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For 2013: More, Not Less.

I don't celebrate most holidays, but I've always been a fan of New Year's. New Year's Day, actually, more than New Year's Eve. I relish fresh starts and new beginnings.

I'm scared to touch my own vagina: why?

birthdaycake123 asks:

Hey. I'm 14 and I've never fingered myself. I've done other things, but the thought of fingering myself just seems gross. A couple times, I've tried to, but then I get to thinking about how gross vaginas are, and I chicken out. I know this is irrational, but do you have any advice on getting over this? Thanks.

The Scarleteen Do-It

Feeling low about your body and how it looks? Thinking about, or already doing, some drastic things to try and change it? You're not alone. But you can get to a better place with your body and how you feel about it without doing anything that keeps you feeling just as bad, or puts your physical or mental health at risk. Here's some ways to ditch the die(t)s and go for the happy, healthy do's.

Spotlight on Scarleteen: New Years Resolutions

Happy New Year to you from all of us at Scarleteen!

Nearly a month into 2010, we hope your new year has been and continues to be happy, healthy, and all-around awesome. Have you set any New Year Resolutions this year? We have and would like to share them with you!

Over 1000 Scarleteen users are doing just that! Since December 19th and as of yesterday, 1001 visitors to the Scarleteen website have voted in the poll: Which of these is the best sexuality-based New Year's resolution for you? A lot of people will choose resolutions, such as exercising more, getting better grades, and quitting smoking. Those are all noteworthy goals, and big accomplishments when realized, but how about aiming to exercise safer sex all the time, acing a “quiz” of your own anatomy, and quitting bad body image and sexual shame? By setting a sexuality-related resolution, you’re focusing on an important part of you that often doesn’t get the attention (or praise!) it deserves.

THE RESULTS! We’re going to share the results here along with some recommended reading and some teen sex and sexuality-related statistics from the Guttmacher Institute, the Bureau of Justice, Outproud/Oasis, and ChildTrends Databank. All text and statistics following the “Did you know?” heading are directly quoted from the page on what Scarleteen Is.

BE HEARD! In addition to casting their vote, many Scarleteeners have also explained their choice. We encourage you to scroll down to read their resolutions after crunching the numbers.

THE RESULTS!

The poll offered 13 sexuality-based New Years resolutions to choose from: Improving body image and ditching sexual shame came out on top with 18% of all votes. Enjoying oneself more got second place with 14% of the vote, while using birth control or safer sex practices better and seeking out truly desired sexual relationships tied for third place with 11% each. Here is a more specific and all-inclusive break down of the results:

1. To improve my body image and/or ditch sexual shame 18% (182 votes)

Did you know? The National Eating Disorders Association estimates that 81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat and between 5-10 million girls and women and 1 million boys and men are struggling with eating disorders including anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, or borderline conditions.

One author reports that at age thirteen, 53% of American girls are "unhappy with their bodies." This grows to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen (Brumberg, 1997).

For further reading, we recommend: An Immodest Proposal and Seven Ways to Love Your Body

2. To enjoy myself more 14% (144 votes)

Did you know? For many teens, sexual information is more often given in a context of sexual entertainment, peer-to-peer bragging or flirtation, and these approaches not only often result in inaccurate information, but in enabling a context of sexual commodity, shame or pressure around sexuality, as well as sexual stereotypes and cultural ideals or collective cultural fears. This given, our approach at Scarleteen is to be friendly and personable, rather than cold or clinical, but to come to sexual education and information in a professional, respectful way, with care for diverse boundaries and viewpoints.

For further reading, we recommend: 10 of the Best Things You Can Do for Your Sexual Self (at Any Age) and Yield for Pleasure

3. To better use birth control or safer sex practices 11% (106 votes)

Did you know? Of the 18.9 million new cases of STIs each year, 9.1 million (48%) occur among 15-24-year-olds. Although 15-24-year-olds represent only one-quarter of the sexually active population, they account for nearly half of all new STIs each year. Half of new HIV infections (about 20,000) each year occur among youth aged 15-24.

Of the approximately 750,000 teen pregnancies that occur each year, 82% are unintended.

For further reading, we recommend: Safe, Sound & Sexy: A Safer Sex How-To and Birth Control Bingo!

3. To seek out the kind of sexual relationships I truly want 11% (113 votes)

Did you know? By their 18th birthday, six in 10 teenage women and more than five in 10 teenage men have had heterosexual intercourse. More than one-half of all teens ages 15 to 19 report engaging in oral sex (55 percent of males and 54 percent of females in 2002).

For further reading, we recommend: Ready or Not? The Scarleteen Sex Readiness Checklist, Supermodel: Creating & Nurturing Your Own Best Relationship Models, and Sexual Negotiation for the Long Haul

5. To learn more about my own sexual body and self 10% (105 votes)

Did you know? Knowing, too, that the reality of the way youth most often gets sexuality information -- peer-to-peer -- we do our level best to both moderate discussion to help aid youth in learning how to inform each other better, and do what we can to empower youth to research smartly, ask questions, avoid stereotyping, and communicate with and educate one another with sensitivity and compassion.

For further reading, we recommend: Innies and Outies: The Vagina, Clitoris, Uterus and More, Innies and Outies: The Penis, Testes and More, and With Pleasure: A View of Whole Sexual Anatomy for Every Body

...And that's just the beginning! Now please click "read more" below to see to the rest of the statistics and hear what users have to say.

Peeing on a Stick: All About Pregnancy Tests

Choosing a pregnancy test can be pretty overwhelming. This article is designed to give you a general overview of pregnancy tests. It will discuss what a pregnancy test does, the difference between a urine test and a blood test, how to choose a pregnancy test, when and how to use pregnancy tests, and finally what to do after a pregnancy test.