In the August issue of InStyle, Janelle Monáe echoes a sentiment I’ve been saying my entire adult life: “‘If my mother had let me have a vibrator at a young age to be in touch with my body more, I could have saved myself from so many poor decisions.”

Preach, queen.

I first discovered the power of my pussy on the yellow bath rug in my parents' bathroom. Behind locked doors, I self-explored between ballet lessons, "The Brady Bunch" and bedtime. I was 6 years old. And I recall getting scolded for it – and every subsequent session of self-love my mother walked in on. It didn’t stop me though from pleasuring myself, though. I just became far more stealthy, learned to lock doors and wait until I was supposed to be asleep.

The shaming continued when I lost my virginity to a smooth-talking lacrosse player at the age of 15. When my mother found out I'd had sex, she called me a slut. (The condom broke, my period was late, and I confided in a friend; my mother eavesdropped on the phone call.)

My father, on the other hand, was convinced I'd been sexually assaulted. Despite my assertions, they would not - could not - accept it was a consensual act. This key moment was a prime opportunity to talk about sex, safer sex (including birth control), and pleasure, yet no conversation happened. Instead, I got grounded for two weeks.

To this day, the words, “Who’s going to want you now?” are etched in my mind.

At the ripe old age of 15, I was deemed damaged goods. (I’d later learn that lots of people do indeed want me and I’d embrace my true, slutty self. So there.)

When my mother died two years later, I went out and bought my first vibrator. At the time, I was fumbling my way in and out of partners' pants and enjoyed the process well enough, but most of my sexual experiences were, well, mediocre at best. I figured if other people couldn’t please me, I needed to please myself and took that (battery operated) power into my own hands.

My vibrator became my trusty companion and knowing I could pleasure myself – on my terms, without a partner or contracting an STI or getting knocked up – was a powerful tool in my late teenage years and early 20s as I explored my sexuality.

Growing up, I wish there had been a more positive dialogue around my relationship with my body and genitals. Like, cultivating a mindset where masturbation is a perfectly normal thing to do, but something that’s done in private. I also wish there’d been a conversation about owning my pleasure. If I’d felt marginally “good enough,” much less had any scrap of sexual agency, I'm 100% certain I would've made smarter sexual decisions and experienced more pleasure in my formative years.

I would’ve loved for this conversation to coincide around when I got my first period. (Bonus context of my woefully uninformed childhood: I was in sixth grade, and it happened during my 11th birthday party at the John Pancott Gymnastics Center. I was wearing a blue and white striped leotard paired with white tights, which is not the greatest outfit for concealing what looked like a murder scene. While my middle school besties scarfed down Berwyn Pizza and Rice Krispie Treats, I sat in a bathroom stall, scared and embarrassed, stuffing wads of toilet paper in my vagina, because I didn’t know what else to do.)

PSA, parents: Please talk to your kids about puberty.

As I navigated cramps and hormones and having mad crushes left and right, I didn’t have the tools to make informed decisions. If I’d had a better association with my body and pleasure, instead of being shamed and trying so hard to be a people-pleaser, (aka, focused on HIS pleasure), it would’ve been much easier to get myself off and ease the hormonal angst (not to mention relieve cramps). The greatest gift my parents could’ve given me would’ve been a vibrator. I am 100% certain if I’d been able to harness the power of self-love, I would’ve waited on a lot of activity and been more selective.

It’s OK if you’re a parent and don’t play with sex toys. Please don’t let that deter you from buying one for your kid. And if shopping for a vibrator for your kid is intimidating (we totally understand why it may be), shop an online store that has a lot of information, resources, and customer-service reps available via chat or on the phone. Orders will arrive in discreet packaging. You have nothing to worry about.

As for a recommendation, LELO’s Ina Wave is a sexy device that takes dual-action stimulation a step further with come-hither motion on the G-spot (think finger banging, but with no muscle fatigue).

Like Monáe, masturbation brings me immense amounts of pleasure. I only wish it had been encouraged at a younger age, with the option of a vibrator, so I would not have missed out on so many yummy feels and orgasms – all by myself.