vulvas are as diverse as we are.
BUT just like the rest of women’s bodies, vulvas have been subject to unrealistic and harmful beauty standards...
The culprit? Body-shaming, mainstream media fixated on absurd standards, we could go on and on. It’s no wonder many women continuously have to unlearn unrealistic beauty norms while relearning to embrace their whole selves.
What does this mean in real-time? You might have found yourself saying (or thinking) something like this:
“Why are my inner lips hanging out of my outer lips?!?! After I got a brazilian it looked a Shar-Pei.”
“When you think that vulvas are supposed to be perfect and at the same time you have no idea what "perfect" it’s easy to think yours is weird. I thought my inner lips were too dark and the texture wasn't what I saw in porn. It made me so insecure."
Well, we’re here to let you know that your vulva is normal, beautiful and healthy!
FIRST, LET’S START WITH THE BASICS:
vulva and vagina – what’s the difference?
The Vulva is the all-in-one-term for your external parts such as the clitoris, urethral opening (pee hole), inner and outer labia (lips). The Vagina is the internal passage between the uterus and external genitals leading up to the cervix. If you’re just now learning this, ain’t no thang. Turns out the word “vagina” is usually misused.
why does education and awareness of vulva diversity matter?
Many women have doubts about the normality of their vulva. In the Western world, the perception of “normal” can be heavily influenced by misogynistic beauty standards and unrealistic, (sometimes modified) images of vulvas in media, porn, photography, etc.
The reality is, chasing after the perceived norm is damaging and pointless.
Here’s proof: A recent study by the Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology found that exposure to a large variety of natural vulvas had an IMMEDIATE positive effect on young women’s genital self-image.
ICYMI: The vulvas you see in the media are not a representation of all vulvas! When women are exposed to diverse, natural bodies it can enhance their self-esteem, level of comfort, sex life, and self-love.
PS: We love and appreciate the work Hilde Atalanta is doing to promote vulva diversity for this reason! Follow their work and see if you can spot your vulva 👀
okay, but what is genital self-image?
Genital self-image is found to be associated with sexual function, gynecological health-seeking behavior, and overall body positivity. A higher genital self-image can enhance comfort with your own body, with your partner, enhance your sex life and even make you feel more comfortable talking to your doctor.
every vulva is original
Every vulva is unique and there are countless variations in size, shape, configuration, color, size of the inner or outer labia, asymmetrical or symmetrical, pubic hair, etc etc etc. No vulva is the same!
So basically, unless your vulva is causing you pain or harm - it’s normal, healthy and beautiful.
your vulva should not smell like flowers.
At some point, the idea of women having any kind of feminine odor was framed as unfeminine, unclean and not acceptable.
Contrary to what the “feminine care” aisle at the grocery store tells you, vulvas are meant to smell like, well, vulvas. Just like the rest of your body, every vulva has its own unique scent! It’s absolutely normal for your scent to change, too. Your menstrual cycle, diet, type of underwear you wear, having sex, even the weather can change up your scent. Change is normal and okay!
Here’s when you should worry: if your vulva has a yeasty, rotten, or fishy scent. Also be aware if you notice a smell you’re not used to, on top of other symptoms like burning, itching, pain during sex, etc. Always talk to your trusted doctor or medical professional for any questions you may have about your body or if you’re feeling pain or discomfort.
Tip: get to know your glorious vulva and all the unique smells it produces day by day, hour by hour. The more you know and understand your body, the more prepared you’ll be if anything is “off”.
Loving yourself and each unique quality is a lifelong journey. There is absolutely no better time to start than now!