Love Thy Labia - Boosting Your Vulvasteem!
Here at Va Va Womb we love to celebrate the diversity of vulvas because it's so important that we know how beautiful and NORMAL our vulvas all are.
Watch this space for our Vulva self portrait project. You may upload either a drawing, painting or a REAL selfie of your vulva with a short letter, poem or story to our site and we will be creating a full gallery of vulvas and the stories behind them which can be totally anonymous.
The vulva includes your labia (majora and minora), urethra, clitoral hood, glans clitoris and your vaginal opening sits inside.
Labia majora does not mean this labia has to be longer or larger, it just means it sits on the outside.
Labia minora does not mean it has to be smaller or hidden, it just means it sits between the outer labia and is closest to your vaginal opening.
Your labia, is lovely. There is no normal.
As a woman who was diagnosed with MRKH at 16 years old, I had a tainted relationship with my whole body. MRKH means I have no womb, cervix and my vagina (internally) was absent until I went through a process called Vaginal Dilating.
So given internally I didn't feel enough as a woman, my vulva-steem had never existed and by this point totally shattered. I remember conversations at school, cringeworthy as a 14 year old, "does your fanny poke out or in", all the girls would answer "ewwwwww no who's goes out!?". Labia and Vulva were not words I used as a teenager, and labia minora living beyond the labia majora was something to be embarrassed about.
You're more of a "boy with unfinished balls" or a "bacon sandwich". We didn't use social media, we were not shown different photo's of vulvas or given a silicone vulva to look at or feel as we were a penis. Our lacking sex education fed our lacking body confidence. And then there was porn, and magazines showing people looking at our perceived view of perfect in bikini's. And if they weren't perfect there were big red circles on them - "the female package".
I contemplated labia surgery the more I got obsessed with the term "Designer Vagina". I watched porn and wondered when I'd see a vulva like mine with labia that didn't tuck neatly inside.
I never really knew if my vulva was "normal". What was normal? What did my friends' vulvas look like? Was my labia normal? After dilating, I guess I could see myself as pretty sexually confident. But I was more anxious and focussed on my vaginal canal to really care about my vulva.
Learning to love my vulva
The love I have for my vulva was predominantly curated by learning about it. I didn't know that the majority of the sexual pleasure I would ever have was in actual fact, because of my amazing vulva. I didn't know that my clitoris magically surrounded my whole vulva and there was never really need for men to get lost, it was always there- it's everywhere. I didn't know that the majority of people with a vulva had labia minora that sat naturally further out than their labia majora. I didn't know that my labia minora was in fact protecting everything inside, that it was safe, happy, and just right where it was. I didn't know my clitoris had 8000 nerve endings and that 80% orgasms are clitoral.
If I'd have known all that, I would have fell in love with my vulva much sooner. My vagina hasn't done much for my self esteem, so the power of my vulva and my knowledge surrounding it has lifted me up, as a proud vulva owner. A proud labia owner. A loud vulva enthusiast. This doesn't mean I have no insecurities at all, I even did a vulva cast with Viva La Vulva casting and cried in the process of dipping my labia lips into plaster, then being disappointed that it didn't look as pretty as some of the others afterwards. I'd be too nervous to expose this part of me online but that's not because I think it look ugly, it's because I'm still battling a societal norm - as we all are.
The more I write about, draw, look at, learn about and embrace the vulva loving world, the more I think every single vulva is beautiful and unique. Just like snow flakes.
Loving YOUR vulva
I've already mentioned it but I truly believe these platforms have boosted my vulva-steem. This is probably the best way to celebrate your vulva and see others be celebrated - so definitely check out Viva La Vulva Casting and Lydia Reeves their work and art is incredibly empowering!
A great way to celebrate vulvas is through art and self exploration!
Vulva exploration ideas:
- Get a a mirror to look at your vulva, try and label all the different parts and just admire it for a bit. Check it ALL out.
- Repeat vulva affirmations when you look at yourself naked - I call it happy-vulva-self-talk
- "I love you vulva" "Thanks for protecting me vulva" "Thank you for the way you make me feel vulva" "Vulva you are beautiful"
- Check out all the vulva positivity pages - we suggest looking at #VulvaDiversity and #LoveYourVulva
- Explore pleasure with JUST YOUR VULVA! We all grow up thinking pleasure comes from penetrative sex, when actually our vulvas are the most powerful source of pleasure (check our clitoris page to find out why!)
- We love these clitoral suction toys from Self & More
- Spend time touching your vulva in the bath
- Draw your own vulva or different shapes and sizes, you don't have to be an artist
- Get a vulva cast or just check them out! https://www.lydiareeves.com/gallery
- Create vulva art! From collage to painting to self portraits- Here's some inspiration below and we'll be popping up a separate blog about vulva art. Here's a video we put together of some of our fave body body artists
One of the most empowering pieces of art we have seen is THIS GREAT WALL OF VULVAS!
Check out The Vulva Gallery for the most diverse page of vulva art!
So, we've shared a lot about vulva positivity when it comes to how our vulva looks but what about how it feels and the health of our vulvas?
There's a huge range of vulva health conditions that can have life altering impacts on peoples lives due to the shame and stigma surrounding health in the areas commonly known as "Down there!".
Have you ever heard of these conditions!?
- Vulval lichen sclerosus
- Persistant genital arousal
- Vulval lichen planus
- Vulval eczema
- Vulval lichen simplex
- Vulval psoriasis
- Vulval intraepithelial neoplasia
- Vulval pain syndromes
At Va Va Womb we do not offer medical advice (although it's on the cards!), our aim is to ensure conversations surrounding our health are not stigmatised- by celebrating the conversation surrounding our bodies we can feel empowered to talk more openly about our health; vulvas and vaginas included! We want to ensure you never feel alone and if you're going through something with your vulva- always seek help. Speak to someone, speak to your GP, please don't feel ashamed or embarrassed because vulvas are just as important as getting our boobs, hearts or minds checked!
What to look out for?
Just as we feel for lumps in our breasts, we should also look and feel for anything that does not feel or look normal on our vulvas. Look for lumps, itches, sores, rashes, discoloration, moles, bumps- you name it. Look and notice your vulva as regularly as you can, the more you get to know your vulva the more you get to know what's your normal. If you see or feel something that doesn't sit right with you and your body, go get it checked out and seek medical help.
REMEMBER- Your vagina is self cleaning so don't use perfumed soaps!
We have shared some real stories from people who have been through different conditions like vulvodynia, pelvic pain, persistent genital arousal and vulval cancers so take a browse through our blogs here. Want to share your vulva story with us? Get in touch!
Make sure you check out The Eve Appeal for lots more on the health of your vulva!
We will be adding continuously to our vulva resources as we learn and grow.