Living With PCOS Taught Me to Redefine My Standards of Beauty

Today is Sunday so I pluck. First, I buzz my face with an epilator, pulling out some of the longer dark hairs on my chin. Next, I park myself in front of the lighted magnifying mirror and pull out every little black hair I can find. I have to put a time limit on this stage or my face will be red and blotchy from aggressive examination. Finally, if I still feel too fuzzy, I lightly scrape my upper lip and cheeks with a tiny eyebrow razor. The fun colors and feminine face on the package reassure me that these blades are fun products for ladies…as unfeminine as it feels to shave my face.

My unruly chin hairs are a symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a metabolic disorder affecting 1 in 10 women between the ages of 15 and 44. Up to 70 percent of us living with PCOS experience “hirsutism,” aka excess hair. So, I’m not alone in my weekly grooming routine.

But that’s not the half of it. Other symptoms of PCOS include irregular periods, acne, insulin resistance and infertility. But the real kicker I’m reminded of every time I look in the mirror is that PCOS can also cause hair loss. That’s right, many of us live with excess hair and hair loss at the same time, thanks to an excess of androgens pumping throughout our bodies. Over one in five women with PCOS (including me) have androgenic alopecia, according to a 2014 study—a fancy way of saying we’re balding.

The culprit behind my faint beard and thinning hair are androgens—hormones including testosterone which are (unsurprisingly) often categorized as male. This is a bit of a misnomer—all humans produce androgens, but biological males typically produce more than biological females. As a woman, too much testosterone disrupts the reproductive cycle and can cause the tandem effects of facial hair growth and alopecia as the cherry on top.

My naturally fine hair started to thin in my 20s—an all over fallout unlike the receding hairline many men deal with. Two pregnancies in three years made the problem even worse—major hormonal events like pregnancy can cause hair to shed for all women, not just those with PCOS—leaving my scalp barely covered.

My self-esteem tanked, as I frantically started testing any product I could get my hands on to conceal my hair loss—powders that make hair look thicker, clip-in hairpieces to blend in with my own hair, topical solutions which promised to help my thinning strands regenerate. But after my second postpartum shed, concealers weren’t enough: I bought a wig.

Then there were the chin hairs. I had a few stray sprouts when I was younger but pregnancy caused a full-on sperbloom. I wanted to be at my most feminine while I was pregnant, a goddess at the root of creation and growth. Instead I felt like a witch with broken, stringy hair on my head and whiskers spreading across my face.

It’s not just the attack on typically feminine definitions of beauty—PCOS also impacts what society tells us is one of the most fundamental elements of womanhood: fertility. It took seven years and many, many fertility treatments before I was finally able to get pregnant. My fertility struggles felt like an inability to “accomplish” womanhood, that was reinforced every time I looked in the mirror. Between the fertility challenges and the haywire hair growth patterns, PCOS can be like kryptonite for a woman’s self esteem. No wonder women with PCOS report higher rates of depression and anxiety.

All the Celebrity Weddings in 2019 (So Far)

While 2019 has yet to see a wedding on the scale of Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra’s elaborate Indian festivities, there are still plenty of celebrities walking down the aisle and saying, “I do.”

There’s already been another Jonas wedding, as Joe and Sophie Turner pulled off a surprise ceremony in Las Vegas, complete with an Elvis impersonator. The couple is also planning another, more traditional ceremony this summer—and let’s just say we’re pretty excited to see what this one brings. The surprise small wedding followed by a bigger party later might just be becoming a trend, as Us Weekly reports that Zoe Kravitz and her fiancé Karl Glusman are already legally married but have plans for a French wedding in June.

Here’s a rundown of who’s tied the knot already this year—while we wait for news of weddings from engaged couples like Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom, J. Lo and A-Rod, and Jennifer Lawrence and Cooke Maroney.

Low Libido: 10 Mental and Physical Factors That Might Be Causing It

So you just haven’t been feeling it lately—sex with your partner, sex in general. Maybe you’re even feeling meh about your other bedside BFF. While there’s no one cause of low libido and no “right” level of sexual interest—it’s different for everyone—a noticeably low sex drive in women is almost always a symptom of something that requires attention in your life or your body. “To begin to figure it out, ask yourself how you feel about your body and your partner. Evaluate the stresses in your life, and look at your lifestyle choices: sleep, foods, exercise, job satisfaction, friends,” advises Felice Gersh, M.D., OB-GYN, founder and director of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine, in Irvine, California, and author of PCOS SOS: A Gynecologist’s Lifeline To Naturally Restore Your Rhythms, Hormones and Happiness.

Here are some of the most common causes of low libido; it’s helpful to consider which might apply to you before you seek advice from your physician or ob-gyn.

You have small kids.

“It makes evolutionary sense that we don’t feel like procreating when we’re not feeling up to the demanding task of child rearing,” says endocrinologist Romy Block, M.D., co-founder of Vous Vitamin and co-author of The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear the Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health. Coming off childbirth and breastfeeding, it can also take time for your sex hormones to get back in balance, so don’t sweat it if you’re not feeling back to your sexual norm right away.

You’re aggressively trying to lose weight.

While maintaining a healthy weight can help you maintain a healthy sex drive, “a starvation or radical diet can shut down libido—nutrient deficiencies take a huge toll,” Dr. Gersh says. Extreme restriction isn’t healthy, nor is an extreme gym routine. “While moderate exercise increases libido, extreme exercise has the opposite effect.” In other words, everything in moderation—if you’re hitting the gym so hard that you’re always worn-out, laying off a little could help re-energize your interest in sex.

You’re low on certain vitamins.

Even if you’re not crash-dieting, it’s possible you could still have a vitamin deficiency that’s depleting your interest in sex. “Vitamin deficiencies are a very common cause of fatigue and low libido and should not be overlooked,” Dr. Block says. One potential culprit: low iron, which years of periods, pregnancies and nursing can deplete, Dr. Block says. “In addition, most of us are deficient in Vitamin D if we are not taking the proper supplements,” he adds.

Sleep hasn’t been happening.

Skimping on sleep is another surefire way to feel disconnected from your sexy side. “Our bodies lose the desire for sex whenever we’re struggling to meet our own energy needs,” Block says. If you religiously get to bed on time but are still waking up exhausted, you might not be getting the quality sleep you need. It’s worth talking to your doctor about what might be the cause.

You’re unhappy in your relationship.

If you used to be all over your partner but now rarely feel into the idea, it might be time for couples’ counseling—or at least an honest, open-minded talk. Maybe underlying tension is pre-empting your arousal, or maybe you two just need to take some time to focus on your intimate connection. “Physicians can always refer patients to sex therapists, who can suggest new ways to help increase your desire,” says ob-gyn Jill Hechtman, M.D., medical director of Tampa Obstetrics.

Your hormones are off-kilter.

“Sex-hormone deficiencies—estrogen and testosterone in particular—are the number one reason I see in my practice for a lowered libido,” Dr. Gersh says. The culprit could be the pill or another hormonal contraceptive, like a progestin IUD but that’s not always the case. (In fact, some women find that hormonal contraceptives actually increase their desire). Pregnancy/breastfeeding can also alter your hormones. So can age. “By age 40, the average woman has a testosterone level half of what it was at age 20,” says Dr.Gersh; your doctor can test your levels and give you a prescription if they’re low.

Your sex drive can also be swayed by imbalances of non-sex hormones, including thyroid and adrenal hormones, oxytocin and melatonin. If you can’t think of any other obvious causes for your lack of desire, ask your doctor about doing a full hormone workup.

You’re super stressed-out.

If you’ve been pouring all your emotional energy into your job or worrying about finances or family drama, there might not be much left for sex. “What can help is finding a form of mind-body medicine you love,” Dr. Gersh says. “Consider guided imagery, meditation, yoga, progressive relaxation, and others. Or learn about essential oils—vanilla essential oil is an aphrodisiac.”

You’re on antidepressants.

“Antidepressants like Prozac or Paxil notoriously cause low sexual desire,” Dr. Hechtman says. If you suspect this is an issue for you, talk to your doctor, who may be able to switch you to another medication not associated with this side effect.

You’re not on antidepressants.

Untreated depression is strongly linked to low libido, so don’t let the potential side effects mentioned above scare you off seeking treatment, if you think you might need it. “Sometimes, treating underlying anxiety and depression with an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) can actually improve libido, in spite of the potential side effects,” notes Dr. Eliza Orzylowska DeBow, M.D., an ob-gyn in New York City.

Sex just doesn’t feel good.

If pain or dryness keep you from fully enjoying intercourse, it makes sense that you’ll crave it less. Talk to your gynecologist, who may prescribe medication for dryness or refer you to a specialist if a solution isn’t straightforward. “Pinpointing a reason for pain can sometimes be difficult, so a referral to a clinician who specializes in sexual health or a pelvic physical therapist is often needed,” Dr. DeBow says.

How I Stopped ‘Doing It for the ’Gram’ and Learned to Love ‘Unlikeable’ Moments

Open up your Instagram feed. What do you see? Fresh-cut peonies. A woman in the middle of her sun salutations series atop a mountain. A runner in the final stretch of a marathon. Instead of these polished moments of triumph, how great would it be to see a snap that shows someone at their worst? The moment their muscles clenched at the 10-mile mark. The split second when the ceramic pot spins off the wheel and splats on the ground. What if people posted images of those far more frequent mess-ups and total wipeouts for all their followers to see?

We now live in a moment of aspirational dread on social media. And it’s hit our hobbies hard. Instead of just going for a run, you have to share a picture of your mile count in the health app. You can’t just macrame a wall hanging—you have to post daily progress on your Stories. It seems there is little we do for the joy of doing it because we’re always trying to prove that we’re enough, by getting as many “likes” of approval as possible. This is especially true for women. We bear the brunt of the myth of perfection.

My hobby is surfing. It isn’t something I picked up during a quick trip to Baja last year. I’ve been at it for almost two decades. When I’m in the water, it’s not cute. I don’t live in a tricked-out camper van parked near a mellow beach break. Picture Blue Crush. Now picture the opposite of that.

While I can surf, I also kind of suck. I’m goofy and the antithesis of cool. Sometimes I eat shit. But, oh my God, is it fun. Surfing is something I don’t have to be good at. I don’t do it for the Boomerangs, or to filter the picture later. I just do it for me, and I don’t spend time worrying what I look like when I get up on that wave—or how it’ll look to other people when I show them later.

One of the best rides ever happened as I struggled to catch a wave. In the dog-eat-dog world of the lineup on the water, a moment’s hesitation tends to mean that a better surfer will score the wave you’ve missed. On this particular occasion, a surfer who witnessed my struggle paddled up behind me and called me into a swell line. He even made the effort to give me a tail push to help me catch it. He didn’t know me, and he could have taken the wave for himself, but instead helped a kook in the lineup just to be nice. I love that guy. I caught the wave and rode it to well, but that wasn’t the best part. His act of kindness was the best part. That moment won’t be recorded on video or posted and reposted on Instagram. But the feeling of connection—even if just for a moment—has remained with me ever since.

When I finally decided to come clean about being a sucky surfer, I posted an Instagram video of me looking like the goof that I am. I’m wearing a blue, unflattering, one-piece neoprene suit that makes my less-than-lithe body look even lesser lithe. I paddle into the wave and pop up with too much effort. Even though I catch it and turn left to ride the wave’s face, my arms fly up in an effort to balance, making me look like a football referee calling a touchdown. Worse, I’m standing too far back on my board to gain any speed. Instead of a cool kick out with the flip of my hair, I just flop over. Instagram accounts that gain followers in the surf world are filled with the graceful, the talented, and the beautiful. (And there’s that van again, dammit.) But to my surprise, when I posted myself in all my glory-lessness, thick-bodied and awkward, instead of feeling shame, I felt a kind of freedom.

How I Stopped “Doing It For Instagram” and Learned to Love “Unlikeable” Moments

Open up your Instagram feed. What do you see? Fresh-cut peonies. A woman in the middle of her sun salutations series atop a mountain. A runner in the final stretch of a marathon. Instead of these polished moments of triumph, how great would it be to see a snap that shows someone at their worst? The moment their muscles clenched at the ten-mile mark. The split-second when the ceramic pot spins off the wheel and splats on the ground. What if people posted images of those far more frequent mess-ups and total wipeouts for all their followers to see?

We now live in a moment of aspirational dread on social media. And it’s hit our hobbies hard. Instead of just going for a run, you have to share a picture of your mile count in the health app. You can’t just macrame a wall hanging—you have to post daily progress on your stories. It seems there is little we do for the joy of doing it because we’re always trying to prove that we’re enough, by getting as many “likes” of approval as possible. This is especially true for women. We bear the brunt of the myth of perfection.

My hobby is surfing. It isn’t something I picked up during a quick trip to Baja last year. I’ve been at it for almost two decades. When I’m in the water, it’s not cute. I don’t live in a tricked-out camper van parked near a mellow beach break. Picture Blue Crush. Now picture the opposite of that.

While I can surf, I also kind of suck. I’m goofy and the opposite of cool. Sometimes I eat shit. But, oh my god, is it fun. Surfing is something I don’t have to be good at. I don’t do it for the boomerangs, or to filter the picture later. I just do it for me, and I don’t spend time worrying what I look like when I get up on that wave—or how it’ll look to other people when I show them later.

One of the best rides ever happened as I struggled to catch a wave. In the dog-eat-dog world of the lineup on the water, a moment’s hesitation tends to mean that a better surfer will score the wave you’ve missed. On this particular occasion, a surfer who witnessed my struggle paddled up behind me and called me into a swell line. He even made the effort to give me a tail push to help me catch it. He didn’t know me, and he could have taken the wave for himself, but instead helped a kook in the lineup just to be nice. I love that guy. I caught the wave and rode it to well, but that wasn’t the best part. His act of kindness was the best part. That moment won’t be recorded on video or posted and re-posted on Instagram. But the feeling of connection—even if just for a moment—has remained with me ever since.

When I finally decided to come clean about being a sucky surfer, I posted an Instagram video of me looking like the goof that I am. I’m wearing a blue, unflattering, one-piece neoprene suit that makes my less-than-lithe body look even lesser lithe. I paddle into the wave and pop up with too much effort. Even though I catch it and turn left to ride the wave’s face, my arms fly up in an effort to balance, making me look like a football referee calling a touchdown. Worse, I’m standing too far back on my board to gain any speed. Instead of a cool kick out with the flip of my hair, I just flop over. Instagram accounts that gain followers in the surf world are filled with the graceful, the talented, and the beautiful. (And there’s that van again, dammit.) But, to my surprise, when I posted myself in all my glory-lessness, thick-bodied and awkward, instead of feeling shame, I felt a kind of freedom.

Sex After Baby: Everything You Need to Know About Sex After Giving Birth

Not all women feel self-conscious after giving birth—for some women it’s actually a major body-confidence boost. “Your body has done a truly miraculous thing and there’s so much to be proud of,” Marin says.” For many women, pregnancy helps put body hangups into perspective. “Maybe you were self-conscious of your breasts before pregnancy, but now you can appreciate that they keep your baby healthy,” Marin says.

Will you get pregnant?

You can. Amazingly, your body has the ability to make another baby pretty much immediately after you’ve given birth to one, so if you don’t want to get pregnant right away, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends using birth control. Even if you do want to have kids close together, doctors advise waiting six months. Beginning another pregnancy before then can be risky. Research suggests it can increase the likelihood of premature birth, placental abruption, low birth weight and congenital disorders, according to the Mayo Clinic.

While breastfeeding can help reduce the chances of getting pregnant, the popular belief that it acts as a surefire form of birth control is a misconception—you need backup. For many women, the easiest solution is a postplacental IUD—within minutes of delivering your baby and placenta, doctors can insert the device, and you’re good to go—but there are many options, according to the ACOG.

Does breastfeeding affect sex?

A little-known fact about breastfeeding is that it puts your body into a kind of temporary menopause (though not completely—remember you can get pregnant), particularly for the first six months, explains Conti. The biggest side effect of this possible condition is extreme vaginal dryness, which can make sex painful.

If you want to have penetrative sex while you’re breastfeeding or pumping, doctors recommend using lubricant or vaginal estrogen to increase wetness. In some cases, you may just need to wait it out. “Sex only really started feeling comfortable when I stopped pumping after six months,” says E.J. “That’s when it started feeling good again.”

Will it be the same?

You may find that what feels good during sex changes after giving birth. Some women who previously orgasmed through G-spot stimulation now prefer clitoral stimulation. If you’re breastfeeding, your nipples may feel especially sensitive—and not especially sexual. Many of the women we spoke with said that, while they were breastfeeding, their breasts played a much smaller role during sex than before.

“It is definitely possible to have a great sex life after kids, and maybe to even have it be better than it was before, because having kids forces you to get creative,” explains Marin. That goes for everything from carving out time to get it on to finding the position that feels best post-baby. As with all things sexual, the best thing you can do is experiment until you discover what works.

“It’s really important to acknowledge that sex is going to feel different, and to cut yourself some slack,” says Steph Montgomery, a writer, women’s health activist, and mother of five. Also, communicating your new preferences to your partner is essential. “I’ve found that missionary sex with him on top, and sex with him on top in general, is just not comfortable anymore,” she says. She now prefers all fours. “It sort of takes the pressure off—literally.”

Is there anything I can do to improve my post-baby sex life?

Kegel exercises, which involve contracting and releasing the vagina, can help strengthen the muscles in and around your pelvis in the postpartum period. That increased muscle tone in the vagina can make sex more pleasurable for women, says Dr. Minkin.

19 Best Waterproof Eyeliners for 2019

When it’s hot outside and you’re rushing around to get out the door, it’s easy to just leave eyeliner out of the equation. Old-school formulas can transfer from your lash line to your crease or melt halfway down your face come 3:00 P.M. And most applicators make it hard to get your cat-eye flicks to match. Because we’re sick of liners that don’t meet our very high standards, we decided to gather up our favorite picks that won’t smudge, flake, or melt off your face when the temperature gets above 70. Plus, they make achieving your cat-eye goals more than possible. From budge-proof pencils to dependable liquid liners, we pulled a little something for everyone. Ahead, find the best waterproof eyeliners to stock up on for summer 2019.

Allow Aurora Perrineau to Reintroduce Herself

If Perrineau “came forward” at all, it wasn’t in November 2017 or even in September 2017. It was 18 months before that, when she relented and told her parents what she says happened to her. “It was a very dark time. I wasn’t very good,” she says. “There was a lot of self-harm.” She’d gotten so afraid of the outside world that she could barely leave her house. Her parents hazarded an intervention. The upshot was more or less, “We can’t help you unless you tell us what is going on because this is getting progressively worse and worse.”

To recount the assault, to their faces, was scary, she says. But when she did, it felt like salvation. “If I didn’t get it out, I don’t know what would have happened to me,” she says. With the help of a therapist, she started to think about what closure would mean for her. “It was never a thing like, ‘I’m going to tell my story,’” she says. “I just wanted justice.” Nine months after Perrineau filed her report, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office announced that it had declined to bring charges. The statute of limitations on one possible charge had expired and the D.A. said the other charge wouldn’t be pursued due to “inconsistencies and the delay in reporting.”

Still, she’s proud she went to the police. She reaches around for words to describe it. How is it possible to feel vindicated when the scales of justice tip in someone else’s favor? “For a long time, I tried to figure out how to get my power back,” she says. “Going to the police station, filing a report—it kind of got the monkey off my back.”

Then came the report in The Wrap. It all could have fizzled out there, but for the statement from Dunham and Konner. Perrineau had no advance notice that the women intended to speak. She woke up to the text no one wants to get: “Did you see the news?” Perrineau read the statement in total shock. She’d never worked with Dunham and Konner. “Woman to woman, I just thought that support would be there,” Perrineau says.

She’s reluctant to assess what motivated them, which speaks as much to her grace as it does to how serious it is to accuse someone of a false rape accusation. But her most generous guess is that it was fear. “Fear for their friend or someone that they thought was their friend,” she says.

Perrineau didn’t comment on the statement. She listened to her father, who told her: “We just need to take a second, be silent, let the facts speak for themselves.” He also assured her: “They’re going to be on the wrong side of history.” Perrineau remained quiet.

In the absence of a counter narrative from her, black men and women filled the void. Perrineau names them: Zinzi Clemmons, Terry Crews, Tarana Burke, and DuVernay, of course. As sad as she was, she felt their embrace. And moreover, the experience alerted her to the particular indignities black women face. “It’s hard enough to ever come [forward], but then to be a woman of color and know that there’s a very good chance that no one is going to believe you? I think it opened my eyes to that,” she explains. “I’m grateful for that part of it.”

Within 24 hours of the joint statement, Dunham recanted on Twitter. “We have been given the gift of powerful voices and by speaking out we were putting our thumb on the scale and it was wrong,” Dunham wrote, without a direct mention of Perrineau. “We regret this decision with every fiber of our being.” Later, Perrineau’s mother brokered a sit-down between Perrineau and Dunham, and Dunham apologized in person. But fuller restitution came in December 2018, when Dunham guest-edited the Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Entertainment issue and included in it a 1,400-word mea culpa. Dunham said she’d never had “insider information” to exonerate Miller and called her initial statement “a terrible mistake.”

The Best Beach Bags for Summer 2019 (and Long After)

Last year, basket bags were all the rage. It gave us a free pass to carry our beloved straw totes off the beach and long after summer ended. In fact, they’ve become the “it” carry-all, spotted on the runway and at Fashion Week regardless of their seasonality. Their appeal is obvious: They fit all the essentials, plus sunblock, plus a disposable camera, plus a book (or two, if you can’t pick what to read next). They can even double as a carry-on when you’re traveling somewhere warm. (Seriously, I went on a beach vacation earlier this year, and all I could do was ogle at everyone’s beach bags.) But more importantly, they’re the finishing touch that make a summer outfit feel just a bit more #OOTD. You could also look beyond the classic tote and consider a minimal belt bag or printed crossbody to bring with you on all your summertime adventures. Keep scrolling for some of our favorite beach-friendly styles to wear now (and long after Labor Day).

Amy Schumer Is Back to Work 2 Weeks After Giving Birth—and the Mommy-Shaming Has Begun

Amy Schumer and her husband, Chris Fischer, welcomed their son, Gene, on May 5, and two weeks later she’s back on her comedy grind. The I Feel Pretty star had a gig at New York City’s Comedy Cellar on Monday night, May 20, and this, for some reason, has sent mommy-shamers into a tizzy.

“Already???? That’s insane!!! And inhumane. Contract or not you need to be allowed at least 6 weeks for maternity,” one person wrote under Schumer’s Instagram about the performance. Another commented with, “Take some time,” and a third person replied, “I’m sorry. What?! Didn’t you birth a human like 5 minutes ago?”

This should go without saying, but Schumer is a grown woman who’s more than capable of deciding what’s best for her and her baby. Her decision to go back to work was no-doubt made with careful thought and consideration. Strangers really shouldn’t be jumping in with their two-cents on this very personal matter, but alas, here we are.

Schumer’s response to all this criticism is, of course, on point. “I’ve always wanted to be mom shamed!!!!” she wrote under one person’s comment.

Journalist Jessica Yellin, who helped Schumer announce her pregnancy last October, congratulated the comedian on her return to work by writing, “I can only imagine what a pump room looks like at a comedy club. Welcome back, #rockstar.” To this Schumer said, “Every room is a pump room if you put your mind to it.”

And in one final comment, Schumer wrote, “Oh no, you can’t,” to a fan who said, “You can’t keep a good woman down!”

It’s no surprise Amy Schumer is taking her first bout of mommy-shaming in stride. She had a great sense of humor throughout her pregnancy. In her Netflix special, Growing, she opens up about experiencing hyperemesis gravidarum, which is often described as extreme morning sickness. “I throw up an Exorcist amount every day,” Schumer jokes at one point.

Her Instagram page has also been popping with funny, relatable motherhood content—like this photo of her using a breast pump, which she captioned with “#ootd” (a.k.a “outfit of the day”).

And this A+ selfie:

“Women are the shit,” she posted to IG on May 11 alongside a photo of herself and Baby Gene. “Men are cool and whatever but women are fucking warriors and capable of anything.”