We all know that internet has facilitated the access to information for more than two decades. Pictures and videos have become the ULTIMATE tools to make people realise what exists around them… other than the old standards dictated by our society!
We are seeing more and more projects and individual testimonials; we are finally seeing different bodies and different vaginas and vulvas. Let’s see what’s going on and why representation maters!
The vagina, on the other hand, is hidden. It's the opening, in which you can insert thing (penis, sexual objects...).
Proud Labia Movement
Feminist groups have always promoted self-love and body positivity. In the past - also called "the pre-internet era" - they encouraged women to take a mirror and have a look at their peaches. They would also represent vulvas in art exhibitions.
Be reminded, that at the time, there were no images of vulvas on mainstream medias. Well, with one exception: pornography. Yes, we know. Not always the most representative, of our labias anyway.
Since the 2010’s, feminist groups have launched campaigns online (Large Labia Project or Courageous Cunts) and in the street (UK Feminista protest march).
They started the Labia Pride Movement in response to the rise of labiaplasty and to encourage people with vulvas to be proud of their bodies.
These groups want people to recognise that vulvas in pornography are unrealistic depictions of what's going on between our legs.
Women are undergoing surgery because they don't know what a real vulva should or shouldn't look like.
SPOILER ALERT: there’s no standard, each vulva is unique!
Instagram today is a great source of vulva representation with accounts sharing drawings, art and/or educational content :
- @the.vulva.gallery, for one, is an awesome example, go check them out!
- As The Great Wall of Vagina project states on their website,
“It’s not vulgar, it’s vulva! This isn’t just sensation, it is art with a social conscience”.
Another interesting project is the 2019 publication of “Womanhood: the bare reality” by photographer Laura Dodsworth with pictures and vulva stories of 100 women and gender non-conforming people.
Is it really helping vulvas?
Some argue these projects are actually hurting their noble cause.
Instead of reassuring people with vulvas that there's nothing wrong with them, these projects provide more examples of how they are still different!
When one person describes their lips as being large, another might think that their own are bigger, leading to more self-doubt:
Are my labia really that big? Should I do something?
According to the data gathered by the International Society of Aesthetics Plastic Surgery, labiaplasty surgeries increased by 45% worldwide between 2015 – 2016. This surgery aims to modify the labia minora (inner lips), and/or the labia majora (outer lips), to change the shape of the vulva.
In some cases, labiaplasty is necessary, for medical reasons: If the labia causes discomforts and even pain when doing daily activities (walking / running / swimming / during sex…) or when just wearing clothes. Labiaplasty is an option. This discomfort can also manifest itself later in life, as vulvas evolve and change shape over time.
Want to learn more about anatomy? Here's our article on what the vulva is.
Clinics are also marketing labiaplasty as a way to stay young. Yes, even our “down there” body parts aren’t spared by this patriarchal injustice!
It's called “Vaginal Rejuvenation”. REJUVENATION!
It sounds miraculous…, BUT it is NOT. It’s still involves surgery and all surgeries involve risks and side effects.
Additionally, there’s an increasing number of these surgeries done on teenagers, for solely aesthetic reasons. In 2016, in the US, 5% of labiaplasty patients were 16 years old or younger!
Be you and take care of you!
Our society has created this never-ending loop of self-depreciation and taboo. The most important thing to remember is, whether you decide to take a picture, draw your genitals to show them online, or just want to look at your vulva with a mirror, you can! It is YOURS and only YOURS.
You don't "have to" look at vulvas on Instagram. It's just an option, if you have questions. Just do what is best for YOU, what feels right for YOU! Ok?
And please start talking about vulvas to your friends, your sexual partner(s), and your children! Awareness should be raised at an early age. They are normal and beautiful. No one should feel ashamed by their vulva, because of some mystical standard. By talking about it and sharing, we can lift the veil and stop making it so taboo.
If you have any doubts or concerns regarding your health in that area, please ask your OBGYN and even get a second opinion if you feel like it.
Any questions, remarks, personal experiences, feel free to share in the column down bellow! <3