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After years as a beauty editor, I’ve developed what I call New Product Fatigue. These days, when I try and like something, chances are I will commit to buying it again and again until someone (somehow) manages to convince me to do something else. I’ve used the same mascara (Maybelline Lash Sensational), CC cream (Clinique Moisture Surge), and brow product (Benefit Brow Zing) every day for about three years. As for my hair: Since I discovered Jen Atkin’s Ouai in December 2017, I haven’t used anything else.

Ouai’s texturizing hair spray is—and I cannot stress this enough—my all-time favorite hair product. It’s a hairspray and dry shampoo hybrid that adds a perfectly effortless touch to my otherwise limp and always-too-silky hair. But what I love most about the spray is the smell. Oh, the smell. Like Ouai’s dry shampoo foam and leave-in conditioner, both of which I also adore and use regularly, it’s a delight to my scalp and nostrils.

Until this week, I would have found it hard to describe exactly what Ouai products smell like—they’re soft without being overwhelmingly musky, and fresh without any hint of sterile citrus—but now, I have my answer. An exact scent recipe. Joy in a bottle.

Ouai’s two fragrances, North Bondi and Melrose Place, were first released in 2017. They sold out in a week. In 2018, they sold out in a few days. In 2019 (today to be exact) they’re re-releasing the scents and hoo boy am I excited, because North Bondi smells exactly like my favorite Ouai hair products.

North Bondi is technically a “fresh floral” fragrance with jasmine, violet, and a super delicate touch of rose, but it’s more interesting than your standard flowery scent. Since getting it, I’ve realized what I’ve long loved about the Ouai smell is the undertones of patchouli and sandalwood, which play into my love for natural woody fragrances. The top notes, which you first smell when you spray, are lighter and fruitier with Italian lemon and apple blossom. Basically, it’s the perfect blend.

As someone who’s lived in Sydney’s North Bondi, in an apartment I regularly wonder why I ever left, I wouldn’t say the fragrance smells exactly like the place, but I get what they’re going for. When I smell it I think of walking from a café back to my apartment with a fresh juice, passing a waft of incense dancing out of an open window.

To me, there’s no better compliment than, “Your hair smells so good.” Now that I can smell like my hair and my old home, and all is right in the world.

Now, a List of Other Things That Need to Be Made Into Perfume

Freshly chopped ginger

The top of my niece’s head

Mojitos with extra muddled mint

The lilac tree in my nan’s backyard

This Neutrogena sunscreen

Cracking beach bonfires

Fresh-out-of-the-box Apple products

Sticky eucalyptus leaves

Burned out matches

Christmas morning

What other amazing-smelling things do you wish were made into fragrance? Do you have a beauty product you use just for the smell?

Feature photo courtesy of Ouai. 

The post This Fragrance Smells Like Hairspray (That’s a Good Thing) appeared first on Man Repeller.

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S

ome days I can’t tell if I’m conceited or insecure. This thought passes through me on a Saturday afternoon. My partner and I are sitting at an outdoor cafe on Grove street, people-watching in shared silence. It’s June and, as the clock strikes 6 p.m., the cobblestones catch the sunlight and, for a split second, the city sits still. I, however, do not. I fiddle with the neckline of my sweater, cursing myself for picking weather-inappropriate attire. I’m distracted by my bleached-blonde hair, weeks away from a touch-up, gathering at my shoulders like a bale of hay. I run my fingers through the ends and cringe.

I divert my attention, fixating instead on a woman reading at a neighboring table. French, I think. Mid-twenties. Her hair is tousled, but knotty. She probably cut it herself with her kitchen scissors. She is aggressively natural, and yet I struggle to believe that such beauty can simply occur, all on its own. How hard would I have to try to look that effortless? She puts down her book and heads to the restroom. Curious, I lean over to peek at its title. Influencer, it reads. Building Your Personal Brand in the Age Of Social Media. She returns to her seat and we lock eyes momentarily. Upon second glance, we look more alike than I realized.

I’ve come to accept my vanity as part of me. On some days, like when I spend the better part of golden hour analyzing a French girl’s ponytail, I’ll admit it takes the wheel. But there’s so much more that drives me, like empathy, ambition, compassion. Can I actively choose to let those guide me instead? In search of answers, I spoke to three older women—Joan, Jamie, and Geri—about their outlooks on appearance, beauty, and aging. Each of their perspectives reminded me that the qualities of one’s personhood are not mutually exclusive, and they all make us who we are.

Joan, 87, lives in a retirement community in New Jersey, and has never once cared about her appearance.

On Growing Up and Settling Down

I was born on May 22, 1932, in the Bronx. My grandmother was Native American, going back many years. She had dark skin and high cheekbones. She had so much grace. The day she passed, my husband Joe just knew. I never called, but he knew.

I had five sisters and three brothers. We used to play stickball by cutting a broom in half. Nobody bothered us, we all got along. Then World War II came and all my brothers left home. They got back safe, but my brother Edmond was held prisoner for a year. His plane was shot down. I used to pray for him every time I came home from school. Every day I’d think, Who are we going to pray for today?

I met Joe at a wedding. And after we’d been going out for over a year, he said, “I think I’d like for us to get engaged.” But at the time I didn’t think we were serious, so I said, “Uh, I don’t know yet.” He waited until I was ready, then we went to an Italian couple who were jewelers and picked out the stone. We planned our wedding for over a year. I picked the date—May 22.

Joe decided to work for the city of New York—the sanitation department. He was an engineer, so there was no reason for me to work. We had two kids, and they were going to school. We knew the people next door and had a block party every once in a while.As we got older, though, I thought we ought to make a move. That’s when I heard about New Jersey, 28 years ago. So we had a nice house there, with a big garage and kitchen. Everyone was friendly. But after a while it became too much too. So, we moved to this retirement community. We’ve been here four years now.

On Vanity

I never thought about my appearance when I was younger. I wore very little makeup. When I got married, my family forced me to wear makeup. My sister was my maid of honor and she had to hold me down because I didn’t want to put eyeshadow on. I couldn’t stand it, I wanted to take it off right there and then. I’ll wear lipstick now, but that’s it—nothing on my eyes. I wouldn’t know what to do with it! I have to wear sunscreen because I’m fair, but I never thought about my skin. I didn’t really care for fashion, either. I like comfortable clothes. Heels, sure—but not high ones. I’m afraid I’d fall over.

I don’t waste time worrying about my wrinkles. I just think, “Well, thank God I’m still here.”

There’s a group of 10 of us New Yorkers, and we’ll have parties. We sit at a table and talk about this or that, and I’ll get dressed up. I’ll put on a pair of dressy flats that are comfortable. I’ll wear a nice blouse, a pair of slacks. I have outfits that match together. I have these white slacks, but I’m afraid to wear them when I’m drinking, because all you need is a glass of wine on your white slacks! I also have a watch that I’ve had a long time. My husband gave it to me as a surprise, I didn’t even have to ask for it. No diamonds—I’m not a diamonds person. I have a son and grandson who are jewelers, but I’m not a jewelry person. I’ll wear it when something special is going on. People will say, “Gee Joan, you never wore that before.”

I don’t waste time worrying about my wrinkles. I just think, “Well, thank God I’m still here.” I know my personality is the same. I was never really vain, but I had a sister or two that was like that. My Joe isn’t like that, either. He was a professional clown. He used to dress up and go to hospitals. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We just like to make people laugh.

I am always happy with what I have. I make the best of every situation. I didn’t spend a lot of time over the years thinking about my appearance because I was thinking about my children. I believe it’s not about looks—it’s personality, the way you feel, how you treat people. You’ve got to be a happy person.

And I have my Joe. 65 years, I’m married! He still tells me I’m beautiful.

Geri, 61, is a brand consultant and creative living in Philadelphia, and has always cared about her appearance.

On Finding Her Place

I grew up in Baltimore. I never felt it fit me, so at 18, I left for school and never came back. I wanted to find where I was supposed to be.

When I moved to New York, it awakened something in me. Everybody is outwardly exhibiting part of themselves there—the way they dress, how they carry themselves. It’s a city that’s aware of more than just the internal. I’ve always had a sense of my surroundings. The first thing I notice about people is the way they orchestrate themselves—not just what they say and do, but what choices they make, from haircut to makeup. That always gives me an idea of who they are. It’s a cheatsheet. Now, that’s not true with everybody. But your outside persona can reflect your inside persona. If you let it.

I met my husband and we stayed in New York for five years, then moved to Chicago. We had lost two babies, and it was traumatizing. It was the most depressed and awful you could ever feel and there was nothing that could make it better. But I believed it was out of my hands. No matter how painful, it was part of life’s journey, like the Game Of Life. I learned to negotiate the curves, to get that zest for life back. We later had a miracle baby, a daughter. Out of the darkness came the most brilliant light. In the midst of that sorrow, I couldn’t imagine being uplifted. But that’s human connection; it surprises and awes you.

We were really happy in Chicago. The midwest is a whole different vibe, you know? We learned a lot about ourselves. New York was like a litmus test. It was the summer of crack, and it was beginning to be too much, so we welcomed the change. We left Chicago 12 years later, which was the hardest thing ever. But life changed and it was time to roll with it…

We wound up in Atlanta. Very different, but we found our people. I became a community woman, I grew through understanding people. I made it my business to know everyone. I worked on a lot of independent projects—political campaigns, brand consulting. I’ve always had a marketing mind. It’s the way my brain operates, and it awakened my artistic side. None of it was really deliberate, but more of an evolution. My generation, we wanted it all. The world was at our fingertips. I just had to figure out where I fit.

On Being Superficial

Visually, I’ve always been into the superficial. I love looking at striking things. I’m taken by beauty. I think humans are a form of performance art. I’ve always worn myself on the outside. People can recognize the kind of person I am by looking at me. I’ll pass people that I don’t know and get a smile. If I dress like a black cloud, you know I’m in a deep, dark place.

There are days I’ll tell myself I don’t care about my appearance, but I obviously do.

I’ve always had some sense of self. When I think back to a certain age, I’ll remember wearing something that half my family hated, but I saw the romance in. Shopping for school clothes became a way of expressing myself. It was my super power. I figured that out early on. I do think I have a lot of vanity. I’m orchestrated, but I’m laissez-faire. The way my jeans are rolled up at the bottom is laissez-faire. I try to add a touch of comic or whimsy. I want to offset expectations. It’s feng shui. I love the abstract, and I can see art in things that other people can’t always see.

There are days I’ll tell myself I don’t care about my appearance, but I obviously do. I’ll go into that closet and throw something on—it might be what I wore yesterday, but I’m editing as I walk through the door. Whatever I look like in that bedroom is something totally different by the time I leave. The oddest, craziest, quirkiest, most wonderful thing I can think of—because it’s mood. It’s expression. It’s my subconscious, guiding me. I’m not cognizant once I’ve done it. In fact, I may not look at myself in the mirror for the rest of the day!

On Style

Timeless style is anything that looks good on you, style that you’re in control of. It’s all about how you wear it. You could find the most magnificent piece in the world, but if it doesn’t complement you, the piece becomes the vehicle. It overshadows you. No, it has to be something you love. It’s not what’s in or fashion-forward. It speaks to you.

The other day, I was on a street corner waiting for the light to change, and I got stopped by this young guy. He turns to me and says, “You’re cool, I like what you’ve got going on.” I don’t even remember what I had on! I took it as a huge compliment, because he was a millennial. He added, “I like when people show who they are. I can tell you have a little something whimsical in you.” And I did. It’s fun to look at the world through a whimsical lens, because it can be so serious.

You’ve got to own your destiny—how you see, celebrate, and love yourself. If you don’t do that first and foremost, you’ll never get it from anybody else. The gratification comes from self-acceptance. That’s where the struggle is, for all of us. We all want to be part of something greater, but first comes self-understanding, part of which is embracing your vanity. What’s wrong with enjoying the visual? Vanity is part of what keeps us alive—understanding that you have something of value within yourself. Isn’t that what keeps you in the game?

Jamie, 72, owns a nail salon on the Upper East Side, and has started caring more about her appearance.

On Moving to New York

I immigrated from Korea in 1987. I have two kids and wanted to work to support them, but Korea is a very small country and it was difficult to get a job. My husband and I were well-educated, so he suggested we move to America to chase bigger opportunities. I’ve been in New York for almost 30 years now.

Back in Korea, I worked for a bank. But when I came here, I was told that my education was too different and my language was a problem, so I had to switch industries. I looked into the opportunities that were available to me, and finally found work at a hair salon. I noticed that one of the ladies who worked there also gave manicures, and she had a lot of loyal customers. I thought, “Hm, maybe I can do that!”

After working at the salon for a while, I craved independence and decided to open my own business. I would walk around, looking for open storefronts. I noticed uptown was hipper and the people lived well. I liked the neighborhood, so I found an empty space and rented it. Within a year, I opened my own nail salon. At the beginning, my rent was $2,800, and it stayed like that for 10 years. Now I’m in my 23rd year and the lease is changing. I’m paying, like, $12,000 in rent. It’s very difficult to keep my doors open.

All business is challenging, especially in the first year. But I created a loyal customer base. Within months I had 100 regular customers I had individual relationships with. I really enjoy what I do because I love people. I learn so much from my customers. Korean and American culture are totally different, so they’ve taught me a lot about lifestyle. In Korea, we learned things like one plus one is two, but here, people learn how to keep an open mind. I have a really diverse client list, and everyone has something to teach me.

On Beauty

My hobby has always been painting, especially watercolor. Anything that uses brushes, I enjoy. That’s actually how I got into the beauty and nail industry. The two are not too different. When I saw how happy people were getting their nails painted, I knew I could make them happy too. I love making people feel beautiful.

I enjoy making things around me pretty—spaces, people, my customers. Growing up in Korea, people didn’t really worry too much about how things looked because they needed to make a living. But so much has changed since I left. Now the economy is better and more people can afford to cherish beauty like I do.

I care much more about my appearance now than when I was younger. I have a lot of young customers, and I want to look younger, to appeal to them. But to be honest, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that it doesn’t matter—old or young, everybody wants to look and feel pretty. Even my oldest customers, they come once a week for a manicure. When I first opened, my core base of customers were in their 60s, and now, they’re all in their 80s. But they still come once a week to get their nails done and feel cared for. Beauty is about maintaining a routine. As you get older, that becomes even more important.

There’s a difference between vanity and confidence. You have to feel confident, that’s the key to beauty.

When it comes to style, I like the classic stuff. I avoid anything that looks like imitation—I prefer one-of-a-kind. A real piece of jewelry! That’s what ages best—something that always looks good. The same goes with makeup: When I like something, I’m unlikely to change it. I like Estée Lauder and Bobbi Brow—it isn’t too expensive, but I don’t go for the cheap stuff either. Something that will last me a long, long time. That’s all I care about.

There’s a difference between vanity and confidence. You have to feel confident, that’s the key to beauty. Not just in the way you look, but in the way you carry yourself. You don’t need to spend all your money, but do invest in yourself. Find something you like and stick to it. A lot of young people have nervous habits—they’ll pick their skin or their cuticles. I tell them, “If you want to feel beautiful, start by listening to yourself.” Only by feeling better can you achieve true beauty. Everyone is so stressed out all the time! Living in this city is not easy.

I have a few customers who are obsessed with their appearance, but I think they’re just in a bad place, mentally. I can’t tell them what to do—they have to figure out what matters to them on their own. But I have a daughter in her 30s and she’s very confident, and therefore, very beautiful. I learn more from her than she does from me. She’s a modern American woman.

Perhaps I’ve grown wiser with age as well, but learning is forever. For as long as I’m alive, I’m willing to learn.

Photos by Louisiana Mei Gelpi

The post 3 Older Women on How Vanity Changes With Age appeared first on Man Repeller.

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Hello and welcome to our advice column, Ask MR, where we answer your burning questions, hoping we’ll become the ointment to your life rash. Ask us a question by sending one of us a DM, emailing write@manrepeller.com with the subject line “ASK MR A QUESTION,” or simply leaving one in the comments.

“How do I get over a crush? I went out with a pretty girl about a month ago and, afterward, she told me it wasn’t a good time for her to pursue a relationship. I keep thinking about her even though we haven’t talked in over a month. It’s so rare for me to find a girl who likes me, even seemingly in comparison to other lesbians. I can’t help but feel self-conscious about this. It’s never taken me this long to get over someone. I’m lonely and feel undesirable quite often. What should I do? Nothing? Something?”

Hi!

Who says you have to “get over” a crush? In most cases, crushes are healthy and adorable—and can actually be an informative aspect of the journey to finding your person. And also finding yourself: What do your crushes have in common? Are all of your crushes dog people, or from the South, or incredibly hardworking, or partial to clipping their toenails in the shower? Crushes are like a Build-a-Bear Workshop for figuring out what moves you!

That said, liking someone and starting to experience that fun little flitter in your belly, only to be told that they’re not feeling the same way, really fucking sucks. Especially for those of us in the queer community who have a fear of never finding a longterm partner. I think the heartbreak you’re feeling is a super natural and rational response to that—I’ve felt it myself.

As queer folks, we’ve been conditioned to think we won’t have a chance at getting all of the things that straight people get: love, marriage, kids, the house, etc. And part of that perception is a simple matter of access. I always felt like my chances of finding someone were a fraction of my straight friends’, who could seemingly walk up to anyone. But even if our community is smaller, I can tell you that you have just as much of a chance at love, the kids, the house—if you want those things—as anyone else.

When you focus only on what you can’t offer other people, your sense of self-worth hinges on your ability to change who you are.

I know how much rejection hurts, and I know it can feel like the chance may not come again or that there’s something inherently wrong with you. But I’m here to tell you that you are worthy and deserving of reciprocal love of all kinds. I don’t know you and I can say that with 100% certainty. Mostly because I still have to remind myself of the same thing fairly often—and its by that reminding that I’ve become far more capable of self-love and self-respect than I have been in the past.

So let’s dig in: What about this person had you crushing so hard? What were the qualities in her that you liked the most? Write those things down and start to figure out what you’re looking for in an ideal mate. Having that knowledge can be really helpful and allow you to create healthy non-negotiables and boundaries for potential partners in the future.

I noticed that you said this particular crush was difficult for you to get over—not because you rarely find a girl that you click with but because you rarely find a girl that likes you. I want you to consider changing this narrative. When you focus only on what you can’t offer other people, your sense of self-worth hinges on your ability to change who you are. But when you choose to focus on what you want to bring to others, trust me when I say your world will open up!

This was ultimately how I became happy on my own—by fully experiencing truths that I had kept in a lock box for so long.

I was in a nine-year relationship prior to meeting my current partner. When we broke up, I was devastated. I resigned to being alone for the rest of my life; I was certain that if the one person in this world who I loved and had spent such a long time with didn’t want to be with me, then no one else would. But as soon as I stopped looking outward and started looking inside of my damn self, that story started to change. It wasn’t easy, but I knew that if I was going to be better for myself and possibly other people, I had to intimately understand the mechanics of my inner life and emotions.

I had to sit with myself (more often than I wanted, tbh) and really dig into the how’s and why’s of what makes me feel like the best version of myself. And the more I dug in, the more I was able to quiet my mind and see myself. I started dating me and hanging out with me. I thought about the ways I could have been a better partner in my last relationship and also thought about how I sacrificed some of my desires because I thought I had to in order to maintain the relationship. The whole process was terrible and great and perfect and something I probably should have done much sooner.

In the end, understanding those things made me realize that I could still be me in a partnership. That my whole world wasn’t wrapped up in the happiness of another person and that perhaps it’s okay to still want to maintain a real sense of “me-ness” in my next relationship and frankly in all of my relationships! This was ultimately how I became happy on my own—by fully experiencing truths that I had kept in a lock box for so long. So when I met my current partner, I was a better me for her because I was the best me for me.

So I say all of that to say this (and I know that you might think it’s hokey): Focus on you, find the things that you love about you and I swear to sweet gay Jesus, you will attract the kind of partner that enjoys all of the weird wonders that you have to offer to this world. But also remember that this isn’t about going on a journey simply to attract a partner. This is about you. Loving and accepting you for all that you are should always be the peak that you’re hiking toward. Yes, along that hike, you might find a fellow hiker who has cute boots and makes you laugh when the walk gets hot and hard and not so much fun, but honestly, that cute booted hiker might just as easily be you.

Ask MR Identity by Madeline Montoya.

The post Ask MR: I Feel Undesirable. What Do I Do? appeared first on Man Repeller.

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One time a stranger on Instagram called me a “summer gal,” and even though it was completely out of context and I had no idea what she was talking about, I also knew exactly what she was talking about. I am a summer gal. I love aperol spritzes, un-ironically. I have literal pep in my step after a 20-minute encounter with Vitamin D. I’ve been known to tell people (most recently my boyfriend) that I actually find the smell of their sweaty armpits comforting. I love getting dressed when it’s hot out. Love! Which happens to be the true purpose of this digital gathering, because there’s a sale happening on Need Supply at the moment so chock-full of hot-weather outfit possibilities it’s pure lunacy. I’ve delineated three of them below to whet your armpits I mean palette, so go forth and scroll, my sweet sweaty salamanders.

Outfit Possibility #1: For the Office

I already own this shirt from Ciao Lucia but I’m putting it here for our mutual benefit, because you may want to buy it (on sale!) and I most definitely want to style it (on myself!), specifically with these Dries van Noten pants that are actually sweats but may or may not think they’re trousers. Can you believe the discount on these gems? Dries van Noten pants! For $115! A veritable steal, and not only because of the price but also because they fulfill the menocore-inspired workplace outfit of my dreams, made up of white hero pieces and mustard yellow accents. I’ll be wearing these in my ears, please and thank you, these on my commute, and this around my head. As for my feets? They will be right where they’ve always belonged, inside a pair of strappy linen sandals from Rachael Comey, on sale for $188. Office AC on full blast? Shrug on this quilted dreamboat of a jacket, which is $72 but looks like Céline.

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Outfit Possibility #2: For a Party

Pardonnez-moi, but THIS might be the crowning achievement of Summer 2019’s going-out top circuit. One-shouldered? Check. Margarita green? Check. Semi-sheer? Check? Subtly textured? Check. 100% cotton? Check. On sale? Check. That’s a whole lot of checks!!!!! And it would look sooooo great with this leopard skirt, which looks just as comfy as it does chic enough to earn the approval of Franck in Father of the Bride, I just have a feeling. I would personally wear both with these blue leather sandals, which at $75 hold some particular appeal. Throw in some silver earrings that caress the insides of your ears like a sweet birthday baby, and you’ll have yourself an outfit fit for rooftop celebrations and barbecue shindigs and Jeff-Goldblum-in-a-Hawaiian-shirt theme parties alike.

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Outfit Possibility #3: For the Beach

In my summer self fantasies, I am the kind of person who acquires and religiously wears the perfect black one-piece swimsuit, replete with thin straps and a slightly sloped square neckline, ideally somewhere devoid of cell service in Italy. The fact that this precise specimen is currently on sale on Need Supply seems fated to the degree that it requires a fantasy beach ensemble to go with it, and thus I submit this dress for consideration. It looks simple but in fact dips low in the back, thus retaining an element of surprise and delight. It would make for a great seaside coverup while easily transitioning to a casual dinner setting. It’s also–and here’s the really fun part–$82! Sling some barely-there sandals over your shoulder, plus a few slices of prosciutto, and you’re as stunning as a golden-hour sunset.

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What are you eyeing from the sale(s), this one or otherwise? Will you come to my Jeff Goldblum Hawaiian shirt party if I have one? Feel free to chime in on any of these pressing Qs below.

Feature photo via Need Supply Co.

The post The Need Supply Sale Is Full of Really Good Summer Outfit Ideas appeared first on Man Repeller.

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Monday night’s The Bachelorette episode can be broken down into four parts: softcore porn, softcore porn, “I don’t know what she sees in Jed,” and Bible study (referring to Peter, Tyler, Jed, and Luke’s dates, respectively). And while we all watched, wide-eyed, when Peter the pilot stumbled through his “I love you” speech and salivated while Tyler, in all his shirtless glory, massaged and then climbed on top of Hannah Brown, the episode really began on the fourth and final date in Crete, Greece.

Luke Parker was always going to be this season’s villain. He lacks even one iota of self-awareness and told Hannah he was falling in love on the first group date—a classic villain move. He was the least popular housemate within two episodes and became relentlessly chastised when his prideful demeanor began to interfere with cocktail parties and group dates, effectively taking time away from the other men. Less expected, however, were the positive strides the franchise would be able to make at Luke’s expense.

In the seventh episode of the season, the negative feelings floating around Luke, not only among other contestants but also on Twitter, crystallized and turned to a sharp and pointed hatred. Luke had been widely disliked, but when he slut-shamed Hannah after a date that involved naked bungee-jumping, the distaste in America’s mouth suddenly turned to poison. Simultaneously, Hannah’s sex-positivity was the much-needed antidote.

Luke, on the other hand, was this season’s villain far before his regressive views on intimacy were exposed.

There have been sex-positive Bachelorettes and Bachelor contestants in the past. Their narratives, however, have consistently been spun into webs of shameful apologies and disappointed men, which force them to deem their actions “mistakes” on camera (sentiments they often later dispute). Consider when Clare Crawley infamously had sex with Bachelor Juan Pablo in the ocean. The following day, Juan Pablo told her that he felt “weird,” citing his daughter and lifting any blame from his own shoulders while in turn humiliating Clare. When Bachelorette Kaitlin Bristowe had sex with Nick Viall before the Fantasy Suite (at which point sex is producer-sanctioned), she decided to be honest with another frontrunner, Shawn Boothe. During the confession scene, however, she uncharacteristically stumbles over her words, stating that things “had gone too far.” “Do you regret it?” he asks, to which she replies: “I felt guilt.”

In both of these scenarios, the men questioning these women were generally well-regarded. Juan Pablo, of course, was later revealed to be something of a scumbag, but producers were obviously pushing for his likability at the time. Luke, on the other hand, was this season’s villain far before his regressive views on intimacy were exposed. So when he began berating Hannah for exploring her own sexual agency—for the naked bungee and later for sleeping with other contestants—his sex-negative views were quickly, easily, and rightfully villainized.

When we reach the breakup scene in the most recent episode, the audience feels emotionally atrophied by Luke’s constant gaslighting. By all the times he made a point that Hannah disputed, only to reply that she simply misunderstood. Or the times he told the men in the house that he wouldn’t discuss them with Hannah, only to turn around and bring each housemate up by name. Or the time he told her she made “a bone-headed mistake,” but added that he loved her despite her flaws, employing classic emotionally abusive and manipulative behavior. The list goes on. And so in the final moments of episode 10, we are primed for Hannah’s epic speech. If Luke had been more self-aware and delivered his views (which are commonly held within the Evangelical community) in a gentler manner, we may not have come to this point. If the most compelling storyline hadn’t been Luke vs. America, we may not have come to this point. Everything has lined up for feminism to shine a bright, albeit brief, beacon of hope for future seasons.

Hannah ends the conversation with a mic-drop, telling Luke that she “fucked in a windmill” this week as she pushes him into a limo and out of her life.

After a glorious day of smooching and discussing Jesus, the couple makes it to the dinner portion of the date, where Luke launches the hollow threat that he will remove himself from the competition if Hannah has had sex with other contestants (which she has). Understandably, she gets angry. Luke, in classic Luke fashion, backtracks and says he’s “willing to work through it” if she’s slipped up. Hannah calls bullshit on his flip-flopping and double standard.

“You’re holding other people to a standard that you don’t even live by,” she says, noting that pride is as much a sin as sex. Finally, the words we’ve heard in previews and trailers for the past five weeks come out of our televisions: “I do not want you to be my husband.” And with that, all of America breathes a sigh of relief. Hannah ends the conversation with a mic-drop, telling Luke that she “fucked in a windmill” this week as she pushes him into a limo and out of her life.

And herein lies the silver lining of all this toxic masculinity. The casting process has failed us in the past, with assault convicts and racists and too much whiteness. Many agreed that Luke was another symptom of the process. But without him we would never have bore witness to this pageant queen, at once celebrating her faith and her sexuality, and condemning anyone who got in her way. I imagine, for many a Bachelor fan, Hannah’s entire speech felt much like America’s recent World Cup win—a single, victorious moment for women that could very likely change the course of history. Or at least cable TV.

Photo via ABC. 

The post Is the Bachelor Universe Slouching Towards Sex-Positivity? appeared first on Man Repeller.

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I should have known FaceApp would blow up this week when our social media editor, Amalie, dropped a photo of herself looking a purported 50 years her senior into a slack channel within Man Repeller’s workspace on Monday morning. It was as if every one of us had risen from the dead (a summer weekend) to run our own selfies through the facial augmentation app. I was pretty horrified at my attempt at future self-actualizaion and further horrified by my horrification because when I ran Abie’s face through the app, he looked adorable. Just great. It was like watching a divine and sincere young man become a divine and sincere grandpa. Where my wrinkles seemed to tell of a weathered woman’s wrestle with life, his looked like a yarn ball presenting deeper indentations of wisdom with each unraveling layer of string. What made him so cute and me so grotesque? What does this to men vs. women in the context of aging more generally?

It’s almost too easy to argue that the messaging points doled out by popular culture and public discourse have enforced an inherent fear among women to, after a certain age, look their age, whereas no such model really exists on the male front (though they do deal with this kind of shit too, just in other areas like muscular strength or self-imposed pressure to succeed financially; I am less versed in the language of their fight).

But in my view, little is achieved by pointing fingers or placing the onus on the sum of society, particularly without adopting some of the blame yourself, so I’m not gonna go there. I didn’t plan to. Why I was horrified, really, is because here I’ve been on this high horse for weeks shouting from the rooftops in the way of mirror selfies about all this new confidence and compassion (sorry, I mean cOmPaShUn) that I have earned for myself and then, boom — an effective rebranding of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray in the privacy of my mobile browser.

I loved his picture because I love him. Duh. Unconditionally and irreversibly. I hated my picture because I’m hard as fuck on myself. I assumed that I was looking at current me, but in the future, and looking at that meant that I stayed current me — that I just let time pass with my ears and eyes and heart shut. But if I hated a future me that stayed current me, did that mean I hate current me? That I don’t love *~me~* unconditionally and irreversibly? Do I even have another option? And what about the newfangled confidence! The cOmPaShUn! It didn’t sound completely right, so I lifted the lid on this supposition and asked: Would it really be that bad if I did, in fact, stay current me?

The answer wasn’t like Hell yes, you’re a devil woman. Phewph. It was more like, Overall, it would be unfortunate because it means you’re not responding to the way the world around you is changing and therefore the critical way in which your capacity to absorb and handle that could improve in accordance, which indicated this difference between resentment of the self, a strain of malignant vanity that closes the door on the potentiality of building a good rapport with yourself and some healthy, critical questioning — a recipe to foster abundant thinking — that’s mostly possible after you’ve arrived at self-acceptance.

Sometimes I wonder if the reason so many of us are afraid to age is because we think that if we pay to look younger, what we’re actually buying is more time. More time for what? I don’t know. To make up for the ways in which we could be better? To freeze the state of “current me”  so as to continue avoiding the often gruesome process of confronting ourselves and asking the hardest but single most important question of self-development — Do I like myself? And further — If I don’t, what’s it gonna take to make me like myself?

Holy shit, I just realized something. I have been thinking that I am pretty sure I want to start botox injections in my forehead. Is that because the wrinkles remind me that I’m irresponsible when I sit in the sun and that I don’t pragmatically evaluate the order of consequences when I am asked if I would like another drink?

???

!!!!????!!????

I will probably still do it. Get the botox and make irresponsible skincare and unpragmatic beverage consumption decisions. Both tendencies are representative of much greater, self-identified shortcomings that don’t have to be so damn deep-seated. I’m not that irresponsible, and I’m pretty pragmatic overall, so I’d rather not nurture this realization too much, and give myself some leeway to yolo. Remember how popular this acronym used to be? Yolo. I don’t remember how we got here, but now that we’ve reached the end, I want you to know that I ran Justin Bieber through FaceApp, too. He makes for a beautiful senior. I wonder what he will have learned.

Photos provided by Leandra Medine. 

The post What’s FaceApp Really Getting At? appeared first on Man Repeller.

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Summer is for falling in love. It’s the adult equivalent of “school’s out!” even if your workload is exactly the same and your bosses don’t recognize the sanctity of Summer Fridays. It’s the season of vacations, colorful outfits, ripe stone fruits, showing more skin, and embracing an overall lightness of being. Such are optimal conditions for romance to bloom. To celebrate, I’ve matched up every sign of the zodiac with their fling for Summer 19. The summertime wave of infatuation may hit you in surprising ways—so prepare to be changed, even if it doesn’t last past Labor Day weekend.
Aries

You rams have a (well-earned!) reputation for being blunt and aggressive, which is why your romantic side is not as widely known. But actually, you have a tendency to be hyper-romantic and go hot and heavy right away with a newfound partner, and this summer is all about sparks that blow up into a full conflagration. Whether it lasts—that’s a bit dicier. But you love nothing more than to seize a high-drama moment when the opportunity presents itself, and you’re very keen on spotting those opportunities.

Taurus

You bulls love a powerful monarch (game recognizes game), and you may find yourself attracted to your boss or someone in with more status than you this summer. The good news is, you’re usually an expert at navigating these situations, being charming, unflappable (even if you’re fluttering inside!), and functional in a hierarchical dynamic. The less-than-good news is that, well, work is not the ideal context for developing butterfly feelings. You might be tempted to take fewer vacation days because it’s hotter in the office than it is on the beach. But take your time off; you’ll need that time to help you keep a cool head.

Gemini

Boundaries are not your superpower, Gemini. You’re great at letting information out and less practiced about keeping up a firewall. Which is why your fling won’t be sexual necessary (unless boundaries are your kink? Not here to shame), but it will be helpful: This summer you’ll fall in love with thinking before you speak, and it will save you from having to negotiate weird levels of intimacy with people you don’t really know or trust yet. When you make the space to discern who really belongs in your life and at what level of closeness, you end up honoring your own heart, Gemini. It’s really your own emotional safety and well-being that has you smitten this summer, and it sounds like a downright keeper.

Cancer

To a crabby little water sign like Cancer, the beach is home. The serenity of the waves upon the sand is unmatched by any meditation exercise, and Cancers have some of the most hyperactive fear responses in the zodiac. That’s why you’re always so prepared with all manner of wet wipes, nail clippers or extra gummy vitamins—you’re always afraid you’ll forget something. So this summer, your heart and soul may belong to a place that allows you to unburden yourself (temporarily) from all of life’s stressors and hide away under an umbrella with a streak of zinc on your nose and a good book cracked open. This kind of love can last a lifetime.

Leo

Leos are famous for loving themselves, and this summer you may become enamored with someone who is a lot like you. The opposites-attract model of dating is simply one way to do things, and you’d rather leave the charming miscommunications for rom-coms. Instead, you’re all about twinning a little with your crush, whether you share a name, a zodiac sign, or the same preference for trains over cars. Some of the greatest celebrity pairings of our time dressed alike, and whether or not their love lasted, the aesthetic lives on. It’s one thing to be dating your best friend (yawn), but it’s totally next level to date your doppelganger.

Virgo

Aw, Virgo, your partner is your summer fling! Whether you’ve been dating for a month or closing in on 10,000 hours together, you may stumble into a honeymoon phase with your actual real significant other. While long-term commitment may not be the sexiest concept for everyone, it’s basically your love language. What weakens your knees is not the one-off grand romantic gesture but the gradual process of someone showing up every day and earning your respect. No bells and whistles needed. Just the goods.

Libra

You might not be in love per se, but you are in a groove where you and your friends are really appreciating each other. Romantic friendship is a truly Libran concept, whereby sweet and whimsical elements sneak into your platonic relationships. Perhaps you’re more physically affectionate, or you make each other laugh so hard it’s like you lose yourself in the world you’ve created together. You’ve probably got cute nicknames, too. It’s not that the bonds of your friendship are structured differently than others; they are just tinted with a romantic hue. And it’s a very summery palette.

Scorpio

If you’ve ever been in love, then a tiny part of you is still in love. You’re the sign of deep emotional transformation, and you’re forever marked by all of your exes. (By the way, so are they.) This summer, there may be one you can’t stop thinking about, and who knows, with retrograde season afoot, you may get back in touch. But whether the rekindling takes place in a wistful reverie (cue Adele) or actually meeting up and seeing if this thing still works, you’re longing for something you’ve already had. Of course, there’s also the pesky reasons you broke up in the first place–but that’s what fall is for!

Sagittarius

Oh my god, your summer fling is famous! If any sign is built for celebrity, it’s you, Sagittarius. You’re exuberant, full of life, charming, and so funny. So it makes sense that you may catch the eye of someone with a following. Maybe it’s an actual, literal A-list star, or maybe it’s an up-and-coming writer or a comedian with some niche fame, but either way you’ll be totally hot for each other and down to soak up the spotlight together.

Capricorn

Capricorns like to maintain composure, which is why it’s so cute when someone you didn’t expect to fall for cuts right through your defenses. Prepare to find yourself this summer completely taken with someone who is so not your type. If you tend to go for theater nerds, you may be dazzled by the wit of a banker. Maybe you’re a dyed-in-the-wool baseball fan and they are addicted to celebrity gossip. Let yourself get carried away by the novelty, and try to remember that just because you’re different doesn’t mean you’re wrong for each other.

Aquarius

I see you with someone sweet, Aquarius. Someone soft with delicate curves. They are completely comfortable in their own skin, and it inspires you. When you’re together, they leave you breathless and flushed. PDA is inevitable. You can take them anywhere, and your parents will absolutely love them. But it’s too soon for that. You’re still getting to know them. Even though they seem bright and carefree on the surface, you can sense a dark pit of insecurities. Sometimes when you’re hot and heavy, they get in your face and make a mess. But it’s okay, because they quench a thirst you never knew you had. They make you feel young! You’re not the jealous type, Aquarius, but they turn heads, and you can tell that others want in on your fresh bounty. But they are all yours. Okay, I’ll call them by their name–I’m talking about peaches! You’ll be crushing on peaches.

Pisces

Nothing beats the romance of a first love, and you, Pisces, may re-develop some fuzzy feelings for your childhood crush. You just can’t replicate the chemistry with someone who used to walk with you behind the swings at recess and whose mom was your homeroom teacher in middle school. Let the magic of the past sweep you both up this summer, as you rediscover the ways you’ve changed and stayed the same. It’ll make your trips home extra sweet.

Illustration by Allison Filice

The post Your Summer Fling, According to the Zodiac appeared first on Man Repeller.

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When I decided to tackle Jacquemus for this month’s “runway copycat” column, I found the Socrates quote “know thyself” rattling around in the back of my mind (shaken free from wherever it is that I store all the irritating adages I picked up in Philosophy 101). The Jacquemus look is simple, sleek, and blaringly sexy. My look, on the other hand, tends to favor rhinestones, frills, and multiplicities of pattern. I am not your typical Jacquemus girl. This being said, I am a girl with two eyes and a heart, and I was thus moved when images of models traipsing a hot pink pathway through fields of lavender at the 10-year Jacquemus anniversary show flooded the internet last month. While I might not align myself with the Jacquemus aesthetic, there is no denying that Simon Porte Jacquemus has carved out a niche for himself with an unwavering vision of skimpy, sun-soaked, endless vacations. On paper, I can find no fault with said vision, so perhaps there could be something in there for me! Is it laying dormant in my closet? I suppose there is no better time than the hot, humid present to find out.

Look  #1: S/S 2020 Menswear, Beach Blazer

Right off the bat, Jacquemus won me over with this one. I love this pale pink blazer, but every time I wear it I feel a bit like I’m dressed as an alternate, corporate version of myself. The addition of a T-shirt and swim trunks feels equal parts playful and polished. I am left wondering if Jacquemus’s sexed-up sensibility lends itself to menswear in a more unexpected, cheeky way.

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Look #2: S/S 2020 Menswear, Le Touriste

The absence of prints in Jacquemus’s clothing was my biggest concern when I embarked upon this experiment. One would be hard-pressed to find something that is not patterned or embroidered in my closet, so I was delighted to seethe introduction of cheerful, oversized florals in the most recent show. I must admit I would never wear flip-flops outside of this photograph. The feeling of my big toe separated from the rest is so strange to me that I’m baffled anyone can walk around in them all day! They did, however, seem like the only shoes light and breezy enough to approximate this look, so I borrowed a pair from my mom.

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Look #3: S/S 2018, La Bomba

Now, I don’t use this word lightly, but the video campaign that accompanied Jacquemus’s La Bomba collection was iconic. The whole show was sun-blushed with escapism in the way that fashion can be at its very best, capable of conjuring rich memories, true or imagined, with little more than a piece of fabric. As I mentioned earlier, however, strappy dresses and sandals are not really my thing, and a leotard in the same shade of ballet-class blue seemed truer to myself. I was actually asked to leave the Coney Island theme park for sporting a version of this “not family-friendly” outfit last summer. This debacle is probably the opposite of the Campari-sipping, Capri-vacationing experience for which Jacquemus designed these looks, but whatever.

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Look #4: S/S 2019 Menswear, Suit sans Shirt

All I can see here is untapped potential for more accessories. I need a wallet to sling around my neck, but I also want big Baroque pearl earrings, patterned socks to pair with my sandals, and a smattering of barrettes–none of which would likely be approved by Jacquemus. Restraint is not my strong suit, but do I get points for trying?

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Look #5: S/S 2017, Hat O’Clock

This is an iteration of the Jacquemus look that I can get behind: polka dots, puff sleeves, and a comically large sun hat. It was too hot to even think about donning pants the day I photographed this story, so I opted for a pair of micro-short crochet bikini bottoms, which seemed a very Jacquemus choice. I actually wore this outfit the following night sans hat, though, in retrospect, the hat might have served me well as a barrier to keep people from stepping on my naked toes.

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To be perfectly honest, when I set out on this Jacquemus experiment, I expected to be able to wrap it up with a neat quip that I needn’t have been so stuck in my ways, there was a little bit of Jacquemus near to my heart all along. Instead, I found the words from Molly Fischer’s phenomenal article “The Pleasure of Sitting Out a Trend” rattling in my brain all week as I pulled things from my closet: “The opposite of this…My personal style is the opposite of this.” I liked the leotard, but that seems a bit of a cop-out given that it’s something I regularly wear anyway.

It’s not that I take offense to the Jacquemus style at all–I admire people who can make little more than a spaghetti strap and a sandal look like a full-blown outfit. And I am not uncomfortable with traditionally sexy clothing! Though it took some hard work, I am proud to have a genuinely positive attitude toward my body and all its capabilities. I am thus sure that my qualms here are purely aesthetic. I realize now that I tend to view my body as a craft project or a magpie’s nest, something with infinite potential to be decorated and decoupaged, rather than a race car that must be pared to its most lustrous, aerodynamic essentials. As far as I can tell, the only overlap between my style and that of Jacquemus is our shared affinity for heartbreakingly tiny bags.

I think I still pulled off a worthy approximation of the looks above, and should I ever meet the man himself, I suppose I can proffer him these half-baked attempts at minimalism as some sort of anniversary present. Until then, however, I’ll be in my puff sleeves and my ditsy florals and my clunky, inelegant shoes. I am positive now that I am not tiptoeing around anything in fear. I just…know myself.

Photos provided by Vogue Runway and Ruby Redstone.

The post I Recreated Jacquemus Runway Looks From My Own Wardrobe appeared first on Man Repeller.

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Starting here with an understatement…

Twitter is sometimes not a fun place to be. This is—as it relates to the current state of global affairs—totally appropriate. But it is also a sad fact.

Occasionally, I feebly punish the universe for this reality by deleting Twitter off my phone. Sometimes I do it for a weekend, or a week, but after a while, going completely without it never feels quite right. And lately, this not-all-that-effective form of self-care has been harder for me to commit to—because now there is Eva Victor.

The comedian and writer’s posts started popping up during one of my previous bouts of Twitterlessness, and following her account upon my return has transformed my feed. I still get the news (and news analysis) that makes Twitter valuable and necessary in my view, but the overall milieu of the app is now balanced out by her videos, which are impressively frequent and watch-on-a-forever-loop funny. Of course there are lots of funny people on Twitter—but Victor stands out to me for having found her own unique way of taking the day’s news and turning it into something that qualifies as both biting commentary and the same kind of lighthearted, bizzaro humor that made Vine so loveable. (Also… I often like her outfits.)

She started posting videos regularly in the spring, but they’ve really taken off this summer, so maybe you’re already a fan. (Vulture interviewed her last summer, before she became known for her videos, and she’s written for Reductress and more recently for The New Yorker, too.) But maybe you are not yet initiated. In which case: How lucky for you! For those who qualify as the former, consider this post a greatest hits for you to re-visit now or the next time you need a morale boost. For the latter, please allow Eva Victor to make Twitter a more habitable—dare I say enjoyable!—place starting now.

Without further delay, I submit some of Victor’s best Twitter videos—both as entertainment for you, but also as proof that she needs her own show as soon as possible. I’ve put them into a few naturally occurring categories below.

Explaining Things to Her “Boyfriend”

On Why Pay Equity “Makes No Sense”

me explaining to my boyfriend why equal pay makes actually no sense AT ALL !! pic.twitter.com/eCBSD25YTK

— Eva Victor (@evaandheriud) July 7, 2019

On Why They Should Go to the Straight Pride Parade

me explaining to my boyfriend why we’re going to straight pride pic.twitter.com/ZtXpLaV05s

— Eva Victor (@evaandheriud) June 4, 2019

On How Sunscreen Works

me explaining how sunscreen works to my boyfriend pic.twitter.com/IaJg2GAC5D

— Eva Victor (@evaandheriud) June 4, 2019

Hyper-Specific Impressions

Every Democrat at the First 2020 Presidential Debate

me being a very good Democrat pic.twitter.com/16Th42B8d8

— Eva Victor (@evaandheriud) June 28, 2019

A Person Who Is “Just Completely Wrong”

this is a person who is just like completely wrong pic.twitter.com/7BR2k9x7tB

— Eva Victor (@evaandheriud) June 26, 2019

Coco Rocha Posing

if u know u know .. pic.twitter.com/CmBhv6K0IH

— Eva Victor (@evaandheriud) July 1, 2019

Fleabag

me fleabagging alone on a thursday night pic.twitter.com/VS0Rl0poCC

— Eva Victor (@evaandheriud) May 31, 2019

The Robert Mueller of Your Office

me muellering in the office break room at lunch today pic.twitter.com/s8JPGz5qOp

— Eva Victor (@evaandheriud) May 29, 2019

Extremely Relatable Impressions

Explaining Depression to Someone Who Does Not Have It:

me trying to explain depression to someone who does not have it pic.twitter.com/DKDionWOO0

— Eva Victor (@evaandheriud) March 29, 2019

Killing It on a First Date:

me freaking killing it on a first date pic.twitter.com/d1xTYVEUnt

— Eva Victor (@evaandheriud) June 10, 2019

Getting a New Gingham Outfit:

today so far pic.twitter.com/mHuda9zpKz

— Eva Victor (@evaandheriud) May 20, 2019

Following Eva Victor on Twitter has caused the algorithmic Gods to send a few other really funny, newer comedians my way lately. (Megan Stalter is one whose videos keep making me laugh.) BUT I’m greedy for more, and wouldn’t mind if you obliged me with your favorite recent follow, either!

Feature photo via Eva Victor.

The post Eva Victor Is Making Me Love Twitter Again appeared first on Man Repeller.

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My favorite part of having my fertility assessed was seeing my bladder in the ultrasound; it was so full the technician chuckled and asked if I needed to pee (I did, and laughing about it didn’t help). My least favorite part was learning that, at 29, I am over three years past my “reproductive prime” and less than two years away from my first notable drop-off in fertility. But more memorable than either of those two moments were the conversations I had after the experience, with peers, and what those revealed about my generation’s attitudes around having kids.

My attitude has mostly been assumptive: I’ve always imagined I’d eventually become a parent. I’m sure that’s as much a consequence of my personality as the time I grew up (the optimistic 90s) and my home life (where there were two happy parents who loved Parenting). There were years when my interest waned, when I believed apathy made me edgy—or more delusionally, a stauncher feminist—but I always came back around. Still, I’ve often worried that, in the end, it won’t actually be up to me, at least not biologically. So when the opportunity arose to have my fertility assessed while I was researching the topic for a story, I knew I would say yes, even if it meant facing some bad news. Better to know, right?

My appointment was with Trellis Health, a fertility clinic with a beautiful sun-drenched space in the Flatiron district, and I’d soon learn it’s not in the business of telling cis-women whether they’ll be able to get pregnant. In fact, such an assessment isn’t exactly possible—although there are myriad ways to get close. Trellis is primarily an egg-freezing clinic, and my consultation would be focused on reviewing my candidacy for that process—which, while definitely relevant to my fertility, isn’t the whole story.

The visit started with a small disappointment: the ultrasound would not involve a technician moving a wand around on my stomach like in the movies. It would be transvaginal, which is decidedly less joyous (although seeing my full bladder cheered me up). The point of the ultrasound, technically called an Antral Follicle Count, was to determine the number of mature follicles on my ovaries, which correlates to the number of eggs I have left. Unsettling fact I learned soon after: Female babies are born with all the eggs they’ll ever have; they deplete throughout the course of our lives and finally run out around menopause.

An unusually low follicle count (for your age) can indicate premature ovarian failure; an extremely high one can indicate polycystic ovarian syndrome. My right ovary had six. “Is that right?” I asked the technician. She replied with a neutral hum, which I took to mean I was. When she moved to my left ovary and counted 15, she exhaled. “21 follicles!” she said, withholding further analysis “Now you can go pee.”

Next I had my blood drawn, which isn’t worth regaling, but it was done to check my anti-mullerian hormone (AMH), another indicator of egg reserves. Mine was 2.99, a number that meant nothing to me at first, but which I still wanted to be 3, in a competitive sense.

The last part of the assessment involved sitting down with an egg-freezing specialist to learn about the process and then consulting with a doctor to have my numbers analyzed. It was there that I learned about one’s “prime reproductive years” (18-26), the way fertility, on average, takes its first big hit around 32 and its second around 35, and that conception after that is often referred to as a “geriatric pregnancy,” which must be the most dramatic medical term in existence. I’d heard this stuff before, but hearing it in this setting—and recognizing its increasing relevance to my life—stung more than expected.

I was relieved to learn that my numbers all fall within an average, healthy range though: Although sources vary a bit, anywhere between 12 and 35 visible follicles points to normal, good, or excellent ovarian reserves for a woman my age, and a typical AMH level in a fertile woman is between 1.0 and 4.0. I also learned I’m a good candidate for egg-freezing, although I’m not currently interested (the process costs around $10,000—it’s broken down really well on Trellis’ site).

After the appointment I felt palpably weird, and like maybe I should have kids immediately, despite not actually wanting them yet. On some levels, despite feeling well taken care of at Trellis (it really is a lovely place with lovely people), I felt unsatisfied; I’d have preferred the doctor tell me I am so fertile I shouldn’t sneeze in the vicinity of sperm unless I’m ready to parent. But doctors never say things with that level of certainty (sometimes it feels like a field of educated guesses), and fertility is complicated. As I was told multiple times: Pregnancy only takes one egg, so a woman with low ovarian reserves might get naturally pregnant before a woman with high reserves—there are several other contributing factors.

Later that night I mentioned I’d had my fertility assessed on my Instagram Story and my DMs blew up. First came a flurry of questions: What was it like? Would I recommend it? Am I fertile? Should they do it? Then came opinions: We don’t discuss fertility enough; we discuss it too much; the biological clock is overblown. Then came personal anecdotes: women who were struggling with fertility; women who felt pressure to have kids; and most of all—and these messages came in droves—young women with a subtle, haunting fear of being infertile.

I was taken aback by the level of impassioned interest, which stood in contrast to the low volume of conversation on the topic in my day-to-day life. It made me wonder if the chasm between how often women think about fertility and how often they talk about it is growing. As a very vocal generation on the topics of career aspirations and social and political issues, it makes sense that something like the ability to conceive might take a backseat, especially among progressive crowds who want to change the narrative around what women are supposed to do and be. But that doesn’t mean the anxiety doesn’t exist.

One DM pointed me to a feature The Atlantic ran back in 2013. “How Long Can You Wait to Have a Baby?” the headline asks. In the piece, writer and psychological researcher Jean M. Twenge examines the quality of the public discourse around the topic. She knew that scientific findings are often quite different from what the public eventually hears and spreads—was that the case here? “I scoured medical-research databases,” she writes, “and quickly learned that the statistics on women’s age and fertility—used by many to make decisions about relationships, careers, and when to have children—were one of the more spectacular examples of the mainstream media’s failure to correctly report on and interpret scientific research.”

Take the widely circulated statistic that a third of women 35 to 39 won’t be pregnant within a year of trying (and almost as many will never succeed). Apparently this finding is based on a 2004 article in a medical journal, which used French birth records from 1670-1830. Twenge writes: “In other words, millions of women are being told when to get pregnant based on statistics from a time before electricity, antibiotics, or fertility treatment. Most people assume these numbers are based on large, well-conducted studies of modern women, but they are not.”

In fact, only a few of those kinds of studies have been conducted, and according to Twinge, they aren’t quite so ominous. She points to a 2004 study which found that, “with sex at least twice a week, 82 percent of 35-to-39-year-old women conceive within a year, compared with 86 percent of 27-to-34-year-olds. (The fertility of women in their late 20s and early 30s was almost identical—news in and of itself.)” Twenge goes on to lay out the possible biases informing the whole conversation, and it’s worth the read if you think about this stuff a lot.

Fertility will always naturally correlate with age—not even the most thorough study will tell us otherwise. For those who can afford it, egg-freezing is a great way to take the pressure off. But the speed at which our fertility is declining is still somewhat up for debate in the scientific community. And based on the conversations I’ve had and the reading I’ve done over the last month, the language we’re using—prime years, ticking clocks, geriatric pregnancies—seems dramatic at best, fear-mongering at worst. Aside from contributing to an overall lack of nuance in the public discourse, these words have a way of shaming women harboring quiet fears.

Learning more about my reproductive health proved to be a productive kind of curtain-pulling. It startled me as much as it humbled me, and in the end, it encouraged me to finally do some of my own research. It shouldn’t have surprised me that the conversation around fertility has been simplified in favor of making us anxious—as so often happens in matters of women’s health—but it’s comforting to know there are people out there trying to change that.

Do you think about your fertility? Is it something you’re worried about? Do you feel like you have all the information, or like it’s more of a mystery? Would you get your fertility assessed before you wanted to have kids?

Illustrations by Amber Vittoria.

The post I Got My Fertility Checked Before Wanting Kids. Would You? appeared first on Man Repeller.

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