Is pleasure an important part of your mental health? Interview with LBDO Founder, Rachel Baker
We should never feel guilty about listening to our bodies and giving them the love they need and deserve. Especially when it comes to topics that are typically taboo such as self-pleasure. September 4th is World Sexual Health Day and what goes better with the launch of our new intimates than a little bit of self-lovin’? We asked Rachel, the founder of LBDO about sexual wellness and why we need to look at our sexuality as a key part of our holistic health.
We care about you, uncover a special offer at the end of this article to help you get through these strange times with a little bit more pleasure 😉
Can you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself and the LBDO’s mission?
I was working as a PR Manager at L’Oreal when the pandemic hit last year and we were forced into a lockdown here in Victoria. During that time at home, I had the chance to re-evaluate my priorities and think about my future, and I felt an urge to do something I was more passionate about that would bring me greater purpose.
And so, I decided to take the leap and launch LBDO - a purpose-driven startup creating sexual wellness products that will elevate your bedroom essentials.
Our mission is to break down taboos and stigmas around sex and pleasure by normalising the surrounding conversation. We want to empower everybody to experience sexual pleasure and that starts with education. We want to give people a place they can come to learn, ask questions and have open, safe discussions about pleasure. We want to teach people that not only is pleasure their human right, but ways in which they can experience it, why they may not have experienced it and that it’s okay to feel good.
What inspired you to start a sexual wellness brand?
I wanted to take the plunge to do something that was going to make a difference and that would be fulfilling and meaningful.
The idea came about based on my own experience of not being able to find products that reflected me and my sexual experience. I remember going into a dingy sex store and being so intimidated and overwhelmed by the overtly phalic, tacky, bright pink and purple products that were staring back at me. I was always overcome with a feeling of shame and embarrassment - like it was something dirty I was doing. Similarly, when friends would talk about sex products or if they were gifted one for a hen’s night or birthday, it was always received as a bit of a joke and met with giggles. I felt there were no products on the market for ‘real people’, ones that really spoke to me and my sexual experiences - beautiful, vulnerable and unique. I wanted products that looked as beautiful as the skincare and fragrances I was buying, that were equally as functional and that I could leave out on display on my nightstand. I wanted to take the giggles out of owning and gifting pleasure products.
It’s taken a lot of work within myself to re-educate and learn to view sexual health as a fundamental part of my overall health. Ultimately, I want to be able to share this with others and remind people that sexual health is health and just as important as your mental and physical health - sexuality is an integral part of who we are and that is nothing to be ashamed of.
What are some of the hurdles you’ve come against in the industry?
Where to begin! It’s hard to look past the hurdle of launching during a global pandemic - launching a business at any stage is difficult but throwing in a global pandemic has meant that I’ve experienced a lot of additional challenges from shipping delays, production and manufacturing. Something that would usually be resolved in 10 minutes if you were in person has taken days because it’s much harder to explain things over video or a phone call.
Another big hurdle has been the restrictions on social media in the sexual wellness space - Facebook and Instagram don’t allow you to advertise any sex products so that’s made it tricky in terms of getting the brand out there and seen by more people. Pretty much every other industry allows you to promote your products so that’s definitely been a hurdle and something we’re still figuring out. One way we’re trying to get around this is by working with different influencers and brand ambassadors however - as much as we like to think that we’ve broken down the stigmas - the reality is that so many still don’t feel comfortable talking about it. I’ve found it more challenging than expected trying to get people to jump on board our mission and help us normalise the conversation around sex and pleasure. It’s super important to us so we’ll keep fighting for it so that everyone knows that pleasure is our human right.
So, it is World Sexual Health Day...apart from the very limited and highly stigma-filled education we get in school about STIs and STDs. What is sexual wellness?
In the same way that I take a holistic view of health, I apply the same approach to sexual wellness. Sexual wellness to me is connected to our emotional, physical and relational wellbeing; it includes things such as how comfortable we feel in our skin, how connected we feel to ourselves and our desires, and how we feel in our relationships. It’s important that we create a space for people to be able to access comprehensive and factual sex education, learn about broad and diverse perspectives and experiences of sex, so ultimately we can choose what will empower our own sexual wellness journeys.
Why is sex an important part of a holistic health regime?
At LBDO, we look at health in a really holistic manner and your mental health, physical health and sexual health are all integral parts to that. There are so many benefits to investing in your sexual health - easing stress, boosting your mood, building connection with yourself and with others, and so much more. When we feel good mentally and physically (i.e. more energised and less stressed), we generally want to have more sex and invest in our sexual pleasure. Just like we prioritise our mental and physical health, sexual health is key to helping us function and feel our best.
How can we bring sexual wellness into relationships and our solo practices?
- Shift the conversation and internal dialogue - make it a joyful conversation and a celebration instead of a conversation based on fear, stigma and taboo.
- Start by making it a priority in your life - educate yourself on topics surrounding sexual health - whether that’s broader discussions around sexual health and it’s origins or the anatomy of your own body. As they say, knowledge is power and there is nothing more empowering than understanding yourself and your body more.
- Masturbate - connect with your body and mind, give yourself pleasure and make time for things that feel good. There is nothing shameful about masturbating; if it feels good for you, incorporate sex toys into your practice. Our Essensual Vibe is a great beginner vibrator for all erogenous zones.
- In your relationship, prioritise open communication - tell your partner(s) what feels good for you and what you need from each other in the relationship. While they might seem like hard conversations to have, investing in your relationship through constant open dialogue helps to build a really healthy relationship based on trust and open communication.
Why do you think so many women have disconnected from prioritising pleasure in their lives?
For so long, whether it be through a lack of thorough and inclusive sex education, porn, books or television, we’ve been fed an unrealistic and inaccurate depiction of sex and sexuality. When people think about sex, they more often than not think about penis-in-vagina, heteronormative intercourse, whereby the ‘act’ ends when the male ejaculates. Of course, sex and sexuality is so much broader than that and this kind of information and messaging can be really harmful as it doesn’t take into account a woman's sexual needs or desires. Sex education should be so much more than putting a condom on a banana and understanding how babies are made. We really need to shift the conversation to empowering people with information in a really positive, joyful way and teaching people that they have a right to experience pleasure - however they may like to experience it.
What do you think these on and off again lockdowns have done to people’s sexual wellness?
I think it’s fair to say that none of us feel our best right now! With all of the challenges that come from being confined to your house, there’s a good chance that in one way or another, our physical, mental and sexual selves have been impacted. These lockdowns may have affected how comfortable and confident we feel in our skin, how we are feeling and behaving in our relationships and how connected we feel to our wants and needs, so it’s only natural that your overall sexual health and sense of wellbeing has been impacted in some way. While everyone and their experience is different, just know that no matter what you are feeling - I guarantee you are not alone.
What are some tips to reconnect with one’s pleasure?
- Dedicate time to self-love and make it a priority. Pleasure is different for everybody because every body is different so this can look different for everyone. Whatever it is for you, make time for things that feel good. Some things that you might enjoy are having a date night with yourself, masturbating, watching ethical porn, journaling, giving yourself a massage, running a bath, reading your favourite book, cooking, catching up with friends, reading erotic literature, spending time in nature. Whatever it is, invest in things that make you feel good.
- Explore our range of inclusive guided self-pleasure audios and browse through our educational posts on our blog, The Talk.
- I encourage everyone to read, listen to podcasts, start to have really open and honest conversations with the people around you, become familiar with your body and what feels good for you.
For a topic that is sadly still typically taboo, how do you recommend we as women open up the conversation more? And, particularly parents with their children?
- Start by educating yourself so you’re better equipped to have these conversations with the people around you, and particularly your children. Start viewing pleasure as a human right, instead of something that’s shameful or embarrassing. Speak about it with friends and your children in this light as well. Sex and pleasure should never be painful or embarrasing.
- Knowledge is so powerful so providing this information to your children is only going to be beneficial for them in understanding themselves more.
- Remember, if you don’t pass this knowledge onto your children, they will become curious and research this information themselves and there’s still so much inaccurate and harmful information out there when it comes to sex. If you don’t feel comfortable having these conversations with them, you might like to buy them a book or point them to a safe place where they can go to learn in a really comfortable environment.
Is there a particular product you’d recommend for those just starting out on their self-pleasure journey?
Our Essensuals Bundle is a great beginner toolkit to start investing and prioritising your pleasure. In particular, our Essensual Vibe is an external vibrator that’s made with the highest quality medical grade silicone and is a great tool for any level of experience. There’s no correct way to do sex - whether solo or partnered - so start by exploring what feels good for you know that there’s no right or wrong way to go about it. You deserve to feel good.
Relax and unwind with a new intimates set from Arnhem and some sexual wellness products from LBDO.
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Go on, you deserve it.