A SEX education teacher has swapped classroom lessons for sex myth-busting TikTok videos in her bedroom – from your first time and lube to Bridgerton.
Edinburgh University student Marlena Segar, 24, spent her free time teaching sex ed in secondary schools before becoming the assistant manager of a sex shop in 2019.
But when Marlena, from East London, lost that job last April because of the pandemic, she started her WeNudeToTalk page on TikTok – with millions of views so far.
And no topic is off the table.
One of her videos debunking myths about self-pleasure went viral in early May, hitting one million views in less than a week and 2.3 million to date.
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Marlena said: “Little did I know that, when I was sat in my sex education lessons as a teenager at school, that one day I would be debunking myths about sex on social media.”
And the TikTok star, who has been single since the Covid outbreak began, said her ideal partner has to be someone who is on board with her career.
She said she has “always been fascinated by sex” and grew up in an open household.
She recalled: “When I was about 12, my older sister was packing for a school trip and I said ‘you better take a condom’ as a joke.
“My mum overheard and asked me if I wanted to see what a condom looks like, so she got a packet and showed us.”
But Marlena said her experience of sex education in school was not quite so open and only covered the basics.
She recalled: “We only learned about penis and vagina sex, how to put a condom on – that was a fun class – and we had nurses come in and teach us about the different forms of contraception.
“There were no conversations about consent, LGBTQ relationships or anything other than sex for procreative purposes. It was a very mechanical, fact-based education.”
Marlena, who lost her virginity aged 17, is now hoping to help teens with her TikTok videos.
Marlena – who most closely identifies as being bisexual – couldn’t shake her fascination with sex while studying social and economic history with environmental studies at uni.
In January 2016, in the second term of her first year, she started volunteering for Sexpression:UK, an independent charity that teaches secondary school students about sex.
Unlike her own education, Marlena would teach pupils about topics such as unhealthy and healthy relationships, porn and gender.
“A lot of the time the class were actually pretty silent – I’d like to think they were taking it all in,” she laughed.
As the end of her studies neared, Marlena applied for an assistant manager job at Sh! Emporium in London, a female-focused sex shop that also specialised in educational classes.
She said: “The interview was fairly standard, but I do remember walking past their sex-toy making laboratory, which they did in house – that was pretty exciting.
“I only had three weeks off after finishing uni before starting my job.”
In her role, she said highlights included helping two female friends in their 70s buy their first vibrators, and leading workshops about kink and tying your partner up.
And after being made redundant in lockdown she took all the skills she had learnt and channelled them into her social media accounts, starting WeNudeToTalk on TikTok weeks later.
And realising she had hit on a good formula, Marlena now regularly reaches more than 100,000 viewers per video from her bedroom, dispelling myths on topics from periods to penises and critiquing the way sex is portrayed in popular Netflix period drama Bridgerton.
A champion of self-expression, proudly growing out her own body hair, Marlena’s tongue-in-cheek style has proven a hit with her audience and she now has 70.4K followers and rising.
She said: “The views are great, and it’s brilliant to be spreading the message. But it is when individuals reach out in the comments or message me and tell me how important these videos are to their lives that it is all worthwhile.
“I’ve had people tell me they come from really conservative backgrounds and their parents would never have told them what I’ve been speaking about.”
But posting about sex education often sees her under fire from social media community guidelines.
She said: “I’ve had several videos taken down for ‘nudity and adult content’, but once I’ve flagged them as ‘educational’ they are normally put back up again.
“It seems that the algorithms pick up on certain words – so like many other people posting about sex, I have to say ‘s3x’ instead.
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“It is annoying, because it’s just reinforcing the stigma against talking openly about sex.”
While continuing to grow her online presence, Marlena is planning to begin sex therapy training in September.
And she is determined to do everything she can to make sex seem a little less scary to young people.
She said: “When I was 12, I wanted to be a YouTube star and I wrote a list of types of content I could create.
“Sex education was definitely not on the list – but I’ve kind of fulfilled 12-year-old me’s dreams, even if it was not in the way I expected.
“I’m so glad I’ve been able to share this information that young people need to have.”
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