It’s been amazing to see the resiliency at every level of our industry. Stores and distributors have had to quickly close their doors to weather out the storm, with employees being furloughed until they are able to re-open. Some can stay open by carrying essential items like medical devices such as hand sanitizer or lubricants. Stores that can stay open are having to host customers with extensive social distancing and sanitizing measures. Some manufacturers have been able to quickly modify their production to incorporate hand sanitizers to fill the giant void mass-market production has left on store shelves across the country. I don’t think my family has ever been prouder of me than when I was able to tell them that hand sanitizer was on the way! Both manufacturers and retailers are working tirelessly and in tandem to ensure that we not only preserve our industry but continue to bring incredibly important wellness items to the end consumer.
With people being at home full-time, self-love and promoting self-love is becoming more important than it has ever been. It frustrates me to see the social media memes shaming and insisting people not cut or color their own hair for example. I know that these memes and content are meant for fun and cosmetologists may not look forward to color correcting, but to me they are missing the big picture. We need to encourage people to take care of themselves, to love themselves more than ever, and most importantly practice self-forgiveness when we feel scared or anxious.
In my mind our industry sets the example of what self-love looks like, primarily through branding and marketing content. We use imagery to show how our products will make someone look and feel desirable, that they are wanted. We show products that will make us feel strong and powerful, give us confidence and skills as lovers or partners. We continually create couples’ products to keep intimacy alive and sexual relationships healthy and fun. These are all super important and integral parts to adult business, but they stray a bit from what matters most. Self love.
The #selflove hashtag on Instagram currently has 40.3 million tags to give you an idea of how many people are talking about it. I agree that self-love can be a bit of a catch-all phrase, and gimmicky when used in poor taste. Self-love and self-loving campaigns have never been more important. Evidently it takes a pandemic to come around and make some of us see the importance of such a simplistic phrase. We are all at home practicing social distancing and learning to adjust both physically and mentally to the changes that come with being home a lot. Now is the time to get engaged in the self-love movement, and it isn’t just about vibrators!
Self-love by definition is the regard for one’s own well being or happiness, but so often that takes a back seat to whatever else is going on in our daily lives. As an industry we are poised to help people navigate self-love better than most. Not only that, but we recognize self-love isn’t just about vibrators and masturbating. It’s about processing feelings and thoughts we may not want to. It’s about forcing ourselves out for a walk when we want to lie in bed. It’s deciding it’s OK to color your own hair because the only person you need to make happy in this moment, is you. It’s about recognizing that output does not equal worth, and that we are all worthy of the love we owe ourselves.
Before working in this industry, I can be honest that I was not able to articulate for myself to others what I wanted physically or emotionally. I know I’m not alone; I also know I’m fortunate to have been educated working with all of you that I have learned to speak my words. I’ve learned how to recognize wants and needs, and how to ask for them. We teach people that, it’s amazing. We instill confidence, teach vocabulary and provide tools for others to learn these same skills. We pay it forward not because it’s our job, but because we love what we do. We teach self-love to others because it’s something we’ve learned; we often don’t give ourselves enough credit. I’ve been in stores and heard the heartfelt and honest conversations our retailers are having with customers, and my heart breaks each time I hear shame and confusion. We don’t recognize how much each of has personally overcome to pay it forward and help others, but it’s amazing when you think about it.
Our industry will continue to develop and adapt through this pandemic from a business perspective. We will rally and help each other until we eventually see the light at the end of the tunnel, whenever that is. In the meantime, may we be kinder and gentler to ourselves to show others self-love is OK. May our sex positivity and body positivity be as strong as the self-love we need to support them.