Panel No.1 of 10 from the Great Wall of Vagina by Jamie McCartney
So many vulvas - and they’re all curious, captivating, unique and unexpectedly interesting. But ugly? Not a chance.
It's Just a Vulva, People
Of course, the reason that many women struggle to love their lady bits isn’t just about how they look. All those various flaps and folds are probably just something we fixate on because we really have some other, bigger problems with what’s going on down there.
Perhaps you’ve been told that that part of your body is "private," or even "dirty." At the very least, it's generally unmentionable in "polite conversation." Your vulva just like your hands or mouth or heart, is just a part of your body, one that, like any other, we all need to learn to accept, and even love. But boy does it get a bad rap.
Case in point: A Michigan mother recently made news for trying to get the unedited version of "The Diary of a Young Girl" by Anne Frank banned from schools for being too "pornographic." Here’s one of the offending passages:
"Until I was eleven or twelve, I didn’t realize there was a second set of labia on the inside, since you couldn’t see them. What’s even funnier is that I thought urine came out of the clitoris … When you’re standing up, all you see from the front is hair. Between your legs there are two soft, cushiony things, also covered with hair, which press together when you’re standing, so you can’t see what’s inside. They separate when you sit down and they’re very red and quite fleshy on the inside. In the upper part, between the outer labia, there’s a fold of skin that, on second thought, looks like a kind of blister. That’s the clitoris."
It’s pretty easy to forgive Anne Frank’s father, Otto, for removing that and other personal sections from her diary when he published it after she perished in a concentration camp in 1945. It's a little harder to identify with the mother from Michigan, who said the passage "disturbed" her 12-year-old daughter. Apparently, the rest of the story wasn't disturbing at all.
The problem is, if we can’t even discuss this part of our bodies in an anatomical way, looking at them, liking them and (heaven forbid) playing with them, probably isn't going to go too well. (And playing is a big part of sexual health. Read more in 5 Reasons Why Masturbation Is the Greatest.)
It’s Totally Normal
Your vulva looks great. Its shape is just fine. Its smell and taste is totally and utterly normal. And don’t go looking to Google for confirmation on this, ya’ll. It’s filled with waxed, airbrushed and surgically altered bits that (while perfectly lovely), just don’t represent what most ladies have tucked into their skirts and pants. If your labia hang low, that’s cool. If your inner labia hang below the outer ones, you’re beautiful (the same goes for if they don’t!). And no matter what color, shape, size or configuration your parts are arranged in, unless they're causing you pain rather than pleasure, you can rest assured that you’re perfectly normal. ("The Big Coloring Book of Vaginas" refers to vulvas as "a fingerprint." It's also a great way to spend a rainy afternoon.)
When you think about it, your vulva is kinda like a face for your undercarriage. Now, I know that a whole lot of people get plastic surgery on their faces. And maybe they emerge from the operating room as more beautiful versions of themselves. Maybe. But when you think about it, there are two ways to look at your so-called "flaws": You could see them as something that’ll turn some people off your looks ... or you could see them as something that will turn some other people on.
After all, there are a whole lot of things in the world that look just like a vulva - like seashells (see above), and flowers, and trees, and geology and everything on this site - and we call many of those things beautiful without a second thought. But a vulva is ugly? Maybe we just don't always recognize what we've got going for us.
Just as people might be attracted to you for your delicate lips or prominent chin or a good, strong Jennifer-Grey kinda nose, they might just be gaga for what you’ve got going on below the waist too. Not because you "fixed" it, but because the way it is totally suits you. So, if your vulva isn’t a tiny, tucked in, nondescript little slit, that’s totally fine. It isn’t ugly. It just looks that way. Take my word for it. Because sometimes it's hard to recognize something beautiful, even when it's as plain as the nose on your face. (Read more about labiaplasty and other surgery in Can Plastic Surgery Lead to Better Sex?)