The ETSU’s Women’s Studies blog would like to spotlight the exceptional writing of students currently in Women’s Studies classes by reposting selected posts. The following is a guest post by Casey Kendall.
Simone Weil Davis’s essay “Designer Vaginas” spoke about a popular insecurity most women have: is my vulva abnormal? In this essay, Davis discusses how media and porn tend to make women insecure about their vulvas. She mentions how porn stars are expected to alter their body to fit the “standard” desirable vulva image; inner labia tucked into outer labia, a perfectly neat and tidy image. Magazines are filled with articles that claim knowledge on how you can make your vagina and vulva perfect, as if there was something not perfect about it to begin with.
*This gets personal*
After I had hit puberty, I encountered this insecurity. I had a rash, and went to mom to see if I needed to go to the doctor. Instead of focusing on the rash, my mom was more concerned about how large my inner labia were. She took me to the doctor, who explained that every woman is different, and that mine were normal. Despite what the doctor said, I felt like something was wrong with me. Soon I began sneaking to look at porn to see if mine really were normal. Thankfully, I found a site that didn’t have the cut perfect figures, and was reassured that there really was nothing wrong with how I was formed. It still bothered me, but not as much.
That changed, however, when I found a steady boyfriend with whom I wanted to have sex. I was terrified that if he saw how my vulva looked he wouldn’t want me anymore. Eventually, my fears caved to desire, and I soon found out he didn’t find anything wrong with me. My insecurity had been for nothing. And when I talked to my girlfriends about what happened and my fears, they shared the same ones. It turns out most of them had larger labia than they thought they should. Once they had had sex they discovered the same thing I did; their guys didn’t give their large inner labia a second glance, they were just grateful they got to see it.
I found this article on the internet, and though I have never encountered a guy who openly admitted to this state of mind, I understand why the girl was so traumatized by what he said.
Something needs to change. No girl should feel this kind of shame about themselves. Parents should educate their girls on their body parts, instead of leaving them to figure it out by themselves. They need to let their daughters know that vulva [and all body parts for that matter] come in all shapes and sizes, and that they are beautiful however they are. Yeah, it may be an awkward conversation to start, but it needs to happen. Girls need that reassurance. Porn industries should allow more variety in their workers. Whether we like it or not, pornography has a large influence on youth. Plenty of guys and girls use it to interpret how they are supposed to look and act in a sexual situation. The porn industry needs to admit they play a large role in this and many other insecurities women and men have. They also need to try and change to stop these insecurities from occurring. It won’t lower their income to allow more variety in their employees.
No girl should be insecure about their vulva. It should not be encouraged by society and pushed by media. We are all beautiful just the way we are.