YnotbU is excited to announce the successful conclusion of negotiations with Annie Parker Photography, which sees them join our @TransMakeupandBeautyAdvice brand.
Commenting on the acquisition, Annie Parker stated “I can’t say enough how thrilled we are at this next stage of our business development. We’re excited to be working with the YNotbU team and the opportunities being part of the @TransMakeupandBeautyAdvice brand presents us. Now we have secured this deal for our agency, we can’t wait to get started on our shared vision, and the coming years projects. I also wanted to thank Joanna personally for making us feel so welcome and helping us make this such an easy decision.”
Echoing Annie’s sentiment, Joanna Darrell stated “It’s a real privilege to be able to welcome Annie Parker Photography to our family. Annie’s energy has already created a powerful buzz in the team and we’re thrilled at the possibilities it brings. I’ve long admired the creative vision in Annie’s work and have been lucky enough to call her a personal friend for a number of years. We’re so honoured that they have chosen to become part of our @TransMakeupandBeautyAdvice brand, where we know they are going to do great things !”
For more information, please contact YNotbU and Annie Parker Photography via our usual communication channels.
When I formed YNotbU, one of the things I was keen to share was my passion for speaking up for the minorities within our community. I wanted to change the message from just being about transition, because these were already covered by numerous organisations and maybe even well understood. In particular two that were very close to my heart. Transgender prisoners and Transgender Sex Workers.
Earlier this year, I spoke to three women about their experience as sex workers and the post gained quite a bit of interest, so much so in fact, that I decided to follow up with the women to do a more in depth question and answer session with each of them. So, with that in mind, lets meet Claire*
Joanna :- For anyone that didn’t read the original post, how did you get into sex work and how long have you been doing it for ?
Claire :- I was working as a massage therapist in Cambridge at the start of my transition and came to realise that a number of girls were also working as escorts for clients in order to earn some extra money. Although I wasn’t desperate for money, I was really keen to explore my sexuality and thought escort work would be a good way to do it. It was as simple as that really.
Joanna :- How long did you do it for ?
Claire :- A little over six years, between early 93 and 99.
Joanna :- So, tell me about your experience
Claire :- Well, to start off with, I didn’t really realise what escort work was. But came to realise that it was just companionship for men and women on dinner dates, or meetings, which wasn’t really what I was looking for. So I spoke to the Studio owner (Mandy) and told her what I was thinking of doing.
Joanna :- And what did she say ?
Claire :- She was really good about it. She told me to go away and think about it and to try escorting for a little while longer and if I still felt how I did, she would help me out, but there would have to be some strict ground rules in place before hand.
Joanna :- Sounds curious, what were they ?
Claire :- (laughing) it wasn’t anything really, just my playlist, alt.com profile and also agreeing to regular GUM tests.
Joanna :- Playlist ?
Claire :- Yes, its a BDSM pre-requisite, which lists all the things you’re happy to do, safewords, that sort of thing. The by-word of BDSM is safe sane and consensual and the playlist helps keep things that way. The strange thing is that it isn’t really needed between people “on the scene” as there is a mutual trust and understanding between them. Its really for people on the fringe to try to establish consensual limits in light of police operations like operation spanner in the late 80s.
Joanna :- Operation Spanner ?
Claire :- Yes, In the UK the police successfully prosecuted a number of gay men for actual bodily harm which had been inflicted consensually during sex. Despite a number of appeals to the house of lords and the ECHR, the convictions were upheld, But the associated debate and activism led to Organisations like the spanner trust and even S&M pride.
Joanna :- Ok, so what was on your list ?
Claire :- It doesn’t really work like that. The list is all list of all S&M and sexual activities, with you indicating your willingness to do the activity, You then sign it and it’s stored for your agent (in my case Mandy) to refer to if people ask for particular things.
Joanna :- Ok, so what were your preferences ?
Claire :- I was wiling to do everything on the list, which included things like piercing, protection, knife play, threat, fluid sharing, asphyxiation, toilet play, drugs, bondage, humiliation that sort of thing. Later on, I even agreed to waive my safe word for a husband and wife for a scene they wanted to try over a weekend.
Joanna :- You agreed to waive your safe word ? Isn’t that the point of safe sane and consensual ?
Claire :- Yes, but its more about trust. I did it because I had known the couple for a while and had sex with both of them separately, so felt confident with them, although I agreed to not knowing what the scene they had planned was.
Joanna :- Ok, we’ll come back to that later, but what was your first experience like ?
Claire :- It was a really vanilla intro for me. He wanted me to turn up in a corset, fishnets, thong and high heel stilletos. Once there, I had oral sex with him twice and he used a dildo on me. An hour later, I had £40 in my purse and was driving onto my next client.
Joanna :- You had two clients on your first day ? What would have happened if you decided you didn’t want to do it ?
Claire :- (Laughing) yeh, that wasn’t going to happen ! Remember, I knew what I wanted to do from the start of things, so, these early introductions to things were just a stepping stone for me.
Joanna :- But, didn’t you feel that you were just fulfilling a fetish for these guys and devaluing women to just sex, underwear and high heel fetishes ?
Claire :- No, I didn’t. At the time, I just saw it as me expressing and exploring myself sexually. I wasn’t speaking for a cause, judging people or their choices. I was just giving myself the opportunity to be me.
Joanna :- And looking back at it now ?
Claire :- It’s behind me now, I’ve learnt about myself and my preferences. I don’t need to go back to that time and having lived it, I can say that I understand some of the issues it raises and wouldn’t judge anyone for choosing to live that life.
Joanna :- Best and worst experiences ?
Claire:- Best experience was undoubtedly the women I met and worked with. They were incredible, supportive, understanding and completely there for me. Worst experience was one of the last scenes I did. I blacked out and woke up 4 days lated in just my underwear in a different city to where it started with no clear memory of what had happened. It made me realise I needed a way out though, rather than the next thrill, which I had become hooked on. So,I guess even that was a positive.
Joanna :- What do you mean ?
Claire :- When I first started, I hadn’t realised that S&M experiences could be like a ratchet. Every new experience would set a new bar for the level of thrill. In particular when it came to pain thresholds. I got myself into a loop where experiences needed to become more and more extreme in order for me to “feel” them,
Joanna :- Does that ever leave you ?
Claire :- I think so, but it takes time to appreciate a different intimacy experience. You have to recondition yourself and de-sensitize. I also had some “witness marks” which I had to cover with tattoos, which wouldn’t have been my first choice for myself normally, but marked a new me and a new start. So why not ?
Joanna :- What advice would you give a transgender woman looking to get into sex work now ?
Claire :- I’m not sure any advice I could give would be relevant now. In this age of social media, the rules have changed, everything is so visible now and women have to be so much more careful now about putting themselves out there and the choices they make. Maybe the best things I could say would be what I was told when I first started. “Be safe”, “Learn about headspace, which is important for separation between real and fantasy” and it really helps if you “treat it like a lollipop”.
I’m grateful for Claire for sharing what she did with me, it gave me lots of things to think about and something that I’ll definitely be coming back to with her in later posts and workshops, but in the meantime, I’d love to know what your experiences are from this scene, or even if you have been tempted yourself !
After 2018, I knew I had to make some fundamental changes to my life if it was going to change for the better. But change is hard, particularly personal change.
I probably know that better than anyone. We all resist change everyday, making excuses or rationalising events as injustices, which prevent us getting what we feel we deserve.
But, often the reality is different. Mine has certainly been so this year, I’ve recommitted to my faith in god, but instead of prayer and serving others, I’ve started taking time in 2019 to practice self love. Practicing self love in 2019 has given me a way to even out the highs and lows of events as they unfold, sometimes even before they unfold.
Self love gives me a way to improve my mental health without medication and therapy. And the best part ? It’s really easy ! Losing myself in simple everyday things helps me manage my anxieties, sadness or anger, allowing me to regain control of the moment and protect myself. But it hasn’t always been easy, so I thought I would share my top three tips for practicing which have helped bring me this far in my recovery.
This is huge, I guess maybe the most important thing. When I say small, what I mean is to start with something in proportion to helping you progress from where you are. For example, when I started, I was in such a funk that I wasn’t able to get out of bed, so, it didn’t make sense setting my goal as running a marathon. So instead, I focussed on the simple things that I needed to do. In my case, getting up and getting dressed. Simple, positive and achievable. And when you do achieve them, it really helps with your self esteem and valuing yourself. Believe me !
Create your routine and stick to it
Although I’ve been clean for a while now, one of the most important lessons from that period of my life was regularity. When my mood swings became more extreme or unpredictable, setting a routine and publishing it on a wall chart really helped to take the pressure of day to day organisation off me. I knew where and when I had to be, it was easy.
Better than that, by setting regular rewards for myself through the week in response to targets that I set helped me maintain my motivation. And once a week, I made sure I checked in with my counsellor to keep me honest. If it helps, I make sure that my goals are either achievement, pleasure or relaxation oriented. I even colour them in to make them look pretty !!
Keep a mood diary
Once I’ve set my routine, not only do I make sure I stick to it, but I also keep track of how the day is going. I write a whole load of gook in there, mostly about feelings and what has happened to make me feel like that. I also write down the things I eat, exercise, all sorts.
I’ve found looking back at this diary with my counsellor really reassuring. It helps me track improvements and trends which we can dissect to give insights as to triggers which lead to coping strategies, which empower wellness.
Remember though, although self love can help to improve your mood and maintain a positive life balance, if you still feel depressed and you are really unwell, it is important to seek professional help.
When I was asked this myself recently, I had to admit the question made me stop and think. Really think. Being Transgender you might expect my answer to reflect my dysphoria, but as a woman I know my femininity is worth more than that. I don’t think I could sum it up in a single word or an expression.
Being Transgender doesn’t invalidate my answer to the question. Sure, there are TERFs who may disagree, but so what ? Sometimes, shock horror, society (and the law) disagrees with them too and you don’t see many of them beating themselves up over it, or changing their opinion.
So what does being a woman, a Transgender woman mean to me ?
It means I know that I am more than just my gender. I’m aware of the obstacles life is going to throw my way and prejudices people will have about me. I can trust my own ability to overcome these too, even if I don’t immediately know how to. I don’t need to do it all on my own either, because I have the confidence and self-awareness to know when to ask for help.
I’m not afraid to show my feelings either, because, hey, we all have them and I’m not afraid to be true to mine. They’re my truths, which reflect my kindness, generosity, compassion, integrity, a willingness to be vulnerable, and authenticity. They help ground me and be true to myself.
As a woman, I know that my strength and value is built on these feelings which give me a kind of confident humility in all that I do. Backed up by my faith in God and passion for loving and helping others, this confident humility means I stay centred, without being arrogant.
Being a Transgender woman, I know that femininity is more than a biological or social construct. It’s about being human and recognizing the complexity of diversity that comes with being human. As a Transgender woman, I’ve had to take responsibility for my life, what I want for my life and how society will see me in a far more fundamental way than most others. I have gone beyond any fears or prejudices to define my own womanhood.
I enjoy being a woman, and I enjoy being the woman I am becoming. I especially enjoy challenging the notion that I can be put in a box. I am training to be a hair stylist and an activist for my community. I want to be married and have many children, all the while maintaining my identities as child of God, a daughter, a sister, and a good friend. But I don’t think that any of this makes me a more special kind of woman or better than any other woman; it’s just MY womanhood. And though it may need some work, for the most part, and until further notice, I love it.
As well as giving me the chance to goof around outdoors, the recent snow also gave me a chance to do some thinking about a whole range of things. It’s great fun to let your mind wander around like this sometimes. While it’s not exactly meditation, for me, I can find it even more restful than sleeping and certainly more enjoyable !
One of my recent daydreams had me wondering. You know we’re always racing from one thing to another, what would we do with more time ? If you’re anything like me, probably more running ! But isn’t it crazy that the less time something takes to do, the less likely we are to do it ?
So girl, its time to put down that mobile phone, abandon the Facebook status update and dare I say it step away from the cake………. (I know, I can’t believe I typed that either) Instead, why not try one or more than these quick routes to a better day and happiness ?
Breathe. That’s right, just breathe ! The best thing about these five minutes is that you can literally do it anywhere, office, home (there’s even one girl in the salon that does it in the ladies – she gets embarrassed) You don’t need to “do the pose”, sitting cross legged with your thumb on your fingers, just comfortable !
Close your left nostril with your left thumb and breathe only through your right nostril and let the energy flow through you. You’re looking to keep a regular rhythm with your breathing and keep your breaths in and out the same length. I also prefer to close my eyes closed personally, but beware, I’ve heard ladies snoring a couple minutes in when they do this ! Just settle into your rhythm and enjoy for five minutes. Heaven !
Find your balance.
This is my personal favourite 5 minute exercise. Ok, so you don’t have to stand on a mound, looking like the cross between a figure four and a belly dancer, but studies have shown that simply standing on one foot for 5 minutes can have a positive effect on your core strength and joint stability. I know what you’re thinking though – are you having a laugh ?
The simple answer is NO ladies !
Try standing on each foot for a couple of minutes to get a real benefit in your core – if nothing else, you’ll learn to wobble evenly !
Doodle (or colour in)
#YNotbU recently bought the Authentic image modelling agency and their Creative Director Amanda is an AMAAAAZING doodler, but even if you aren’t as talented as Amanda, there’s still a great mental benefit to doodling and colouring in.
Just listen to Amanda’s advice “Don’t let a perceived lack of talent stop you – get some pencils and a pad and just create your own masterpiece. Whatever you do will be an original so don’t forget to sign it !”
Doodling isn’t just a way to keep yourself occupied in a dull meeting either, studies have shown it can help improve your memory and ability to retain information, improve focus, reduce stress and help you think more creatively. Dedicate a few minutes a day to doodling and see where the blank page takes you…. I’d love to see what you create !
Getting back to an exercise theme though, I want to talk to you about probably the most important 5 minutes of your workout. The 5 minute warm up before and the 5 minute warm down afterwards. Follow this simple routine at the start and end of your workout and thank me later !
Upper body and arm stretch: Clasp hands together, plans facing outwards, push arms up above the head. Hold for 30 seconds.
Tricep stretch: Raise right arm, bend it backwards so right hand is in middle of back and use other hand to gently pull elbow towards left side until you feel a strict. Hold 30 seconds and repeat on other arm.
Standing cat cow: Feet hip-width apart, legs slightly bent, lean forwards and place your hands on thighs just above knee. Round your back so head and shoulders are curved forwards. Then arch your back so your chest is open and shoulders back.
Shoulder shrugs: Shrug shoulders up and down 10 times.
Upper trap stretch: Lean your head to one side so your ear is towards shoulder. Hold for 10-15 seconds. Repeat on other side.
Calf stretch: Bending your left knee in a lunge shape, place your right leg straight out behind you, heel on the floor. Place hands on kitchen side and stretch into right calf for 30 secs. Repeat on left side.
Hamstring stretch: Bend your left knee and place your right leg straight in front of you. Sit into the left leg tilting your bum towards the sky. Keep your right foot flat on the floor for 15 secs, then lift toes towards sky for 15 to increase stretch. Repeat on left leg.
Glute stretch: You can hold the kitchen side for support if you need to here. From standing, bend you left leg slightly and lift you right leg up and place your right ankle just above left knee. Sit into it and try and for 30 seconds, Repeat on left.
Quad stretch: Standing on your left leg, feet hip-width apart, take your right ankle in your right hand, keeping your knees together. Tilt your pelvis forwards to increase the stretch and don’t lock out your standing knee. Hold for 30 seconds, repeat on left side.
So let’s get going girls AND Don’t forge to tell me how you get on !
YnotbU is excited to announce the successful conclusion of several months negotiation between YNotbU and the Authentic Image Model Agency, which sees them join our @TransMakeupandBeautyAdvice brand.
Commenting on the acquisition, Amanda Pearson, Creative Director of Authentic Image stated “On behalf of Authentic Image, I can’t say enough how thrilled we are at this next stage of our business development. We’re excited to be working with the YNotbU team and the opportunities being part of the @TransMakeupandBeautyAdvice brand presents us. Now we have secured this deal for our agency, we can’t wait to get started on our shared vision, the coming years projects and our own USA expansion. In particular, I wanted to thank Gemma Atkinson of @YNotbU for being the inspiration behind this deal and making us feel so welcome.”
Echoing Amanda’s sentiment, Joanna Darrell stated “It’s a real privilege to be able to welcome Authentic Image to our family. The girls energy and passion for what they do has been so much fun to experience during these conversations and their ideas for what we can achieve together has created a real buzz among the team. In addition to recognising and thanking Gemma for her efforts on this project, I’d like to extend my personal thanks to Kim Lewis, former Managing Director of Altered Image, without whom this deal simply would not have happened. The values, ethics and behaviours she has strove for throughout her career and instilled in her team are not just what attracted us initially, but what make it such a good fit for both organisations moving forward. Even though she is stepping down and retiring, I’m sure it’s going to be an exciting 2018 for us all !!!”
The acquisition completes formally at the end of March.
For more information, please contact YNotbU and Authentic Image via our usual communication channels.
Rather than fitness, this month, our Facebook group is talking about sleep. Seriously !!! I know, I know. You’re already thinking that all you need to do is lie down, close your eyes and it just happens. Or does it ?
We’d probably all understand that getting a good nights sleep is a great way to recharge and improve our mental state, but what if I were tell you it can also affect your daytime energy, productivity, emotional balance, and even your weight ? Well ladies, I’m here today to tell you that’s EXACTLY what it can do !!! Sleep is an ESSENTIAL part of your fitness regime. So if you’re serious about getting into shape, sleeping and resting should be a core part of your routines.
Ready ? Set…………. Lets errrrr, sleep !!!
Tip one – Feel the Rhythm
Getting in sync with your natural sleep-wake cycle (or circadian rhythm to use its scientific name), is a really important part of sleeping better. A regular sleep wake cycle will result in you awaking more refreshed and energized than if you sleep the same number of hours at different times, even if you only alter your sleep schedule by an hour or two.
Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day. This helps set your body’s internal clock and optimize the quality of your sleep. Strange as it seems, If you need an alarm clock, you may need an earlier bedtime ! And lastly, I know its soooo hard, but try to avoid sleeping in, even on those lazy weekends it feels you deserve after the week from hell in the office !
Tip two – Control your exposure to light !
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Your brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark—making you sleepy—and less when it’s light—making you more alert. However, many aspects of modern life can alter your body’s production of melatonin and shift your circadian rhythm.
In the morning, try to expose yourself to as much natural bright sunlight as you can. The closer to the time you get up, the better. The light on your face will help you wake up
Spend more time outside during daylight. Take your work breaks outside in sunlight, exercise outside, or walk your dog during the day instead of at night.
At night, we want all the opposite things. So…… Avoid bright screens within 1-2 hours of your bedtime. The blue light emitted by your phone, tablet, computer, or TV is especially disruptive. You can minimize the impact by using devices with smaller screens or simply turning the brightness down. Say no to late-night television. Not only does the light from a TV suppress melatonin, but many programs are stimulating rather than relaxing. Try listening to music or audio books instead.
Don’t read with backlit devices. Tablets that are backlit are more disruptive than e-readers that don’t have their own light source.
When it’s time to sleep, make sure the room is dark. Use heavy curtains or shades to block light from windows, or try a sleep mask. Also consider covering up electronics that emit light.
Tip Three – Food can make a difference !
Your daytime eating habits play a role in how well you sleep, especially in the hours before bedtime. WE want to avoid big meals at night (after 20:00 really). Try to make dinnertime earlier in the evening, and avoid heavy, rich foods within two hours of bed. Spicy or acidic foods can cause stomach trouble and heartburn.
You also should be trying to avoid drinking alcohol before bed. While a nightcap may help you relax, it interferes with your sleep cycle once you’re out. On the subject of drinking, you should try not to drink too much in the evening as, well, you know. Lots of trips to the bathroom, nobody wants that !!
Cut back on sugary foods and refined carbs. Eating lots of sugar and refined carbs such as white bread, white rice, and pasta during the day can trigger wakefulness at night and pull you out of the deep, restorative stages of sleep.
Tip Four – Wind down and clear your head !
Do you find yourself unable to sleep or waking up night after night? Residual stress, worry, and anger from your day can make it very difficult to sleep well.
If anxiety or chronic worrying dominates your thoughts at night, there are steps you can take to learn how to stop worrying and look at life from a more positive perspective. Even counting sheep is more productive than worrying at bedtime.
If the stress of work, family, or school is keeping you awake, you may need help with stress management. By learning how to manage your time effectively, handle stress in a productive way, and maintain a calm, positive outlook, you’ll be able to sleep better at night.
The more overstimulated your brain becomes during the day, the harder it can be slow down and unwind at night. During the day, many of us overstress our brains by constantly interrupting tasks to check our phones, emails, or social media. Try to set aside specific times for these things, and focus on one task at a time. When it comes to getting to sleep at night, your brain won’t be accustomed to seeking fresh stimulation and you’ll be better able to unwind.
Tip Five – Improve your sleep environment
A peaceful bedtime routine sends a powerful signal to your brain that it’s time to wind down and let go of the day’s stresses. Sometimes even small changes to your environment can make a big difference to your quality of sleep.
Keep your room dark, cool, and quiet 18 Celsius is just about perfect for a great nights sleep. Any higher than about 22 Celsius and you’re going to find it difficult to nod off.
Keep noise down. If you can’t avoid or eliminate noise from neighbours, traffic, or other people in your household, try masking it with a fan or sound machine. Earplugs may also help.
Make sure your bed is comfortable. Your bed covers should leave you enough room to stretch and turn comfortably without becoming tangled. If you often wake up with a sore back or an aching neck, you may need to experiment with different levels of mattress firmness, foam toppers, and pillows that provide more or less support.
Reserve your bed for sleeping and sex (Yummy !) . By not working, watching TV, or using your computer in bed, your brain will associate the bedroom with just sleep and sex and make it easier to wind down at night.
That’s a few of my favourite tips for getting to sleep – what’s your favourite ? Don’t be shy, let me know !