Every woman is unique and so is her vulva. And yet many adult women struggle with the physical appearance of their genitals. Hilde Atalanta is trying to change this frame of mind with The Vulva Gallery.
It’s hardly news that feminine ideals of beauty in our society are over the top and unrealistic. Everywhere we look, it seems, we are now presented with (supposedly) perfect female bodies. The same unreal standards are also applied to our genitals. Thanks to the increasing prevalence of Internet pornography, many women now feel that their vulvas need to look perfect. It comes as no surprise then that online forums are packed with questions such as “Is my vagina normal?” or “My inner labia are huge – what can I do?” Indeed, many women are ashamed of their vulva. This in turn has led to a boom in the business of intimate surgeries. Designer vaginas are now more fashionable than ever before. However, vulvas are just as unique as women themselves. Big, small, fat, thin, curly, smooth, dark, bright – anything is possible. And all of them are beautiful.
The Vulva Gallery: Love your Vulva!
It’s this wonderful diversity that Hilde Atalanta documents on her Instagram account and website “The Vulva Gallery“. Working in watercolors, the illustrator from Amsterdam paints vulvas in a variety of shapes and symmetries. Some vulvas are painted with pubic hair, others without; some are painted with a little menstrual blood, others with a small tampon ribbon trailing out; in some drawings the clitoris or piercings are visible. The Vulva Gallery by Hilde Atalanta shows just how beautiful and different our vulvas really are.
The illustrator came up with the idea while sitting in a lecture that discussed the marked increase in labia corrections in recent years. “I noticed that representations of vulvas in the mainstream media often lack in diversity, and that there aren’t many people who speak openly about genital diversity. It also occurred to me that also during sexual health classes as a kid and teenager I had never learned about genital diversity”, the illustrator explains in the interview with O*Diaries. Hilde is clear about this: No woman should feel compelled to beautify her vulva for purely cosmetic reasons. That’s why she launched The Vulva Gallery!
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“By illustrating a wide range of vulvas in all shapes and colours, and opening up conversation about diversity, body positivity, and vulva-related topics I want to show that natural variety is a beautiful thing, and that the natural human body is wonderful,” Hilde continues.
When painting, the illustrator doesn’t only use her imagination, but her education. “At university, I studied clinical psychology, and then in my last year I opted to take a sexology module,” said Hilde. Furthermore, as public awareness about The Vulva Gallery grows, more and more people have begun to introduce themselves to Hilde and asked her to paint their own vulvas for the project.
We think Hilde’s work to promote more self-love is fabulous! Our genitals – female or male – should not be judged against the ‘ideals’ of an industry.