#ThrowbackThursday: Beyonce’s Pregnancy Announcement, 2011

Beyonce at the VMAs, 2011 (The Daily Mail)

Beyonce at the VMAs, 2011 (The Daily Mail)

By now, everyone in the entire world knows that Beyonce is pregnant with twins. (And if this is new to you, who are you? Do you even exist? I have so many questions.) The superstar revealed her pregnancy in an Instagram post to her personal account, followed by more shots of her pregnancy photoshoot to her website.

Remember, this is the second time Beyonce has unleashed a pregnancy announcement on the unsuspecting world. Way back in 2011, she announced her pregnancy at the MTV Video Music Awards (a.k.a. the VMAs). Technically, she announced it twice: once on the red carpet, cradling her bump while clad in a flowing orange gown, and then during her performance onstage. During the latter, Beyonce rubbed her bump and said to the crowd, “I want you to feel the love that’s growing inside of me.”

Of course, we now know that daughter would be Blue Ivy, age five.

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Almost 50% of British Women Can’t Identify the Vagina

Female reproductive diagram (Pinterest)

Female reproductive diagram (Pinterest)

Well, this is alarming. A new study that surveyed 1K British women found that only 56% of women could identify the vagina from a medical diagram. For those of you who can’t do math, that’s 44% of women who can’t identify the vagina. And that’s way too high.

By contrast, nearly 70% of women could identify the male reproductive organs from a diagram. (Full disclosure: this was me in fifth grade health class. But then I got some knowledge.)

The study turned up some other things to note: Less than 30% of women could correctly identify all six parts of the women’s reproductive system from the same diagram. Also, only one in seven women were able to name a cancer that affects the reproductive organs. (The study was done by The Eve Appeal, a UK-based gynecological charity in awareness of September being Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month.)

The study also turned up the interesting note that women ages 65 and older were most likely to have scant knowledge of their reproductive organs, with less than one of four women able to name even one part. This might speak to a divide in sexual and health education between generations.

Not to be dramatic, but knowing this information could save your life, or the life of another woman you know.

 

 

Joan Smalls is “Porter” Magazine’s First Woman of Color Cover Model

Joan Smalls for 'Porter' Magazine (Fashion Week Daily)

Joan Smalls for ‘Porter’ Magazine (Fashion Week Daily)

Supermodel Joan Smalls covers the summer edition of “Porter” magazine. She’s a model, she’s gorgeous; no big deal, right? Except, this time, it is: Smalls is the first woman of color to grace the cover.

The Puerto Rican beauty joins fellow supermodels Gisele Bundchen and Karlie Kloss in the “Porter” cover girl pantheon.

This isn’t the first time Smalls has made history, even in this decade: She became the first Latina model for Estée Lauder cosmetics in 2011.

Fashion companies and publications are finally recognizing to the fact that white isn’t the only skin tone that exists (“Vogue” has had a particular problem with this), and realizing that customers want to see models that resemble themselves. I just hope it’s not a trend but a step towards a large-scale change.

#ThrowbackThursday: Angelina Jolie and Jenny Shimizu, 1996

Angelina Jolie and Jenny Shimizu (The Daily Mail UK)

Angelina Jolie and Jenny Shimizu (The Daily Mail UK)

Long before she become a well-known humanitarian with perfect bone structure and Mrs. Brad Pitt, Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie was kind of a wild child. But before wearing Billy Bob Thornton’s blood in a vial around her neck, she did something that (rightfully) now seems like no big deal.

Jolie began dating actress/model Jenny Shimizu on the set of their 1996 film “Foxfire.” Jolie claims that she fell in love with Shimizu “the first second [she] saw her,” and would’ve married Shimizu if she wasn’t already married to actor Jonny Lee Miller.

Reports put the definitive end of the relationship around 2005 (coincidentally the same year she starred in “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” opposite Pitt), but imagine an alternate universe where Jolie and Shimizu are the ultimate Hollywood bisexual power couple. Intriguing, right? Too bad it’ll only happen in our minds.

Rome Considers Zone of Tolerance for Prostitutes

Italian prostitutes (The Telegraph)

Italian prostitutes (The Telegraph)

The Roman neighborhood of EUR is considering enacting various “zones of tolerance” around the city within which prostitution would be legal. Certain places would off-limits, such as public parks, churches and schools. This makes sense: A country-wide law dictates that cities can issue boundaries on where prostitution can and cannot occur. This is a bit of a legal loophole in Italy, where aiding prostitution is illegal (but restricting it to certain areas is fine), but paying for sex is totally cool.

Naturally, the prostitutes themselves are not happy with this, as it would cut into their business. The Catholic Church isn’t too pleased either, for obvious reasons.

There are precedents for these zones: In 2012, Montreal was mulling a similar thing, but wanted to restrict it to one street, away from the busy main thoroughfare. In 2006, the English town of Ipswich considered a tolerance zone after a spate of prostitute murders shook the community.

EUR hasn’t come (heh) to a conclusion yet, but it’ll be interesting to see what precedent this sets for the city, Italy and the rest of the world.

 

How Does BDSM Affect The Brain?

BDSM (GoodReads)

BDSM (GoodReads)

We know that people who are into BDSM are more sexually adventurous, less anxious, and more secure in themselves. Obviously, all of these are beneficial qualities. But research suggests that it affects the brain in positive ways as well.

According to a recent study, each partner in a D/s  scene enters into an “altered state of consciousness” due to a variation in blood flow pattern to the brain. For dominants, this is termed “topspace;” for sub missives, “subspace.”

A researcher at Northern Illinois University studied 14 subjects “to test whether pain from sexual experiences may cause blood flow to alter the region of the brain responsible for control and working memory.” Subjects were randomly assigned to either give or receive pain, and took the Strook test, which measures “cognitive function for color and word recognition,” and questionnaires before and after the test.

Those who received pain fared worse with focus and memory. What does this mean?

When there is a deficit in a person’s working memory, they have less abstract thinking, access to memory, self-reflective conscious, and cognitive function, which leads to an altered state of consciousness. In S&M, this altered state transcends to one of focus and enjoyment.

The end result is similar to a runner’s or a meditative high, in that it modulates pain perception. It’s caused by “a lack of blood flow to the area.”

Even though it might be perceived as dangerous, BDSM is actually quite safe if done correctly. And I’m willing to bet that for some people, it’s a lot more fun than running or yoga.

 

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.