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This has traditionally been done by way of individual Formspring accounts, Autostraddle’s Tumblr and a Formspring Friday column, which has all been very fun and insightful. But, because Formspring has a character limit and we’re wildly optimistic w/r/t our time-management skills, we thought we’d go one further and let you use our ASS private messaging to share advice-related feelings, too.
For more info on sending in questions, see the bottom of this post. Let’s get down to bossing people around on the internet! Today we help you deal with STDs, your perfect boobs and how to still be You when you are part of a We. Images for today’s post are mostly random because what kind of pictures go best with HPV and boob talk?? Exactly.
Laneia, I just found out I have HPV – one of the potentially cancer-causing strains. Now I feel like I can’t sleep with/date anyone until it clears up/maybe ever, because what if I give a girl cancer inadvertently? Who would even want me now?
Hello person person. You are not a walking STD. Does it feel like you are? You’re not. You’re a person. You are, in fact, a person not entirely unlike 20 million other people in the United States who currently have HPV, along with the other 6 million who’ll be diagnosed with HPV this year. I’m not saying that 26 million people having the same STD should make you happy, but it’s always nice to know that you’re not alone.
I called Planned Parenthood for you because I was going to say, “Hello, I would like to speak to a nurse person who can tell me whether or not a girl can get HPV from finger fucking another girl who has HPV. Thank you yes I’ll hold.” But my plan was thwarted when the only options were to either press one to make an appointment or press two to talk to someone in Admin. So! After combing through quite a few threads from teenage boys on Yahoo Answers and reading some really boring repetitive jargon on medical sites who don’t care that we’re gay, I finally found something that I think is as definitive as I’m going to get on the internet, from About.com. At the very least I think About.com was like, the 3rd website to register on the internet, so maybe it can be looked at as a reliable source?
Here’s how HPV makes its rounds from one girl to another:
touching the genitals of a partner and then your own
sharing sex toys without cleaning them properly first
Mkay that’s pretty standard stuff, yeah? So you skip scissoring, no one touches themselves or anyone else until hands have been thoroughly washed, and all the sex toys get scrubbed before each person uses them. These things are not a big deal. This is actually how a lot of people who don’t have STDs have sex, just because they want to! Isn’t that neat? There’s nothing about mouth-to-vag contact, which is worrying w/r/t the accuracy of this article, but I hope it goes without saying that you’d need to use a barrier of some sort.
When we talk about safe sex, we always tell you about gloves, dams, sliced up condoms and washing your toys, so it’s not like these practices are totally out of left field. People do actually have sex like this — with barriers and caution — and it’s not weird. Also? It’s a lot better than having no sex at all.
What I’m saying is, your life/sex life isn’t over.
As you mentioned, sometimes (most of the time?) HPV can go away on its own. I don’t know how this happens and it makes very little sense to my small brain, but I’m not going to argue with science and good news. Not today, my friend.
But please please, the thing I want you keep in your back pocket forever is that you’re YOU. You’re not HPV or any other STD. You’re not just a girl or just an age or a race or a gender and you’re certainly not going to be defined by a fucking virus. I won’t let you.
This quote from Manifesta is about Jennifer Baumgardner’s experience with herpes, which is admittedly different from your situation, but the point is important:
I’m really open about having herpes — partly because I want to demystify the disease, but also because I refuse to be ashamed by it. Although giving the herpes speech to a new squeeze always makes me feel completely unsexy, I have never had anyone react badly.
So there. Who would even want you now? Plenty of people. The same people who wanted you before. Also new people. People have sex with people who have STDs! They really truly do. You are not a vagina hole wrapped in a torso topped with a head. You’re a person. And if someone is ignorant enough to think that you having HPV makes you ‘dirty’ or inherently unfuckable, she’s too stupid for you to sleep with in the first place.
I’ve stopped being myself and I am just her girlfriend now. How I feel about myself is in direct correlation to how much affection or attention she pays me. She loves me but she isn’t dependent on me. I feel like when I’m not with her I don’t exist.
Yeah this situation really sucks. I bet it sucks for both of you. Your girlfriend isn’t dependent on you because you’re so dependent on her, which sort of only leaves her with the option of being the one who is depended on. You have to get out of the house. I don’t know how frequently you get out of your house now, but however often it is, double it. Go to new places and do new things and do them without her.
I realize this is easier said than done, but you can start small and work your way up to the more challenging challenges. The idea is to find pleasure / affirmation / validation from (positive) sources other than your girlfriend — like, yourself! — so you can see that the world does in fact need and appreciate you in very specific ways. I feel like if you’re proud of yourself, you probably won’t rely so heavily on her existence to define you. I mean, you were you before you even met her, so you’ve already proven that you can be a person without her, you know?
Ok so, starting small:
1. This will maybe seem hokey or basic, but think back to a time when you were super happy and independent. For me this was age 14 — I was inordinately in tune with my true self that year. I’d found Liz Phair and started reading better books, so I was basically unstoppable. Whenever I feel misdirected or like a total loser, I think about the 8th grade version of me and what I can learn from her. For example, my 8th grade self has previously taught me not to think twice about trying new things (via that time in study hall when I colored streaks of my hair using blue and red Sharpies with great results) and that I really enjoy cooking, which I forget sometimes. Keeping these things in mind is like keeping myself intact. So think back to the version of you who was having more fun and didn’t need anyone’s approval, and see what you can learn from her.
2. Make a list of all of things you want or want to do and begin doing them. I mean, what kind of person do you want to be? Because you can be that person, you just have to do the things that person does. This is where inertia could kick your ass, but you’re not going to let it. I think teaching yourself how to knit or make soap — anything that yields a physical result you can be proud of — would be a good way to kickstart things. Then you can be all, “I made soap today motherf*cker, what now?” And the world will be like, “NICE WORK.” If you can make soap you can probably do anything. You can be king.
I feel like this is the cheesiest advice I’ve ever given anyone? Like it could be an ad campaign for Avon or something, but also I stand firmly behind it. I’ve been in your shoes and the only thing that got me out of that cycle was realizing that the most important person I needed to impress was me.
I feel so bad. I recently lost some excess weight, which I needed to and I did safely through exercising. But I’m left with flat and saggy boobs. I’m seeing my girlfriend again who has been gone for 6 weeks on a business trip. I’m so insecure about the way my breasts look I am dreading sleeping with her again. I don’t know how I can fix this in my head. Do I just act confident about the fact I have grandma tits and no grandchildren?
I’m putting this here because I want like 800 people to tell you how much you don’t need to worry about the sag/perk of your boobs. It’s hard to wrap your head around it — I know because I also don’t like my boobs and can’t imagine how anyone else does — but your boobs are hot due in large part to the fact that they’re boobs, period.
But a lot of girls I know feel less than confident about their boobs. Even though we all understand — probably you included — on a logical level that we only hate our bodies because of the patriarchy, and that it’s a stupid waste of time to even worry about what our breasts look like when we have brains to work on, we’re still sorta consumed with feeling like they don’t meet some imaginary standard. And I feel like there’s nothing I can say to dismantle that worry that you haven’t already heard before. You just have to internalize the fact that your body is normal and good. You know? Just POOF internalize it.
A friend who’s had the same experience as you — losing weight, losing cup sizes, worrying about her girlfriend’s reaction — talked to me about it, and I thought what she said was important so I’ve copy/pasted it for you here:
It’s confusing to lose weight and get healthier and yet STILL have body issues. You think it’ll solve all your problems, but it doesn’t. You have to learn love your body no matter its current geometric configuration. It took a while to come to terms that a person could love me and not a specific body part. My girlfriend loved my boobs because they were attached to this person that is me. Any other boobs on me are fine with her.
See that’s very smart. You have to think that way. Also, we’re all just people, ok? Bodies are weird and different and special and great, but it’s not like you had some say in what your boobs would ever look like. You don’t have these boobs because you couldn’t afford the expensive ones so you had to buy the cheaper boobs, or because you didn’t get your Master’s in Boobology and these are just your community college boobs. It’s not like it was a choice on your part, so there’s no reason for you to feel apologetic or inferior. These are your boobs! I’m clapping for you now. Boobs! Your girlfriend’s coming back and you get to take your shirt off in front of her! Isn’t life just the greatest?
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