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Archives for : February2015

Woman Pregnant for 46 Years Gives Birth to ‘Stone Baby’ Video report.

A Moroccan woman named Zahra Aboutalib was 26-years-old when she became pregnant with her first child. She lived in a small village and had planned on conceiving outside of a hospital.

She was over the moon about giving birth, but just 48 hours into an excruciating labor, she had to be taken to see doctors.

For the mother and the baby’s safety, doctors told her that she would have to undergo a caesarean section. However, Aboutalib fled from the hospital after witnessing another woman in the ward die during childbirth.

The labor pains continued for a few days after returning to her village, but soon subsided. After she was no longer suffering, she thought maybe she just lost the baby, and continued to go on with her life as if nothing ever happened.

It wasn’t until many years later, 46 to be exact, that those familiar pains surprisingly returned.

The 75-year-old was suspected to have a growing tumor inside her belly, however, a MRI scan revealed it was the baby she had conceived as a young woman.

Aboutalib’s fetus had actually been calcified into a lithopedion or stone baby.

Typically, in an ectopic pregnancy, if the deceased fetus is too big to be re-absorbed by the mother’s body, it will become a foreign object to her immune system.

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Henry Sapiecha

UN TRUST FUND BRACELETS TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

NicoleKidman_UNTF_Bracelet_credit_SOCIAL

Nicole joins the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women in inviting you to purchase bracelets for a good cause!

The UN Trust Fund has teamed up with Soko, an ethical fashion-based social enterprise that is using online technology to bring beautiful and creatively designed jewelry made by artisans in Kenya to the global market.

Soko’s artisans have created a unique pair of handmade bracelets to raise awareness and funds for UN Trust Fund programmes. The orange bracelets – the colour designated by the UNiTE campaign to symbolize a brighter future without violence – are available at http://shopsoko.com/UNTF.

Purchases of the bracelets are contributing to the economic empowerment of under-privileged artisan communities in Kenya. At the same time, 20 per cent of funds received by Soko will be donated to the UN Trust Fund, to support programmes to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls around the world.

Get your bracelet and share you pictures on social media mentioning @SayNO_UNiTE and #UNTF.

Read more on the UN Women website.

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Henry Sapiecha

The lingerie market & adore me secrets to it’s success

Adore Me’s secret for disrupting the lingerie market<br /><br />

Models wear latest-season Adore Me lingerie: the start-up’s customers are able vote on new styles or lines it is considering

In the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, the headquarters of Adore Me, a lingerie startup, are frantic with activity, for good reason: Its daily sales in this period are more than 20 times the typical volume.

So significant is Valentine’s Day for this 3-year-old company, in fact, that a flat screen mounted on a wall in the company’s offices, in the heart of New York’s fashion district, counts down the days, hours and seconds until Feb. 14.

There is more to the lingerie business than meets the eye. These garments are complex to design and size – bras have up to 20 components – and manufacturing them requires long lead times and large minimum orders.

“If you want to start a brand with, say, 100 different styles, and you need to purchase 5,000 to 10,000 units of each, that’s a $10 million to $15 million [all figures $US] investment before you’ve made any sales,” said Adore Me’s chief executive and co-founder, Morgan Hermand-Waiche. “It’s a hard problem to crack,” and it is the reason, he said, that Victoria’s Secret has been the dominant player.

The market is top-heavy, to say the least, with L Brands, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret and Pink, accounting for about 42 percent of the $13 billion U.S. lingerie market, according to the research firm IBISWorld. The next largest competitors, Frederick’s of Hollywood and American Eagle Outfitters’ Aerie brand among them, have market shares in the low single digits.

“VS changed the game for the lingerie market,” said Britanny Carter, industry analyst for IBISWorld. “A lot of stores try to sell sex, whereas VS is more of a lifestyle brand.”

Rather than tiptoe into the market, Hermand-Waiche has raised close to $12 million in funding, hired a former design director from Victoria’s Secret and charted an ambitious plan to make Adore Me a household name. In 2014, it tripled its revenue from a reported $5.6 million the previous year.

The company introduces a collection every month and offers a wide range of sizes, from petites to plus. Like many startups today, Adore Me has used online advertising, social media and referrals to build its brand, but it is also using old-school tactics. In January, it began a television campaign, with spots on networks like Bravo, Lifetime and MTV.

The lingerie business has unique advantages and challenges, said Shikhar Ghosh, a co-leader of Harvard Business School’s entrepreneurial manager program and an investor in the company.

“This is one area where the fashion doesn’t change quickly, and it is dominated by a single large competitor,” he said.

Unlike many startup businesses today, however, this one demands a high initial investment.

“You don’t want to aim low and miss,” Ghosh said.

The inspiration behind Adore Me resembles that of Victoria’s Secret, which was founded by Roy Raymond in 1977 after he went shopping for lingerie for his wife and decided there had to be a better alternative to the department store.

Hermand-Waiche started thinking about the lingerie business in 2010, when he was a second-year MBA student at Harvard and went shopping for a gift for his girlfriend. He couldn’t afford the lingerie he liked and was unimpressed with the lingerie he could afford.

Hermand-Waiche, who was born in France, used the remainder of his time in business school researching the industry, fine-tuning his plan and talking with investors. Soon after graduation, he teamed up with another Frenchman, Gary Bravard, who oversees supply chain management and operations.

The fashion industry was not a huge reach for Hermand-Waiche. His family owns and operates clothing stores throughout France. Before business school, he worked as a junior associate with McKinsey & Co., spending much of his time working with manufacturers in Asia.

Rather than hire a designer and wait up to a year for the merchandise, he started a website in January 2012 with garments designed by suppliers. The logic is not unlike that of a winemaker who sources grapes from another grower until his own crop is ready. To work around the problem of high-volume minimum orders, Hermand-Waiche negotiated with suppliers to stagger deliveries over several months.

Meanwhile, he went to work recruiting his own designer to help shape the Adore Me brand. As luck would have it, Helen Mears, a former design director for Victoria’s Secret and, later, a division of Wacoal Corp., was looking to do something more entrepreneurial. A lace manufacturer introduced Mears and Hermand-Waiche.

“I hired her the same day I met her,” he said.

Today Mears and another designer have a hand in every garment sold by Adore Me. This is no small undertaking, given that the company unveils 30 to 40 new styles every month. There are more than 400 items on the Adore Me site.

Like many retail startups now, the company helps consumers select items by having them take a style quiz and by selling all of its bras and panties in sets.

The company offers a wide range of sizes, from 30A to 42G. Women who wear plus and petite sizes account for roughly a third of the U.S. market, Hermand-Waiche said, and that share is growing. Yet these groups are underserved by traditional lingerie brands. (An online petition is currently on Change.org asking Victoria’s Secret to offer larger sizes.)

Adore Me encourages users to sign up for a free VIP membership. Members are sent a new set of lingerie each month at a discounted price of $25 for the first order, then a $10 discount on sets, which typically sell for $50. Every sixth set is free. Members can opt out of monthly orders or cancel any time.

Shipping is free, as are returns – and everything can be returned; the policy, commonplace among online sellers, is a benefit to online shoppers who like the option of trying on styles and sizes at home. Still, the return rate is just 6 percent, according to Hermand-Waiche, versus 20 to 40 percent for other e-commerce companies.

Hermand-Waiche said he planned eventually to sell Adore Me products in department stores or through stand-alone locations. For now, however, the company is exclusively online and mobile – with the latter accounting for 60 to 70 percent of Adore Me’s traffic.

Customers who follow Adore Me on social media receive the usual promotions, such as free items and express shipping, but they also have the opportunity to give feedback or vote on new styles or lines the company is considering.

“We can develop styles and have prototypes made, put them on the site and see how the customer reacts even before we place the order,” Mears said.

When Adore Me began its television campaign – a bold move for any startup – it used some of the information it had gleaned from social media and its testing to determine what ads to show on what networks, and when.

Expensive television advertising may seem to be an anomaly for a lean online startup aimed primarily at younger customers, but Hermand-Waiche said it made a difference.

Adore Me founder Morgan Hermand-Waiche

“With online advertising, there comes a saturation point, where if people see an ad one more time, it’s not going to help,” he said. “It took almost a year of research, but so far the results have been very good.”

©2015 New York Times

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Henry Sapiecha

WOMEN DISCUSS MENS PENISES ON VIDEO

Ther are many aspects to a man’s genitals that women do not know about in some cases,

Here the women discuss on video the various aspects of man’s arousal & what parts of a mans body are part of the sex process of the male..

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Henry Sapiecha

To forget the one that got away is hard & here is why

"I've seen tears well up in the eyes of women in their 50s telling tales of adolescent heartbreak."

“I’ve seen tears well up in the eyes of women in their 50s telling tales of adolescent heartbreak.” Photo: Stocksy

My friends and I have an expression: “pulling a Mike”. To “pull a Mike” is to throw yourself at someone and declare your love, only to be knocked back so completely it takes a week for the pulpy remains of your heart to resume beating again.

Mike was a guy I knew in university. He was a history major. A dark, pony-tailed type, he was just a little bit smarter than the rest of us and his slightly frayed Levi’s fitted just a little better than anyone else’s. He was partial to big words with lots of syllables and stroked his chin when he spoke. I used to gaze at him across the classroom, imagining the bright, pony-tailed children we’d have, all the while missing the finer points the professor was making about the economic implications of crop failure in Tudor-Stuart England.

Having pined for him all year, I decided, as exams approached, that I needed to make my move. I prepared myself carefully, skolling at least four cans of VB before approaching him. This made me feel bolder than I really was, not to mention more attractive; it also made me drool a little and sway from side to side as I delivered my speech.

It went something like this: “So Mike, is this attraction mutual, or is it just me?”

His response was swift, and unambiguous. “It’s just you.”

Flashback: my parent’s holiday house, the summer of 1979. Sean Lewis was nine, a year and a half older than me. He had charisma. He won the local Fonz contest; I wanted nothing more than to be his Leather Tuscadero. So I was thrilled when he came up to me down by the swimming dock and said he wanted to talk. As he spoke, I was so mesmerised by the lock of sandy hair that tumbled over his left eye that I almost missed what he said.

“Why do you keep following me around? It’s weird.”

I’ve had plenty of successful dates in my life, and several happy relationships, but for some reason it’s the rejections that stick. I can barely recall the name of my first high-school boyfriend, or the guy I lived with for two years after I finished university. But I remember specifically that Warren Black took Carol Mayfield to the first boy-girl party at primary school instead of me.

I’ve talked to a few people about this, and I know I’m not alone. I’ve seen tears well up in the eyes of women in their 50s telling tales of adolescent heartbreak; it seems there is no scar like the one inflicted by a 17-year-old boy on a 17-year-old girl when he takes someone prettier to the ball. Why do these romantic mishaps sting for so long?

For one, we just seem to be predisposed to remember bad times more clearly than good. Maybe it’s a primeval survival thing. (Wow, things went really badly when I tried to pat that sabre-toothed tiger. Next time I’ll just stay in the cave.) Rejection is traumatic and love is not; obsessing over an unrequited passion 20 years gone might be like remembering exactly where you were the day Kurt Cobain died, or on the morning of September 11.

And heartbreak hurts, literally. Science tells us so. Anxiety (and romantic knock-backs definitely cause angst) releases hormones, like adrenalin, which can stress the heart and force it to work harder.

Some scientists also equate love with other forms of chemical addiction. In this case, it’s the oxytocin withdrawal that gives you the DTs. And how about this: Dutch researchers had test subjects send in photos of themselves to be viewed by other volunteers for an experiment on “first impressions”. Weeks later, the scientists hooked each individual up to an electrocardiogram and measured their heart rate as they heard what the other people thought. When they were told another person didn’t like them, their pulses slowed. Rejection really “broke” their hearts.

Then there’s the simple fact of age. When we’re young, romance and dating weigh more heavily than in later years. Life’s true traumas are not yet apparent, and so we assign our quota of emotional turmoil to affairs of the heart. Somewhere around the age of 30, things change. Children are born, parents grow older and weaker, friends disappear or are lost. Romantic anguish takes a back seat.

And this, maybe, is the point. Looking back on the dockside rebuff of a schoolboy, or the beer-fuelled longings of my 20-something self, I actually feel nostalgic for those early heartbreaks. There is a wonderful innocence in idealising someone the way you do when you are young, of fantasising about marriage and family and love, without the foreknowledge of how nice but, well, mundane these things can become in adult life.

I’m not as brave as I used to be (or I don’t drink as much) and haven’t “pulled a Mike” in a while. I did look up the original Mike the other day. He’s a history professor, still pony-tailed, still in Levi’s. I’ve moved on and I can see now it never would have worked between us.

But he’s left me with some useful words. A younger friend came over the other evening, regretful and teary after propositioning a guy by text and getting the following reply: sry not in2 U.

“Don’t worry,” I said, “you’ve only pulled a Mike. Enjoy it while you can.”

Sunday Life

Henry Sapiecha

YES TO ORGASM FACES FOR ACTRESSES & HERE IS WHY

Ruth Wilson in The Affair,

Ruth Wilson in The Affair,

If you’ve not yet seen Ruth Wilson in The Affair, prepare yourselves. The series explores the escalation and subsequent fallout of an affair between a married teacher (played by Dominic West, aka ‘McNulty’) and a young, bereaved waitress (Wilson, in a captivating portrayal). Created by accomplished writer Sarah Treem, The Affair asks difficult questions about the longevity of love, the necessary selfishness of passion and the choices we make between being loyal and being happy.

Oh, and there’s a lot of sex.

In the usual televisual fare, that would mean a lot of ostentatious howling and simultaneous orgasms. According to Hollywood, bringing about climax in a woman is as simple as penetrating her for a minute or less (thanks, heternormativity!) until she wails like a banshee finding tortured release. This pantomime is echoed in mainstream pornography, where female orgasms are found in the money shot at the end of the rainbow. Given how these scenes are overwhelmingly written and directed by men, I’ve often been led to wonder if any of them have ever actually seen a woman come.

The famous o-face scene in When Harry met Sally.

The famous o-face scene in When Harry met Sally. Photo: Everett Collection/REX

But The Affair is different, because it portrays sex as a realistic interaction between flawed humans. Rather than performing intimacy, Wilson and West embody the complexities of sex. The backdrop of an ocean town in the Hamptons makes for an appropriate setting, because the bodies of Alison and Noah communicate with the same ebbs and flows of a temperamental tide.

The unique conceit of The Affair lies in its dual storytelling methods. Each episode is separated into two parts, both told from Alison and Noah’s own perspectives. The result is a fascinating reflection not only on the ways individuals perceive their own experiences but how men and women in particular might recall certain events. In Noah’s recollections, Alison’s sexual excitement is more animalistic and excitable than in her own memories, while she’s cast as the instigator of the affair. In contrast, Alison remembers herself wearing more modest clothing, a mother grieving for a dead child and being pursued by a city-dwelling writer bored with his marriage. But in both storylines, their sexual interaction is still primarily rooted in reality rather than fantasy.

One of the most memorable of these scenes opens at the tail end of Noah going down on Alison. She climaxes quietly, but there’s no sense that this has lessened the impact of her orgasm. She immediately pushes him away and cups her hands between her legs, telling him she’s too sensitive for him to keep going. If I hadn’t already known, I would have realised in that moment that it was a scene if not written by a woman, it was at the very least informed by one directing it.

There are other moments that excite too, purely because they are so rare. Although fleetingly displayed, the audience is still treated to some visual and aural indications of Noah’s own sexual pleasure. Despite the importance and esteem the necessity of the male orgasm seems to be held in in wider society and culture, it’s actually rare that we get to see men stripped back and made vulnerable under an external artistic gaze.

Wilson reflects on this inequality in an interview with Net-A-Porter. She says, “I have a big concern about how women are treated in the industry generally, and how they have to provide the titillation because penises can’t be seen on screen but breasts can. It’s assumed that women will get their breasts out, and have to get their breasts out, and I balk at that. It’s unnecessary and it’s unfair. So I kept insisting, ‘Why have I always got to do the orgasm face? There should be a male orgasm face. Why is it always the woman who’s orgasming? Let’s analyze the male orgasm. Why aren’t we thinking about that a bit more?’ It’s hard to make good sex scenes work – there are so many crap ones out there.”

This double standard extends all the way to the voyeurism industry. Pornography, overwhelmingly geared towards men, maintains a certain silence around the actual act of male orgasm, preferring instead to demonstrate it by having performers pull out and ejaculate all over supposedly eager women’s faces. It’s no surprise that a culture that so consistently speaks to a perceived male audience about the very precious experience of being male would shy away from exposing their most raw and erotic of moments. The wink-wink nature of mainstream art is directed at men on the other side of the fourth wall, not women; the fear of homoeroticism in a heteronormative world is so strong that any sign of witnessing and even enjoying passive male pleasure is considered a bridge to gaysville. Terror!

Pornography aside, women are the biggest consumers of television. The past decade has seen somewhat of a revolution for women on the small screen, with a far more diverse array of roles and storylines available that are still sadly lacking in cinema. But as well as embracing stories that are actually about us and treat us like complex participants in the human experience, women are no less interested in the thrill of titillation than men. Witnessing the surrender to sexual pleasure turns us on too. For many heterosexual women (and even a number of queer women) the sounds and sights of a man enjoying pleasure is hugely erotic. It’s partly why homosexual porn and slash fiction are so popular among straight women.

Let’s face it, breasts are becoming boring. Could it be that, against all reasons and odds, the male orgasm face is actually the last taboo? If so, I for one am looking exceedingly forward to that one being smashed over and over and over again.

Henry Sapiecha

MY SESSION AT THE SEX YOGA SESSION TAUGHT ME THIS

"When it comes to sex ed, it’s never too late to go back to school."

“When it comes to sex ed, it’s never too late to go back to school.” Photo: Stocksy

It’s a tale that, alas, is likely familiar to many women: throughout the course of my sex life, male partners had insisted things like, “You’ll like this”, “Women love this move”, and “You have to let me ‘ground’ your vagina after sex”. By the time that final doozy was dropped on me late last year, I realised that if I were to answer the question, “What do you, you know, like?” my reaction would be something like this GIF.

Feeling glum about it all, I resigned myself to a period of soul-searching solitude with a soupçon of self-loathing: at 32, surely I should have one clue about what made me tick? But after a year that had included some baaaad sex and a diagnosis of chronic vaginal thrush, the concept of “pleasure” was far from my mind.

So, when I ran into Vanessa Muradian, an old comrade from the feminist protest scene who works as a sexologist and was now running a course dedicated to female pleasure, it seemed like fate. The course would entail practical education about sex and wellness, followed by a sensual yoga flow and guided meditation – perfect, since of late all three things had fallen off my to-do list.

Having signed up for ‘Pleasure Month’, I was suddenly beset by yet more questions – “What is a ‘sensual yoga flow’?” “Is this going to end up like in Sex & The City where the guy at the sex workshop spoofs on Charlotte?” “What if the last time I did a guided meditation I saw Viggo Mortensen’s face and heard atmospheric sounds from World Of Warcraft?” – but felt resolved to undo years of Cosmo-inspired notions about sex and pleasure.

My SATC-inspired spoof-related concern was unfounded as the class was all women. What struck me immediately, however, was the palpable sense of relief in the room: that regardless of sexual preference, age, marital or parental status, we were learning things about our bodies that nobody had told us.

For example, that lower back strain could adversely affect the ability to orgasm (guess whose year of “I’m just not really feeling it, sorry” sex coincided with an undiagnosed acute lower back injury??), or that the clitoris is far bigger than any dimwitted “it’s about the size of a pea” ’69 Sex Tips’ article might have mistakenly informed you (it’s estimated to be around 12cm long).

Could we have found these things out during a Google frenzy with a glass of shiraz? Sure, but there was something telling about the fact that we hadn’t. Instead, like me not having any reason to put two and two together about my back injury and bummer sex life, we had just resigned ourselves to the “reality” that sex was just okay, orgasms were alright, I guess, and such is life.

More than anything, through the educational segments of the course I kept thinking about how little sex ed had focused on female pleasure – which is to say, it didn’t at all. Sex in a “P in V” context (which is of course what the bulk of sex ed focuses on) was primarily about making men climax, the terrible things that would happen when they did, and that was about it.

I asked Vanessa about this after class one week. “As women we give so much to those around us, we forget the importance of empowering ourselves and our energy stores; pleasure and indulging in it is a huge part of this,” she said. “It’s also important to note that from an early age we aren’t taught about how to pleasure ourselves [or] even about our capabilities as women and as sexual beings. Of course if you don’t know what you are capable of and how to receive pleasure it’s harder to find!”

The fascinated “ohh!”s and gobsmacked faces during our education reflected this (particularly during the segment about female ejaculation). But as the course also illustrated, “pleasure” doesn’t have to mean going hell for leather with the vibe: it could be sitting in the sun while reading, or eating a kilo of cherries, or whatever, provided it was private and personal.

Somewhere in the middle of the yoga flow during my last Pleasure Month class, sweating profusely and wobbling through the least serene sun salute in history, the reality of years’ worth of pleasureless sex hit me. I was overcome by a profound sense of emotion – equal parts rage, disappointment and optimism – that emerged in a sort of strangled burp before I collapsed onto the mat.

When I left the course I wasn’t much better at meditating (cf. Viggo Mortensen’s face), and my yoga form was still more crabby than sensual, but I had a renewed sense of hopefulness about my ability to experience pleasure in all its forms (and a new confidence in my ability to say “Could you not” the next time a dude claimed to know exactly what I’d like).

Had you asked me whether I’d attend a “sex yoga” course a year or so ago, I probably would have laughed and said something almost convincing about how I had a great sex life (about as convincing as Sally Albright having great sex with Shel Gordon, I’d say) and didn’t need to attend a course about it.

As it turns out, when it comes to sex ed, it’s never too late to go back to school.

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Henry Sapiecha