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Whisper #35 – What is the Perfect Vagina?

Author: Kirsty Higginson – find her on Twitter


Are you happy with your vagina? I’m sorry if the question seems a little forward, or a bit in your face, but it is a question that I’d really appreciate if you could answer without thinking too much about.

After my second child, I wasn’t happy with my vagina, it just felt all felt wrong ‘there’. My husband, the poor soul, would listen to me whine about how much it had changed and, when I’d finished, he’d lovingly tell me that everything felt as it had before the birth. Nothing had changed.

Obviously, being woman, I thought he was literally saying it for a bit of peace or maybe to make me feel better. I haphazardly told him that if I had the money I’d seriously seek help for normality to resume in the downstairs department. He buried his head in his hands.

That was was in 2003.

Today, in 2011, I am the one burying my head in my hands. Realisation set in long ago that nothing is actually wrong down ‘there’, it never was and it does, quite simply cover my definition of being perfect; it serves its purpose well.  So, when I recently came across an article in The Independent, entitled; ‘Pornography linked to huge rise in plastic surgery for women’, I quite simply just wanted to cry.

Not for myself, oh no, my boat has sailed and there’s no way I am going down that route again, but for our younger generation who are easily influenced and for the women who do feel that their vagina just isn’t good enough or right. Don’t get me wrong, I know it can be a serious problem for some, but I am specifically talking about those who want to just ‘approve appearance’, it saddens me that some women feel their vagina isn’t acceptable on those grounds.

Back in 2003, the problem was that of course it was going to be a little different after giving birth to an 8lb 3oz baby, I was swollen and sore – but other than that it was fine. The fact that I had been pondering over my genitalia twenty four seven meant that it did change – albeit in my head and not in reality. My brain had thought about it for far too long. Well, you don’t normally lie in the throws of passion trying to workout out if IT has changed, shrunk, got bigger etc…..and if you do, you really need to stop and go with the flow, enjoy it.

Love, sex and passion aren’t about thinking – it’s not about making a list in your head about what you’ll need at the Friday big shop OR whether you need a designer vagina, it’s about going with the fantastic and orgasmic flow and leaving your inhibitions behind…..forever.

Quite frankly I believe the world is now going crazy – do we all need to have a similar vagina to be accepted? No. Should we be made to feel that it has to have some certain shape to feel womanly? No. It’s the same with the waxing/Brazilian/Hollywood* phenomenon that are currently being waved in out faces. What are we doing people, or better yet, what messages are we sending out that see so many woman want to tweak their bits?

I, finally, have turned a corner and go with the flow – not what others want me to do. And, I certainly do not let society and the media try and dictate how I should look – under my clothes and over them.

So, please, women of the world, try it – it is liberating. Be who you want to be, not who you are told to be.


*What is a Hollywood anyway? Please excuse my ignorance I just couldn’t really care. I’m guessing there isn’t a Manchurian or a Liverpudlian?


If you’d like to write your own Whisper, we’d love to read it! The submission guidelines are here.


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Whisper #34 – Everybody Needs a Bosom for a Pillow

Author: Katyboo who blogs here, and tweets as @thevoiceofboo


My eldest daughter is experiencing the first throes of puberty.  She is not impressed. Not impressed at all.  During the summer holidays I mentioned that it might be time to get her fitted for a bra.  She all but got down on bended knees and begged me to wait just a little longer.

She said in a rising wail: ‘Why? Why do I have to be a teenager? Why can’t I just be twenty five and skip that part?’

I said: ‘There are good things about being a teenager.’

She said: ‘What are they?’

I could not think of anything off hand.

She flounced out of the room, triumphant.

I have relented about the bra fitting for now.

This is mainly because I remember the utter humiliation of going for that first bra fitting with my own mother.  I really had nothing to show in the breast department at the time.  Not like Busty Brindle, the girl in my class at school who all the boys used to yell at when we did the 100 yard dash in P.E., and whose chest wobbled like spectacularly unstable jelly.

All the other girls in the class, myself included, were fascinated by her development, but I don’t recall that any of us were particularly eager to join her.  We did not want to be full of feminine allure and the object of ogling. We wanted to keep on playing British Bulldog and pick our scabby knees.

My mother on the other hand was keen to get the bra fitting out of the way as soon as possible.  She deposited me with the lady with the tape measure in the Marks & Spencer’s fitting room as if she were the first person to have invented bosoms.

I don’t know who was the most embarrassed, me, or the tape measure lady.  She did her valiant best, but there really was nothing to measure.  My maternal grandmother, who was nothing if not eccentric, used to describe her breasts as ‘two fried eggs on a plate’.  She used her bra to keep emergency fivers and the odd treat for sulky grandchildren in.  On one memorable occasion she pulled a Robinson’s Golly badge out of her left bosom area for me.  I was, as you can imagine, very impressed by this.  I hoped in later life to be able to make my bosoms do something similar.  It now seemed as if I might get the chance.  As the tape measure lady was fumbling about my upper chest region in the hope that I might suddenly sprout 38 DD knockers and give her something to placate my mother with, I thought of all the things I might keep in my bra, clear as it was that I would not be keeping my wayward chest in it for quite some time.

I got as far as wondering if it would make a good place to stick a supply of Sherbet Dib Dabs when the woman pulled the tape measure from round me with a snake charmer’s flourish, and announced that I was a 28 AA.

I was absolutely sure that she had pulled this figure out of her arse.

I was proved right after I got home and tried on my bra, only to find that there was room for a score of Sherbet Dib Dabs and possibly 2oz of pear drops.

Despite the fact that I was wearing some complex elastic strapping merely to support two empty wind socks of material, my mother still made me wear the bra every day.  It was clearly visible underneath my school blouse, and led to derisive jeers from the boys who, quite rightly, asked what the point was? Unfortunately they thought I was trying to be come hither, and tormented me to the point of distraction.  They would not believe I was actually more keen to go thither.

The idea of burning my bra was becoming more appealing on a daily basis.  Not to liberate my oppressed female self, but to go back to being the androgynous child I had been quite happy as.

In my later teens, my bosom was still more of a problem than an asset.  I hung around with a group of girls my mum insisted on calling the Valkyries.  They were all rather amply proportioned, and to a woman had gigantic bangers.  One of my friends was so generously endowed in the bosom department she had to sleep in her bra, because otherwise her lolling boobs gave her a dead arm.

By this time I had managed to grow to a reasonably respectable ‘B’ cup, but I can’t say I was having any problems with dead arms.

The best that could be said of my breasts were that they were pert.  One lunch time in sixth form, a group of us sat round reading Just Seventeen, a then very fashionable magazine for young women.  We read about the pencil test.  Apparently it was very important for women to have pert breasts.  It did not explain why this was so, and we never questioned it, we just knew that we had to aspire to pertness.

The test for pert breasts was to stick a pencil underneath your boobs. If the pencil was trapped by the weight of your bosom you did not have pert breasts.  If the pencil rolled onto the floor, you were sufficiently pert.  I was the only pert one among us.  As one of my friends commented at the time; ‘I don’t know about a pencil. I could get a whole pencil case under there with no trouble at all.’  She seemed proud of this.  I picked up my fallen pencil quietly, and went off to dream of bosoms rolling with stationery.

It has taken me nearly forty years to come to terms with my bosom. I do not see why my daughter shouldn’t delay things a little longer.  It’s not like her boobs are  going anywhere. Except south.

If you’d like to write your own Whisper, we’d love to read it! The submission guidelines are here.

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Adoran2’s Love Songs

“I’ve been following @52Betty on Twitter for some time and saw her tweet out a request for love song submissions. We have music on in our house all day, every day, and I jumped at the chance to put together a playlist. It’s been fun going down memory lane to come up with these ten songs. My wife and I have been together for ten years – married for seven of them – and have two lovely young boys who we are now trying to get into music beyond their nursery rhyme CDs!”

Find adoran2 on Twitter.

You can click on the individual tracks to hear them in Spotify, or listen to the whole list here.


Track 1: Down To You by Joni Mitchell

When I got together with my wife things were difficult as I had just accepted an assignment for a year in New York. I remember listening to this album a lot and feeling very melancholy; this is one of the songs I picked for a CD that I made and sent to her while I was there and she was thousands of miles away.


Track 2: You Are My Sunshine by Ray Charles

I actually made my future wife two CDs while I was away, one full of low-tempo songs like Track 1 and another that was much more upbeat; this comes from the latter. I remember having Ray on the stereo a lot whenever we were together and we both still love him.


Track 3: Come Pick Me Up by Ryan Adams

Probably our most listened-to CD in the early years was Ryan Adams’ Heartbreaker. I remember my wife loving this song. Reminds me of when she quit her job and took a big chance by coming over to New York to live with me for the last three months that I was there. Great times.


Track 4: The Way You Look Tonight by Fred Astaire

We picked this as our first dance song for our wedding. We used to watch lots of Fred and Ginger films in our house and loved this. Unfortunately this was really difficult to dance to so we went for the version by Steve Tyrell that was used in the film ‘Father of The Bride’ but I think we both still love this version the best.


Track 5: The Very Thought Of You by Al Bowlly

One of those songs that we’ve played a lot over the years (thanks to an excellent CD called ‘Hits of ’34’) and find ourselves singing to each other while we’re unloading the dishwasher. I completely love this song.


Track 6: Bust A Move by Young MC

Unashamedly the most-played track in our music library. This was the theme tune of our house-hunting adventures when we were married and decided we wanted to leave London. My wife used to jump in the car, put this on the iPod and we tried to nail all of the lyrics as we sung along.


Track 7: And I by Boyzone

File under guilty pleasures. Again, this song is best-served when the two of you are alone in the car and you can belt out the lyrics at the top of your voice – one of you taking the lead and the other the backing vocals with a few ridiculous flourishes thrown in.


Track 8: The Fountainhead by The Bluetones

Both of us have loved The Bluetones since before we met. Their first album never gets boring. Katie will put this on all the time and we always end up singing it together.


Track 9: The Heart Shaped Sea by Roxette

My wife puts up with my Roxette habit and I’m very grateful for it.


Track 10: ABC by the Jackson 5

If we are ever at a party where there’s a DJ taking requests this is top of my list as my wife loves it and will always dance with me!


Love Songs strand in which people share the ten tracks that sum up their love life. Would you like to share your list? Click here for more details.

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How to Stay Married by Jilly Cooper

When I was growing up, the 60s seemed relatively recent. I was not old enough to remember them myself, but it was clear that my parents did. It was reflected in their style, their attitudes, their musical tastes. It was familiar ground.

Yet How to Stay Married is the most extraordinary period piece. It’s a heady combination of the deeply traditional:

If a wife feels resentful that she is slaving away…she must remember that it isn’t all roses for him either. He has given up his much-prized bachelor status for marriage, and he probably expects…to come home every night to a gleaming home, a happy wife, and a delicious dinner.’

…and swinging free-love:

‘If you want to dance cheek-to-cheek with the most attractive man/woman in the room, wait until your husband/wife is securely trapped on the sofa in another room.’

Well, maybe not all that swinging. In this book, ‘affaires’ are inevitable, usually the woman’s fault, and to be tolerated; sleeping pills are swallowed willy-nilly; and a ‘slut’ is the keeper of an untidy house. Wives need to be treated with a ‘firm hand’, and men are like little gods who require cosseting and obedience. Women may well work (until children come along, when they must turn to making paper flowers for pin money), but they should tweak their hours so that they can get home in time to tidy up and have dinner on the table.

It’s as if the word ‘marriage’ means something different entirely. Or rather, perhaps the shock lies in the word ‘marriage’ representing a clear set of values and behaviours. Contemporary readers will be used to defining their own ‘marriage’ or relationship, finding a balance of personalities that works for them – or doesn’t. We are certainly not willing to make the level of sacrifices that young Jilly fully expects to make, just to keep our partners quiet.

None of this is meant as a word of criticism of the book – it’s a wonderful, enlightening read. Jilly’s voice is as pert and knowing as one of her characters, leaving the line between seriousness and tongue-in-cheek rather blurry. The all-night sex and cocktail parties sound magnificent. But the best bit is Jilly’s cringing introduction: ‘What a smug, opinionated, proselytising little know-it-all I was then,’ she says.

So, perhaps don’t read How to Stay Married for matrimonial advice. But do read it to giggle and gasp at how much we’ve changed within a mere lifetime.
How To Stay Married by Jilly Cooper, originally published 1969, reissued in 2011 by Transworld.

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C Margery Kempe’s Love Songs

“Hi, C. Margery Kempe here: I write erotic romance which disapproving people like to call smut, but it’s really about love and romance — well, yes, and the hot and heavy sex that it leads to in gloriously sensuous detail. Okay, you might still call that smut, but I think it’s very sweet.”





You can click on the song titles to play them in Spotify, or click here to listen to the whole list.


Because the Night – Patti Smith

This list would be different every day (it’s changed since I started it!) but this is likely to always be there. “Desire and hunger is the fire we breathe.” The genesis of the song sounds like many a love story, too. The coincidence of Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen recording in adjacent studios led to a collaboration. Patti tinkered with the lyrics to make them her own, but they both do incredible versions. Because the night does belong to lovers.


Into My Arms – Nick Cave

The lovely thing about this song is the transformation of the narrator, who loves someone who has a faith he doesn’t, but it gives him hope and a belief in possibilities. “And I don’t believe in the existence of angels / But looking at you I wonder if that’s true / But if I did I would summon them together/ And ask them to watch over you.” The ache that love can create comes through both in the narrator’s longing to have her walk into his arms and in the quality of Cave’s voice.


Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash

“Love is a burning thing, and it makes a fiery ring.” So much fire imagery in love songs, but we do burn with desire. Over his long career, Cash managed to cover a lot of different styles but this rockabillly rouser works so well because it really is elemental. His duo with wife June Carter, “Jackson,” gives an example of how that fire can destroy, too. “We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout” but that fire burns out (unlike their own real life story). How much is too much? Hard to tell when it burns, burns, burns.


Like Someone in Love – Björk

I almost used “Aeroplane” instead (“I’m taking an aeroplane across the world to follow my heart!”) but this classic song evokes that hazy feeling the drug that is love often gives you. Lerner and Loewe certainly had a way with the simply effective love song. It’s a mood-altering experience: “Lately I seem to walk as if I had wings, bump into things like someone in love…” Central is the idea that we all know what it’s like and recognise the symptoms. But we do, don’t we?


Rainy Night in Soho – The Pogues

For all his wild times, there’s nobody who can break your heart with a song like Shane MacGowan. He’s written so many masterpieces that will be sung in pubs for many years to come, it was hard to pick just one. I have a long history with London, and this song really captures the romance I have with that city as much as the magical serendipity of love: “I took shelter from a shower / And I stepped into your arms.” It might as well be an Astaire and Rodgers movie. What better way to say, “I love you” than to say, “You’re the measure of my dreams”?


At Last – Etta James

There’s such a sigh of relief to this song about being certain of love. There are always doubts and worries when it comes to love. The certainty and confidence of this song (however fleeting it may be, given the rest of Etta’s catalogue) give her voice such power and triumph. It’s impossible not to hear this and believe (even if you don’t find yourself in love at the moment).


The Sensual World – Kate Bush

Originally Kate wanted to record Molly Bloom’s soliloquy, setting it to music and simply using Joyce’s words. His heirs (who of course benefit from his work having done none of it) refused her and she captured Molly’s sensual reminiscence in tone though not direct words. And it was wonderful: “To where the water and the earth caress / And the down of a peach says mmh, yes…” This year she released remixes of old songs and a new version of this with Joyce’s prose and it turns out a much flatter song. Important lesson: overcoming hindrances helps creation (and should we say also, love?).


I’m Falling –  Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3

I have Robyn Hitchcock’s signature in my Moleskin. He’s one of those musicians I just adore. His lyrics often have to do with (as one DVD of his work succinctly summed it up) sex, death and insects, but he’s so delightfully odd and funny, it’s a lot more wonderful than that might sound. In songs like “Intricate Thing” he examines the fun and sensuality of love, even on “the small setee.” Here there’s the fear and doubt: “There’s a thin line between what you are and what you aren’t / I’m afraid of loving you and you’re afraid I can’t.” But there’s a sort of drunken joyfulness, too: “There’s a thin line between what you do and what you should / Every time I cross it I just feel insanely good.”


Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered –  Ella Fitzgerald

I’d almost give the nod to Sam Posner’s less confident version of this delivered in The History Boys as he worships Dominic Cooper, but Ella’s version is just so elegant. Classic lyrics from Rogers and Hart, but they’re plenty saucy, too. “I’ll sing to him / Each spring to him / And worship the trousers that cling to him…” The magic and delirium of love captured so well. Wonderful!


The Whole Wide World – The Proclaimers

I have long loved the original rendition of this from Wreckless Eric, but a special friend shared this version with me and I have become completely smitten. There’s such a heady mix of stubborness, despair and mordant humour, how can you not love it? The terrifying idea that there’s only one person in the world for you, but they might live on the other side of the globe can’t help but make one feel faint. But the grim determination of the singer to “search the whole wide world just to find her” makes you root for his success. All I can say is: I love you, internet! :-) Now the whole wide world won’t stand in the way of lovers for long!


C. Margery Kempe writes erotica and erotic romance with wit and humour, including the sexy spy novel CHASTITY FLAME. Coffee Time Romance gave the novel five cups and said, “CHASTITY FLAME is one thrill ride after another.” UnBound writes that “Kempe is a delightful writer.” Rumours that Kempe is simply K. A. Laity in a hat have not been fully investigated at present, and Laity argues that she in fact looks a lot more like Kit Marlowe (albeit in a different hat).


Love Songs strand in which people share the ten tracks that sum up their love life. Would you like to share your list? Click here for more details.

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The Game of Lurve

I have video-reviewed one of my birthday presents – the quite simply breathtaking 80s board game from Ann Summers: Fantasy for Lovers.


If you’d like to receive a personalised fantasy, courtesy of the board game, leave me a comment. Be warned: all of them take 45 seconds to perform. Some women may not think this is a good thing.


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Vote BettyHerbert.com in the Cosmo Blog Awards!

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Nursery Food

The first week I knew I was pregnant, I munched my way through a range of salads and slow carbs that would make Gillian McKeith weep.

Three weeks later, however, it’s all very different. Monumentally nauseous, I spend much of my day feeling sick and hungry at the same time (an entirely new sensation), and on a quest to discover exactly what it is that my body will consent to eat today. This is less obvious than you’d think; it’s never a simple case of fancying something. It’s more a process of eliminating foodstuffs that actively repulse me, and then, finally, settling for something that I feel I may be able to swallow without too much horror.

I am not this sort of eater. Usually, I’m a restless, inquisitive diner, keen on bright flavours, variety and spice. I have always, always cooked everything from scratch, and mostly in season too.

At the moment, the world has been strangely turned on its head. Vegetables appal me. I can’t contemplate strong flavours. And, quite randomly, my palate will reject flavours that comforted me a few hours before. Sometimes mid-meal. Yesterday, I had to scrape all the cheese off my jacket potato because it was suddenly overwhelming. I am even able to feel sick over a concept, such as the idea of making the bed.

Herbert adapted to this state of affairs quicker than I did. I sulked and lamented, and tried to force myself to eat nutritious meals that were destined for the bin as soon as they were cooked. He put on his tolerant face, walked me down to the local Budgens (where I never shop) and took me from aisle to aisle so that I could  pick out the things I could face eating.

My palate, it seems, has turned strangely nostalgic: cornflakes, Petits Filous, fig rolls, tinned pineapple and garibaldi biscuits. I would never normally dream of buying any of these things. But unexpectedly, my cook’s brain has been overthrown in a violent revolution by my inner child. And my inner child is infuriatingly fickle. I had to rush out and buy fishfingers last week, and yet now I can’t even contemplate the rest of the box.

The dish that I turn to again and again, though, is this zero-nutrition wonder: spaghetti, butter, cheese (which may be on its way out) and black pepper. It’s what I ate every morning for breakfast when I was at primary school, and it’s now my go-to meal when all else fails. When I was a kid, my mum used to snip salami into it, too, but that would be a step too far right now. And don’t even try to suggest a side salad.


What were your cravings – or anti-cravings? Share them in the comments below and I’ll try not to dry-heave as I read them. 


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