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Chakrubs Took The Healing Power Of Crystals To An Unexpected Place

Love

(The vagina… and butt)

In the past few years, everyone from Urban Outfitters to the indie hole in the wall down the street has hopped onto the crystal trend. But while necklaces, larger meditative stones, home accents, and even crystal-infused water bottles for transformational hydration have been trending for a while, crystals used for sex purpose have only recently appeared on the scene.

When we discovered Chakrubs’ crystal dildos, yoni eggs, and butt plugs, our ever-curious minds, not to mention our chakras, were nothing short of shook. As a person who’s been particularly blocked from internal orgasms from penetration almost completely, it was a welcome discovery in pleasure the first time I got hands-on with the brand's amethyst dildo (this was prior to my getting an O-shot). 

To better understand the thought process behind putting crystals in untraditional places, as well as their benefits down below, we tapped Chakrubs founder, certified crystal healer, and author of Crystal Healing & Sacred Pleasure: Awaken Your Sensual Energy Using Crystals and Healing Rituals, One Chakra at a Time, Vanessa Cuccia, and took notes. Because, while crystals can be life-changing when worn around your neck—even if only psychically—we could only imagine the possibilities of their other, um, applications.  

What made you want to launch a line of crystal sex toys?
The idea for Chakrubs had probably been brewing since I first discovered my own sexuality. Not that I was thinking about crystal pleasure products at nine years old, but even at that age, I knew feeling shameful about my body and arousal wasn't right. 

What made you feel shameful about your body?
I was born with a condition where the inner labia of my vagina were closed, and for six months, I received treatment from doctors and my mother to keep me open. This was painful and embarrassing, to say the least. I'd even repressed the memory until I started practicing with Chakrubs [part of the practice is to uncover repressed emotions in order to unlock energy flow]. So discovering the pleasure in this area wasn't all pleasure, but something I knew I had to pursue nonetheless. 

How did you get over that shame?
Like most kids, it was clear to me that sexual pleasure was something I was required to hide, but I didn't understand why. I became very interested in sexuality. It was a topic I enjoyed discussing as a teenager, even more so than most teenagers. I wanted to understand more about this thing that felt so natural but for some reason was considered taboo. To this day, I find it fascinating that mentioning sexuality creates such tension and discomfort in so many people. 

How did you embrace those feelings and your sexual curiosity and harness it into the brand?
In 2011, when I had the idea for Chakrubs, I made a decision to really go for it in terms of making it a reality. I was 23, and it was time for me to take control over my life and my happiness. I had stayed with the boyfriend to whom I lost my virginity to for six years, never truly feeling sexually satisfied or empowered. I felt that I was now old enough to start something amazing and be taken seriously.

What made you feel like you could succeed with the launch?
My father is an inventor, my mother the CEO of the company that sells his invention globally. I'd had many business ideas of my own in the past, but I'd never followed through on any of them. Chakrubs, however, unfolded so naturally that I felt it was destiny. I was living in Los Angeles and hosting the creator of the web series Spirit Science—he’s left the series since—but it is dedicated to teaching people about spirituality from a scientific perspective. He taught me a great deal about chakras and crystals. I was working at The Pleasure Chest, a sex toy shop, at the time as part of a kind of "removing shame" experiment. My coworkers were nonjudgmental, open, and accepting of others. It was a great experience and helped me in many ways. I spoke with many different people about their desires and fantasies and even medical needs. 

Then one night I tagged along with my house guest [the creator of Spirit Science] to the home of a woman with whom he intended to discuss some business venture as well as their respective spiritual philosophies. She showed us her collection of crystals, and when she produced one that was particularly phallic in shape, something "clicked" within me. I hadn't felt drawn to any of the items at the toy store, as many of them were made of plastic, battery-powered, and created by men. The molecular structures of crystals, on the other hand, are so perfect that they vibrate at, and emit, very strong, very harmonious, very healthy frequencies. Combining those frequencies with a person's own sexual energy might not only increase pleasure but might also help facilitate personal awareness and growth. 

Did you know you wanted to name the company Chakrubs right off the bat?
The name came to me almost instantly. I actually shouted it out that night, spontaneously, in the midst of this meeting of spiritual minds. I'll never forget how everyone turned and looked at me, their eyebrows raised in shock and mild reproof. The fact that even people so dedicated to self-nurture and open-mindedness had such hang-ups about sexuality was yet another sign that the world needed Chakrubs. It simply didn't make sense to me that this aspect of the human condition—the ability to feel sexual pleasure—was something we should feel ashamed of.

So that was back in 2011, what was the next step in making your vision a reality?
As the days passed, I spoke with many people about Chakrubs. These conversations were some of the best conversations I've had in my life. When you combine the topics of spirituality and sexuality, you really get to know people. I had researched to try to find anything like this, without much luck. There were some decorative phallic-shaped crystals, but I could not find any companies dedicated to providing pleasure products made out of actual crystals. Shortly thereafter, I moved to Santa Cruz to work for a small, independent radio station. I lived in the middle of the Redwood Forest with other musicians. There I met an incredible group of women who taught me about compassionate communication and the power of womanhood. These women became my first focus group. One day, we sat in a circle and drew our own designs, discussing which crystals we'd use and eventually testing out the first-ever Chakrub.

When it came to that first prototype, what made you choose the stones you did?
Each one has to be non-toxic for the body and come from the mother stone [a big chunk of crystal] in order to be polished down into smaller pieces. I had to consider the logistical aspect of what was available and I began sourcing from Brazil, Madagascar, and China to bring the brand to life. I had a few stones top of mind when searching, including clear quartz for clarity after a breakup and in life in general, rose quartz to soothe a broken heart and attract love, amethyst to create a sense of safety and calm, and so on. From there, I expanded the collection based on what I thought customers would want and need most.  

Can you tell us a bit more about the healing powers of crystals?
Crystals themselves aren’t healing, it’s their ability to facilitate energy movement. It helps alleviate disease—as in a disorder of structure or function in a human, not an [actual] disease—in the body for better wellness overall.  

Earlier in our conversation, you also mentioned something about crystals’ role in aligning chakras. Could you elaborate?
Chakras are the energy centers in your body. They correlate to the endocrine system. They’re where a bunch of nerves are crossing over each other. They also go beyond that for points of energy in our body. With Chakrubs, I’m most focused on the root chakra at the base of the spine that correlates to genitalia and the lowest point of the sexual organs. The sacral/sex chakra, which correlates to sexual energy and emotions, is also, obviously, top of mind. Beyond that, the heart center connects the higher chakras and the lower chakras. Think about it: When you go through a breakup, you can physically feel it in your heart—that’s because there’s all that energy there. So, with those three chakras at the heart of my intention for this line, Chakrubs aims to help people connect to those places in their body to help them not only feel sexually satisfied but to heal and give care to these things we all experience that get stuck in our bodies and require love and attention. 

After sourcing the crystals and bringing the prototype to lifewhat happened next? 
I started the company in 2012, moved back to NYC in 2013, and have been letting it unfold how it wants to ever since. It is an entity of its own, with a mind of its own, and I am simply here to help it along its way. That it has been written about in New York Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, and other great publications—that it has been featured on Vice and was nominated this year for Sex Toy of the Year by Xbiz—is thrilling and humbling. But the greatest feeling I get is when I receive testimonials from people who say that Chakrubs has given them a safe and therapeutic space for pleasure. 

Scroll on to discover a few of the most popular Chakrubs toys, as well as their benefits. 

Stone: Rose Quartz

Purpose: Rose Quartz is a stone of the heart, a Crystal of Unconditional Love. It carries a soft feminine energy of compassion, peace, tenderness, healing, nourishment, and comfort. It speaks directly to the heart chakra, dissolving emotional wounds, fears, and resentments and circulates a divine-loving energy throughout the entire aura. Reawakening the heart to its innate love, it provides a deep sense of personal fulfillment and contentment, allowing one the capacity to truly give and receive love from others. It dissolves the sorrows, worries, fears, and resentments suppressing the heart's ability to give and receive love.

The Original Heart, $150, available at Chakrubs.

Nail polish is for novices

Fashion label The Blonds is known for its high-intensity looks that you'd only wear if you wanted to stand out (and who doesn't?). For its runway shows, wild press-on nails are the beauty step that can't be missed. So, since the brand has partnered with CND since it was founded, we thought it best to get prepped for the show with Jan Arnold, CND's co-founder.

See why you should take your nail look from a zero to a 10, in the video above.

Credits:
Shot by Charlotte Prager
Edited by Gretta Wilson
Produced by Alexandra Hsie
Production Assistant: Polina Buchak
Featuring Jan Arnold of CND Nails and The Blonds

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Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

It would've been nice if someone said the word "fat"

Back in November, Rebel Wilson claimed to be the first plus-sized lead in a romantic comedy when she appeared on Ellen to talk about her role in Isn't It Romantic. Wilson was not only wrong, but she was—even if inadvertently—erasing the work of Black plus-size actresses like Queen Latifah and Mo'Nique, both of whom have expansive resumes that include romantic comedies.

Wilson's comment isn't the first example of white women taking up a little too much space in the fat acceptance ethos. It's actually quite common. But there is a reason why women like Wilson—women who are blonde, pretty, successful, and white—get put front and center in calls for body positivity. In the same way that feminism—the movement from which body positivity was born—has often failed to address how gender intersects with other identities like race and class; so, too, has body positivity been championed as a cause for otherwise privileged women. And that's why it's no surprise that Isn't It Romantic, which aspires to be both a spot-on mockery of rom-coms and a celebration of body positivity, is actually a perfect example of how very white both the movie genre and the body positivity movement tend to be.

In the film, Wilson plays Natalie, an architect based in New York, who is single and plus-sized—the archetypal rom-com underdog. Very early on in the movie, she endures the double humiliation of both being hit by a runaway food cart and then accosted by its owner for not stopping it with her "cement truck"-like body. At work, Natalie is similarly disrespected: The office manager hands off troubleshooting tasks to Natalie; another colleague always tasks Natalie to throw out his trash; her assistant Whitney (Betty Gilpin) won't stop watching movies (rom-coms, naturally) while in the office; and Natalie is so afraid to present her ideas for more innovative parking garage designs that she isn't even widely known in the firm as an architect, and is treated like an intern.

But is Natalie just a doormat? Or is it that she isn't asking for what she wants? And isn't very nice about not getting it? If Natalie's life is any example, the bar on suffering is set pretty low for white women. In her personal life, Natalie lives alone with her dog, and seems to be pretty well-off, financially; her best friend is actually her slacker assistant, Whitney, and she's close with another coworker, Josh (Adam Devine), who gives Natalie constant emotional support. She's decidedly anti-romantic, having been told by her mother from a young age that there's no such thing as real-life fairy tales; she's level-headed and practical. But also, she's filled with self-loathing. This leads her to be crass, sarcastic, and disconnected from people. And it was this last part that was hard for me. As a fat Black woman who grew up broke, does not have an assistant, and would get fired if I didn't do my job well, it was hard, if not impossible, to root for her.

For Natalie, though, everything changes when she bangs her head while fighting off a mugger. Her mundane life is tinted through rosy rom-com glasses. Suddenly, all the things that sucked about her life are gone, and everything is beautiful and perfect. But was her life so bad before? It didn't really seem to be.

And yet, looking around the theater at the mostly white, female audience, I accepted that my feelings didn't seem to be shared. But that almost seems to be by design; this feels like a movie for a white, female audience. There is only one person of color in the movie who even has a name: It's Isabelle (Priyanka Chopra), who shows up about halfway through the film—after everything has been rom-com filtered—as a yoga ambassador and swimsuit model. But a name is all Isabella has. A supporting character at best, she doesn't have any connection to anyone other than her white boyfriend, and is sketchily drawn. We learn nothing of her familial or ethnic background, and, even when she is shown at her wedding, there is nobody from her family celebrating with her. This huge oversight is particularly bizarre, given that Natalie has already bemoaned the lack of diversity in romantic films.

Another huge oversight? The presence of the word "fat." I don't think I heard it used a single time. Natalie only references her weight indirectly, by commenting on the appearance of straight-sized women; when talking about her own body, the word "fat" is replaced with "girl like me." But by ignoring this aspect of herself, and refusing to address it head-on, Natalie is succumbing to the same fatphobia that shapes her world, whether she identifies it as being a problem or not.

Before her life becomes a rom-com, Natalie feels invisible at work and in the world. Some of this is certainly her fault, but fatphobia is also at play. Fatphobia chips away at the humanity of fat people from different angles. It means that Natalie gets used to being dehumanized; she doesn't expect others to have empathy for her when she's physically hurt, because they don't value her body. And it's no coincidence that Natalie's fantasy world includes a magically bigger apartment with unlimited clothing options, because discrimination against fat people isn't just a matter aesthetics and preferences—it affects everything from our ability to dress ourselves to our ability to make and save money, since there's a price to pay for being fat, even if it's just having to pay more to travel. Just as much as gender and race intersect with fat bodies, so, too, do economics and class.

I knew I could count on a plus-sized white comedian to take down a genre of films that prioritized thin women. But I ventured to see if Wilson could go further than that, and challenge what it means to be white and well-off and fat in the process; it isn't just about taking down rom-coms but about doing so in a way that isn't just a mouthpiece for white feminist values. But, in the end, that isn't what happened. Isn't It Romantic is fine, but it needed to do more than target an audience of girls who are 10 to 30 pounds overweight and still too jolted by the word "fat" to ever apply it to themselves, so they go for acceptable alternatives, like curvy, plus-sized—or thicc, if they're hip. But I'm not afraid to say I'm fat, I'm just disappointed I will be waiting even longer to see a realistic reflection of that experience onscreen.

Isn't It Romantic is in theaters now.