Here's the lowdown on how to subscribe to Allure's print edition for more beauty routines, recommendations, and features. What defines a fetish, though, isn't what the activity or object of desire is so much as the role it plays in someone's life. While people use the terms "fetish" and "kink" interchangeably, a kink means an activity or behavior that someone enjoys that exists outside the "norm" of "traditional" sex. Someone's kink may be bondage, and they may be incredibly excited when they're tied up
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Although kink is becoming increasingly mainstream, most of it is still rooted in subcultures. A fetish technically refers to an attraction to an inanimate object, although this includes body parts, such as feet like a foot fetish. Kink means sexual activities that fall outside of sex that society traditionally considers acceptable. That can include everything from role-playing to Shibari to impact play. Have I lost you yet? To better orient yourself in the world of kink, check out this glossary Glamour created of 26 fairly common kink words—one for each letter of the alphabet, of course.
Experts weigh in on whether mental illness is involved when people have fetishes such as bondage, obsession with feet, or adult diapers. Some people become sexually aroused by an object or part of the body that's not typically considered sexual, such as feet or hair. Others may develop a liking for a particular lifestyle that allows them to live out their fetish or interest in erotic role-playing, such as bondage, dominance, submission, and sadomasochism BDSM. Fetishes and alternative erotic lifestyles come in a wide variety of forms, from common to extreme.
Practitioners of sadomasochism may seek sexual gratification from their acts. While the terms sadist and masochist refer respectively to one who enjoys giving and receiving pain, practitioners of sadomasochism may switch between activity and passivity. Sadomasochism is not considered a clinical paraphilia unless such practices lead to clinically significant distress or impairment for a diagnosis.