You can feel about a company the way you’d feel about a person. You can hold its flaws and its virtues in your mind simultaneously. You can love it and hate it, both together, more intensely every day. You can halfheartedly explain away its mistakes because you want, so badly, to believe in its goodness, its honor. You can, and I do.

American Apparel is shutting its doors after a years-long battle with bankruptcy, scandal, and cultural insensitivity. Let me be exceedingly clear: this post is a love letter, but there are many things about American Apparel I do not love and cannot condone. The sexual harassment, the sizeism, the snotty atmosphere that causes several of my queer, trans, plus-size, and disabled friends to feel uncomfortable in AA stores… None of this is excusable. I myself boycotted AA for years, for these reasons and more. There are those who would say I am problematic for having supported this company. That’s fair.

Setting aside the things about AA that are actually good – like its labor practices and occasional feminist collaborations – what really made me an American Apparel devotee is the products themselves. The products are what I will miss, when the last remaining dregs of AA in this world are extinguished. The clothes, and how they made me feel.

me trying on a blue dress in an AA dressing roomFor years now, when I have an upcoming occasion for which I need to look slutty and cute, American Apparel has been my one-stop shop. This was especially true during the last couple years, when I had a friend who worked as a sales assistant at the Yonge-Dundas location – I’d text him, “I need some new slutty clothes. Are you working today?” and then I’d come in and he’d bring me things to try. A black pleather bustier. A tight gold skirt. A low-cut dress and the best bandeau bra to wear under it. Whatever my slutty needs might be, AA would have ’em covered. (Or just-barely covered, as the case may be.)

I own three of their “figure skater dress,” because it makes me feel like a fucking glorious bombshell, and that feeling is well worth the price of the dress. I own their ponte pencil skirt in two different colors, and have worn them to job interviews, conferences, and presentations, because nothing else puts me in a foxy-businesslady headspace quite so quickly. I own four of their ribbed racerback dresses and two of their jersey racerback dresses, because nothing else is so easy to throw on, style up, and accessorize. Their basics are indispensable simply because they are indeed so basic, and so well-made.

When dressing for a porn shoot or a sex-positive party, I always consider my AA clothes first. My tiny booty shorts, my fetishistic thigh-high socks, my form-fitting fuck-me dresses. They always do me right.

When I need to transport large quantities of sex toys – to, say, a porn shoot, a hotel sex date, or an out-of-country threesome – my bright yellow American Apparel leather clutch is my favorite vessel. It can comfortably fit my Magic Wand, Eleven, a few more toys, and a plethora of safer-sex supplies. Whenever I take it anywhere, people ask me where I got it. It looks so cute tucked under my arm, and it looks even cuter when I open it and you realize it’s stuffed with sexual accoutrements.

me wearing a shiny gold bodysuitWhen I received an invite to the Smut in the 6ix gala and was told to dress “as smutty as possible” in a black/white/gold color scheme, I knew exactly where to shop. It took me less than fifteen minutes to find the perfect thing on the American Apparel website: a deep-V gold lamé bodysuit. At the gala, I rocked it with a black pencil skirt over top, which I then stripped off when I got up on stage and found I wanted to show more skin. On my chubby frame, the bodysuit looked quite different from how it did on the AA model’s slim body, but I still felt like a luminescent vixen in it. It stretched to skim my curves and made me feel like I could live in gold lamé.

But AA isn’t all party clothes and mega-cleavage. Their hoodies – part of the line of basics which made them famous – are among my go-to loungewear when I’m sad, sick, or depressed. Lined with cozy fleece, they keep me warm and comfortable even when my brainspace feels cold and harsh. I can zip up the zipper, pull up the hood, and tuck my hands into the kangaroo pockets, and it makes me feel snugly, safely bundled up. Insulated from the world by polyester and cotton.

The AA stores in my city – and probably yours too – are currently plastered with sale signs: “75% OFF!” “EVERYTHING MUST GO!” Inside, they’re practically barren. Everything is on sale, even the furniture. It’s a sad sight. But recently, I ventured into one with my friend Suz, determined to find some final souvenirs to take home with me.

One thing I bought is a dark red hoodie, unisex size small to fit my ladies’-size-large body. I’ve barely taken it off since I bought it; in fact, I’m swaddled in it now as I write this. Like all my AA acquisitions, it’s well-made, dependable, reliable. I feel effortlessly put-together in it; I feel at home. It’s a feeling I’ll miss, as American Apparel shuts its stores, takes down its website, and recedes into history. I will wear these clothes until they disintegrate. I will wear these clothes until I find ones I like better. Maybe I never will.

me rolling my eyes and looking exasperated as hell

Empowerment is more easily said than done. There are so many feminist principles that I champion in theory, and that I’d gladly shout from the rooftops or text to friends in all caps, but that I find so damn hard to implement in my actual life.

One such principle is the idea that men should treat women well, listen to us, respect us. Obviously I believe this. I decry disrespectful men on the internet, point out when dudes treat my friends poorly, and criticize shitty men in TV and film. But when it comes to how I’m treated by the men in my life, I find it harder to kick up a fuss.

True, I’m lucky enough that most of the men in my close social circles are fantastic. My little brother is one of my favorite people on earth and treats me like a precious jewel; my dad is an upstanding protector and a fierce feminist; I have several male friends who perennially prove themselves feminist allies. Unfortunately, though, patriarchal conditioning is really hard to unlearn, and even the best men sometimes backslide into toxically sexist behaviors without noticing it. And sometimes I backslide right along with them.

These aberrations come in many forms. There are the family parties where the men sit comfortably in their armchairs after dinner while the women clear the table. There’s the subtle way I and my single female friends are likelier to be harangued about not having a partner than our male friends are. There’s the expectation that women are “naturally better” at emotional labor and are thus expected to nurture and support our male friends in times of need, even when we barely have the energy to take care of our own needs.

Most of the time, I am pleased as punch to help my friends – of all genders – in any way I can. But when the labor expected of me becomes too much, and operates along visible gender lines, sometimes I need to call out my dude-friends for tumbling into troubling tropes. And I’m usually too meek to speak up when I need to, due to yet another gendered trope which says women should be subservient, small, and “ladylike.” Well, fuck that. If someone’s walking all over me, I am well within my rights to point that out and insist that they stop!

Our culture encourages women to cattily compete with one another, while constantly deferring to men and seeking to impress them. This results in a psychological environment where I’m much likelier to blame a woman or get angry with her, even if a man is equally or moreso to blame for whatever slight has taken place. This is internalized misogyny through and through, and I hate that I sometimes unwittingly perpetuate it. I want to take off the rose-colored glasses through which I see men, and expect as much from them as I expect from everyone else in my life: respect, kindness, consideration, integrity. Men aren’t exempt from being decent humans just ’cause I find some of them attractive and want them to think I’m attractive too. That’s no excuse!

Some of my male friends know about my tendency to downplay my own needs and boundaries, so they’ll check in occasionally: “Please let me know if I’m talking about myself too much,” they’ll say, or, “Feel free to ignore this unsolicited advice if I’m totally mansplaining, but…” It’s great that they give me these opportunities to set boundaries when I need to. I should take them up on those offers more often. It’s important to me that I be a polite, kind, supportive person, but you start to lose your energy for supportiveness when people are constantly steamrolling over you. So maintaining better boundaries, and calling out people who mistreat me, is good not only for me but also for my friends. I am a better friend to them when I am mentally and emotionally healthy and happy.

Non-male readers: do you also have trouble speaking up when men treat you badly or carelessly? Got any tips?

a dildo, mug full of pens, pair of glasses, and laptop on my desk

For years, I wondered what my life’s purpose was. I felt (and still feel) drawn to many different endeavors – journalism, creative writing, audio production, music, even musical theatre – and wasn’t sure how to meld those together into one cohesive career.

But something clicked when I started this blog, almost five years ago. As I tried out different types of content and developed my style, I slowly realized that running a blog could combine my passions in any way I wanted. Now, my days of “blog work” are comprised of writing, editing, social media promotion, taking and editing photos and videos, corresponding with readers, and rustlin’ up sponsors – all tasks I adore and didn’t think I could meaningfully combine, let alone earn money from. How dreamy!

I wouldn’t be where I am today without my blogging mentors: people whose blogs I’ve admired for years, whose instructional and personal content I’ve read and re-read, whose guidance I’ve taken to heart and put to good use. Here are some of those blog heroes, and some of the valuable biz-‘n’-blogging lessons they’ve taught me…

blogger Gala Darling wearing a pink dressGala Darling (

It’s okay to overshare… selectively. Gala grew up during the height of LiveJournal‘s popularity (as did I, sort of), so her writing has always been tinged with tropes of the online-diary format. In the LJ days, it was commonplace for folks to divulge all sorts of glamorously mundane details from their lives: the music they were loving, the perfume they currently adored, the absurd adventures they’d recently gotten up to. These details were (and are) simultaneously banal and fascinating, when shared in an engaging way by someone in whom you already have an interest. Reading Gala’s work is instructive in striking that balance between “too small to be interesting” and “too showy to feel intimate.” Personal details invite your reader into your life, and – when shared tastefully and artfully – create a delicious connection between writer and reader.

Picture, and know, your “ideal reader.” Gala co-founded The Blogcademy with two of her blogger pals (including Kat, who I’ll tell you about in a minute), and one of the central lessons they impart on their “Blogcadettes” is the importance of vividly picturing your ideal reader in your head when you write. If you know who you’re writing for, you’ll automatically have a stronger sense of purpose and of what kind of content you should be producing. My “ideal reader” is a mental composite of actual readers of mine I’ve met and a younger version of myself. It’s an image that keeps me on-task and helps propel me forward when I’m feeling stuck.

Above all, be kind and loving. Gala’s brand centers an optimistic, adoring attitude, and I’ve always admired that. She is the human embodiment of the tenet, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” It’s not that she never speaks ill of anyone – it’s obviously valid to call out people/companies/entities who are being shitty! – but she doesn’t engage with cruel trolls or petty gossips. Instead, she mostly just directs positivity and love at her readers. Her blog, brand, and persona are cohesively focused on optimism and integrity. When I’m doing that really well, I see it mirrored back at me, in the form of equally positive and sweet readers – which is exactly what I want!

blogger Kat Williams doing a kiss face and making a peace signKat Williams (

Treat your blog like a business. Because, spoiler alert: it absolutely can be. Mine certainly is. Kat’s been blogging full-time for years, so she does this magnificently. She’s methodical about her emails and other blog admin tasks, and as a result, she’s able to post fantastic content EVERY DAY (sometimes even more than that!). Depending on your life circumstances, it’s not always possible to pour time and energy into your blog – but Kat inspires me to approach mine more professionally and purposefully, in order to get back professional and purposeful results.

Write kickass, valuable sponsored posts. When I first started writing sponsored posts, I felt super gross about it. How could I possibly get paid to write about a company without coming across like a promotional sleazeball? But bloggers like Kat have set the gold standard for what a sponsored post ought to be: authentic, fun, and valuable to your readers. I don’t accept sponsored-post assignments unless I genuinely feel I can make them fun and interesting for both myself and my readers. Otherwise, the posts would just be an empty sales spiel, and nobody wants that.

writer Alexandra Franzen smilingAlexandra Franzen (

Set clear, loving policies. My policies page quotes Alex’s, because she’s brilliant at this sort of thing. Boundaries are crucial, both personally and professionally. Having crystal-clear boundaries in place makes you appear more professional to potential clientele, plus it helps you weed out stressful bullshit and focus only on the projects that actually align with what you want to achieve. I feel like such a badass bosslady when I fire off an email that begins, “Like it says on my policies page…”

Underpromise and overdeliver. Alex says the secret to success is just being really, really, consistently good at what you do. There’s no point making outlandish promises about what you’re capable of; just get super great at blogging, and over time, the readers and sponsors will flock to you, even if your social media and SEO and all those extras aren’t especially on-point. Content is king, and good content – well-written, engaging, valuable content – will build you a devoted audience faster and better than anything else. So practice your writing and try not to stress too much about the other stuff.

You don’t “find” your voice, you create it. Your “voice” as a writer is something you should purposefully craft, not magically stumble upon. Alex taught me that shaping your writing style is a conscious, deliberate act. How do you want your reader to feel? What do you want them to experience or learn as they read your work? What do you want them to take away from your writing? Get clear about this stuff and you’ll find your “voice” gets clearer, too.

an illustration of blogger Lilly doing sex toy science experimentsLilly (

Never shut up. Lilly is notoriously critical of shady sex toy company practices, toxic materials, and awful toys. This conflicts with my earlier point about being a positive and loving blogger, but I think they’re two sides of the same coin: being a positive force in the world means radiating love most of the time but busting out the big guns when you encounter something worth destroying. Bloggers have the power to change the world, and that is not a responsibility we should take lightly. Fuck shit up, make change, punch up, and dismantle systems of oppression in any way you have access to.

Build community with other bloggers. To be fair, this is important to all my blogger babes, not just Lilly. But she vocally supports blogger solidarity, and adds so much value to my life in doing so. Creating community with fellow bloggers is fantastic not only for social reasons but also for professional ones: you can consult with each other about setting rates, dealing with difficult clients, crafting tricky posts, and any other blogging snafus you might encounter. Since befriending tons of other sex bloggers, my work not only makes me happier and more fulfilled but also brings in more money and feels like more of a professional pursuit.

blogger Epiphora wearing a hat that says "Pay Me"Epiphora (

Get paid first. At companies’ behest, I used to sometimes write and publish sponsored posts before receiving payment for them, with the understanding that I would get paid after publication. I see now how risky that was, and how much it signalled those companies’ lack of respect for me and my platform. “You should not have to do work you weren’t even paid for,” Piph told me. “No need to lift a damn finger until they put the money in your pocket. Fucking insist upon it.” She is always reminding me, through her words but mostly her actions, that our work is worth money and we do not have to put up with rude, unprofessional clients.

Never apologize. Okay, apologize if you fuck up. But never apologize just for being you in a way you’re worried might not be to others’ taste. I can’t count the number of times I’ve written/said/thought some form of, “I’m sorry if this post is really rambly,” or “I’m sorry this post is so personal and emotional,” or “I’m sorry I have so many feelings about frivolous femme shit.” Piph’s writing is unabashed and unapologetic, and I think that’s part of what draws people to her website in droves. As a blogger, your personality is your brand; it’s what your readers are there to read. Stop playing small, stop denying your greatness, stop papering over your glorious quirks and start showing them the fuck off. Your people will find you, but only if you’re being your real, whole, amazing self.

What lessons have you learned from bloggers you admire?

a pink glittery dildo!

The concept of penis envy has always mystified me. I have penis curiosity, sure. Penis intrigue. If someone offered me an hour in an alternate universe wherein I would have a dick and could receive a blowjob from, say, Olivia Wilde circa 2004, I would not say no. But I have never actively longed for a penis. At least, not one attached to me.

But the concept of a “femme cock” nonetheless stirred my interest. I’d read Artemisia and Melissa Broder rhapsodize the power of wielding a girly member. I kept an eye out for that perfect harness-and-dildo combo that would let me feel feminine as hell while strapping on. I cooed over harnesses by Velvet Nest and Tantus, and felt comfy rocking colorful dildos from Happy Valley and Vixen Creations. But then I fell in love with a pink Aslan Leather harness and a pink glittery Godemiche Ambit, and my perfect femme-cock combo was formed.

I’d previously tried Godemiche’s Adam, and while I liked it, it had no curve – and curves are important to me. So I was excited when Godemiche launched the Ambit, a gently sloping G-spot-focused dildo with a defined coronal ridge. My vagina ached for it, and even moreso when they told me they could custom-make one in their sparkly pink colorway.

Godemiche’s silicone is midway between hard and soft: I can fold this dildo in half, but it takes effort. It’s firmer than Vixen and Tantusdual-density silicones, but squishier than their regular silicone formulations. It’s a good happy medium for my G-spot, which usually likes being stroked but not being aggressively pounded.

a pink glittery dildo in a pink leather harness!

At 5.75″, the Ambit is long enough that it can reach my A-spot if I pull my knees to my chest and push the toy really deep – but that’s not really where it shines. This is primarily a toy for G-spot stimulation and it does that very well. The flat, angled head finds my spot with precision, and a well-lubed Ambit is easy for me to thrust in and out as fast as I like.

Sometimes, mid-masturbation, I start to crave something a bit bigger and more targeted than the Ambit – at which point I might switch to a tried-and-true fave like the Uncut or Adam. The Ambit has a 1.5″ diameter at its widest point, and I’m used to using toys in the 1.75″+ range. But on an average day, it feels plenty good enough on my G-spot to get me off, when paired with a decent clit vibe.

Because its head comes to a tapered point, the Ambit is also great for anal play. Its curve would make for some good prostate stimulation, I’d imagine. I like the gentle popping feeling as this toy’s big head slides into my ass, and the otherwise smooth shaft means it doesn’t overwhelm my butt with sensation.

While I wouldn’t say the Godemiche Ambit is a standout favorite dildo of mine, it’s good to have around for days when I want medium-intensity G-spot stim and don’t feel like being filled up with a massive cock. Plus it looks totally gorgeous when I strap it on – and I’d imagine it’ll look even prettier when I (eventually) fuck the vag/butt/mouth of someone adorable with it. It is truly my dream femme cock!

Photo by Taylor J Mace

The day before I got my first tattoo, someone on Twitter told me to take a break from sex for a while, and I laughed.

See, my sex life at that time was not exactly hoppin’. I’d only just broken a year-and-a-half-long dry spell, and the person who’d broken it for me had gone back to the far-away city where he lived. So my sexual future didn’t seem bright. This well-intentioned Twitter warning felt like when I got my wisdom teeth out at age 17. As I drifted out of my anaesthesia cloud and back to earth, the dentist told me, “You should probably avoid drinking, smoking, and exercising for a while.” And 17-year-old me – neither a partier nor an exerciser – burst out laughing, to the mixed embarrassment and amusement of the dentist and my mother.

It felt like a moot suggestion. Just like someone telling me to intentionally avoid sex, when it felt like I’d been unintentionally avoiding sex for a long-ass time.

And yet, the very day after I got that tattoo, I found myself cuddled up with a cute boy on his couch, his face so close to mine that my cheeks glowed red-hot.

“Wanna see my new tattoo?” I asked excitedly, two or three hours deep into one of those intense, confessional conversations that make you want to bang someone real bad. (Or maybe that’s just me.) “Yeah!” he confirmed, and I lit up. I pushed my skirt a little lower on my hips, tucked my thumb into the waistband of my panties, and tugged.

To our mutual horror, the underwear stuck to the healing heart, pulling the mushy top layer of skin along with it. “Eeeeuuuugghhh, me and Cute Boy both intoned. (Tattoo enthusiasts, worry not: I went for a free touch-up at my tattoo parlor a month later, so the damage was not permanent.)

It was a gross moment, but apparently not gross enough to scare him off; we had sex less than an hour later, in his cozy basement-apartment bed. After teasing me for long minutes – his hands and lips and tongue all over every part of me but my genitals – he paused and observed, “Normally, at this point, I’d take your underwear off, but I’m gonna ask for your help this time, ’cause I don’t wanna hurt you.” I giggled and obliged.

It was my introduction to an experience I would come to adore: Having Sex While Tattooed.

There are certain phrases that come out of my mouth a lot when I’m having sex. Some pertain to logistics: “Can you go a little deeper?” “I would really like to go down on you…” Others are hallmarks of my anxious brain: “Are you getting tired?” “Do you want to stop?” Still others are just stock phrases I blurt when excited or nervous: “Sorry I’m giggling so much; I do that.” “Aaah, words are hard!” I like to imagine listing these phrases to a room full of my past sexual partners. They’d all laugh and say, “Yep. She says that a lot.”

One such phrase, since I first got inked, is: “Do you like my tattoo?”

Without the benefit of hearing my inflection or seeing my face, you might have read that and assumed I ask this question out of insecurity or a need for validation: “My tattoo is cute, right? Please tell me you think it’s cute.” But that’s not how it feels when I ask it. It usually crosses my lips coquettishly, a sly grin on my face. It’s not really a question. The subtext is: My tattoo’s goddamn excellent, isn’t it.

One such incident happened on a chilly night in March. It was the type of first date I didn’t expect to end in sex: our rapport unfurled leisurely but delightfully over drinks, and I thought, I would like to have sex with this boy, but probably not tonight. But one thing led to another and he ended up in my bed with me – ostensibly just to cuddle and sleep.

“Do you like my tattoo?” I asked as I shed my skirt and tights and climbed into bed beside him, tugging my panties a little lower on my hips so he could see the little red heart.

“Yeah! It’s so cute,” he said, with genuine enchantment in his voice. “Can I kiss it?”

I laughed a little to hide my surprise, and said yes. This sweet, gangly boy slid down the length of my bed til he was eye-level with my pelvis. I felt his warm breath on my lower belly. He pressed a firm kiss to my heart tattoo. All that heat and pressure and careful attention, just inches from my clit. It would be an understatement to say that I swooned.

I hadn’t meant to have sex with him. But like… after that… how could I not?

My boyfriend in the summer of 2016 was covered in tattoos. They each meant something different and magnificent. When I confessed I wanted more ink but worried I’d regret it years later, he told me, “Tattoos are just a snapshot in time. They don’t have to represent who you’ll be forever; they just represent who you were at the time that you got them.”

He was one of the first people I told about the tattoos I wanted to get on the backs of my thighs – two pink bows with the words “good girl” above them. “They’re gonna look so sexy on you!” he declared. Sometimes he’d even talk dirty about my hypothetical tattoos while we fucked. “You’re such a good girl,” he’d grunt against my shoulder while I was pinned beneath him. “Soon it’ll be on your skin so everyone’ll know it.”

Ironically, though that boyfriend was more excited about my “Good Girl” tattoos than anyone I knew, he never got to see them on me; we broke up before I actually got them. But it was fitting: I was not a good girl with him. I was in love with someone else, constantly half-distracted, one foot out the door. He was excited for the good girl I would become, though he’d never get to meet her.

Three days after I got my thighs tattooed, my fave fuckbuddy bent me over in a park at 2AM and fucked me like the world was ending. We were drunk and nothing else mattered. He felt deliciously thick inside me and noises bubbled up from my throat unprompted. All I knew was that I didn’t want him to stop.

But he stopped. “Oh, shit,” he said suddenly, stilling inside me. “Am I hurting your tattoos?”

This possibility had literally not occurred to me. But then, of course, alcohol numbs us to such things.

“No, I’m fine,” I said, but by then we were no longer fucking, and instead, messily kissing, because drunk sex makes one activity blur into the next in a way that feels retrospectively picturesque.

He zipped his pants back up, I smoothed my skirt back down, and we caught a streetcar back to his neighborhood. He bought Subway sandwiches for both of us, because he is a goddamn gentleman. When we arrived at his place, I realized I had forgotten to bring moisturizer, and my flaky, healing tattoos felt dry and achy. “Hang on a minute,” he called from the bathroom, as I whined tipsily, face-down in his bed.

When he returned, he was carrying a bottle of fancy face moisturizer. “Shh, just stay still,” he instructed me, so I kept my face planted in his pillow as he rubbed cool wet lotion on my blistering thighs. His touch was warm and tender, and felt somehow more intimate than his dick had felt buried in me mere minutes earlier. “There. That’s better. That’s good.” That’s a good girl, I whispered in my own ear.

A few days after that, I met a cute boy at a sex club and went home with him. He made me laugh and I felt safe around him; that was all there was to it, and that was all I needed.

When we arrived at his apartment and I flopped face-first on his bed, I heard his voice from behind me: “Oh my god.” I didn’t know what he was reacting to: my curvy and excellent ass, the spanking bruises on my skin from earlier that evening, or my adorable new tattoos. Frankly, I didn’t care. The reason for the reaction mattered less than the reaction itself. It was the reaction I wanted.

Tattoos, I realized, are the only femme trappings I can never take off. My carefully-constructed outfit will be shed, a blowjob might erase my lipstick, my perfume will fade into the atmosphere, but my tattoos are forever. Never again will I be reduced to a blank human canvas, devoid of the markers that make me me. I am perpetually emblazoned with these images: one red heart, two pink bows, and the words “good girl.” No one can take these things from me. They are mine, for always, forever.

“God, your tattoos are so hot,” this cute funny stranger said to me as he laid down beside me and began to kiss me, and I thought, Yes, they fucking are.