The Questions We’re Actually Embarrassed to Ask

A week or so ago, I got an email from Marie Claire. One of the articles it linked to was 15 Questions About Sex You Were Too Embarrassed To Ask.

There’s not much about sex I’m embarrassed to ask, and when I canvassed my Twitter followers, it seemed that the same was true for them. The questions we were actually avoiding were about beauty or personal grooming – things that society tells us we’re inherently supposed to know. How to get a genuinely smooth shave. Whether it’s normal for hair removal to be something you have to do to your arse, as well as your cunt. What exactly we’re supposed to do with products recommended by magazines and/or other women.

I’ll hazard a guess it’s not just beauty that we’re ashamed to talk openly about. For me personally, it’s less about grooming and more about health. Why do I occasionally bleed after sex? The muscles down my left side don’t work properly: does that mean if I squeeze my cunt around his cock when we’re fucking he feels it more on one side than the other? And, the one that really bothers me: will I ever be able to have children?

This isn’t just a paranoid fear born out of the anxieties that seem to plague a lot of my generation. Many of us have at least one friend who’s struggled to get pregnant. We share stories of not knowing when the hell our periods are due, not only because we have more important things in life to keep track of, but also because the pill, diet and stress all have a massive impact on our cycles. And to me, it always seems weird to rock up at the doctor’s just because something’s niggling at you at bit: I guess I feel a bit like this. Plus, I’d rather worry about stuff than have my fears confirmed. I know, I know…

It was my beautician who first caused those niggling worries to turn into something more concrete. My hair is dark, and if I don’t get it waxed, you can see it on my top lip. That’s normal, I figure, and so that, and my eyebrows, are just one of those things I regularly have to get sorted, in order to feel like a proper girl.

But as she spread hot wax onto my lip a year or so ago, the beautician said ‘Oh. You’ve got a few hairs on your chin, too. That’s often a sign of PCOS.’

She’s right. It is. Along with growing hairs around your nipples, weight gain (which did happen all of a sudden in my late twenties), and that weight sitting low and all up front, making you look like you’re in the early stages of pregnancy. In the last couple of years, three complete strangers have asked me, out of the blue, when I’m due. Ugh.

It’s not just that I prefer to bury my head in the sand, although there’s an element of that. It’s also that admitting to the above makes me feel less feminine, less attractive, things which are already exacerbated by my disability. PCOS can be controlled, with diet, drugs or surgery. It would make sense to find out for sure if that’s what’s really going on. Instead, I changed my beautician.

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Spreading the Love

I make no secret of the fact that I don’t really believe in the categories we divide blogs into, even if, for ease, my blog reader is set up that way. Fashion. Beauty. Food. Sex. Travel. Lifestyle. Don’t they all have stuff in common?

If I write about why I love matching underwear, is that sex blogging, or fashion?

Erotica inspired by nail polish. Beauty, or sex?

Sex I’ve had overseas. Isn’t that travel, too?

You get the idea.

I’ve wanted, for a while, to set up something regular to encourage people to write something based on a monthly prompt, a prompt that could be interpreted in ways that fit with all of the above.

And then the idea became fully-formed sort of accidentally. One day I clicked the ‘Log in with Facebook’ button on Pinterest, and because I was Facebooking as Charlie, Charlie’s Pinterest account was born. I had no idea how I might use it (much like the Tumblr I recently created), and then it occurred to me that every month I could have a board of pictures on a certain theme, and you guys can use it a springboard for a post, should you feel so inclined. I’ll post links to all the entries in a monthly round up post. There won’t be prizes, but I may send out the occasional Twix, as Girl on the net once used to do for posts I particularly love.

This is not restricted to the six blog categories I mentioned above, either. If you write a different kind of blog and you have an idea that fits with the prompt, join in! It can be fiction or non-fiction, image or words. The whole idea is to break down the artificial boundaries between blog types and get people reading great stuff they might not otherwise find.

I have a few ideas for monthly themes so far. Glitter (fuck, I love glitter at the moment), Texture, Inspirational Quotes. If you have suggestions and you’d like me to add them to the list, please let me know in the comments below. The first prompt will go up on April 1st.

And if you’re looking for a writing challenge in the meantime, why not try this? You’ve only got one week left! (Competition closes 23.59 GMT, April 2nd).

L (The Make Up Artist) + **Competition**

It’s almost the same shade as the lipstick rolling around the bottom of my handbag, but I want it, for the 1920s-style case as much as the name.

She comes over while I’m testing it on the back of my hand. ‘Do you want to see what it looks like on?’

I’m a sucker for other people doing my make up – I’ve never mastered the art of getting that polished look on my own. And she is, without a doubt, polished. Around her neck, a cursive L hangs from a delicate gold chain and her hair is a mass of carefully styled honey waves, but these softnesses are offset by her outfit, which is head to toe black, from her hot pants to her leather apron.

I’m inelegant and clumsy next to her, not helped by having to clamber onto what is essentially a bar stool. She swipes her brush through the colour and leans in close. I twitch, too strung out with life in general to stay as still as she wants me, and she giggles.

She outlines my lips in pencil and maybe it’s that that makes me feel like a blank canvas, like i could reinvent myself here, in Selfridges’ packed Beauty Hall. It’s noisy, hot, and bright, but I’m totally captivated by her. Her lips are ruby red, the kind of colour I dream of being able to pull off as my everyday look. She applies it straight from the stick, she says, and I girl crush a little harder on this rough-and-ready round the edges admission.

It’s strange, having someone focus so hard on your mouth when they’re not kissing you. She fills in between the lines, stepping back occasionally to appraise her handiwork. If I spent this long on my own make up, I’d never get to work.

‘I can’t get the pigment to even out,’ she says, as she continues to sweep colour over my lips. ‘It’s weird.’

Uneven, chaotic – this has been my mental state for months and I want to laugh at the fact that this gorgeous girl can’t make me look calm and sophisticated, no matter how hard she tries. Eventually, the frustration gets the better of her and she drops her brush onto the counter and swipes her finger roughly over my lips.

‘Ah,’ she says, ‘That’s better!’

Even before she hands me the mirror, I know I’m a sure thing. It’s no longer just the packaging and the name. It’s the sense that here, at 11.45 on a Saturday morning, I might have fallen a little bit in love. I pay, and she hands me the bag before turning her attention to the next girl looking for something pretty. Before I walk away, I linger for a moment by the testers and wonder what shade her lipstick was.

Love bite. That’ll be it.

*****

I joked to @Juniper3Glasgow this morning that I’d crushed on so many gorgeous women this week that I was thinking of giving up men for Lent. I think my love of cock will probably win out, but it did get me thinking that Lent is a great prompt for some flash erotica. And what better way to elicit flash erotica than to have a mini competition?

As I said on Twitter, the prize probably won’t be huge. And because at the moment I’m all about pick-and-mix selections of cute stuff, it’ll also be a surprise. And you’ll get the glory of winning, obviously. Plus, because Lent lasts for-bloody-ever, it’s a super generous deadline.

The Rules…

(1) Your story must be a piece of erotica on the theme of Giving Something Up. The more creative, the better.
(2) The post must (obviously) be your own work.
(3) There is no minimum length for posts, but they must be no longer than 1000 words.
(4) You must post the piece on your own blog and link back to this post in order for your entry to be counted.
(5) The competition closes at 23.59 GMT on Thursday, April 2nd. Any entries submitted after this point will not be considered.
(6) You consent to me linking to your post in a list of all the entries once the competition has closed.
(7) Should you win, you are happy to share your mailing address with me for the purpose of sending your prize.

If I’ve missed anything, or you have questions, please let me know…

Charlie xx

The Lion, the Witch and her Wardrobe

At the very beginning of #NaBloPoMo, I asked you guys what you wanted me to write about, and Kristina Lloyd came back to me and asked if I’d write about clothes and make up.

I’m not a big believer in gifs in blog posts (and this isn’t a gif anyway), but this was the first thing that came to mind:

I’m kidding, of course. I don’t *actually* think Kristina wants me to blog about those things because she doesn’t think I’m up to sex blogging yet (at least, I *hope* that’s not what she thinks!), rather I think it came from the fascinating conversation we had over on Facebook about Liz Earle’s Hot Cloth Cleanser (which we’d both highly recommend.) They also sell it in a beautiful Christmas tin, if you’re looking for a gift for your grandma.

Seriously, though. This post is probably the closest I’ll ever come to lifestyle blogging, and I personally think I’m totally. ill-qualified to write on fashion. When I told the boy what Kristina had asked me to write about, he laughed in my face. Then we had a minor row about what John Lewis’ ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ policy *actually* means. Which should probably be the second disclaimer. I spend a fair amount of money on my clothes. This post is probably going to end up  an exceedingly middle class read. Please feel free to not read beyond this point – I’ll try to be back with the sex tomorrow.

Like I said, fashion has never really been my thing. My mum was still buying me clothes from M&S long after my friends had started choosing their own. When I did eventually graduate to Tammy Girl, I made some exceedingly poor choices, including a black long-sleeved maxi dress  with Adidas-style stripes up both sides. And a crop top. Tits aside I’m not built for crop tops now, and I wasn’t at 13, either.

At university, there were pretty much two camps of girls when it came to fashion. The scientists and mathematicians wore a uniform of jeans and black fitted T-shirts. The arts students wore little dresses and scarves. Lots and lots of scarves. Based on my clothes, I looked like I was studying Physics, just with a lot more cleavage. My personal ‘style’ didn’t come until I started working.

These days, I think I know what I like and what suits me. I make the odd bad choice, obviously (don’t we all), but I’ve mastered dresses and a look I’m confident in but no longer involves my tits falling out of my neckline quite as much as it used to. I haven’t bought a lot of clothes this year – Jigsaw is absolutely my go-to store, both for its dresses and for its vest tops, which, while pricey, last forever and are really nice and long in the body. Dorothy Perkins can be great for cheap tea dresses which will fall apart if you wear them often enough, but which someone said to me the other day ‘look just like Cath Kidston.’ I bought jeans again a month or so ago (I haven’t owned any for two years!) – Levis demi-curve, which are high-enough, but not too high, at the waist and have enough room to accommodate my arse. If you’re curvier than me, I’m pretty sure the curve increases beyond demi-, too. For blouses to go over jeans, I think Oasis is the best bet.

The pieces I’ve bought that I really, really love this autumn are this dress and this dress, both from Jigsaw. Office-appropriate, dinner appropriate – I finally feel like I’ve found the clothes that make me feel like me. Don’t believe for a minute though that if you have big tits you’ll look like the model does in that second one – I need to wear a camisole under it to be remotely decent in public.

So, what am I still coveting, clothes-wise? Well, I wouldn’t mind this dress and I really, really want this jumper dress from Toast, too. I have a bit of a soft spot for elbow patches. Aside from that, I’d love the Cambridge Satchel Co Music Bag in red.

I’m not great on tips for where to buy jewellery – I have a friend who understands my tastes very well and buys me great earrings as gifts, and round my neck I mostly wear my Alex Monroe bumblebee, which was a gift from my parents. Other than that, I love the majority of what Oh My Clumsy Heart do,  and I’m a sucker for Metal Taboo‘s filthy wares, as well. Of all the earrings I’ve lost, these are the only ones I’ve desperately wanted to replace.

And make up/beauty products. I’m pretty faithful to the products I like – as well as Liz Earle, a lot of the stuff I use in the bath gets bought again and again – like Origins’ Ginger Float bath cream, for example. On my face, I’m just trying to get to grips with primer,  but I’m loving YSL’s new foundation, which was a Twitter recommendation. We’ll just ignore the ‘Youth Liberator’ bit. My lipstick is either Bobbi Brown or MAC’s MAC Red, and my perfume is almost always Dior Pure Poison. Blusher? NARS Orgasm, obviously. I still can’t find a mascara I’m in love with though, so if you have any tips, please leave them in the comments…

Ur beautiful

I was going to title this post On Beauty, but then I realised that Zadie Smith got there first. Dammit.

Anyway. There were years and years of my life when I longed for boys to tell me I was beautiful. I’ve written before about the impact that my early nightclub experiences had on my life, and wanting to feel pretty was a massive part of that. As a teenager, I wasn’t particularly interested in fashion, but I was precociously interested in sex, and I wanted to be kissing boys. What did the boys want from me? Someone to do their homework.

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