What Google searches tell us about peoples' sex lives.

Google makes all of its search data publicly available. According to Google, 100 billion searches are done each month. That means a lot of data. And because sex is something that is searched often, there is a treasure trove of sex-related search data for the taking. 

This piece in the New York Times by economist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz digs deep into the Google search data to tell us about our anxieties and the states of our relationships. There are a couple of nifty infographics that summarize his findings. The piece is worth a read - it's fun and informative.

From the New York Times

Searching for Sex
ARE you confused by sex? I certainly am.
One of the many reasons sex is puzzling is that we lack reliable data. People lie to friends, lovers, doctors, surveys and themselves.
Three years ago, when I was a graduate student in economics, I began to write about how new data, particularly Google searches, could give us fresh insights into socially sensitive topics. Since then, many people have asked me to write about sex.
I was wary because I wanted to do more research. Now I’m finally ready to report. Call it everything you always wanted to know about sex, but didn’t have the data to ask.
Let’s start with the basics. How much sex are we having? Traditional surveys are no good at answering this question.
I analyzed data from the General Social Survey, a classic source. Heterosexual men 18 and over say that they average 63 sex acts per year, using a condom in 23 percent of them. This adds up to more than 1.6 billion heterosexual condom uses per year.

And one of the infographics: 

Google sex searches marriage sexual behavior | Dr. Jason Winters | Sex Therapy | Blogging on Squarespace

Read the rest here: link.


The Bodyimage Project.

Passed along by Afrooz (thanks!), via Dodson and Ross.

Projects like this are not new, and that's a good thing. Over the last several years, a few have sprung up. Their express purpose is to provide some balance to the highly produced and processed (i.e., digitally manipulated) photos of models and celebrities that you see in the media. These projects are fundamentally about diversity, and how diversity is good.

The Bodyimage Project by Marshall Bradford is still in its development phase. Given its early success, he's committed to something much larger, which will be coming down the pipeline in the near future. For the time being, however, he's posted some photos through his Facebook account.

From the description:

Image is everything. If you don't look like the media tells you to you will never make it in the world. Forget about finding love and happiness. That's what the pretty people get.
Or that's what we are told. I don't really feel that way. As a photographer in Las Vegas I have shot my share of high polish perfect modeling photos and I'm not saying I won't shoot stuff like that in the future. I am also an artist and to that end I have the need to try new things with my art.
My thought with this project I wanted to show what we really look like. I wanted to photograph people simply being themselves and being proud of that. People should love how they look and love themselves first. No matter the way you look you should remember that your happiness comes from within. That's the goal of this work. To allow the subjects own beauty to show. I have learned a lot starting this project and I'm excited to see where it leads me to.

Go check out the project and photos here: link (you need to be on Facebook; also, Facebook doesn't allow photos of genitals and breasts, thus the silly edits)

Video: My Gynaecomastia and Me.

From Metro:

Man with ‘man boobs’ posts brave video (and the internet loves him)

Sometimes, just sometimes, the internet is a beautiful place.

When a young man posted a thread on Reddit saying that he was considering suicide because of his ‘man boobs’, Christopher Pineda decided it was time to step in.

Like the man who posted the Reddit thread, Chris suffers from gynaecomastia, a condition that causes boys’ and men’s breasts to grown larger than normal.

Posting a reply on Reddit, Chris wrote: ‘Hey there, I just want to tell you that it’s okay to feel the way you do. You’re not wrong in feeling the way you do, it’s only natural given the problem we’re facing. It’s difficult and I’ve felt the same way, and still do at times.’

He went on to direct the man to a video he’d made, ‘to help empower myself and others.’

The video shows Chris, topless, standing in front of a mirror.

Touchingly, he starts the video: ‘Sorry if I offend you, there is a good purpose to this video.’

He then goes on to explain that although living with gynaecomastia is hard, it’s definitely not worth ending your life over: ‘It hasn’t made my life easy as you can imagine. I’m not depressed, not at all. Yes, I’m sad, but not depressed. What I am, however, is very frustrated, I am frustrated with the cards that I have been dealt.’

He ends the video by reaching out to the Reddit user saying: ‘so yeah, if you have any questions, you wanna talk to me about your gynaecomastia, things you’ve been through…talk to me, I’m here.’

The best part of this story however is the overwhelming support Chris has been shown since posting his video. Yes, unfortunately (and predictably) there have been some nasty comments, but the vast majority have been supportive.

In fact, the response has been so positive that Chris has launched a fund to try and raise the money he needs for surgery.

Go Chris! Go internet!

And the video (turn captions 'off', if they annoy you):

Another PSA: Bra fitting.

Thanks for submitting this Morgan!

My bras are size 28G. No, I am not a freak of nature and most people would probably not be able to pick me out of a lineup based on this information alone. Unfortunately, this is because many people (men and women alike) are not informed about what a properly fitting bra should feel and look like and what sizes are in the range of "normal." Many women (some say up to 80%) are not wearing the right size, which can cause so many issues including being uncomfortable (digging in, falling off the shoulders, bouncing too much), shoulder/back pain, "armpit fat," "back fat," and "quadraboob," all of which can be alleviated by wearing the correct size.

The first thing to note is that the letter is not representative of how large your breasts are. It simply is the difference between the size of your rib cage and your breasts. For me, a 46A would be bigger than I am and a 22GG would be smaller. So when you go to figure out your bra size and you say "THERE IS NO WAY I CAN BE A 30H," just remember that it's all relative and no, it does not make you a freak. It makes you well informed. In the diagram below, you can see that all of the rows represent the same volume of breast, otherwise known as the same breast size. But depending on your overall figure and measurements, the actual bra size you need to wear is different. Therefore, a 38B is equal to a 36C which is equal to a 34D which is equal to a 32DD, etc., but the 38B would be worn by someone who has a larger ribcage than someone wearing a 32DD.


(click to make larger)

Some great recommendations for sizing, brands, and fitting can be found on the Thin and Curvy blog: link.

If you would like to get fitted, two places I would recommend are Change who have multiple locations in the lower mainland and if you're willing to travel to Langely, my favourite place is Forever Yours - they have amazing fitters and so many different styles and sizes. It is possible to find a good fitting bra at places like La Senza or Victoria's Secret, but they carry an extremely limited number of sizes that will only fit a minority of people well. Sadly, they also have a reputation of inexperienced or sales driven fitters.

Best of luck in your fitting quest and please comment with any questions you may have!

Bra-free breasts fair better.

This is the sort of research that gets straight teenaged boys excited about science.

Keep in mind this is a single study and that it doesn't take into account many potentially confounding variables. From Counsel and Heal (and reported all over the place):

Women have long been told that a good bra can help support the chest, relieve back pain and prevent sagging.  However, a new 15-year French study reveals the opposite: bras do little to reduce back pain and, over time, they can actually make breasts sag even more.

Researcher Prof. Jean-Denis Rouillon, a sports science expert from the University of Besançon in eastern France claims that "bras are a false necessity," according to The Local.

"Medically, physiologically, anatomically - breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity," said Rouillon. "On the contrary, they get saggier with a bra."

Rouillon and his team spent years measuring the changes in the breasts of 330 women using a simple slide rule and caliper at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire (University Hospital) in Besançon, where he carried out his research.

He found that no evidence that bras helped ease back pain. Instead, he found that the chest supports could even add to the problem.

According to The Connexion, the findings suggest that breasts would gain more tone and support themselves if no bra was used.  Researchers explain that bras limit the growth of supporting breast tissues, leaving the breast to wither and degrade more quickly.

The study found that women who took off their bras for good experienced a 7mm lift in their nipples each year they didn't wear a bra.  Researchers also found that bra-less women developed firmer breasts and saw their stretch marks fade.

Some of the women who took part in Rouillon's study told France Info that not wearing a bra helped ease their back pains.

Capucine, a 28-year-old participant in Rouillon's study, swears by the results and hasn't worn a bra for two years.

"There are multiple benefits: I breathe more easily, I carry myself better, and I have less back pain," Capucine said, according to France Info.

However, Rouillon says the findings do not mean all women should throw away their bras.

"It would be dangerous to advise all women to stop wearing their soutien-gorge as the women involved were not a representative sample of the population," Rouillon said, according to The Connexion.

While his initial results "validated the hypothesis that the bra is a false 'need'," he says that women who have been wearing bras for a long time would not gain any benefit from stopping now.


Plastic Surgery Confidential.

Last year, Vanity Fair published the story of a woman who went undercover to three plastic surgeons to see what they would recommend for her. An excerpt:

Fast-forward to the present. In 2007 alone, Americans spent $13 billion on 11.7 million cosmetic procedures (both surgical and nonsurgical). An ongoing controversy over what qualifies as “cosmetic” makes it difficult to determine the number of treatments that were purely restorative, necessitated by third-degree burns, mastectomies, and other medical issues. But what’s clear is that the overall number of men and women undergoing cosmetic procedures in the U.S. has increased by 457 percent since 1997, when relevant statistical data was first collected. As many as one in 20 people today reportedly suffer from Body Dysmorphic Disorder (B.D.D.), a sort of “imagined ugly” syndrome. While difficult to diagnose, plastic-surgery addiction is often linked to B.D.D. Dr. Barry Eppley, who writes a blog titled “Explore Plastic Surgery,” estimates that one-third of plastic-surgery patients will eventually return to have additional work done.
When I began this project, I was relatively certain that I didn’t need plastic surgery. I also suspected that plastic surgeons might tell me otherwise. To test my hypothesis, I went undercover. In the process, I hoped to learn something about what happens inside examination rooms across New York City and, by extension, the United States. Are teenybopper idols and those who emulate them freely choosing plastic surgery? Or is plastic surgery choosing them?

The rest of the article, which makes a great read, can be found here.

And the woman who I imagine holds the world record for plastic surgeries, Ms. Jocelyn Wildenstein:

Nobody knows how many surgeries she's had, but it's likely far more than lots and lots and lots.

Time magazine's controversial cover.

Not surprisingly, the latest Time magazine cover has created a massive storm of controversy. The puritans are upset because it shows a breast; the cynics have been quick to point out that it's simply a desperate attempt to make the magazine relevant at a time when it's been losing relevance; the non-attachment-parenting moms are feeling attacked; and many people just think it's a weird (creepy?) seeing a three year-old breastfeeding.

The article that goes along with the cover image discusses a style of parenting that's gaining popularity - attachment parenting. It'a rejection of the whole let-them-cry-it-out and self-soothing movement that's predominated parenting in the last couple of decades.

Many editorials about the piece have been published since the magazine hit the shelves. Here's a sample from the New York Times (there are many, many more - just search):

Never Mom Enough By KJ DELL'ANTONIA

My favorite part of Time magazine’s coverage of “Attachment Parenting” wasn’t the cover image, or even the headline, “Are You Mom Enough?,” both of which beg the adjective “provocative.”

We can get caught up in whether a mother should nurse a preschooler — or, perhaps more relevant, whether that preschooler will later appreciate being photographed nursing for a national magazine. (No, and I’m so convinced that most of you will agree that I’m not going to say any more about it.)


But “Are You Mom Enough” still fails to take into account, as so many things do, that not only is there a continuum of attachment parenting from all to nothing, but there is also a continuum of parenting in all of our lives. I am no model of motherhood, but my answers to those quiz questions are all of our answers. Sometimes. Kind of. When it seemed like the right thing to do. With one baby, not the other.

Do you feel pressured to parent your children in a certain way? Sometimes. Kind of. But as Jennifer DeLeonardo put it in another discussion of “The Conflict,” those pressures vary depending on whom you’re with and how you respond to them (some people — and some magazine articles — can make you want to go right out and do the opposite). Did those pressures affect your choices about working, staying home or doing something in between? Maybe, along with a career choice, financial necessity, personal history, job availability, child care and a host of other factors — all of which, along with our personal status, are subject to evolution.

The factors and the nuances and the continuum are the reasons the conversations women have about how we balance, or combine, work and family are worth having — conversations that men have too, although with a different historical background and set of pressures. We are different parents at different times of our lives. An autism diagnosis, a financial crisis, a divorce, a move — all of those things can change us in an instant, so the the question isn’t really “does your baby sleep in your bed?” but why, and for how long? What does that say about what’s important to you, and how would you hold onto that if circumstances changed?

Read the rest of the editorial here.


From MacLean's, courtesy of Anne (thanks!):

In conversation: Florence Williams

On why we have breasts, what we don’t know about implants, and the future of breastfeeding

After reading a report about the presence of environmental toxins in breast milk in 2004, American journalist Florence Williams, who’d just had a child at the time, decided to have her own milk tested. She mailed samples to a lab. The results were astounding and unsettling: her toxin levels were exceptionally high. That propelled Williams to embark on an intense search that went well beyond her initial inquiries into the sociological, sexual and medical complexities of this organ. In Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History, she provides a fascinating cultural and scientific tour of breasts through time—and what they might face in the future.

Q: You start the book by asking why humans have breasts. What did you find out from anthropologists, and how did their theories differ depending on their own sex?

A: It really surprised me that this topic is still so contentious. A lot of male anthropologists love to study the breast and they seem to be easily persuaded that the breast evolved as a sexual signal. But the more feminist [and more often female] anthropologists said it may be that breasts evolved not for men, but for the fitness of women and offspring.

Q: There is a compromise theory: breasts evolved to help women feed babies, and that made men love breasts.

A: Exactly.

Q: What do breasts signal to men?

A: The theory is that breasts are filled with information for potential mates about the fertility status of a woman, her age, how healthy she is: if the woman is young her breasts will be perky, and if she’s older her breasts will sag. I find this theory flawed. A woman’s breasts are biggest and perkiest while she’s pregnant and breastfeeding—and obviously she’s not a good mate at that moment if you’re just interested in your own offspring. And there are plenty of women who, after childbirth, continue to have nice, perky breasts. So breasts are an unreliable signal of age and fertility.

Q: Studies show female waitresses with large breasts get more tips, and busty diners get hit on more often. Is bigger always better?

A: In Western cultures, the studies do bear out that women tend to get more attention if they have bigger breasts. Many men really respond to big breasts. It’s hard to say whether that’s evolutionary driven or whether that’s our culture. Certainly our culture celebrates and is obsessed with big breasts.

Read the rest of the interview here.

The history of breast implants.

From the BBC:

It is 50 years since the first breast enlargement using silicone implants. Today it rates as the second-most popular form of cosmetic surgery worldwide, undergone by 1.5 million women in 2010.

It was spring 1962 when Timmie Jean Lindsey, a mother-of-six lay down on the operating table at Jefferson Davis hospital in Houston, Texas.

Over the next two hours, she went from a B to a C cup, in an operation that made history.

"I thought they came out just perfect… They felt soft and just like real breasts," says Lindsey now aged 80.

"I don't think I got the full results of them until I went out in public and men on the street would whistle at me."

Though the operation boosted her self-confidence - and she enjoyed the extra attention - she had never planned to have a breast augmentation.

Lindsey had been to hospital to get a tattoo removed from her breasts, and it was then that doctors asked if she would consider volunteering for this first-of-its-kind operation.

"I was more concerned about getting my ears pinned back... My ears stood out like Dumbo! And they said 'Oh we'll do that too.'" So a deal was struck.

The surgeons were two ambitious pioneers, Frank Gerow and Thomas Cronin.

It was Gerow who had first come up with the plan for a new kind of breast implant.

"Frank Gerow squeezed a plastic blood bag and remarked how much it felt like a woman's breast," says Teresa Riordan, author of Inventing Beauty: A History of the Innovations that have Made Us Beautiful.

"And he had this 'Aha!' moment, where he first conceived of the silicone breast implant."


Where are breast implants most popular?


Read the rest here.

The Emergency Bra.

From Nerve, via the SLOG:

Bra that doubles as a gas mask and won the Ig Nobel Prize is now on sale

The Emergency Bra, a brassiere that can turn into two life-saving gas masks for victims of biological warfare won the 2009 Ig Nobel Public Health Prize. It just went on sale via this website, which describes the invention as "an "Emergency Bra, Nursing Bra, Two Face Masks [and] Strapless bra."

The bra, available in sizes 32B to 40C, came as a result of Chernobyl. Seriously.

[Dr. Elena] Bodnar studied the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 and found that, as Fox News reports, "if people had had cheap, readily available gas masks in the first hours after the disaster ... they may have avoided breathing in Iodine-131, which causes radiation." She also envisions it being useful in terrorist attacks. "You have to be prepared all the time, at any place, at any moment, and practically every woman wears a bra," she said.

The homepage for the Emergency Bra is here.