STI shaming is a real thing, and it's not cool. Here's one woman's story.

What do you know about STI stigma? A new video shines a light on the work one activist is doing.

You might have heard about the "What's Underneath Project," a video series by StyleLikeU. Each video features people who, over the course of the video, take off articles of clothes while sharing stories about loving and accepting themselves.

The series has featured rock stars and actresses. Now, it features Ella Dawson.



All GIFs from StyleLikeU.

Ella Dawson is a fearless advocate in the fight against stigma — in her case, the stigma surrounding STIs.

STI is short for sexually transmitted infection, but you might be more familiar with the terms STD and sexually transmitted disease (there's a slight difference between STI and STD).

Ella has herpes. She's OK with it, and you should be, too.

When it comes to STIs, people make a lot of assumptions. Most of the time, they're way off base.

People often see STIs as something someone gets as "punishment" for sleeping around. But to Ella, slut-shaming and STI stigma are two sides of the same coin.

"For me, the work I'm doing is so shaped by my feminism and by my personal experience that I don't know how you can talk about STI stigma and herpes stigma without talking about slut-shaming," she says in her video.


In the video, Ella explains a relationship with a guy that quickly turned abusive because of that stigma.

Though he didn't immediately break up with her, he held Ella's herpes diagnosis over her head as a sort of trump card to excuse abusive behavior — and for a while, she says, it worked.

"Whenever he did anything wrong, it came back to, 'But I'm such a great guy because I'm staying with you,'" she adds. Spoiler alert: it turns out he might have been the one to give her herpes, not the other way around.



I wanted to learn how this translates to a wider audience, so I reached out to Ella to chat.

"As much as not everyone gets an STI, emotional abuse is so universal," she told me. "It's terrible and common and so hard to talk about. Especially that gross 'I can't be awful if I did this one moderately decent thing!' A healthy relationship isn't keeping score of positive and negative behavior."

"The only way I'm going to get through this is if I write about it ... if I let it matter to me in ways that are healthy," she said.

It's through her writing and her activism that Ella came to accept herself, which is pretty amazing.

"STIs are so stigmatized, they're seen as a reflection of someone's character, and the public feels entitled to information that they think shows who someone 'really is,'" she said.

"But everyone can get an STI regardless of their lifestyle or their morals, so STIs don't really tell us anything that we have a right to know. At the end of the day, the only people owed that information about someone are their partners and their doctor. I'm this public about my status because I want to be, not because I should have some scarlet 'H' on all my clothes."


For more of Ella's story, check out the full video below.

"Generation X" got its name in the early '90s from an article turned book by Canadian writer Douglas Coupland. And ever since, they've been fighting or embracing labels like "slacker" and "cynic." That is, until Millennials came of age and all that "you kids today" energy from older generations started to get heaped on them. Slowly, Gen X found they were no longer being called slackers... they weren't even being mentioned at all. And that suits them just fine.

Here are 17 memes that will resonate with just about anyone born between 1965 and 1980.

Gen X basically invented "Whatever."

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Until recently, Generation X has been sitting back and watching as Millennials and Boomers eat each other with an amused, non-confrontational attitude. But recently, Millennials and Gen Z became aware of their presence, and dubbed them "The Karen generation."


They seem to be embracing the Karen thing.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

While I"m pretty sure the "Karen" thing is not complimentary — as BuzzFeed puts it, it's meant to communicate someone who is "the middle-aged white mom who is always asking for the manager and wondering why kids are so obsessed with their identities," lots of people landed on a different Karen to represent the generation: the martini-guzzling, wise-cracking Karen Walker.


Get it right!

gen n memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Well [expletive] me gently with a chainsaw, she's right. The 1980s cult classic starring Winona Ryder and Shannen Doherty really is the Mean Girls of the '80s and a much better term than Karen


The disdain is mutual...

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Most of my Gen X friends have Gen Z kids and they are intergenerationally very chill with each other. However, Gen X is the generation most likely to have Boomer parents and younger millennial kids, and this meme seems to be resonating a bunch with Xers of a certain age.


A lot of Xers are enjoying the "OK boomer" squabble.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITER

The media tends to ignore Generation X as a whole — as a few tweets coming up demonstrate — and this pleases Gen X just fine. After all, they're used to it. They were latchkey kids whose parents both worked long hours, so they're used to being somewhat neglected.


A whole mood.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Gen X: "Look, don't pull us into this. You'll make me spill my beer."


Gen X: Get used to it.

gen x memes

Perhaps Gen X's blasé attitude to the generation wars has something to do with being called "Slackers" for a full decade.


Pass the popcorn.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Aside from this whole "Karen generation" blip, Gen X continues to be largely overlooked, and that fact — as well as their silent delight in it — is possibly one of the most Generation X things to happen to the class of 1965 to 1980.


Pay no attention to the man behind the venetian blinds.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITER

Back in the '90s, Gen X bore the same kind of criticism Boomers tend to heap on Millennials and Gen Z now. It's not necessarily that they want to watch a cage match. It's just they're so relieved it's someone else being called slackers and downers for a change.


See?

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Although this chart doesn't list the generation names, the approximate age ranges are all there... except for a big gap between the ages of 34 and 54 where apparently no humans were born? Poor Gen X (and some elder Millennials) apparently don't have political beliefs worth examining.


Don't you forget about me...

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

If Millennials are the "burnout generation," I guess Gen X is truly the invisible generation. I'm starting to feel inspired to write a science fiction novel where everyone born from 1966 to 1980 inhabits a totally different dimension.


There are perks to being invisible...

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Being overlooked can be an advantage when you just want to sit in the corner and be immature. Gen X spent all of the 90s being told they were immature slackers, and in their 40s, a lot of them are really leaning into that description, because what does it matter?


"No one cares what we think anyway..."

This GIF of Janeane Garofolo mocking her classmates at the high school reunion is basically a whole Gen X mood and definitely captures how a lot of this generation caught in the middle feels about the "OK boomer" wars.


Party on.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Before Brené Brown was telling us all how to dare greatly, Gen X got their inspirational advice from a different kind of TED and his pal Bill, who taught us all how important it is to learn from history and be excellent to each other.


Too late and yet too early.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITER

Romance — or getting lucky — was never easy for Generation X. They were the generation most impacted by the AIDS epidemic when it comes to anxiety about casual sex. Whereas Boomers had the free love of the late '60s, Gen X was about safe sex, which usually meant less sex. And even when having safe casual sex, singles in the '90s had to meet people the old-fashioned way or, if they did meet online, they felt shame over it. Now online dating is the norm.


When Gen X replaces the Boomers.

gen x memes

This is probably an optimistic view — because the truth is there are "Boomers" in every generation, and many of them tend to find their way into powerful positions. Let's call this a best case scenario, though.


The Nihilism Generation

gen x memes

There is no generation more over it than Gen X. They are ready for the apocalypse, but don't expect them to, like, help or anything!