Sex & The ’60s: Joan Holloway Inspires Brits to Get Boob Jobs

'Mad Men' season 1 still with Christina Hendricks (The Telegraph UK)

‘Mad Men’ season 1 still with Christina Hendricks (The Telegraph UK)

This week, we’re examining sexuality data from the 1960s, in celebration of the upcoming final half-season of “Mad Men” beginning Apr. 5th.

Happy Friday! Bombshell Joan Holloway (and the gorgeous actress behind the character, Christina Hendricks) has become well-known for her dangerous curves throughout the course of “Mad Men.” (That’s not editorializing, that’s a fact, and everyone agrees.) In Britain, Hendricks is credited with sparking an increase in breast implants.

In a 2011 article in “The Telegraph,” the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) found that the number of women having “breast augmentations” rose 10%+ in 2010 from the 2009 figure. This equals out to 9K+ British women per year.

The BAAPS estimates that overall plastic surgery procedures have tripled from 10.7K+ in 2003 to 36.4K+ in 2009.

A BAAPS source suggested that Hendricks was an influence, especially with the hourglass figure coming back into fashion. But the source wasn’t the only one to name-check Hendricks for her curves. Britain’s Equalities Minister and Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone proclaimed Hendricks to be “fabulous” while urging the need for more curvy role models. And she would know: Featherstone was voted the “most fanciable MP in Parliament” in 2010.


Do Musicians Get Laid More?

ACDC's Malcolm Young, 1970s (ACDC)

ACDC’s Malcolm Young, 1970s (ACDC)

Happy Friday! We’ve all heard that musicians get laid more than the average dude with no guitar skills. (Well, not just guitar, substitute any instrument here that you prefer.) It’s thought of as a evolutionary differentiator to allow potential partners to pick them on the basis that they’d be a good mate for life, or for just one night.

But is this true?

It turns out that this might not be the case. A recent study, published in “Evolution and Human Behavior,” surveyed 10K+ Swedish twins ages 27-54, both women and men, to determine this dilemma. The study examined benchmarks such as the age each person first had sex, number of sex partners reported and the number of kids they had.

Here’s what the study ultimately found:

Contrary to predictions, the majority of phenotypic associations between musical ability and music achievement with mating success were nonsignificant or significant in the other direction, with those with greater musical ability scoring lower on the measures of mating success.

Looks like every musician you crushed on in high school had some other stuff going on that you found attractive. Because it wasn’t evidently just that guitar.

The results follow two earlier Swedish studies that found that music doesn’t hold enough weight as a desirable-mate signifier to definitively say that the trait/skill alone attracts mates.

So if you’re debating treating yourself to music lessons after that hard-earned promotion, and if you’re looking for partners (short- or long-term), you might want to skip the lessons and just use that promotion as a talking point.


How Has “Fifty Shades of Grey” Impacted the Sex Toy Industry?

'Fifty Shades of Grey'-themed sex toys (Crushable)

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’-themed sex toys (Crushable)

With the recent “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie coming out last month (along with the requisite storm of thinkpieces), the sex toy industry is seeing an impact on the bottom line.

Different sex toy retailers are feeling an impact. “Variety” reports that Manhattan-based The Pleasure Chest was offering “Fifty Shades”-themed classes every night leading up to the movie’s premiere (though it doesn’t say for many weeks this went on).

Online retailer Adam & Eve, which holds the largest market share at 4%, has also gained a boost in sales. They’re also selling their own toy line “Scarlet Couture” pegged to the movie, in addition to the official “Fifty Shades”-inspired line.

“The Hollywood Reporter” has a piece which came out before the movie opened giving us some hard numbers. The U.K. sex toy brand Lovehoney made the line of “Fifty Shades”-inspired toys, which includes blindfolds, riding crops and feather ticklers. Demand for the “Inner Goddess” Ben Wa balls (or vaginal balls) sold out Europe in pre-orders. (Full disclosure: I was actually given a box of these when I attended a sexual health conference in January.)

THR reports that Lovehoney’s profits “tripled from $1.1 million the year before to $3.39 million by January 2014.” The “Fifty Shades” line has already sold 1.2M units worldwide, and is estimated to boost sales by 40% once the movie debuts.

If you’re looking for lingerie, Bluebella has you covered. The lingerie line has three “Fifty Shades”-inspired collections, and they anticipate a spike in sales not only from the movie, but also from Valentine’s Day.

“Inc.” also had a comprehensive article on this cultural phenomenon, and puts it in the larger context of a sea change. Market research firm IBISWorld found the following:

Between 2008 and 2013, sex toy sales in the U.S. increased by approximately 12.5 percent annually, raking in $610 million in 2013 overall.

The article notes that it’s more the smaller companies seeing a boon to their bottom line. But there’s also been a shift in who the sex toy industry’s customers are:

In 2013, women made up approximately 67 percent of U.S. industry patronage, which was a 12 percent increase from 2008.

It’ll be interesting to see if this is just a one-time sales spike, specifically in BDSM gear, or if this trend will continue, eventually making the practice almost, dare I say, vanilla.






Lucy and Maria Aylmer: How Many Twins Look Racially Different?

Twin sisters Lucy and Maria Aylmer (BoredPanda)

Twin sisters Lucy and Maria Aylmer (BoredPanda)

This week, the Internet has been fascinated by a set of English fraternal twins Lucy and Maria Aylmer. But there’s something special about them: Lucy has pale skin and red hair, while Maria has brown skin and brown curly hair.

In other words, one twin looks white, and the other twin looks black.

Their parents have a mixed racial background: their mother is half Jamaican, and their father is white.

Occasionally, stories like theirs pop up every now and again. In 2009, another British mixed-race couple produced not one, but two, sets of identical twins who each looked very racially different from their sibling.

But how common is this?

Unfortunately, there are no statistics that track this. From “The Associated Press:”

The phenomenon is so uncommon that there are no statistics to illustrate its probability, although it is thought likely to become more common because of the growing number of mixed-race couples.

To give you an idea on exactly how uncommon this is (using numbers!), Dr. Sarah Jarvis of Britain’s Royal College of General Pracitioners, said in 2009 (though it still applies today):

“Even non-identical twins aren’t that common. Non-identical twins from mixed parents, of different races, less common still. To have two eggs fertilized and come out different colors, less common still. So, to have it happen twice must be one in millions.”

But that’s just a guess, though the BBC reported chances closer to 1 in 500 in 2011. We won’t know until we actually start tracking the numbers.

The UK Introduces “3-Parent Baby” Bill

Human embryos (Bloomberg)

Human embryos (Bloomberg)

Britain made history this week by becoming the first country to introduce a “3-parent baby” bill.

Approved by the House of Commons, the Human Fertilization and Embryology (Mitochondrial Donation) Regulations 2015 seeks to eradicate genetic diseases that are passed from mother to child via defective mitochondria. (Defective mitochondria causes diseases such as brain damage, heart failure and blindness.) The genetic diseases would then cease to be passed to future generations.

For those who aren’t up on their fifth-grade science, here’s how it works: There are two healthy parents, save for the defective mitochondria (the cells that convert food into energy). A third woman would donate her healthy mitochondria via a modified in-vitro fertilization (IVF) technique. From then on, the mitochondria are permanently altered for the better.

There are two ways the procedure can be executed. For visual learners, diagrams are below:

Method 1 - Embryo Repair (BBC)

Method 1 – Embryo Repair (BBC)

In the first method, the nuclei from the parents’ fertilized embryo is added to the donor’s fertilized embryo. The modified embryo is then placed into the womb.

Method 2 - Egg Repair (BBC)

Method 2 – Egg Repair (BBC)

In the second method, the nucleus from the mother’s egg is placed into the donor egg, with the healthy mitochondria.

In fact, calling a resulting baby from the procedure a “3-parent baby” is a misnomer: The donor would only give about .1% of her DNA. It would only change the portion that houses the genetic disease. Per the BBC, reproductive ethicist Dr. Gillian Lockwood notes:

Less than a tenth of one per cent of the genome is actually going to be affected. It is not part of what makes us genetically who we are. It doesn’t affect height, eye colour, intelligence, musicality.

If the measure passes through the House of Lords, the first baby to benefit from this procedure could be born next year.

NPR notes that U.S. agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have also been looking into the process, since 1-4K American children are born with a mitochondrial disease (numbers per the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation).

It’s safe to say that Britain will pave the way with how they handle this measure, and the world will be watching (and learning).

How Many Germs Transfer During Kissing?

Remco Kort, author of the kissing study, stands near his Kiss-O-Meter developed for the Micropia museum (Huffington Post)

Remco Kort, author of the kissing study, stands near his Kiss-O-Meter developed for Amsterdam’s Micropia museum (Huffington Post)

Happy Friday! Germs are everywhere. Some germs are good (probiotics), and some germs are bad (E. coli).

But some germs are just sort of there, waiting to be unleashed from us. Like when we’re kissing someone else.

A recent study published in “Microbiome” found that a whopping 80 million germs are exchanged during a French kiss. And this is only if the kiss lasts only 10 seconds.

Scientists from the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) had 21 couples visiting the Artis Royal Zoo kiss for the aforementioned amount of time, and collected saliva from each participant before and after the kiss. One partner then drank a probiotic yogurt before kissing again, and scientists again collected samples.

The study found that the microbes from any couples’ mouths resulted in similar strains of bacteria than from any two random strangers’ mouths. We often hear that long-term couples begin to resemble each other, and now that’s proven to be the case on the inside as well.

But these germs might not be only bad for us. Study author Remco Kort said that diversifying one’s microbes could actually result in better health.

Sounds like a great case for kissing a lot of different people, right? Now get out there and boost your health!



Italian Marriage Stats: By The Numbers

Rome Wedding shot by Dmitri Markine

Rome Wedding shot by Dmitri Markine

Inspired by this post on “The Cut,” on Italian marital affairs, I wanted to know about Italian marriage stats. All stats are from 2012:

Average age for first marriage for Italian men: 34

Average age for first marriage for Italian women: 31

Percentage of marriages with one Italian partner and one foreign partner: 68%

Percentage of weddings with at least one foreign partner: 15%

Number of marriages per 1K inhabitants: 3.5


Polygamy: How Common Is It?

Mormonism founder Joseph Smith, Jr. and his polygamist family

Mormonism founder Joseph Smith, Jr. and his polygamist family

“The Talk” host Julie Chen revealed a family secret this week: her maternal grandfather was a polygamist. He had nine wives.

We’ve all seen “Big Love,” the HBO show centering on a Mormon man (Bill Paxton) and his three wives (Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloe Sevigny, and Ginnifer Goodwin) that ran 2006-2011. The show single-handedly brought a depiction of modern polygamy into premium cable holders’ homes and greater mainstream culture.

How common is polygamy, both in the United States and the world?

Oprah’s “Polygamy in America” report cites experts at putting the US number between 30K and 50K. Another source notes that it’s difficult to find hard numbers on polygamists because plural marriages aren’t documented.

In the greater world, Polygamy Stop estimates another 100K+ people are practice polygamy in Western Europe. The site also notes that polygamy is legal in over 150 countries in Africa, the Middle East and various countries in the Third World (none are specified).

If anything, this news gives Chen quite the conversation-starter for her next dinner party.


Orgasms During Sex: French Women vs. American Women

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

We all know the stereotype that the French are having way more sex than anyone, particularly Americans. But are they actually having more pleasure?

A 2012 study of 3K+ French women ages 15 to 80 reveals that 74% have no trouble achieving orgasm (but it’s not specified whether it’s alone or with a partner). Within that percentage, 55% climax often, 16% come every time, 21% climaxed rarely and 5% never do.

How does that stack up to American women?

A 2009 article from ABC News notes that 75% of women can’t reach orgasm solely from sexual intercourse. It’s unclear a) how large the study was, in terms of quantity and age range, and b) for the women who were reaching orgasm, the frequency there.

It’s not a pure comparison, but it appears in this case, the stereotype is true: French women are having better sex (measured here by orgasm frequency).