Welcome back to What's In Your Nightstand? Our monthly interview with our favorite sex-positive folks where we ask them all their *dirty* little not-so-secrets is back from it's summer hiatus! This month we interviewed Audrey Williams, writer, blogger at Lulu Linden, and Branded Fashion & Beauty Editor at Bustle.
Audrey's calming space feels like an oasis in the middle of a sweaty, sunny day in Crown Heights. She greets us at the door barefooted and glowing, like some kind of domestic version of the High Priestess tarot card. This seems fitting, since we come to learn that cards, crystals, and plants are hugely sacred to Audrey. We spent the afternoon chatting about rituals, rights of passage, and taking up space as a curvy woman. Interview has been edited & condensed for clarity.
Photos by Emma Olswing
Ok, of course we have to ask: what's in your nightstand!? I have a lot of little books there, my journal, a few crystals, my tarot cards.
Anything you're dying to add to your collection? You know, I collect so many little knickknacks anyway that I'm wondering, in this apartment, “Where!? What else!?” I want a really big piece of amethyst, like a huge piece, but those 1) are pricey and 2) where would I stick that? Also, I think, more plants. What am I saying? MORE PLANTS! I need plants. In a city like New York where everything is so like dirty and filthy and concrete...I come from the south where I definitely took for granted the fact that the outside of my window was nothing but trees and it was fresh southern air. So now I'm just like turning into my mom, where I'm like "Plants, I need plants in every corner.” I'm convinced that they help purify the filthy New York air but you know, maybe it's just all in my head.
What would you tell someone ashamed of what's in THEIR nightstand? I would say that I totally understand (why) you would want to keep things close to your chest. Whether (it’s) because you're ashamed of it, or you just don't feel like sharing that part of yourself with people. Sometimes, you just want to be the way you are and not have to explain.
Sex and masturbation can be amazing acts of self-care, and I know self-care is something you really value. Is there anything you'd recommend to help people feel more comfortable exploring these sides of themselves? I think it's (thinking about) how things will benefit you in the long run. When you start to realize that certain acts benefit you way more than any negatives, you just start. The good outweighs the bad. The con of masturbating is really "none," but there's more of a con, I guess, for people knowing that you masturbate because there's shame attached to it. Whatever con that anyone could say about masturbation is so far low on the list compared to all the pros from it — you get to learn your own body. You get to learn yourself so that when you are with someone that you feel comfortable with, you can communicate and say "Hey, I've learned that I like X, Y, Z thing," and then they can assist you in doing X, Y, Z thing, and then sex is that much greater.
Women have complicated relationships with their bodies, but it can be especially entrenched for black women. I was wondering if you could speak a bit to the journey you're on within your own body, and maybe how you've had to reframe what society has dictated about beauty standards in order to better love yourself? That's something that I'm only looking at now. I'm thinking big picture, like going back to puberty. Because the thing about becoming a woman and blossoming...is that it always happens through the eyes of someone else. That's why people say, "The Male Gaze." I knew that I had wider hips and that meant that I was "more of a woman" because men started reacting to it. So, one thing that I've realized, in terms of accepting my body, is now I'm accepting it on my own terms. This is the longest I've ever been single, aside from childhood. I had a high school boyfriend, a long term college boyfriend, and then after college, I've pretty much been single since. So, now that I don't have that regular validation of having someone directly in my life who's like "I like your body, I like the way you look, I like these things,” ...I have to do that for myself. And when I do that for myself, it's not the same way that a boyfriend would. Mind you, I totally like my ass, my hips, and my boobs...and yes, a guy can like that for his own sexual reasons but the reason I like those things is it makes me feel really feminine, and I'm really loving my femininity.