Vibrators did not land very high on my list of priorities as a nineteen year old, but I also lived one block from a bright purple building with the words “XXX ADULT XXX” painted in bright red and black. I was desperately curious.
When I finally worked up the nerve to go inside, the most prominent fixture was the middle aged man who stood behind the counter with hair that reminded me of Dog The Bounty Hunter. Thankfully, the many explicit DVDs lining the shelves served as a distraction.
In the center of the small room was a clearance bin, and being the near-penniless, bargain-savvy teen that I was, I began sorting through masturbation sleeves and remote control bullets. Upon finding a $15 red, glittery jelly vibrator that happened to require the only kind of batteries I had at home, I went to the register to shyly purchase my first ever sex toy. It was a moment that would have Ilana from Broad City cheering.
Bubbling with excitement over the unknown pleasures I was about to unlock, I hustled down the street, sneaking in my house so my roommate wouldn’t hear me come in with my secret goodies. Upon placing the cheap jiggling thing against my body, it dawned on me that everyone who had ever claimed to enjoy vibrators was either an idiot or a liar. It was such a stupid purchase, I decided, a complete waste of money. Worst of all, it was boring. I begrudgingly wrapped it up inside the paper bag I’d brought it home in and threw it in the trash. At least Ilana would have been proud of me for trying.
Fast forward to a few years later, when I began working at a feminist-focused sex shop.
Owned by a professor of human sexuality, the shop works as a center for sex education and quality sex toys. After a few months getting accustomed to products, I purchased the Vibratex Mystic Wand, and oh, did my anti-vibrator tune change. I had gone from thinking vibrators weren’t for me to an absolute believer. The Mystic was so rumbly! So powerful! It was just so very… effective. I’ve sang its praises ever since.
What I wish I had known before buying my very first vibrator is that a cheap vibrator will almost always feel like a cheap vibrator. Meanwhile, there are a dizzying number of luxury sex toys that are sure to turn any naysayer into a full-fledged convert, and your pleasure deserves the investment.
This is not to say you can’t get a quality sex toy for a respectably affordable sum, but a $15 vibrator is simply not of the same as a $150 vibrator that will likely last for years — and comes with a good warranty in case it suffers an early death (that’s right, vibrators have warranties!).
Another aspect of sex toys I wish I known about sooner is safety. This industry is unregulated, which means that there’s no one making sure those inexpensive anal beads are safe except the sellers who go the extra mile to ensure the safety of their customers. Phthalates, a plastic softener found in jelly and other various sex toy materials, are known to be toxic and yet they still show up in sex toys left and right from lower quality companies who care more about making a buck than providing their patrons with healthy orgasms.
Companies dedicated to serving their community well often have to charge more; you’re paying for the peace of mind that comes with buying from a reputable source, not to mention the quality materials those companies are using to create outstanding products. Akin to purchasing organic vegetables from your local farmer’s market rather than the outlet grocer’s sale section, you are paying a company you believe in to provide you with a product they believe in. These relationships are give and take, and you can always wait for the really good sales if those price tags aren’t quite within your budget.
That first jelly vibe of mine was such a disappointment, so it brings me such joy to provide others with the knowledge they need to make an informed decision about buying sex toys. When I recommend a product to someone, it is because I know it’s safe, the price matches the quality, and I can bet that the person in question is going to genuinely love what they take home (unlike “Dog the Bounty Hunter” who let me waste 15 bucks on glittery plastic).
Bottom line: your body deserves the investment.