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

She's overcoming shame and stigma in a big way.

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.

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I'm staring at my screen watching the President of the United States speak before a stadium full of people in North Carolina. He launches into a lie-laced attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and the crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!"

The President does nothing. Says nothing. He just stands there and waits for the crowd to finish their outburst.

WATCH: Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after he criticizes Rep. Ilhan Omar www.youtube.com

My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

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Policing women's bodies — and by consequence their clothes — is nothing new to women across the globe. But this mother's "legging problem" is particularly ridiculous.

What someone wears, regardless of gender, is a personal choice. Sadly, many folks like Maryann White, mother of four sons, think women's attire — particularly women's leggings are a threat to men.

While sitting in mass at the University of Notre Dame, White was aghast by the spandex attire the young women in front of her were sporting.

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Men are sharing examples of how they step up and step in when they see problematic behaviors in their peers, and people are here for it.

Twitter user "feminist next door" posed an inquiry to her followers, asking "good guys" to share times they saw misogyny or predatory behavior and did something about it. "What did you say," she asked. "What are your suggestions for the other other men in this situation?" She added a perfectly fitting hashtag: #NotCoolMan.

Not only did the good guys show up for the thread, but their stories show how men can interrupt situations when they see women being mistreated and help put a stop to it.

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