How Porn Made These Women Feel Empowered: ‘It Gave Me a New Sense of Confidence’

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Working in porn impacts how you see yourself, and though at times we can be our own worst critics, performing naked for all the world to see has had a surprisingly positive impact on some female performers, boosting their self-esteem. A number of young women who have found success in the adult industry once struggled with their own body-image issues—hardly surprising given the state of our looks-centric media.

According to reports on global beauty and confidence, 69 percent of women and 65 percent of girls feel “increasing pressures from advertising and media to reach an unrealistic standard of beauty.” Inundated with suggestive marketing on how to improve ourselves, that silent message to women everywhere is coming through loud and clear: don’t be subpar, be better. Even when it’s “body positive,” the marketing toward women focuses on physical appearance. One study done by the Kaiser Foundation found that 56 percent of commercials aimed at female viewers used beauty as product appeal compared to just 3 percent of the television commercials aimed at men.

Whereas mainstream media left some women feeling they couldn’t measure up, they’d never be pretty enough, thin enough or have an ass like Kim Kardashian, working in porn (a stigmatized occupation) had the opposite effect. Their appearance, and the graphic acts they performed, were sexually arousing, so much so in fact that someone was paying a lot of money for it. For some, that alone was validating. Others discovered a renewed sense of body confidence amongst consumers. For every body type and flaw, there’s a niche and adoring (paying) fans.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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What bathing naked in front of strangers taught me about body confidence

What bathing naked in front of strangers taught me about body confidence


What bathing naked in front of strangers taught me about body confidence

“So, who’s going to get naked first?” one of my fellow travelers asked as we sat on the porch of Kirinosato Takahara, the minshuku (or Japanese guesthouse) we were staying in, sipping refreshingly cold beers after a long afternoon of hiking. My newly made friends and I had spent the last three or so hours gaining over 1,300 feet in elevation along one of the historic Kumano Kodo pilgrimage routes as part of our 11-day trip through Japan with REI Adventures. My glutes were tired, my hamstrings wanted a rest, and that local draft beer tasted unbelievably good.

“Sam, do you want to go to the onsen before or after dinner?” The question made my heart flutter. As I took in the picturesque mountain views of the Hatenasi Valley—a sight so tranquil that I normally would have felt nothing but peace—I felt a tremor of panic course through me. In remote areas of Japan, it’s not common for travelers to have private bathrooms where you can relax in a luxuriously long bath, or even enjoy a hot tub soak in your bathing suit. Instead, Japanese onsens, or public hot baths, are the traditional way to get clean and relax hardworked muscles. And here’s the kicker: There are absolutely no clothes allowed.

knew it was something I needed to do—a cultural experience to cross off my travel bucket list. But I was nervous about other people seeing me naked. I don’t have any particular reason for my fear, other than years of American culture conditioning me (and all women) to shower solo, change your clothes as quickly as possible, and use robes and towels whenever possible. (You know you’ve wrapped a towel around your waist while sliding underwear on and off in the locker room.) I worried that if I stripped down in front of other women and stayed that way for more than five seconds, then they would find something to silently judge. The cellulite on the back of my thighs. The slight pudge in my stomach. Hell, maybe I had too much—or too little—pubic hair for their liking. I didn’t know, but certainly, they would find something.

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Related: What hiking with total strangers taught me about solo travel

This way of thinking is very much a part of Western culture. Strides have been made to leave it in the past—the current movement around body positivity certainly helps. But it can’t erase what 20-plus years of thinking has done to my psyche *just like that*. Yes, I firmly believe that women should celebrate their bodies, in all shapes and sizes. And I tell anyone who thinks differently to, well, f*ck off. But I’d be lying if I said I showed myself that same level of love all the time. And I think any American woman who tells you she does is probably lying, too.

Which is why, unsurprisingly, I wasn’t the only one on this trip who was scared of the public bathing rituals. When I entered the onsens, I learned it was tradition to leave my clothes or yukata robe in a basket, then walk—totally naked—over to a row of showerheads that were set at a height that required me to sit on a stool (it’s considered bad manners to stand, lest I accidentally splash someone). Which means that—gasp!—my stomach would have visible rolls. From my seated position, I’d wash my hair and body and thoroughly rinse off. Then, I’d slip into the bath, which was basically a hot tub filled with geo-thermally heated, natural hot spring water that’s believed to improve skin, circulation, and overall health. I’d soak for as long as I wanted (typically five or 10 minutes, as the water tends to be hotter than a Jacuzzi dip), then hop out, dry off, and slip back into my robe.

That first night, it was clear how uncomfortable all of us—Americans, I should note—were with the idea of getting naked in front of others. So while the question “Who wants to get naked first?” was casually tossed out, the reason for it was not so casual: We were setting up a schedule for who would enter the onsen bath when, so each of us could have our privacy and clean up without being interrupted.

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It was a nice thought—one we all took advantage of multiple times throughout the trip. But as the days wore on and the miles on our feet added up, a shift happened among the group. Slowly, we adopted the Japanese mindset around body confidence. And, to put it simply, we stopped caring what other people thought of our bodies. Actually, scratch that—it wasn’t that we didn’t care (again, I’m not convinced you can erase that way of thinking so fast). It’s that we realized everyone else didn’t care.

In Japan, communal baths are an integral part of the culture. My local REI Adventures guide, Fumiko, told me that, in the past, not every home had a bathtub—that was more of a luxury. So many times people would go to the communal area to bathe and rejuvenate their bodies. Nowadays people have those in-home tubs, but locals still head to the onsens from time to time. They’re not there to gawk, stare, or pick apart another person’s body. They’re simply there to relax, and being naked is something that just happens to be a part of the process.

We weren’t forced to use public onsens the entire trip. In fact, only four of the 11 days had them as our only option. The other, larger accommodations had private onsens or personal en suite bathing facilities available. But by the end of the trip, we were all forgoing those private tubs and opting for the public onsens instead. There wasn’t much talk, if any, of who would go when. A simple, “I’m hitting the onsen!” sufficed as we checked into our rooms, ditched our dirty hiking clothes, and slipped into our yukatas. Sure, my heart still skipped a beat each time I derobed, but the cry for a rejuvenating soak was louder than my body image fears. And as the warm water soothed my achy muscles and the quiet conversation between other women buzzed around me, my fears were, little by little, washed away.

I may not be down to dip in my birthday suit on the regular, but if this trip taught me anything, it’s that body confidence—just like everything else—is always a work in progress.

This article originally appeared on Shape.com.

The post What bathing naked in front of strangers taught me about body confidence appeared first on HelloGiggles.

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Pitch and Present Your Business Idea With Confidence

Feeling uncertain and nervous about pitching your business idea to a room full of investors or customers? No worries, these feelings are normal. The key is to mentally prepare and take action.

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Here are four ways to pitch your ideas with confidence: 

Embrace “Impostor Syndrome”

 

Impostor syndrome is the voice in your head that tells you you’re not qualified or good enough. It makes you feel like you’re a phony or that you don’t measure up. Even the award-winning legendary poet and author Maya Angelou struggled with it. Angelou once said, “I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’

Understand this: You never lose, you learn. We are all in a constant state of learning. So embrace this mindset: I’m not perfect. I don’t have to be, but I’m prepared and ready for my moment.

Anticipate Questions from Your Audience

 

  • Define your space in the market: What problem do you solve for a specific audience? What’s your unique approach to solving that particular problem?
  • Why are you better than other businesses in the same industry?
  • Why is your product or service unlike anything else in the market?
  • Does your solution fix a broken business process? Does it serve an underserved area or population? What are the consequences of not taking action?

Tell a Transformative Story that Builds Trust

 

Paint a picture of the people who will buy or benefit from your product or service. Focus your key messages around giving or helping them work toward a better way of life. Here are two simple ways to start your story:

  • Imagine if…
  • What if…

Know Who You Are

“You have to know that you are the only person that can give your customers or buyers what they want,” says Psyche Terry, CEO of UI Global Brands. This goes beyond the product. This is all about you.” Terry also shared these tips with Black Enterprise:

  • Be prepared to communicate what you will and won’t stand for.
  • Believe in what you are pitching. Have you tried it? Do your friends believe in it? Would your friends give you positive feedback about it? If so, go in with confidence that you are just simply spreading the good word. This helps you feel like you are not looking for a handout.

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6 Strategies to Negotiate a Pay Raise with Confidence

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Ready to approach your employer about a pay raise? “Keep in mind that it’s not just about what you think you’re worth, but also about what your employer thinks your contributions are worth paying for, says Rachel Kim, SoFi career strategist and coach.

So if you’re ready to take a seat at the negotiating table, come prepared and negotiate with confidence. Kim provided Black Enterprise with a few do’s and don’ts on how to pitch your boss on a pay increase.

Do:

External research  When trying to get a sense of your market value, third-party, websites like Glassdoor, Salary.com, and Comparably are a great place to start. However, it’s important to remember that these numbers are 100% self-reported and not verified.

Bring the energy – People pay just as much attention to how you present yourself as they do to what you actually say. Come in with enthusiasm and a positive attitude.

Focus on exceeding, not meeting expectations – Talk about the work that you’re doing and the ways that you are contributing above and beyond your job description. Touching on the great work you are doing is good, but remember—that’s your job. It’s important to show how you are bringing additional value to your manager, team, and the company.

Don’t

Focus on performance outside of your own– When the company is excelling it can be tempting to feel like you also deserve to be getting paid more. However, avoid referencing company performance in your own negotiations unless you are going to make the case that you directly impacted how well the company is doing in a concrete way.

Get stuck on a specific number – By putting a specific salary number out there, there is a chance that you may be rejected outright or receive less than you might have if you had not been so specific. Instead, come in with a range that you’d be comfortable with, this way you don’t undersell yourself.

Declare that you deserve it – Confidence and assertiveness can be positive traits within the workplace, but a sense of entitlement when it comes to wage negotiations can make for a closed conversation.

 

 

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