I learned that I am capable of doing something I never thought I would do. I learned that I have a lot to learn about who I am, and that excites me. I learned that I have a lot to learn about other people and that excites me even more. I learned to love and accept myself, and I learned that I can help other women do the same.
Shirley: Every year, my involvement in VDay is humbling; it’s a reminder that everyone needs to be empowered, and a chance to practice that for myself.
Why should people come see this performance?
Samantha: There are so many reasons people should come! It’s a meaningful cause and attending means being part of that. It’s funny! It’s sad! It makes people laugh and cry. The cast and crew are talented and dedicated and I think the performances reflect that. There’s something for every woman (and man) in these monologues.
Shirley: Seeing The Vagina Monologues is perfect for people who:
- are interested in a fun night out
- appreciate community theatre and story-telling
- want to contribute to very, very, worthwhile causes that work towards supporting victims of sexual violence and ending violence against women
- will appreciate a ride on an emotional roller-coaster
- currently love women, would like to continue loving women, and/or would like to love women more
PS: We also love men, and love it even more when they come see the show as well!
You can get your tickets to support a fantastic cause (and see a fantastic performance of “The Vagina Monologues”!) here.
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