Wednesday 8 January 2014

Does My Vulva Look Big In This?

Following on from the seemingly very popular theme of writing fairly explicit blogs on taboo subjects, we come to today's frankly titled piece 'does my vulva look big in this?'

The reason I chose this somewhat direct title was manyfold, but first and foremost it is to serve to blow the lid off another extremely taboo area for open discussion, the wonderful diversity of women's genitalia. Now, you may wonder why so, and why the play-on-words title? We've all heard the question "does my bum look big in this" which has become an almost ironic statement in it's chronic overuse, yet it masks something deeper and far more distressing, the fact that so many women suffer body dysmorphia to some degree or another. 

Body dysmorphia is a condition in which you see yourself as disproportionately different to how you actually look, and how others see you. "Oh my god, I'm so gross" "Oh my good look at my arms, I can't wear that" etc, and yet it would seem that this works mostly one way, in the way of women wanting to be slimmer, skinnier, more toned, more lean, and not so with slender women wanting to be bigger. I don't think I've ever heard an 'oh my god I look too skinny in that" and yet I'm sure as many naturally slim women struggle with their body image as do larger, more curvaceous women, largely due to the 'public gaze' and the common icons of perfection presented to us as our aspirations and ideals for beauty. Ultimately, the female form is massively diverse and yet the mainstream media work hard to convince us that any shape outside this perfect ideal is unattractive, and what absolute bollocks that is! 

Today's post is not to focus on this subject though, it's to go one step further into the no-go zone of the discussion of women's vaginas, labia and vulvas, and how here is one area we would rarely be able to joke about or say out loud (as with the bum question) despite the fact there is a pit of hidden insecurity around it.

Whilst on my tantric path, I have heard so many women voicing deep dissatisfaction and self hatred over the subject of their labia and vulvas. All this pain and yet the truly sad thing is that the diversity in this part of our bodies is as different as the colour of our eyes, and some of us do indeed need a map to find out own way there, never mind a way into willingness to share this part of ourselves joyfully with our lovers. 

In tantric teachings, good ones that is, I've been fortunate enough to witness many women really transforming the way they feel about their genitals. Women with large labia discovering they're not the only ones, women with really hairy pussies facing off women with neat little shaved ones, discussing and understanding the differences and the commonalities. How they look, smell and taste. Discussing and airing our true feelings and recognising just how much of that is a product of the perfection model we're all made to believe exists but is actually an absolute and utter myth. I recommend the book below as a starting point for conversation, currently available from Amazon; basic but helpful. Tell yourself, tell your daughters and your granddaughters, tell your mothers (they often came from generations where it was even harder to talk about this stuff). 

I also recommend that women start to seriously blow the lid off these subjects of taboo conversation by getting the truth out there, by replacing the lies with the wise! Some women, like my friend Thea (who has shared this in her recent book 'Growing into Myself' so I'm not speaking inappropriately about her private stuff here) undergo surgery on their labia for real reasons of physical pain. Some of us are seduced into considering it simply as cosmetic beautification and this is where it gets truly disturbing. Surgery to tighten our yoni's, replace our hymens, cut our labia, or remove our clitorises, this is where my temperature starts to rise really rapidly. STOP! Refuse this affront to our womanhood, and dive instead into the pleasure to be experienced in our bodies and our naturalness when we finally begin to realise that there is no such thing as a 'normal' vagina. No such thing as a 'normal' labia, normal vulva, normal bum or normal body. They're alien constructs a bit like those baby charts that give new parents endless reason to worry where none is necessary. It took me three children before I started ignoring those dots on the charts telling me my baby was 'out of normal range' - "Great! I'm so glad to hear that" would be my response now, "and tell me, what is normal anyway!"

So let's start this dialogue, the one about our less than perfect bodies, for we look more like this:

than this:

And as we can see from the image above, 'this' doesn't even exist! Our genitals are as diverse as our genetic blueprints so try this one out for size too, another great book for changing the way we think about  the gentitalia (women and men), their appearance and how differently we experience pleasure according to our intimate  body shape, size and form. 

And whilst you're at it, let's try giving them some positive messages. Tell them how FABULOUS they are and if you can't do that, at least try and befriend them just that tiny bit more, as step by step we heal our wounds. And you could start by visiting this wonderful bunch (click link) - workshop coming to Manchester very soon…register your interest here! 

*painted image of two women above by Aleah Chapin


  1. Cuntcraft - excellent! Made me think of this too:

  2. hi Anna, yes! love that project. Thanks for sharing it here, the more info the more openness. For anyone unable to access the link, google search 'Great Wall Of Vagina'

  3. Great words, Steph. I love your openness and authenticity. Odd that female genitals seem to be just one of the last taboos given that they are spread all over the internet and other places. A mysoginism, I think, propagated by loads of us as well as men. The fears of each sex around these parts is different, though, I think. Actual fear and sometimes a tinge of disgust in men and shame, fear of not being acceptable in women. A simplification, no doubt, but also truth.
    Physiology doesn't help - even naked our genitals are largely hidden unlike your out-there willy. It's easier to be silly/joke/friendly about penises because they are so very much there and unable to hide.
    The relative perceived power of each is evident in the use of slang terms as insults. Referring to someone as a dick or prick implies that they are silly or daft but it's not that bad, not these days anyway. Call someone a cunt and you're getting serious. Twat does seem to be entering the mainstream, though, and is therefore robbed of its offensiveness to some degree. It might even be joining prick and dick in its daft implications.
    I'm rambling. Sunday afternoon plonk and a paper next reckon.I reckon.

  4. Such an important topic! thanks for this x