[Guest Blog] How Sex Writing and Kink is Rebuilding My Body Image by Violet Grey

I’m thrilled to be featuring a guest post by Violet Grey for the second time. Violet is an amazing writer and, as I discovered when I met her in person at Eroticon, an absolute sweetheart of a person as well. Please note this piece includes frank discussion of body image and body shaming, so please take care of yourselves if these topics are difficult for you. Enjoy this piece – maybe make a cup of coffee and savour this one, as there’s a lot of brilliant stuff here. – Amy x

A woman in a purple top looking in a mirror and applying mascara. For a guest blog on body image by Violet Grey.

I think it’s safe to say at some point, we’ve all felt crap about our bodies. We wish our tummies were flatter, biceps bulkier, thighs thinner, dicks bigger, boobs perkier, the works.

With social media playing a growing part in many aspects of our life and work, the discussion around body image has evolved all the more. “#BodyPositive” is a common hashtag, and backlash around the unattainable beauty standards we see in the media is now commonplace. That being said, this is a relatively small counter when compared to the billboards, photoshopping and websites that encourage disordered eating – not to mention the horrendous amounts of trolling we see online.

Seriously, it’s like something out of Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill, which parallels the very toxicity of people (particularly impressionable teenagers finding their feet) judging someone purely by their looks. The idea that if we are not ‘perfect’ we are deserving of such ridicule. It’s scary.

If I’m being candid, my body image isn’t great. In fact, it’s not really even that good but I’m working on it. My body has gone through quite a few changes in the last 18 months. Expanding, shrinking, filling out, more stretch marks, all parts of being a woman and human being.

During these changes I freaked out, put myself down and catastrophised in my own mind that no one would ever find me attractive now I no longer sport a 26-inch waist and got a little thicker in frame – least of all myself. It goes to show that falling into the trap of placing a good dollop of your worth on trying to pigeon-hole yourself is all too easy.

Especially so if you, like me, hail from a performance background, where there’s a prevalent culture of being taught that you will land more work if you look a certain way. While for the most part it’s based on ability and on embodying the role in all ways, sadly it’s not uncommon for people to be told by certain schools, directors, companies etc. that they won’t make it as an actor/performer because they are ‘too fat’ or have some form of physical trait that individual personally deems undesirable.

So when it came to my writing about sexy stuff on the internet, I was pleasantly surprised by what I’ve come across in the community. I’ve admired fellow bloggers who share pictures of themselves on their websites, expressing themselves, clothed or otherwise, in memes such as Boob Day and Sinful Sunday. One of the many things I adore about the sex writing community, is just how inclusive and welcoming it has been for me and others so far.

Most if not all of us have had our own struggles with body image. No matter your size or shape, feeling comfortable in your own skin is not an easy task.

For those who are comfortable posting pictures in these memes or just because, I commend their confidence to do so in a culture that is so hell-bent in having us tear each other down. I see the positive comments, telling each other how beautiful they are (which you are!) and it’s so lovely to see such positivity being spread for all genders and body types. It certainly makes a nice change from the vapid comments you see because of a trivial eyebrow shape or the shape of someone’s arse (*cough cough* Instagram!)

With learning more about the BDSM, kink and fetish communities, I’ve interacted with people from all walks of life who – like all communities – share a common interest. Yes, every community has its politics and the aforementioned are no exception. However, compared to others, a constant I have seen online and in real life is the appreciation of the human form, in all its forms.

From Shibari photography to online social networks for kinky people, it’s been really refreshing to be in an environment that is more inclusive and encouraging of positive body image, regardless of one’s shape or size. It’s refreshing to see different forms of expression, from colourful hair and piercings to androgyny, to bondage art, leather and latex, all celebrated rather than derided. And as a woman, it’s nice to see the female form in all their forms being told they are beautiful, and genuinely so.

Seeing such wonderful people with such confidence has and is helping me to rebuild a better, healthier perception of myself. That I am in fact, only human and that being happy and healthy is more important than ‘fitting in’, and that not only is beauty in the eye of the beholder, but that everyone has their own unique beauty, inside and out. My job is making sure I remember that when I feel shit about myself.

Don’t forget to check out Violet’s blog and give her a follow on Twitter. If YOU would like to guest write for me, you can pitch me during my open reading periods. Also, joining me on Patreon or shopping with my affiliates helps me to keep paying occasional guest bloggers.

What Sexual Happiness Means to Me

This week is Sexual Happiness Week! I think that’s a sentiment we can all get behind, no? (If not, why are you reading this blog?) My pals at Lovehoney asked me in an email “what does sexual happiness mean to you?” and, of course, it got me thinking.

A cock ring, a bottle of lube, a mini wand vibrator, a pot of orgasm balm and a bath bomb, all from Lovehoney. For a post on Sexual Happiness week.
Being a sex blogger is pretty great when you get presents like this!

My initial reaction was to give my working definition of sex positivity: “supporting the right of all consenting adults to have sex, or not, in whatever ways work best for them, free from stigma or shame”.

And while I stand by that, I think sexual happiness is something a little different. So I started making a list of some of the things that make up “sexual happiness” for me. It’s different for everyone, so your mileage may vary. Why not tell me in the comments what YOUR definition of sexual happiness is?

1. Feeling in harmony with my body

My body and I have… an uneasy relationship. We haven’t always been friends and honestly, we sometimes still aren’t. Feeling good about my body is something I am mostly struggling to access right now, but in order to experience sexual happiness I do at least need to feel comfortable – neutral, if you will – about it.

I can’t have good sex if all I can think about is how much I hate my stomach and how my thighs are too big. But I can get to a happy place sexually if I can turn off all that noise and, if I cannot love how my body looks, at least appreciate it for the things it can do and the sensations it can feel.

2. Having partners I can really trust

You cannot have really good sex without trust. This is something I firmly believe. For me, trust is more complex than just “you’ll do what you say you’re going to do”. Trust means that I know you’ll show up for me if I need you, outside of a purely sexual space. It means I can be vulnerable with you and know that you will hold space for that and not use it to harm me. It means I can rely on you to show up and keep your commitments to me, not because I force you to but because you want to.

My bar for ongoing sexual partners is now much higher. We might or might not fall in Capital L Love with one another, but if I don’t trust you, we have nothing – not even a casual something.

3. A frequency that works

I’m a very highly sexual person much of the time (duh, you all think as you read my sex blog). This means that, much of the time, I’d like to be having quite a lot of sex. Much as I joke about liking my sex like I like my coffee (“hot and several times a day,”) my actual ideal frequency for sex tends to fall around the 4 – 5 times a week mark, a little more when I’m not busy. (LOL, as if there’s ever a time I’m not busy.)

But the key to sexual happiness for me is a frequency of sex that works with where my life is at that time, and works for the relationship I have with that partner. Right now I probably have sex with The Artist about once a month, but that’s… most of the times we see each other. Whereas with Mr CK, it probably averages out to once or twice a week – but we live together and see each other every day unless one of us is away, so we have days when we’re together but don’t have sex much more often. The key to happiness is a frequency that works for everyone.

4. Exploration and new experiences

At my heart, I am a curious creature with a lust for new experiences and plenty of adventure. Sexually, this can mean a lot of things. New partners, yes – sexual variety is one of the reasons I practice consensual non-monogamy. But also trying a new kink act, a new toy (my job as a sex writer blesses me with the ability to do this frequently!), a new position, or a new sex party or club all fall under the umbrella of “variety”.

Basically I want to try shit out. Being with a person for a long period of time and keeping a sexual spark alive comes quite easily to me, as long as there are plenty of adventures to be shared.

5. Plenty of attention given to my pleasure

I nearly wrote “orgasms!” for this one, but, well… I have an orgasm denial fetish. So I’ve amended it to needing a partner to give plenty of attention to my pleasure, in whatever way that looks. It might mean making sure I come, of course. But it might also include teasing me in the way I like, or spanking me in just the right way, or honestly just regularly checking in to make sure I’m having fun and getting what I want out of the scene. Nothing will turn me off faster than a partner who treats me like a sex toy. (Unless that’s a specific roleplay we’ve negotiated… in which case I’m getting something out of it too, so the point still stands).

Today’s post is brought to you by Lovehoney’s Sexual Happiness Week. Check out the great deals on offer. If you buy through any of my affiliate links, I make a small commission.

WWAD? (What Would Amy Do?)

I’ll be honest with you, dear readers. I’m having a really hard time with a lot of things right now. This is for a variety of reasons, not least that my body image is at its lowest level ever (even lower than when I wrote this,) my day job is…. challenging, and I’m currently working through intense childhood trauma as well as the abuse from my ex with my therapist. Basically, I don’t like the person I am at the moment. I’m a sluggish, grumpy, emotionally unavailable shell of myself.

A woman's face with her hand partially covering her mouth. The picture looks cracked. For a post called What Would Amy Do?

And one of the things I’m finding particularly hard right now is polyamory. Jealousy is biting me hard. Compersion has fucked off somewhere and ghosted me. And I’m forgetting everything I supposedly know about how to handle this shit.

I don’t want to be like this.

In my “real” life (air quotes because this world feels more real to me than my day-to-day life), I have a different persona. Another person I have to be. Let’s call her… Sarah. Sarah is significantly less cool than Amy. She works in an office instead of writing about her vagina on the internet, she wears comfy sweaters and jeans instead of corsets and lingerie, and she plays the role of a straight, monogamous “good girl” in a play called “Small Conservative Town And Judgemental Job”. She’s the person I was for most of the twenty six years of life before I started this blog, found “Amy,” and learned how to be the person I always wanted to be.

Sarah is also many of the traumatised, fucked up, broken pieces of me.

Something that frustrates me is how often I forget how to do the things that I advise other people on all the time. I know how to handle a jealousy flare-up. I know how to own my own shit. And I know how to talk to my partner about a problem without it escalating into a fight. People come to me for advice on this stuff. I run classes on it. And write a fucking column on it! I. Know. This. Shit.

Or at least Amy does.

But Sarah finds it so very hard to tap into this knowledge when I am neck deep in brutal insecurities, non-existent self-esteem and the sense that all I want is for these feelings to STOP.

Sometimes, when I’m struggling with a situation and so deep in panic that I don’t know what to do, I try to ask myself a question: What Would Amy Do? That is, I try to step outside of the immediacy and the pain of the situation, and think: if a reader came to me with this question, what would I tell her to do? What would my advice be? Usually, when I look at it like that, the way forward is much clearer (if still equally difficult to enact in practice.)

So what would Amy do? She’d probably start by apologising to her partner for being an insufferable shit and get her ass back to therapy.

Hey, maybe buy me a coffee to help me keep paying for books and vibrators therapy.

[Wearable Review] Lovehoney Elixir Luxury Lingerie Set

Has anyone else noticed that Lovehoney are on fire with their awesome lingerie offerings lately? I’m not surprised after meeting their wonderful and skilled designer at the recent blogger day – she makes it her mission to find the most beautiful fabrics and use them to create gorgeous pieces for all bodies.

The suspender belt from the Elixir lingerie setI originally asked for this set in black, but they didn’t have any black sets left for review. Bright red and gold feels a bit much for me, being the shy retiring creature that I am [1]. Still, it’s good to get out of one’s comfort zone, isn’t it? So red it was.

[1] Except when the catsuit of joy comes out.

There’s a lot of pieces to this one…

The Elixir set is four separate pieces:

  • A long-line bra, with padded cups and velvety straps and framing detail.
  • Crotchless knickers.
  • A suspender belt with four velvety suspender straps.
  • Wrist cuffs joined with a delicate gold chain.

Note that stockings are not included, so you’ll need to buy those separately. I recommend these red thigh-highs. Perhaps pair with killer heels to complete the look?

Glamour and luxury

I was put off red lingerie years ago because so much of what’s out there is just so… tacky? This is not that.

The fabric is a bright, luscious red and shot through with flecks of gold. The gold just makes the whole set feel so luxurious and high-end – it really feels like it should be much more expensive than it is. Each piece is also adorned with a cute little charm in the shape of the Lovehoney heart logo.

I also love the slightly kinky aesthetic that comes from the cuffs. They are purely for decoration – the chain is extremely thin and the lace is delicate. Don’t try to pull against them or use them for restraint as you’ll damage them.

How does it fit?

Fit is always a bit difficult when it comes to lingerie, because we all have such different proportions. Lovehoney provide handy sizing charts on all their lingerie so you can work out which size is best for you. And if you’re, say, a medium on top but a large on bottom, just get in touch and they’ll help you out if they can.

The Elixir set is available in S/M/L and also in Plus Size, so will fit anyone from size 6 to 24.

I’m currently wearing a UK 14/16 (and occasionally 18, it’s a bit brand-dependent) so after some deliberation I got the Large. The fit is not perfect but pretty good. The bra covers my 38DD boobs pretty well, and the knickers are a great fit. The suspender belt was a bit small on me and didn’t sit properly on my body as a result, but I’m an hourglass shape with big hips so this makes sense.

A question of comfort

I mean, it’s sexy lingerie. It’s not particularly supposed to be comfortable! That said, this set is designed with maximum possible comfort as well as aesthetic in mind. The lace is super soft – not scratchy at all. So though I wouldn’t wear it all day, it’s surprisingly comfortable when compared to other, similar items on the market. I could happily spend an evening out at the club – or in with my partner – wearing it!

Making you feel great

I struggle with body-image. I’ve written about this before, if you’d like to read (CWs for weight, body shame and diets in linked posts). In short, I really struggle to feel good about my body or to feel sexy – and a lot of the time, I hide behind jeans and jumpers and baggy loose clothes. I avoided lingerie for a long time out of the vague feeling that it’s not really for me or my overweight body.

Sex blogging has forced me to dip a toe in to trying lingerie – can’t easily write about it if I don’t try it, now can I? And Lovehoney’s pieces consistently make me feel gorgeous when I put them on. The designs work for a wide range of bodies, not just the proportions of a mainstream lingerie model, and they make a wide range of women and femme folks feel look and feel beautiful.

A great sexy gift?

Christmas is coming up! (As if you’d forgotten). Could this set be a lovely gift for the special femme in your life? Or just a special treat for yourself? The colour scheme is delightfully festive.

The entire Elixir range is currently on sale at 20% off, so you can pick up this gorgeous set for just £35.99. And, if you order before the end of 21 December, there’s still time for delivery before Christmas!

Thanks to Lovehoney for sending me the red Elixir luxury lingerie set to review. All views my own. All pictures by me. If you make a purchase, please use my affiliate links and send some commission my way at no extra cost to you. 

Getting Fit Together… with Sex? Sexercise Fitness Review Part 1

Content note: this post contains discussion of fitness, exercise and weight loss. Please feel enormously free to skip this one if these topics are difficult for you.

Charlotte and Colin from Sexercise Fitness smilng at the camera in their underwear
Charlotte and Colin, the power couple team behind Sexercise Fitness.

Why (and how) I’m doing this

Those of you who have been reading my work for a while will know that I struggle with my weight, fitness and body-image. You’ll also know that I am tremendously busy. So when Charlotte, one half of the duo behind Sexercise Fitness, approached me to review their workout programme – which can be conveniently done at home, requires minimal equipment, and includes sexual applications for the various exercises(!)… well, how could I resist!?

I am not “dieting” while doing this programme, as food restriction tends to lead me to negative mental health and disordered eating places. I eat a pretty healthy diet anyway, and the only dietary change I’m making is trying to cut back a little on refined sugar. I’m also not sharing my weight numbers here as I don’t think that’s healthy for me or my readers. I’m focusing on feeling healthy and fit, not on numbers. I’ve just started the programme and will be sharing my thoughts today and at the end.

What is Sexercise Fitness?

Each week of the Sexercise Fitness programme consists of a series of strengthening exercises which can be done individually or together with a partner. They’re led by a trained and qualified Personal Trainer, and the videos are simple to follow along with. I found it easiest to play the video full-screen and do the exercises on the living room floor with my computer in front of me.

In the videos, Colin and Charlotte do separate exercises – but I decided to try them all, just for fun. They start off pretty gentle, making this programme suitable for beginners, and each workout is less than ten minutes long. Ongoing access means you can repeat things as often as you feel like you want to. Starting out at a base of very low physical fitness and muscle tone, I found the Week One exercises challenging but manageable.

As well as the exercise walkthrough videos, there are extra videos with little tips and tricks, and Charlotte and Colin share their experiences as they go through the programme. They’re adorable and funny together, and very real as they share their struggles and triumphs. At the end,  there are suggestions for sex acts and sexual positions based upon the exercises you learned that week.

Membership costs £24.97 for 1 year’s full access to everything – less than one month of typical gym membership or a single session with a personal trainer.

Who’s it for?

The “sexercises” demonstrated are based around a cis male and cis female body pairing. However, you can easily adapt them to fit your own relationship and genital configurations. The positions for penetration work just as well with a strap-on or for anal sex, and obviously anyone and everyone can enjoy oral sex if they want to! You could do the programme on your own, but you’ll probably get more out of it by doing it with a sexual partner.

It’s a fun and different approach to getting fit with a partner and what I’ve seen so far, I’m enjoying (even though I’m a touch sore.)

Check back in six weeks to see how I got on…

…and what happened when I roped Mr CK in!

Thank you to Sexercise Fitness for sponsoring me to attempt this challenge and tell you guys about it. All opinions, as ever, are my own. Remember to listen to your body, work within your own capabilities and limitations, and consult a doctor or healthcare professional if you’re in any doubt before starting an exercise programme.

Plus-Size Lingerie and Body Love [A Review, of Sorts]

This post contains frank descriptions of body image issues and weight loss (no numbers) and discusses external and internalised fatphobia. Please look after yourselves and skip this one if this is likely to be difficult for you. This one is quite vulnerable for me – please be kind. Thank you.

A pretty curvy woman in the Rendezvous plus-size lingerie set from LovehoneyI am currently fatter than I have ever been in my life. And I am not, truth be told, okay with this.

To be honest, I feel bad even writing that. I don’t know if I am allowed to complain that I experience fatphobia at this size – where I never have before. Plenty of people who are bigger than me experience far worse. But there we are. These things exist on a spectrum. And many people, from men who might want to fuck me to service staff, treat me noticeably worse now than they did 50lb ago.

A pretty curvy woman in the Belle Amour plus-size lingerie bra set from LovehoneyEven though I’m frequently attracted to gorgeous babes of all sizes, fat and thin and everywhere in between, I really struggle with seeing my body like this. I have to be in a lot of photos at my day job, and I’ve often ended up going to the loos to have a sneaky cry after seeing a photo of myself. It’s probably fair to say I currently hate my body most of the time.

I’m on a long journey right now of getting back to the weight where I felt good about my body, while also trying to love it as it is on the way. Part of the problem is that a lot of my clothes, and especially a lot of the clothes I used to feel good in, don’t fit me at the moment. This includes all the gorgeous lingerie I’ve accrued in two years of sex blogging. (Small mercies, I can still get into the catsuit of joy, but just barely.)

So when my pals at Lovehoney announced they were launching two new lines of plus-size lingerie, I agreed to try it out. Still at a place of being reluctant to call myself “plus-size,” I nervously selected a couple of pieces and waited for them to arrive. They then sat on the sofa for several days, staring at me. Making me feel guilty for not trying them and scared to try them in equal measure. What if they looked awful? If they didn’t fit? If I ended up just hating my body even more?

Eventually I did try them, when I was alone in the house and there was no-one but me and the mirror to judge me. (Not that my sweethearts would ever negatively judge me, but internalised fatphobia is strong, y’all).

Meet Belle Amour & Rendezvous

Belle Amour and Rendezvous are Lovehoney’s two new lines of plus-size lingerie. Unlike their other offerings, these ranges are exclusive to Plus and cover sizes 18-28 (that’s UK sizes).

“Belle Amour” is a red-themed range (two of the sets also have black accents) which is bright, bold and sexy as hell. The two “Rendezvous” pieces are inspired by fetishwear and characterised by black fabrics, gold studded collar and belt, and fishnet lace. Woof.

The pieces I chose & my experience

I decided to go for one basque and one bra set, to get the best overall sense of the range. I chose the Rendezvous Studded Fishnet Basque and the Belle Amour Longline Bra Set.

When I first got lingerie from Lovehoney, I was really pleasantly surprised at the quality. Unlike what you get from a lot of sex shops and online retailers, this stuff is fantastically made and uses real high-quality materials. These pieces were no exception. The satin looks anything but cheap, and the lace is unbelievably soft.

I tried on the Rendezvous set first. I’m a big fan of fishnet and I love the floral pattern interspersed with the netting – it gives the set a gorgeous kinky/femme edge. The studded belt is my favourite part, though. I love how it accentuates the curve of my waist.

Sexy lingerie is not designed for comfort, so I won’t pretend it was the most comfy thing in the world. But the material is soft and non-scratchy enough that I could wear it for a few hours at an event without too much trouble.

I think this one is coming out at the next kink event we go to…

Next up was the Belle Amour set. I was initially less sure about this one. For starters, it shows off my stomach which isn’t a part of my body I am particularly fond of.

But the longer I wore it, the more I loved the shape it gives to my breasts and the way the garter belt hugs the curve of my hips. I also think the long line bra style, which hits just at the top of my waist, is a super flattering cut for me. The whole aesthetic is delightfully femme.

This is definitely the more comfortable of the two – again, I cannot overestimate how soft this lace is!

Now I just need to get me some wonderful stockings to complete the look…!

Some reactions:

I think it’s safe to say the reactions from my partners and sexy friends were overwhelmingly positive.

“Woof!” – anonymous friend

“*heart eyes emoji*” – other anonymous friend

“So ridiculously hot.” – the Artist

*Drags me into the bedroom for immediate sex* – Mr CK

A note on sizing

As ever, femme clothing sizing continues to be a mystery. Lovehoney’s plus-size lingerie comes in three sizes: 18/20, 22/24, and 26/28. However, each basque and bra has three rows of hooks-and-eyes and some stretch, making them adjustable to a reasonable degree.

Regardless of what size I’ve been at, I have always had disproportionately large boobs compared to the rest of my body. I don’t normally do bras so I haven’t had a measurement done in years. But at a guess I’m probably an E or F cup right now. This means I often have to go a size up in tops and anything with a built-in bra.

I requested these pieces in size 18/20. I’m wearing a 16 in most things at the moment, occasionally an 18 on top thanks to the aforementioned tits. However, on the tightest hook setting these pieces fitted like a dream. Even the cups were a perfect size and actually covered my nipples properly! All the straps are adjustable, from the bra straps to the pieces that attach the collar to the basque. The collar, though not adjustable, is stretchy enough that I can pull it over my head so it will fit the vast majority of neck sizes.

The knickers on both pieces were very, very slightly big on me but really nowhere near enough as to be problematic.

Care and Cleaning

Unfortunately, these pieces – as with most sexy lingerie – are hand-wash only. We actually do put them through the washing machine, in a net bag on the most gentle cycle and they’ve been absolutely fine, but your mileage may vary.

The Verdict

I love both of these sets, and these whole ranges! Interestingly, both my partners agreed that the red set was their favourite, but the black feels like more “me” when I wear them. Perhaps I’m just not very used to bright colours! Black feels much more comfortable, much more… safe?

More than anything, I want to emphasise how goddamn sexy I feel in these pieces. I cried when I’d finished trying them. The whole experience reminded me how it feels to love what I see in the mirror. That’s been… a while.

So what now?

Whatever size you are, if you’re struggling with how you see your body, I recommend getting something to wear that you feel absolutely gorgeous in. This might be lingerie or it might not – what makes us feel good is very personal.

This experience has not cured my body-image issues by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not sure that’s entirely possible. We live in a society that hates fat bodies, that encourages women to hate themselves, and that profits off insecurities and imperfections the media has convinced us we have.

But putting on this this gorgeous plus-size lingerie, taking photos and letting my lovers tell me how sexy I am, has reminded me that my body can still be hot and desirable and perfect, exactly as it is right now. And that has to be worth something.

Thanks to Lovehoney for providing me with these pieces to try. As ever, all opinions are my own. If you purchase through my affiliate links, you send a small commission my way at no extra cost to you. Professional product photos are property of Lovehoney and used with permission. Other images are mine – do not steal them.