By Molly Freeman
Self portrait of Kendra Wells. Courtesy of Kendra Wells.
Everyone has seen—and possibly made fun of—those silly tips given to women usually by magazines like Cosmo, Teen Vogue, Glamour, and Seventeen. They tend to focus on how a woman can improve upon pleasing her man and often veer into the ridiculous.
Cosmo has gotten most the flack for these silly sex tips, which have become somewhat of a joke to many people. Christian Madera wrote a list for Cracked.com of the “7 Sex Tips from Cosmo That Will Put You in the Hospital”. Madera argues against such tips as “Yanking his crotch hair” and “giving him a sneezegasm” among others that sound much more dangerous than pleasurable.
Last year, Alternet writer Anna Pulley attempted some of Cosmo’s tips and she relayed her findings in her piece “I Tried Cosmo’s ‘Weirdest Sex Tips So You Don’t Have To.’” Pulley tested out the tip that would cause a “sneezegasm”, which includes snorting pepper. (It’s a real thing, no one is making this up.) Pulley’s takeaway from the experience was: “You sneeze, you lose. Also, my college degree should probably be revoked.”
The Tumblr blog, Exxxpert Cosmo Tips, creates, posts, and reblogs hilarious parody versions of typical sex tips from the magazine. Some examples are “Cosmo Tip #9: When he least expects it, punch him right in the face” and “Cosmo Tip #35: Bring him small dead animals as tokens of your affection and displays of your hunting prowess.”
Kendra Wells, an illustrator and comic artist from New York City, took the parodies of Cosmo tips to the next level in her comic series, Girl Tips. The comics, posted by The Toast, range in topics from girl etiquette to street harassment to fart/poop jokes.
Wells recently spoke to BTR about the inspiration and thought process that went into producing Girl Tips. When she heard that The Toast was looking for art and comic submissions, she pitched a series giving advice to ladies in a parody of those women’s magazine tips.
“Not so much sex tips and grooming tricks as celebrating the highly-guarded grossness that lurks within feminine-type people,” Wells explains. “Basically, I wanted to make something I thought was funny, and I think fart jokes are funny.”
The content of Girl Tips is as true to life as possible since Wells pulls from her own experiences. For instance, Girl Tips #9 depicts a woman who accidentally drinks a whole bottle of wine, which has happened to Wells. The comics that cover street harassment are also inspired by her day-to-day life, though they don’t necessarily depict what actually happened, but rather what she wish she had done in response.
“My revenge against catcallers and rude people is secretly putting them in mean comic strips on the internet, and it’s been pretty satisfying thus far,” she muses.
Wells has received mostly positive responses to her comics despite the at times touchy subjects; they are meant to elicit a laugh, after all. She explains that Girl Tips is supposed to question how women are treated in comedy.
Women shouldn’t be the butt of the jokes, but rather, they should be on an equal playing field. Wells references the 2011 comedy Bridesmaids because it was one of the first films to so blatantly have women broach “immature” subjects usually reserved for men, like gross poop jokes.
The Girl Tips series is meant to have a feminist slant and poke fun of old stereotypical feminine roles that have been enforced for many decades by magazines like Cosmo. Though the blog Exxxpert Cosmo Tips as well as Madera and Pulley have questioned the sex aspect of Cosmo’s famous tips, Wells is broadening the scope to include other aspects of women’s lives.
“Truly, the most important feminist issue is the freedom to make gross poop jokes,” she says, ”and I aspire to contribute to that.”
If it makes her audience uncomfortable to think or talk about women pooping, farting, or doing any other natural bodily function, Wells finds it only indicative of getting her point across.
“I want to challenge people’s ideas of femininity and society’s weird squeaky clean pedestal that [it has] forced women to occupy,” Wells explains.
The three installments of Girl Tips, posted between August and November of last year, have become popular on Twitter and Tumblr, according to Wells, and she would love to keep writing and drawing new additions to the series.
“I have a fairly unending source of frustrations and things I want to complain about,” says Wells. “As long as people keep wanting to read silly comics about not shaving and drinking too much, I’ll be continuing to draw them.”