I’m a huge supporter of lady parts and I’m pretty vocal about it. Whether it’s from showing (sometimes unexpecting) friends my “vagina book”(yup – more on this later) to researching ways to fight female genital mutilation, I consider myself a lover and defender of them all. And ladies, I’m going to let you in on a secret that no one in the adult film or cosmetic surgery industry wants you to know: your vagina is perfectly normal and absolutely gorgeous!
Vaginas come in all different shapes, colors, sizes and arrangements – all fantastic! A study by the Department of Gynaeology (UK) in 2004 shared the length of the labia minora of women between ages 18-50 to be 0.78 to 3.9 inches. That’s a whole lotta room for variety!
But, the labia minora is the part of the vagina that most women are concerned about. Now for a little educational image!
According to Wikipedia: The labia minora (singular: labium minus), also known as the inner labia, inner lips, or nymphae, are two flaps of skin on either side of the human vaginal opening, situated between the labia majora (outer labia, or outer lips). Inner lips vary widely in size, colour, and shape from woman to woman.
Even with all this reassuring information available, labiaplasty (the surgical altering of the labia minora) is more popular than ever. This procedure is also known as vaginal rejuvenation, labia minora contouring, labial reshaping, female genital surgery or labial reduction – they all mean the procedure of reducing the length of the inner labia or inner flaps. There is also a procedure called vaginoplasty that tightens the vaginal canal and muscles surrounding it.
Some women opt for labiaplasty because they actually have discomfort due to a longer labia. That is usually not the case, though. The most popular procedure in labiaplasty is called “The Barbie” – check out our article for more info! This procedure cuts off the entire labia minora so that only the outer labia are visible, as smooth as plastic. A little much, don’t you think?
There is a great documentary I want to share with you called “The Perfect Vagina,” which addresses what I’ve just been talking about. Here is the link so you can watch it (it’s about an hour long). Disclaimer: it might make you squirm!
According to “The Perfect Vagina,” women who want to get labiaplasty for aesthetic reasons are seeking a more ‘youthful’ appearance and/or want to balance out the appearance of their labia minora with the surrounding tissue. Some women claim that they have been ridiculed or teased by family members or partners. “The Perfect Vagina” blames the surgically enhanced and touched-up vaginas featured in adult magazines and films for this wave of insecurity.
There could be many more reasons why women are more paranoid about not being “normal.” For one, pubic hair has been disappearing over the last decade, with many women choosing to either shave or wax it off – we’re more exposed and aware of ourselves than ever. Women are also becoming more empowered and comfortable with their sexuality, exploring and getting in touch with their bodies – you would think that would be a POSITIVE thing, right? Not for everyone. Often, there is a disconnection between reality and what is projected by the media/adult film industry – this actually causes stress in many women because they tend to compare themselves with vaginas that have been altered without knowing it.
You may want to read our other article, rightfully named “Lady Parts Under Attack.” There is a great 7-minute video in that link that SHOWS how vaginas are digitally altered for cinematography.
All of this information is really depressing. So now…onto that book I mentioned before. I had been looking for a V-positive something for a while, and when I heard about the book “I’ll Show You Mine” I didn’t hesitate to buy it. This is a book that I show boyfriends, girlfriends – anyone who will listen and look. I think every woman should have a copy.
I really just love the entire concept of this book, which was created by Wrenna Robertson (buy it here!). This pretty hardcover is 128 pages full of beauty – which is inclusive to women of all ages and nationalities and even includes a transgender V!
I’ll Show You Mine is a photo study of female genitalia and a window into women’s experiences of their genitals. The book contains 120 photographs of 60 women, with all women photographed from the same two positions. Each woman was photographed in exactly the same conditions and the photos are shown in the book in true-to-life size and color, as this is the best method to accurately display the diversity of female form. Accompanying each woman’s photos is text written by the woman, detailing her challenges and/or successes as pertains to her relationship with her genitals. The photos in the book demonstrate and celebrate the wonderful diversity of the vulva; the stories illuminate the range of experiences that women have relating to the genitals in a world where mass media and (adult cinematography) increasingly set the standards for sexuality and the look of all body parts, even our genitals.
“I’ll Show You Mine” is, in my opinion, really empowering. I loved reading the stories each woman had about her relationship with her vagina - we all have that relationship whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. This book is also a great way to normalize conversations about our womanly parts – which I believe needs to happen. Women in our society are made to feel that their vaginas and functions are “shameful” and shouldn’t be spoken about (see what Kotex is doing about this!) I say this from the perspective of a woman who has lived in the USA – the situation is even worse in other countries where women have less rights.
I’d like to end this on a positive note. Here is an AWESOME video of Eve Ensler, creator of the Vagina Monologues, doing a TED talk about why she created the V.M. and just how important this discussion is around the world. It’s really inspiring.
For more empowering info on vaginas, women and how we can demand more appreciation from the world, check out our latest mag, The Women’s Issue!