TEAM ZOELLA MARCH 21, 2021

Weekly Wants: Spring Home Interiors Refresh

Spring embodies all things fresh, inspiring and new, making it the perfect time to make subtle changes to your environment with the help of greenery, light soft furnishings and all things pastel everything.

We might be breaking free of our homes soon (the countdown is ON), but that sure as heck doesn’t mean we’re not committing to the yearly Spring interiors refresh that makes the change of seasons really hit home (literally). Spring embodies all things fresh, inspiring and new, making it the perfect time to make subtle changes to your environment with the help of greenery, light soft furnishings and all things pastel everything. Jewel and rich tones have had their day till the leaves turn brown and crisp, as Spring brings a promise of light and bright everything which couldn’t be more needed after a long winter.

This Spring is perhaps a little different from previous years too, with the renewed sense of optimism and hope for what the year ahead will hold. Maybe it comes in the form of serving dishes for the dinner parties you can’t wait to have, jugs and glassware for the endless cocktails you’ll be serving to your pals or small but welcome interior changes that will make the last stint at home a little more bearable, this year’s Spring refresh feels perhaps more poignant than ever.

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TEAM ZOELLA MARCH 20, 2021

Embracing Taboo Fantasies and Getting The Sex Life You Deserve With Dr Bat Sheva Marcus

If you’re currently settling for a mediocre sex life and your bed-rocking orgasms are officially MIA, this is one Q&A you’ll want to have on your radar.

If there’s one person we’d want to hash out all our sex related quandaries with, no holds barred, it’s certified sex therapist Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus aka ‘Queen of Vibrators’. Her wicker basket of sex toys is the Instagram content we never knew we were missing. Thank us later.

In her new book, Sex Points: Reclaim Your Sex Life with the Revolutionary Multi-Point System, Bat Sheva Marcus provides an easy-to-use framework to identify the missing parts of your pleasure puzzle and what factors could be keeping you from having the rich sex life you SO deserve.

Here, we asked her to tell us everything she knows about embracing taboo fantasies without shame, introducing sex toys, rekindling lust and reviving your sexual desire.

If you’re currently settling for a mediocre sex life and your bed-rocking orgasms are officially MIA, this is one Q&A you’ll want to have on your radar.

Visit Bat Sheva’s website here and take the sex points quiz for yourself here.

Your revolutionary Sex Points framework helps identify the factors that could be affecting your sex life and what’s keeping you from the great sex you deserve. Can you tell us a bit about how it works and the four quadrants pain, arousal libido and orgasm? 

Sure. Here’s the thing, when our sex life isn’t working, we usually are looking for the “one thing” that is “off” or “broken” to fix. But your sex life doesn’t work that way. And honestly, it’s not really helpful to look at it that way!  It’s much more useful and realistic to understand that your sex life is a combination of many, many aspects of your life: your health, your body image, your hormone levels, your relationship, your ability to use your brain, your willingness to explore new things. And all those things add “points” or takeaway “points”. That’s why I say that you rather than worrying about what is “broken” in your sex life  you look towards getting yourself  “100 points”, places where you can add to the bottom line of your sex life,  because at that threshold you will be having good sex. And I truly believe everyone can get to that threshold.

I break things down into the four typical areas where women experience their problems: pain, low desire, problems with arousal (getting turned on) and problems with orgasms.Dr Bat Sheva Marcus

In order to help you understand how different parts of your sex life may be affected by “missing points,” I break things down into the four typical areas where women experience their problems: pain, low desire, problems with arousal (getting turned on) and problems with orgasms. Identifying and understanding these four “quadrants”, and where you are “missing points” in each of them will give you the keys to turning around your sex life. 

And to make your life really easy, I provide a handy-dandy quiz that does the work for you. You just take the quiz (there’s a link in the book) and it gives you a full score, and your score broken down into the four quadrants. So you can just click buttons to answer the questions and voila, you end up with a lovely, snapshot view of your current situation.

Once you’ve established what it is that’s keeping you from having a great sex life, how do you go about reclaiming those missing sex points? 

Once you have a picture of what is happening currently in your sex life,  you should be off and running. The book works as a “choose your own adventure.”  Once you realize where you are missing points, the book will say “To gain back points in this quadrant, go to chapter 12, 15 or 17”.  Those chapter guides will suggest any number of areas to approach. Let’s look at medications you are on that might be taking away points. Let’s look at medications that you could be on that could give you points.  Let’s see if we can help you retrain your brain to get you fantasizing and gain a slew of points that way. Maybe start looking differently at how you approach sex.  Or perhaps a primer on vibrators might give you points in the particular area you are missing points. There’s a veritable buffet of options you can use to gain points.

Why is it so important for us to fantasies and how do you learn to tune into your sexuality, especially if it feels taboo or inappropriate? 

I think there is almost nothing as critical for women as learning to use their erotic brains and embracing their fantasies. The truth is that the erotic part of your brain needs to be nurtured and paid attention to just like any other part of your brain. If you stop doing math, you’re going to be poor at doing math problems. If you stop speaking a foreign language, you’re going to get rusty in that language. Women have stopped themselves from fantasizing for so long because they are ashamed of their fantasies, or because they are afraid of their fantasies. And then, that part of your brain gets rusty from disuse. The book has a blueprint for how to get back that erotic part of your brain.

A fantasy is just a thought, it doesn’t hold any meaning other than the fantasy itself which is entirely imaginary, so why do you think women find it so difficult to explore the concept?

Dr Bat Sheva Marcus

We’re very quick to judge and shut down our fantasies, aren’t we? We sure are! I am always taken aback at how women “edit” their fantasies!  It’s such a weird situation. Somehow, we have lost our ability to discern between fantasy and reality. And that makes women feel as though their fantasies have to be “appropriate”. Well, nothing could be worse for your erotic brain! The whole joy of fantasies is that they are not real, not happening and most times we don’t have any desire to have them happen!!  Women have to start understanding that fantasies are just fantasies and not a reflection of what they would like to have happened in reality. They should not worry if their fantasies are not reflective of reality, are not PC, or “appropriate”. Fantasies are one of the most fun things in our life and we should revel in them without worrying about them.

How can we unlearn those sex myths and enjoy the pleasure of guilt-free fantasies?

I will tell you that the first step is understanding that fantasies are not something that descends upon you like Pixie dust but are something that you need to work on and actually practice. You need to keep reminding yourself that they do not reflect reality and that whatever you love to fantasize about, whether that is your boss, three women, two Martians and a chimpanzee, it is all fine and good because it is just a fantasy. And know that many women have “categories” of fantasies: ones that are semi-realistic that you want to try out, ones that are far out and unrealistic and you never, ever want to actually happen, ones you might share with a partner because it would be fun and ones that never leave the confines of your brain! Their all good, valid and helpful.

A lot of people just don’t feel like having sex. They’re tired, their libido is nowhere to be seen and the thought of sexy underwear does nothing for them. For anyone who falls into the ‘would rather roll over and read a book’ camp, how can they revive their sex drive? 

It’s important to understand that desire is not something that “happens” to you magically from the outside. It is a combination of what is happening in your body chemically, hormonally, and in your brain and your relationship. In order to get your mojo back you may need to look at all of those factors and understand how they fit together. But let me tell you this: it is possible to regain your sex drive and feel good about it. I know women often feel hopeless when they have no desire. Because, you know, with no desire, there’s no desire to have desire and that can feel insurmountable. But with some understanding of the physical and the emotional factors at play, you can turn things around!

How do complex emotions such as anger, jealousy, shame and anger play a part in our sex lives and can those feelings actually be the making of good sex? 

Jack Morin, one of my all-time favorite writers on sex, suggests that difficult emotions are often some of the strongest catalysts for eroticism. His book, The Erotic Mind, posits the great paradox of sexuality: how shame, guilt, anger and anxiety, often thought to be inhibitive of good sex, can turn out to be powerful aphrodisiacs.

Sex can be safe and consensual and still flirt with some of these more complicated emotions.Dr Bat Sheva Marcus

One thing I talk about in the book is how complicated emotions impact on our sex lives. Many women will tell you that ironically, the best or “hottest” sex of their life was early on in a relationship when they were a bit anxious and nervous and not as they got more comfortable and settled into their relationships. Many women will tell you that they get turned on by emotions that have to do with aggression and power which is fine and perfectly normal and healthy. The truth is that we’ve tried to clean up sex so much that we seem to be leaving it fairly anaemic which is totally unnecessary. Sex can be safe and consensual and still flirt with some of these more complicated emotions.

Why do you think women in particular have such a hard time asking for what they want sexually? 

Let’s be honest, women have a hard time asking for what they want in many realms of life.  Sex is just another area where we don’t communicate our wants, desires and needs.

With regard to sex in particular, I think women are ashamed to ask for what they want because they have been told that what they want is inappropriate. They have been told that only certain types of women want certain kinds of sex. And they feel like sex should be easy and comfortable which can sometimes be the opposite of what it should be. Like how sexy are flannel pajamas?

Lust has a pretty critical role in the ongoing health of a sexual relationship, right? Talk to us about the love/lust ratio and striking that perfect balance!  

Here’s the difference between love and lust: Love is an intricate and complicated tapestry of feelings: respect, concern, support, understanding and appreciation to name just a few. Lust, by contrast, is quite a simple emotion. It’s a visceral, almost physical longing for someone sexually. And on its own, lust may work quite well in specific types of relationships: one-offs, friends with benefits, and short-term trysts. On its own though, it usually doesn’t bode well for ongoing, meaningful, long term relationships. It’s hard to sustain a relationship with a one-dimensional base and nothing but physical interest in each other to cement the relationship.

But it’s also difficult to sustain a long-term romantic relationship without it. You know when you hear someone talk about not being “in love” with their partner, even though they “love” them? Or when someone talks about a relationship being supportive and loving but “we feel like roommates?” What they are saying is that the lust is gone!  That is a problem–and it’s a more common problem than you think.

When relationships first start you often find a perfect fusion of love and lust. And as a result, relationships oftentimes start off so heady. But overtime things shift, and when relationships that are lustful become long-term meaningful relationships, many of us start to trade in the whirlwind feelings of lust in favor of shiny romance.

The trick is to try to recapture some of that lust and keep a semblance of a balance, because in the end that will bode best for a  relationship.

How do you go about introducing sex toys into your relationship for the first time? 

Women worry that their male partners might feel threatened by their use of a vibrator. While that can sometimes be the case, often I believe women are just transferring some of their own discomfort or questions onto their partner. If you believe that it’s perfectly valid and normal to bring a vibrator into the sexual relationship, it makes the conversation so much easier.

The truth is that most partners really and truly do care about giving pleasure. They want to see you excited, turned on and wild with pleasure.Dr Bat Sheva Marcus

The truth is that most partners really and truly do care about giving pleasure. They want to see you excited, turned on and wild with pleasure. It may take them a while to wrap their head around the idea, they may have many questions, but in the end, the honest truth is that they are usually okay with it. That’s a turn on to them. And let’s face it, sex toys often make their job easier!   I often tell my patients,  to go ahead and blame me. Take my book and the chapter on vibrators and tell them I said they should read it!

Should we manage our expectations a little? Like, what is the sweet spot between an aspirational sex life and a realistic one?

Here’s the thing we need to remember: sex is a good thing. Even non-firework, just plain good old sex is a good thing.

It’s good for you physically. It’s good for you emotionally and it’s good for your relationship.  A realistic sex life is one where there is regular ongoing sex. And sometimes it’s just good, and sometimes it’s fun or funny and sometimes it excellent.  I know it’s tempting to think that you should hold off  sex until one of those magic moments blast through to you, and the spirit of desire overtakes you and you and your partner are off and running, but I have bad news. In my experience, (and trust me I have a lot of experience at this point), it’s the people with the regular, rather pedestrian, ongoing “good” sex lives, that turn around one day and say, “Wow. That was great sex.” Or, “It’s great. We are going through a great patch right now.”

So what you want is a solid, ongoing sex life that makes you both happy … and then there is space and conditions for a fireworks sex life sometimes. As a veteran sex therapist, what do you believe is the most important ingredient for a happy, healthy, thriving sex life, or is more nuanced than that?

The bottom line, is that the only things you really need to get your sex life back on track is:

  • An understanding that a good sex life doesn’t just “happen” but needs some time attention and work.
  • A willingness to look at the whole picture and see where you might realistically” get more points.”
  • And my book, which will explain to you why and how certain things will give you the points you need
  • What are your top tips for getting out of your head and into your body if you’re struggling to find your sexy?

The most important thing is to understand that you are not broken, and you are not crazy. Everyone and I mean everyone struggles with their sex life at some time in their life. The sooner you accept that and can appreciate the reality of what a sex life looks like and the fact that sex is something you can practice and learn and work at, the sooner you will be able to find your sexy. I promise.

Purchase Sex Points by Dr Bat Sheva Marcus from Bookshop.org here.

Visit Bat Sheva’s website here and take the sex points quiz for yourself here.

TEAM ZOELLA MARCH 19, 2021

Between You & Me: Your Problems Answered Part 14

This month’s Between You and Me contains all the juice, with a side of red flags and piping hot tea. So, pour yourself a large one and let’s talk about life and all the things it just LOVES to throw at us.

Should you care if your fella is double-tapping another girl’s Instagram photos and following private accounts? What do you do if your sig other is still living with his ex after 18 months of being together? How do you get back into dating when you’ve been cheated on in the past AND you’re dealing with chronic pain? This month’s Between You and Me contains all of the above, with a side of red flags and piping hot tea. So, pour yourself a large one and let’s talk about life and all the things it just LOVES to throw at us.

TEAM ZOELLA MARCH 18, 2021

Everything You Need For a Really Bloody Painful Time of The Month

Whilst our monthly bleed can be a magical reminder of our body's power and innate ability to grow and support us like clockwork, it can also be bloody painful, period.

Whilst our monthly bleed can be a magical reminder of our body’s power and innate ability to grow and support us like clockwork, it can also be bloody painful, period. Whether you experience periods regularly or not, the pain and symptoms that come with this time of the month can still take us by surprise as we cradle a hot water bottle and cry our way through a Domino’s. It might feel a little stereotypical but there really is nothing a hot bath and pizza can’t fix.

10% of women note that their period pains are so bad that they’re unable to carry out their usual daily activities on one to three days every month.

When you’re short on cheesy carbs and the comfort of bubbles galore, it’s always wise to have a few go-to products and practices in your repertoire that can minimise pain, reduce anxiety around your period and generally help you feel as ‘you’ as possible. 10% of women note that their period pains are so bad that they’re unable to carry out their usual daily activities on one to three days every month, making products like period patches, CBD oil and portable mini hot water bottles our holy grail flow essentials.

Transforming your home environment into a sanctuary of calm is a surprisingly easy step you can take to tackle your time of the month and can help you dread this period (literally) less. Whether it be with an essential oil diffuser, lavender sleep sprays or using a giant, wearable hot water bottle (yes it really is as good as it sounds), treating yourself with a little extra loving care when you’re in pain is basic yet often undervalued self care.

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TEAM ZOELLA MARCH 17, 2021

16 Recipe Ideas with Big Easter Energy

Whether you want to go traditional with a classic glazed ham dish, or you’re looking to level up your spread with mac ‘n’ cheese lasagne, a culinary delight listed here is certain to pique your interest.

The rule of six is due to return on March 29, paving the way for all kinds of foodie freedom from garden picnics to bbqs on the beach – weather gods, hear our prayers.

It’s going to be very nice to have a slice of normality with our hot cross buns this year but if you’re struggling to remember what we eat for Easter and you’re fresh out of practice at hosting family and friends, here’s a menu for you to chew on.

Whether you want to go traditional with a classic glazed ham dish, or you’re looking to level up your spread with mac ‘n’ cheese lasagne, a culinary delight listed below is certain to pique your interest.

And if it all goes tits up and you set fire to your oven mitt because cooking, what’s that again? Then so be it. The Easter bunny is a benevolent, forgiving type and dining alfresco with a Deliveroo on our laps, toes tinkering with the lawn below, is just as bloody lovely.

TEAM ZOELLA MARCH 16, 2021

13 Questions With Emma Lord

We're super excited to chat with the author of our March Zoella Book Club pick Emma Lord and her about her latest novel You Have a Match, future projects, taking time to write and her go-to weekend whilst living in New York.

First off, how are you and how is your 2021 going?

Oh gosh, thank you for asking! I can’t complain. I’ve finally gotten the hang of Zoom and spend a lot of time bopping between group chats and writing and hanging out with my family, so I’ve been keeping busy. I also have a new pandemic ritual of drinking a decaf coconut tea and eating chocolate mug cake after dinner every night, which certainly improves one’s general state of being.

We’re super excited to be reading ‘You Have a Match’ for our March Zoella Book Club pick. Can you take us through the process of writing it?

I’m so excited you’re reading it!! It was a fun and unexpected process — I was working as a viral news editor at the time and saw so many stories about people finding half-siblings through DNA tests that I thought to myself, Wow, how strange would it be if you found a full-blooded sibling you didn’t know about? I hadn’t even sold my first book yet, so I tucked the idea away for probably a year before I showed it to my editor. After that I hit the ground running on plotting and writing it about two years ago, getting up super early in the morning and carving out time on weekends (I work as a digital media editor during the day). It was especially fun to write a book set in the Pacific Northwest, because I spent about half my childhood there, so it felt like a fun little fist-bump to my baby self!

What advice would you give to someone who wants to write YA fiction?

Oooh. A ton, but mostly just to write what makes you happy. I’ve often found that the things that make you happiest to write are the things people are going to want to read. You can really see the passion authors have for their work in any kind of YA, whether it’s a romance or a thriller or a family-focused book, and their love for it is often what takes it the extra mile and makes it all the more memorable.

Can you tell us about some of your other work and writing projects?

Yes yes! My debut novel, Tweet Cute, is about two classmates — overachieving Pepper, whose parents own a fast-food chain, and class clown Jack, whose family owns a beloved New York City deli — who end up in a Twitter feud over a stolen grilled cheese recipe without realizing they’re at war with each other. Shenanigans ensue, and there is a TON of dessert involved.

My next book will be about a loudmouthed Broadway hopeful named Millie who has to compete with her rival to land an internship to help her figure out which one of three potential women is the mom who left her with her dad at birth — it’s basically what happens when you squish ABBA and Broadway into a confetti cannon and set it loose. I’m super excited for it to come out.

What is the most satisfying part of writing a novel?

Almost certainly whenever someone says the names of my characters back to me. It never gets old. It’s so strange that a person you conceived of in your head can then exist in another person’s head, that they can have an understanding of them the same way you do. I think it means so much to me just because I’ve been writing fanfiction my whole life and considering other people’s characters, so it’s bewildering and super cool to think that anyone would think about mine.

What are some of your favourite recent reads?

Amelia Unabridged by Ashley Schumacher, Counting Down With You by Tashie Bhuiyan, and Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas were all books I TORE through recently.

How do you make time to both work and write for a living?

The funny thing is, because I’ve just always been writing, it doesn’t feel all that hard to make time. There are some weeks where I may have deadlines (usually self-imposed; I’ve been lucky to work with a team that gives me plenty of time to write!) that I’m more stressed than others. But I’ve been writing fanfiction since I was a little kid and my own fiction since I was a teenager; aside from running and singing, it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do in my spare time, so the time I spend writing in my off-hours after work is just time I would have spent writing for free anyway. As for my actual job — I’m very lucky to be doing something I love (I work as a Shopping Editor for BuzzFeed) and something that feels very different from fiction writing, so I can easily switch between the two without ever feeling burnt out.

Fiction writing is slower and what I do during the day is much more fast-paced, which appeals to two different parts of me and is really just like *chef’s kiss* in terms of balance. I also just love the heck out of my coworkers — when I’m writing, my only coworker is my Baby Yoda plushie, and while he’s cute, he’s not particularly chatty during the day!

What are you currently working on?

My fourth book, which is my first young adult book that will be set in ~college~ — I’m so jazzed about it, it’s been a really fun opportunity to look back on what was a really fun and turbulent and defining time in my own life. I also have a ton of other ideas in the pipeline and have no idea what’ll happen with them yet, but I love to kick them around in my spare time since it’s my brain’s favorite thing to do.

Who are some of your favourite follows online?

Um, every bakery in New York. The Sprinkles Cupcakes, Ole & Steen, Magnolia Bakery, Chip City, Butterfield Market, Orwasher’s, Supermoon Bakehouse, Shortbread Society, Baked By Melissa, and Red Gate Bakery accounts are some forever faves. I also follow a lot of aesthetically pleasing businesses like My Oh My Supply Co (millennial lifestyle brand FULL of fun Disney-esque apparel) and Happenstance Candles (Taylor Swift-themed candles!) and Surprisingly Baked (cookies that take it to the next LEVEL) and Ideal Bookshelf (beautifully illustrated bookwares). Basically, if it’s cute or I can eat it, I WILL FOLLOW.

What does your perfect weekend look like?

Oooh. On Saturday I get up early and go for a loooong, long run around Central Park — I like to clock in between eight and ten miles. Then I’ll come home and make myself a very delicious brunch while watching something on the computer. For a few hours I’ll write or plot, and then I’ll venture out to whichever bakery has the dessert I’m most excited about that week (I have a lil’ ritual where I check the Instagrams of all my favourite places on Friday night and decide in advance). I’ll call my mom or one of my sisters and chat on my walk over. I’ll read in the park for a little while and wander back to my apartment for a glass of wine and sushi, and will intermittently watch a movie and write for the rest of the night. Sunday I’ll go for a shorter run just to wake myself up before going to a community theatre rehearsal — there’s a group called AfterWork Theater in New York I’m part of, and I can’t wait for us to start back up again once it’s safe. We’ll usually be there for a few hours to dance and sing our heads off, and then in the afternoon, we’ll get drinks and apps nearby, then spiral off to the subway to go home. I’ll set my life out for the coming weekday, probably eat a big ole mug cake, and go to bed early, because I am a millennial grandma.

What do you always carry with you?

My AirPods, but more specifically, the Goldfish cracker bag-shaped silicone case I put on them. The snack that smiles back!!

What would your last ever meal be?

Thank you for asking this, because I think about it a LOT. It would be a crusty sourdough roll cut in half and toasted with a bunch of butter and Jarlsberg cheese, two sunny side up eggs that are slightly burnt on the bottom, a side of mustard, some kind of fruit-flavoured yoghurt with granola, English Breakfast tea with sugar and half ‘n half, and some kind of chocolate dessert (I love Oreos and any kind of caramel or peanut-buttery chocolate bar). To be clear, this is the precise brunch that I eat after my long runs on Saturdays, and I will never not love it to pieces.

What is one positive piece of advice you could give to our audience?

I’ll steal it from my mom: “Run your own race.” It’s always going to be easy to try and hold other people’s lives up to yours as a measuring stick, particularly if they have something you want. But worrying about what other people have in life isn’t going to help you change anything about your own; sometimes you just have to keep your eyes on your own paper, work toward your goals in your own way, and trust the process. Better to achieve something your own way than to get it faster by trying to copy someone else, and never fully feeling like it’s your own.

TEAM ZOELLA MARCH 15, 2021

Hot Flushes, Mood Swings & Hormone Replacement Therapy: Menopause 101

Knowledge is power – and in this case, it’s the slightly sobering realisation that our inner workings won’t always be the dewy, hydrated, self-lubricating WAPs of our youth but we grow through what go through pals, and if all else fails, we’re sure TikTok will have discovered some kind of hack by then. We’ve got this.

Ah, the menopause. It’s the reason our mums get weirdly into portable fans, this much we know but beyond that, we are in the dark, mystified and blissfully ignorant about what the menopause – actually – entails for those of us with ovaries.

Forgive the bad feminist tones here but dealing with dry fannies, night sweats and unsympathetic GPs doesn’t sound like that much of a hoot alas, we’ve gotta get the t-shirt one day so we may as well know what life has in store for us once our periods have done a Piers Morgan.

Knowledge is power – and in this case, it’s the slightly sobering realisation that our inner workings won’t always be the dewy, hydrated, self-lubricating WAPs of our youth but we grow through what go through pals, and if all else fails, we’re sure TikTok will have discovered some kind of hack by then. We’ve got this.

Image Credit: Forbes

What is it the menopause?

The menopause refers to the time in a woman’s life, typically between the age of 45-55, when the menstrual cycle stops permanently. At this stage, the ovaries have stopped releasing eggs and producing high levels of oestrogen meaning a woman is no longer fertile.

You have reached menopause when you have not had a period or spotting for one consecutive year. Depending on your medical history and your symptoms, you may also have blood tests to rule out other underlying conditions and confirm a menopause diagnosis.

The perimenopause, or menopause transition as it’s sometimes referred to, occurs well before you officially hit menopause, usually between 4-8 years. As hormone levels change, you may experience some symptoms commonly associated with menopause, such as irregular periods, trouble sleeping, breast tenderness, hair changes, headaches, weight gain, loss of sex drive and a wide-ranging list of other physical and emotional symptoms. During the perimenopause, you may still ovulate, so you can still very much get pregnant, even if you’ve missed a period for a month or more.

Symptoms of the menopause

Due to the hormone flux, many women experience physical, emotional and psychological changes. Everyone’s experience of the menopause is unique but some of the most common symptoms can include heavier, lighter or less frequent periods, night sweats and hot flushes (extreme heat in the upper body) – all very similar to some of the symptoms experienced during the perimenopause stage and each can vary in severity. Some women may also experience bouts of increased anxiety and depression.

Can the symptoms be treated?

If your symptoms are severe or they’re impeding your quality of life, hormone therapy may be an effective treatment. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a treatment to relieve the symptoms of the menopause such as night sweats, vaginal atrophy (thinning of the walls of the vagina caused by decreased oestrogen) and hot flushes.

There are two types of HRT: combined HRT replaces the two main hormones your ovaries no longer produce (oestrogen and progestogen) and is offered to those people who still have their womb as the progestogen protects against the risk of womb cancer associated with oestrogen-only HRT. Oestrogen-only HRT is for those who have had their womb removed in a hysterectomy.

Your HRT treatment routine will either be cyclical (also known as sequential HRT) or continuous, depending on whether you’re in the early stages of menopause or you’ve had symptoms for some time.

As stated on NHS.uk, you can usually start HRT as soon as you start experiencing symptoms of the menopause and it can be delivered in different ways including pessaries, tablets, topical hormone therapy, skin patches and gels to help with dryness.

Once the menopausal symptoms have subsided, usually within a few years, you can gradually decrease your dose and taper off the hormones.

Lifestyle changes such as practising relaxation techniques, supplementing your diet with calcium, vitamin D and magnesium and keeping active can also help manage mild to moderate symptoms.

Early menopause

Some women enter menopause early, before they hit 45. In some cases, menopause is induced by surgery, genetics, certain health conditions such as autoimmune diseases and cancer treatment but the cause can’t always be determined.

Premature menopause

Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) happens when a woman’s ovaries stop functioning before she has reached her 40s, meaning they do not produce normal levels of oestrogen or release eggs regularly. Unlike early menopause, however, some women with POI can still have a period and may, in some cases, still get pregnant.

Affirming footnotes

Whilst it can be a strange time for women going through the menopause transition, it’s not all downhill from here. It’s a milestone just as much as any other life experience and your worth is not diminished by the passing of years. Ageing is a privilege.

Just as we discover another layer of our selfhood during adolescence, the menopause isn’t all doom, gloom and vaginal droughts. It can be akin to shedding your old skin and reinventing yourself.

Sex without having to give a single thought to birth control? Reveal yourself, menopause. No more nice pants lost to period leakage? Unleash the spenny lace, queen.

Like having twins or living through lockdown, there are many, many good exhilarating moments ahead, people just don’t seem to share them quite as much.

TEAM ZOELLA MARCH 14, 2021

Weekly Wants: Women-Owned Small Businesses

During the week of International Women's Day 2021, we're celebrating and sharing our favourite female-run businesses that make our Instagram feeds a better place and inspire gift giving for both pals our ourselves.

If there’s one thing TikTok has influenced us in (besides whipped coffee and feta pasta) it’s finding, supporting and lusting after the plethora of indie brands that are absolutely killing it, both old and new in the small biz game. Lockdown has seen a huge uplift in cool and creative hobbies becoming businesses, and with IRL shopping off the cards it has opened up a world of opportunity to shop small.

During the week of International Women’s Day 2021, we’re celebrating and sharing our favourite female-run businesses that make our Instagram feeds a better place and inspire gift giving for both pals and ourselves (mainly the latter) a joyous evening activity. From baking to books, candles to ceramics and flowers to face masks, this week’s team edit will have you sucked into an impromptu haul in seconds (sorry bank balance).

TEAM ZOELLA MARCH 13, 2021

13 Must-See Movies Directed by Women

From the cinematic Greta Gerwig to the wickedly talented Ava DuVernay, we’ve pulled together a non-exhaustive list of some of the finest filmmakers around and their cinematic triumphs, because if the Oscars won’t give them the recognition they deserve, we sure as hell will.

Movie magic is bound to happen when there’s a woman calling the shots #justsaying.

From the cinematic Greta Gerwig to the wickedly talented Ava DuVernay, we’ve pulled together a non-exhaustive list of some of the finest filmmakers around and their cinematic triumphs, because if the Oscars won’t give them the recognition they deserve, we sure as hell will.

1. Lady Bird (2017) – Greta Gerwig

Greta’s stunning directional debut centres on a spiky teenager Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) and her turbulent relationship with her protective mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf). It’s a beautifully observed, coming-of-age story that portrays teenage milestones and the complexities of the mother-daughter dynamic with an explosive mix of wit, humour and authenticity. It’s no wonder it made Greta the fifth woman in HISTORY to be nominated for the Best Director Oscar. Please, tell us again how sexism doesn’t exist in the industry anymore.

2. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018) – Susan Johnson & Sofia Alvarez

Every generation gets its high school rom-com and this one was a mass hit. When Lara Jean’s secret love letters are exposed to each of her five crushes, she hatches an elaborate plan to fake-date Peter Kavinksy so that he can get back at an ex and she can get over another crush.

3. Selma (2014) – Ava DuVernay

The film chronicles Martin Luther’s King, Jr.’s battle for black voting rights and the epic marches from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, featuring a note-perfect performance from David Oyelowo as King. Ava DuVernay became the first African-American woman to be nominated for a best director Golden Globe.

4. Tallulah (2016) – Sian Heder

A comedy-drama written and directed by Orange Is The New Black’s Sian Heder and starring Elliot Page as an unlikely nanny who impulsively steals a baby from a neglectful mother and passes her off as her own.

5. 13th (2016) – Ava DuVernay

This blistering Netflix original Oscar-nominated documentary takes an unflinching look at the links between slavery and the 13th amendment and the US penal system that disproportionately affects black people.

6. Clemency (2019) – Chinonye Chukwu

A deeply human death row drama, starring Alfre Woodard as a conflicted prison warden struggling with the emotional demands of her job. Nigerian-American filmmaker Chukwu made history when she became the first black woman to win the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.

7. Little Women (2019) – Greta Gerwig

Another sparkling example of Gerwig’s exemplary storytelling matched with Saoirse Ronan’s pitch perfect performance as the iconic Jo March.

8. The Farewell (2019) – Lulu Wang

Writer/Director Lulu Wang directs this beautiful semi-biographical tale about a family returning to china under the guise of a fake wedding – a well-intentioned lie to get everyone together to say goodbye to their beloved grandmother Nai Nai, the only one who doesn’t know she has a few weeks to live. Lulu Wang will make you howl with laughter and rip your heart out at the same time – and you’ll be forever grateful for the privilege.

9. A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood (2019) – Marielle Heller

Based on a true story of a real-life friendship between the celebrated American children’s TV presenter, Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) and a cynical journalist Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys), loosely based on Tom Junod. In Marielle Heller’s gentle hands and with a benevolent Tom Hanks at the helm, ABDITN was always going to be one remarkable movie wasn’t it!

10. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2020) – Céline Sciamma

A film shot by women, directed by a woman and starring an almost all-female cast, Portrait of a Lady on Fire is an intimate celebration of the female gaze and a Celine Sciamma masterpiece. Set in coastal Brittany in the 18th century, artist Marianne is tasked with secretly painting the wedding portrait for reluctant bride-to-be, Héloïse, who is against the idea of arranged marriage. What unfolds is a forbidden, achingly beautiful romance between artist and subject. It’s a visual feast.

11. Pariah (2011) – Dee Rees

Written and directed by Academy-Award nominee Dee Rees, Pariah is the coming-of-age coming-out story of a teenage African-American teenager from Brooklyn, beautifully played by Adepero Oduye. Warm, poetic and tender, it speaks to the queer, black female demographic all too often ignored by Hollywood.

12. Nomadland (2020) – Chloé Zhao

Chloé Zhao is a Chinese filmmaker powerhouse you need to get on your radar ASAP. Her latest film Nomadland, which she also wrote and edited just won a Golden Globe for best motion picture. Nomadland features Frances McDormand as a woman who leaves her home to travel around the American west.

13. One Night in Miami (2020) – Regina King

You may recognise Regina King as an actress but that hasn’t stopped her from picking up a Golden Globe nomination for her directorial debut with One Night in Miami. The film is a fictional meeting of Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke in 1964 after Ali’s title win over Sonny Liston. Regina became the first African-American female director to premiere a film at the Venice Film Festival in September 2020.

TEAM ZOELLA MARCH 12, 2021

We Spoke to 4 People About OnlyFans

How does OnlyFans work for regular creators without a big name or following behind them? We spoke to 4 women about their experience on the site and got the juicy details you’ve always wanted to know.

Whilst you’d be forgiven for not having heard of OnlyFans before the pandemic hit, spending more time at home combined with a collective need for extra streams of income has seen the site go big time in the past 12 months. For those that have missed the OnlyFans hype and successfully nailed digitally detoxing in 2020 and beyond, OnlyFans is a content subscription service in which creators earn money from users subscribing to their page, in addition to one-off tips for custom content or solo interaction with a creator.

OnlyFans has become a “billion-dollar media giant” that’s on track for $400 million in annual net sales.

Whilst the site can be the home to content of any genre, be it exercise, music or beauty, OnlyFans has become synonymous with sex work, shaking up the industry and transforming the way women earn money. Since the pandemic began, OnlyFans has become a “billion-dollar media giant” that’s on track for $400 million in annual net sales. The site has seen its creator and overall user numbers triple to more than 1 million and 90 million respectively, and has well and truly made its mark on the Internet as an accessible way to generate money from the comfort of your own home. 

Despite an obvious disparity in wages amongst its 1 million creators, OnlyFans is synonymous with big cheque payouts and has a get-rich-quick identity following the success of celebrities and public figures on the site. One example of this is Love Island’s Megan Barton Hanson, whose subscriber count and engagement can make her up to £800,000 in a month. But how does OnlyFans work for regular creators without a big name or following behind them? We spoke to 4 women about their experience on the site and got the juicy details you’ve always wanted to know…

Maeve Moon

First up, Maeve Moon of @profit_from_trauma on Instagram. Maeve has a long history working in the adult industry including time in brothels, escorting, sugar babying and also training and working as a professional dominatrix. After leaving the sex industry behind, she now focuses her time and energy on educating younger generations on issues within sex work, including the “quick cash” myth of OnlyFans and healing trauma after sexual abuse.

What was your motivation to start OnlyFans?

Only Fans for me was my final attempt at ‘safe’ sex work. I started out in the adult industry as a Sugar Baby on Seeking Arrangements at 20, travelled to America, private mansion swingers parties, luxury spas and even dated an ex-felon turned celebrity. After about 9 months in the Sugar Baby world I realised I could make the same amount of money I’d make in a week from a sugar relationship within a day if I turned up an account on Adultwork and began escorting. 

I went ahead and it quickly transitioned into full time, high class escorting. I then moved into low class escorting, working in brothels and continuing with Sugar Daddy appointments and arrangements. I also provided a safe space for other sex workers to work within my apartment in London and receive 100% of their earnings, where as working in brothels you are lucky to get 50%.

I then trained as a professional dominatrix for 4 months at a private dungeon in central London with the London Dominatrix school, and then finally – OnlyFans. All whilst I was a student at University.

Maeve Moon

After the whirlwind of my life as an escort, sugar baby and domina, OnlyFans seems like the safest form of sex work I could be involved in. As I already had a solid 2 years of sex work behind me, I thought it wouldn’t be possible for me to find another job…

Sex work is an industry often still shrouded in taboo, is it something you have felt backlash for being part of from your immediate circle/friends/family? Have you had any awkward conversations with those close to you?  

Backlash has never been much of an issue. Most sex workers, if they’re open about the work they’re doing, usually have a good amount of confidence and so when the judgements come from others we don’t tend to be fazed.

The pity in their eyes was awkward for me because I always sat on my high horse as a prostitute and loudly exclaimed, I’d rather put a price on my own body than allow some large corporation to put a price on it and pay me peanuts for taxing mundane work.Maeve Moon

I think my top 2 most awkward conversations were when I let a client chew my nipples so hard they bled, as well as allowing him to pay me extra money to hit my naked body with a leather belt and then went straight to meet my friends for coffee. They all sat and watched me try to sip my americano whilst holding my boobs in a lot of pain and just carry on as if nothing had happened. The pity in their eyes was awkward for me because I always sat on my high horse as a prostitute and loudly exclaimed, “I’d rather put a price on my own body than allow some large corporation to put a price on it and pay me peanuts for taxing mundane work.” I had to pretend like I didn’t care, but they could all see I was in pain and trying to play it cool.

Another awkward experience I had was when I was working in a brothel in central Bradford, and I became very ill so I had to stay with my mother for a few days whilst I recovered. The pimp both dropped me off and picked me up from my mother’s house a few days later. This was right before Christmas and on Christmas Day itself my mother refused to do Christmas and I sat at the dining room table and cried as she told me how disappointed she was in me. Hoe hoe hoe…

How do you navigate maintaining healthy relationships and is it something you ever worry may impact a current or future partner? 

I did find this a difficult thing to navigate as a sex worker. Sometimes I just wanted to date a normal person who wasn’t paying me for sex, and who just wanted to spend time with me for me, and date me intellectually. However, I always told people what I did for a living as I was never ashamed, nor did I care what others thought, and this then almost set the precedent within their minds that I was fair game, easy and would sleep with me regardless.

What often ended up happening was I would just date clients, which looking back also didn’t work for me as they were mainly drug dealers or sugar clients in their 40s who wanted to have a family with me and always tried to convince me to ‘not’ be an escort anymore. 

Now as an ex-escort, but not ex-sex worker (I still struggle to leave Only Fans and intend to continue being a dominatrix), relationships going forward are still going to be difficult but in a different way. I will no longer hear the phrase from my Tinder dates “How can you possibly say you have respect for yourself and refuse to have sex with me when you literally sell your body to men everyday?!” – but instead face the reality of a lot of potential partners being afraid to sleep with me, either due to the common myths of a stretched vagina, being riddled with infectious diseases or a fear within them that they will be very inexperienced in comparison to my experience, and not be able to satisfy me. 

Alongside that, I have now seen humans in a different light altogether. I’ve slept with hundreds of men, and sold images and videos of myself to hundreds of people too, I am now no longer interested in sex. 

A funny thing happens within the mind of a human being who no longer wants for money and who also no longer wants for intimate connection and sexual partners. When you have both in abundance, you relieve yourself of the two most pressing wants and desires of humans. Going forward in looking for a relationship, I’ve found it hard to find someone who can connect with me on a level of mental intimacy, as that’s all I really crave- I don’t require the physical intimacy most people need in relationships.

Is there anything surprising or unexpected about creating OnlyFans content you wish more people knew about?

The energy exchange. This is something I was blind to when I began sex work and something I shout from the rooftops now. The energy exchange between you and a client, either online or in person is vital. The energy it requires of you, not only creatively and socially, but physically for the autonomic nervous systems to try to gate out and gage how safe a person, situation or environment is, is incredibly strenuous. In order to be a sex worker, you need to have other aspects, people and environments in your life that feed back to you the love, social energy and creativity you sell online. You need balance.

When you sell your energy for money but receive nothing back other than money from the industry, you will quickly realise that the money is not fulfilling. 

If money was no object, would you really like to do this with your life?Maeve Moon

This is why I strongly advise and implore young sex workers or people considering a career in the industry to ask themselves “if money was no object, would you really like to do this with your life?” – I ask this because if you genuinely love the work, if you ‘genuinely’ love creating content, talking to OF subscribers, clients, punters, people on cam sites etc, then the job will fulfil you as a whole and the money will be an added benefit, as is the same with many careers. But if there’s anything I’ve learnt from earning a lot of money in the industry and subsequently losing a lot of money trying to purchase happiness, it’s that you ‘must’ work for satisfaction, because when energy meets energy, that’s where happiness is. When love meets love, when social energy meets social energy, when creativity is met with applause and genuine admiration and appreciation, that’s where happiness is. When energy is met with money, a physical element, you can quickly begin to feel lost.

I believe that when we have sex with someone, we share a little bit of our soul with them, and we take on a little bit of their soul in return. The moment that changed my life and made me quit being an escort altogether was when I went on an Ayahuasca retreat and the Grandmother medicine showed me all of the souls I was carrying in my body from being an escort, all of the men I had slept with, and how traumatising it really was for me and how disassociated and damaged my yoni is. After that retreat I stopped it all. I gave up my apartment, all the money I was making, left escorting behind and started my community @profit_from_trauma so that I could educate people and potentially prevent anyone from doing SW for the reasons that I did, that being; trying to fill the hole in my heart from years of abandonment, abuse, homelessness and addiction with the money I could earn from SW. And instead, look within ourselves for that healing. Post Traumatic GROWTH.

Do you ever feel concerned that your OnlyFans presence could limit your future career opportunities outside of sex work?
You can find me on UK punting offering bareback sex to all and sundry, you can purchase videos of me having sex and stuffing lace panties inside of myself, as well as watch me give a foot job to a dildo and electrocute a man’s penis strapped to a table in a dungeon, you can probably still source me on Adultwork, so what does this mean for future careers? Well a lot of companies have a morality clause:

A morality clause is a term within a contract of employment that prevents the employee from behaviour that could bring the employer into disrepute, or is contrary to the ethos of the employer.

The morality clause typically allows for the employer to take disciplinary action, up to and including the termination of employment, against the employee if the clause is breached. Morality clauses are sometimes seen in high-profile positions, such as in the entertainment industry, or in religious institutions.”

If you decide to leave OnlyFans/Porn, there’s a strong chance an employer can deny you work. Maeve Moon

This means that if you decide to leave OnlyFans/Porn, there’s a strong chance an employer can deny you work. For me, the damage is done, but I want younger girls and anyone who’s thinking about doing OnlyFans or online sex work to really think about this. You can end up in a revolving door of trying to leave the industry, being denied work and returning to sex work to pay the bills. This is all part of the oppressive systems at hand, and until they change, we must take them into account.

An ex-client, who’s now a very good friend of mine once said to me: “however long you think you’re going to do sex work for, times that by 10, and then times that by 10 again” and he’s right. Once you’re in, you’re in. The money and the adrenaline of the danger is heavily addictive, you quickly realise very few other industries can even come close to paying you a ¼ of what you earn as a sex worker, you feel the empowerment of being self-employed and being part of badass tribe of independent women, but you quickly put a big red X on multiple jobs and occupations you can apply to in the future. 

A look to the future…

I wrote an online course called 15 Days of Introspection 4 months after I left the industry because introspection, along with the Ayahuasca retreat, is what saved me. I am also a coach and mentor, for current sex workers, sex workers who want to leave the industry as well as ex-sex workers who are suffering from trauma that occurred whilst they were in the industry. 

Within 15 days of introspection, participants take part in a 15 day video course paired with intimate self-enquiry zoom groups led by me or by one of my introspection tutors.

As a coach I can offer help with:

  • Sex work, be it current, past or future sex workers seeking guidance
  • Trauma from emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse
  • Trauma from homelessness
  • Addiction
  • Disordered Eating
  • Self-awareness/Introspection 
  • Self-healing, regulating the Autonomic nervous system (useful for people with PTSD of being a sex worker)
  • Goal setting and achieving
  • Music – Healing through songwriting

To connect with Maeve, you can find her on Instagram at @profit_from_trauma or visit her website www.profitfromtrauma.com to learn more about her work or book onto a course.

Charlotte

Next up we spoke to Charlotte (@arcticharl on Instagram and Twitter) who at the time of publication ranks in the top 0.4% of OnlyFans creators since starting out in sex work in 2017. She created her OnlyFans account in 2019, and was able to dedicate consistent time and energy to her page during May 2020.

What was your motivation for starting an OnlyFans account? 

I was asked on Twitter if I sell nudes – which I didn’t at the time – and so I started selling them via Twitter and then discovered OnlyFans so it made sense as the natural next step.

Have you always felt confident and open in discussing sex with those around you or has OnlyFans helped to make you feel more empowered in this way?

I always have but I think OF has definitely helped.

What’s something you wish you could tell your past self when starting out on the site?

Don’t undervalue yourself!

Do you work on your OnlyFans platform full time, part time or more as a hobby? 

I work full time (12-16 hour days), 7 days a week.

What are the best parts of creating OnlyFans content?

The main part of the job isn’t really making content, although people think it is. But I do like editing photos after I’ve taken them!

What are the downsides to creating OnlyFans content?

It can feel monotonous and like you’re doing the same thing over and over again sometimes.

Sex work is an industry often still shrouded in taboo, is it something you have felt backlash for being part of from your immediate circle/friends/family? Have you had any awkward conversations with those close to you?  

I have seen no backlash as a result of my job, which is how it should be. My friends and family all support me (as they should, it is a job just like any other)

How have you found the experience of sex work during a pandemic? It seems like the ideal role when you’re able to create content during extended periods of time at home, but have you found it hard to switch off or set boundaries?

Up until June 2020 I was making $1-2k a month and in August I started making $13k+Charlotte

I didn’t start putting a real effort into my OF until the pandemic hit. Up until June 2020 I was making $1-2k a month and in August I started making $13k+ so having all the time in the world to work has really benefited me.

Do you have a particular niche or identity on OnlyFans that you think sets you apart from other creators? 

I wouldn’t say so – I would consider myself a ‘soft alt’ girl next door.

Do you ever feel concerned that your OnlyFans presence could limit your future career opportunities outside of sex work? 

I really don’t like this question. First of all, I don’t think it should ever be assumed that sex workers see their job as a temporary thing. I intend on doing this for as long as I can and retiring early. I also don’t think it’s anyone’s business what I choose to put online, and I don’t want to ever work for anyone else again anyway so this isn’t relevant to me.

Is there anything surprising or unexpected about creating OnlyFans content you wish more people knew about?

Probably just the mass amounts of bizarre requests I get – but this isn’t news to me any more.

Have you picked up any new and unexpected skills since working on OnlyFans such as photography or videography?

Hahahaha absolutely not, I own a tripod now and I use a Bluetooth remote to take my photos but that is pretty much as far as it goes.

Do you think having a strong social media presence before starting your OnlyFans helped contribute to your success?

I used to think so but now, absolutely not. I have not gotten to where I am on OnlyFans from social media whatsoever, I do all my promoting internally.

Is there anything OnlyFans does as a platform that makes you feel safe and supported, or anything you feel needs to be implemented to improve this?

I wish I could use another platform, but OF is the platform with the highest volume of trafficCharlotte

Honestly, no. It’s a terrible website and I wish I could use another platform, but OF is the platform with the highest volume of traffic and where my subscribers are happy to be, so moving to another platform is not something I’m considering at this time.

Kaya Corbridge

Next up we spoke to Kaya Corbridge, a 24 year old OnlyFans creator who has made a total of £1.5 million using the platform. She has amassed over 30,000 Instagram followers, 50,000 Twitter followers and is currently within the top 0.4% of OnlyFans creators. 

What was your motivation for starting an OnlyFans account? 

I was a broke university student that couldn’t find a job. I had no idea just how life changing it would be at that current moment. 

Have you always felt confident and open in discussing sex with those around you or has OnlyFans helped to make you feel more empowered in this way?

Yes it certainly has made me more open. Nothing shocks me anymore. I have seen and heard it all … (I hope). I wouldn’t say I was not open about sex previously, it just didn’t come up in conversation as much before OnlyFans whereas now it’s around me all day every day. 

What’s something you wish you could tell your past self when starting out on the site?

Stick to your own rules and boundaries.Kaya

Be prepared. Stick to your own rules and boundaries. Remember you are your own boss and you don’t have to do anything you’re not comfortable with. Don’t tell people what you earn because they will treat you differently. Your life is going to change forever- no going back. 

Do you work on your OnlyFans platform full time, part time or more as a hobby? 

I have worked full time on Onlyfans for almost four years now. I quit uni when I started to make 30k a month and it’s only increased since then. 

What are the best parts of creating OnlyFans content?

Playing around with photography and props- it can be a lot of fun so long as you have the right attitude. Themed content is your chance to show your uniqueness. Think Easter, Valentine’s Day, Halloween… all chances to be artsy and smart. 

What are the downsides to creating OnlyFans content?

Looking at yourself all day can be so damaging. You begin to see ridiculous flaws with yourself and it can make me very critical towards myself. Some days content just doesn’t flow – I could be due my period or on my period so I feel bloated/tired and not as much effort can be put in.

Sex work is an industry often still shrouded in taboo, is it something you have felt backlash for being part of from your immediate circle/friends/family? Have you had any awkward conversations with those close to you?  

No I thankfully haven’t. My family has known that I started Onlyfans from day one – it’s never been a secret. Just be honest with those you care about to avoid shock. 

How have you found the experience of sex work during a pandemic? It seems like the ideal role when you’re able to create content during extended periods of time at home, but have you found it hard to switch off or set boundaries?

Yes I struggled massively with this during the second lockdown; I found myself working for up to 19 hours a day. I didn’t move, some days I even forgot to eat. I lived by each hour- it was unrealistic of me to think I could carry on living like that so I began to find balance. 

Do you have a particular niche or identity on OnlyFans that you think sets you apart from other creators? 

I’m just an amateur creator. My content isn’t professional, it’s just me usually in my room taking personalised content for subscribers. My theme across my socials however is travel focused.

OnlyFans has given me the freedom to travel and work all over the world for the last three yearsKaya

OnlyFans has given me the freedom to travel and work all over the world for the last three years, as so many of my subs are invested in me for that and my solo travelling adventures as an OnlyFans girl.

Do you ever feel concerned that your OnlyFans presence could limit your future career opportunities outside of sex work? 

Yes I did at the start of my OnlyFans journey however as it started to grow I realised that so long as I’m smart with my money I’ll never have to work for anyone again. 

Have you or would you consider working in the sex industry in person or do you enjoy the dynamic of exclusively working online?

No, I could never do it in person. I feel like I’m too shy even though my close friends would say the opposite. I prefer exclusively working online because it’s less time consuming I believe. 

Is there anything surprising or unexpected about creating OnlyFans content you wish more people knew about?

It will feel like you’re repeating the same poses quicker than you think. I recommend using Pinterest for model/pose inspiration. Pinterest is great for finding inspiration. 

How do you navigate maintaining healthy relationships and is it something you ever worry may impact a current or future partner? 

No it’s not something I’m worried about. I am only 24 years young. I still have a lot more life to love before I start worrying about future romantic situations. 

Have you picked up any new and unexpected skills since working on OnlyFans such as photography or videography?

I can type extremely fast on a keyboard/iPhone. I can type with my eyes closed actually. I send out roughly 5000 messages per a day replying to all my subscribers one-to-one so it was a skill I acquired pretty quickly. 

My photography has certainly improved as I take all of my own content. I have never had professional shoots done or help from other people. I know my best angles and the best lighting spots without trying now. 

Does OnlyFans feel like a sustainable career for you long term?

I don’t believe age would stop me from earning – I’ll stop when the money stops. Kaya

I do know models in this industry who have arrived at OnlyFans previously from camming websites and are now some of the top earners on OnlyFans. I don’t believe age would stop me from earning – I’ll stop when the money stops. The sex industry is growing rapidly. Since OnlyFans popped up and I get invited to replica sites weekly. There will always be other/new platforms to use if need be/wanted to. 

Is there anything OnlyFans does as a platform that makes you feel safe and supported, or anything you feel needs to be implemented to improve this?

I think they could have better communications with creators as it’s noticeable at times when they send the same automated responses out. Live chat speaking with support would be an awesome feature. 

Mama Soothe [Anonymous]

Finally, we spoke to an anonymous OnlyFans creator who goes by the alias Mama Soothe on the platform about her experience on the site, namely the difficulties and misconceptions when it comes to money, finances and being able to survive on OnlyFans earnings as a small creator:

What was your motivation for starting an OnlyFans account? 

I started an OF account for the most basic of reasons, to make money. I kept putting the idea off, but there was one constant motivator…. TikTok. Every time I opened the TikTok app my For You Page would be full of people telling me about this easy way to make money. It wasn’t just OF, it was ALL sex work. Selling panties, fem dom, massages, sugar babies. You name it, I saw it. I couldn’t escape it, and these girls were making BANK.

Every time I opened the TikTok app my For You Page would be full of people telling me about this easy way to make money.Mama Soothe

They would show their accounts, their homes, their cars and I would be sending the videos to my best friend. Eventually, I caved and created an OF account. I wish I’d seen a TikTok about the fees of OF, or really the fees on any of these platforms. If you sell photos on OnlyFans for 3.00, they will take 1.20.  I do OF as a side hobby, so far I have made about 105.00 which is more than I had to begin with, so I’m thankful. To do this as a replacement for a 9-5, you have to put the time and money into it. It takes a lot of work. It isn’t glamorous either, talking with men and flirting with them constantly. Promoting yourself is also a full-time job. 

Sex work is an industry often still shrouded in taboo, is it something you have felt backlash for being part of from your immediate circle/friends/family? Have you had any awkward conversations with those close to you? 

I only have one friend that knows I have an OF and I would prefer to keep it that way.

What are the best and worst parts of creating OnlyFans content? 

The best part of creating content is being in complete control. Whatever you want to put out there, is on you. You can be as graphic or non graphic as you want. The worst part of creating content is when it starts to feel like a chore.  The fees of working on OnlyFans are not talked about enough, nor are the reversal charges. OF creators don’t want me to talk about it, because essentially more people can know about how to scam the OF content creators. This is a flaw in the OF system. 

Do you ever feel concerned that your OnlyFans presence could limit your future career opportunities outside of sex work? 

I believe OF could definitely limit me in my future career, even though my content on OF only shows my breasts. I am still trying to remain as anonymous as possible. While doing that, I also make less money. But it’s a sacrifice that is worth it.  On that note, nothing is sustainable forever. I think some women have definitely built a solid career that could last quite some time. For others, like me, this will not be a forever thing. 

How do you navigate maintaining healthy relationships and is it something you ever worry may impact a current or future partner? 

In terms of being honest with my partner, I will tell him. I’m single right now, but I would expect that kind of honesty from my partner so I will extend them the same courtesy and be honest with them. If they stay, they stay… If not, well life continues. 

People can screenshot or screen record your content and it will be out there forever.Mama Soothe

To conclude, sex work is work. It is difficult, it is time consuming and it can be life-changing in good ways and bad. People can screenshot or screen record your content and it will be out there forever. I’m in my early thirties and made this decision with heavy thinking, my advice to younger people aged 18 or 19… wait. Just wait just a little bit.

For many, OnlyFans has been a saving grace during pandemic life, creating an accessible platform through which users can generate income with little to no equipment, experience or long term commitment. But what is perhaps brushed to the side when hearing of the many financial success stories is the time required to reach this level of stability, along with the emotional energy and compromised privacy that you’re also signing up to when creating an OnlyFans profile. The site has been the point of debate many times as creators have been ‘doxxed’ (the act of publicly revealing private personal information about an individual, in most instances someone’s identity) by those that know them in real life, potentially jeopardizing jobs outside of sex work in the future and taking a huge toll on an individual’s mental health.  OnlyFans is an empowering place for women in so many ways, but the standout success stories are not the only experiences worth taking notice of. 

For support, charities and organisations such as SWARM (Sex worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement) and Maeve’s resources on www.profitfromtrauma.com offer safe spaces for information and mental health support for those within the sex work industry. 

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