Vulva Shaming – for real? We need vagina confidence

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Our bodies are different, and so are our genitals. That’s a fact. We could just accept the premise, maybe even be proud of the uniqueness of our most private body parts, but some women have chosen to follow a terrifying trend – vulva shaming. The vulva is actually the outermost, visible part of the vagina; and some people think it’s ugly. Unfortunately, the belief does little more to our sexual lives than foster inhibition. But what exactly is driving women to feel ashamed of their vulvas?

The reasons are manifold

#1: Designer genitalia courtesy of the porn industry

We live in a visually sexualized world – candid posts on social media, sexualized adverts and vast porn data banks –beauty ideals are being propagated here. Although a growing number of women are now opting for a natural bush, the trend to remove every last patch of body hair has shown to be persistent and put a spotlight on our genitals. It’s only natural that some of us are beginning to compare themselves to others and have become hung-up on the topic.

But what does an ideal vulva actually look like? It radiates youth of course! It must be discreet and symmetrical. The outer labia should be no larger than the inner labia. And if you’re over 30 years old and your vulva’s skin tone has naturally darkened, it’s game over for you anyway. As if!

#2: A good vulva is invisible

Outside of the bedroom, a vulva shouldn’t even be noticeable. But be careful ladies: if you’re wearing skin-tight clothes, watch out for the dreaded camel toe – the natural side effect of having an actual vagina. We can’t all be Barbie.

One must only examine the bronze statue of Christiano Ronaldo – the gigantic bulge beneath his football shorts – to be genuinely perplexed by the discriminative nature of the genital display. What even is that? A donkey hanger? Whilst she hopes that nobody can spot anything, he is celebrated for showing off what mother nature has gifted him.

#3: When vaginas are just pussies

Our disturbed relationship to our genitals is also mirrored in our use of language. No man would ever speak shamefaced of his ‘willy’ or his ‘diddly’ – unless he’s 11 years old perhaps. Meanwhile, adult women babble on about their ‘flowers’ or ‘fannies’.

#4: Swear words and bad jokes

Too many synonyms for ‘vagina’ are a bad idea and the worst offenders among them tend to be regularly used as swear words (‘cunt’ or ‘pussy’ for example). Meanwhile, the penis enjoys the use of more heroic positive vocabulary such as ‘hammer’, ‘ladder’ or the ‘boner’.

But that’s not all. Can you think of a bad joke about penis odor? Not many come to mind. Vaginas on the other hand are always ‘fish shops’. Even children laugh about it. It’s complete nonsense, because a fishy smell is likely the consequence of a vaginal bacterial imbalance and is easily rectified.

#5: The vagina as a sterile zone

However, there’s little point in putting all the blame on men, because women equally contribute to the problem. Using the hashtag #Pantychallenge, some ladies have posted images of their sparkling clean panties to declare: no vaginal discharge here! Ouch.

The beauty industry isn’t helping matters. A large assortment of female intimate care products project the message loud and clear: smells, secretions and hair growth aren’t tolerable. There must be truth to it then, or is there? No! The best intimate care involves regular washing using nothing but good old lukewarm water.

Vulva shaming robs us of sexual pleasure!

It’s hardly surprising then that many women have come to believe that there is something wrong with their vulvas. Sadly, this has an effect on how sexy they perceive themselves to be. A negative body awareness hardly leads to liberated sexual experiences; lights off during sex and no oral sex – ever. Someone could be disgusted…

Let’s break through the patterns of vulva shaming

We need to begin to realize just how elementary a vagina is. It’s an excretory organ, a reproductive tool and a pleasure center. Shouldn’t we show more appreciation, respect and dedication for the vagina? The vulva is a miracle. Let’s stop using vagina synonyms to insult each other! And how about we refrain from belittling the organ unless we’re speaking to a child.

There’s beauty in variety! The “Vulva Gallery”

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the beauty of visual diversity! “The Vulva Gallery”, a book by Hilde Atalanta, shows just how much beauty there is in our physical differences. The illustrator uses watercolors to paint mesmerizing genital portraits of real vulvas – they’re worth seeing!

Power of knowledge against vulva shaming; and gratefulness!

Once and for all: vaginas are not disgusting. Intimate odor isn’t disgusting, at least not when genitals receive regular cleaning. On the contrary, partners who desire us may even be turned on by our personal odors. Vaginal discharge is the product of a healthy, natural self-cleansing process. Menstruation isn’t embarrassing. That’s just how biology works.

Lastly, without vaginas life would be boring; we wouldn’t have any fun, and we’d not even be alive.


Author: Katharina Leiber

Photo by Jan Kleinerton Unsplash

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