It’s been a while since I’ve checked in to Scarleteen, the fabulous “sex education for the real world” website, so it’s no surprise that the first article on their front page today is (as Laurie would say) inutterably fabulous. (The article is unsigned, so may or may not be written by Heather Corinna, the owner and operator of the site.)
If we had to make a list of the top five questions we’ve gotten at the site over the last few years, “What’s wrong with my labia?” would come right on the heels of “Am I pregnant?” “What’s sex like?” and “Is it okay for me to have sex/masturbate?” and sit just in front of “Is my penis too small?” Whether more women are just asking about it than before, or concerns are growing, we’ve been seeing more and more — often unfounded — worries about labia as the years have gone by.
As the folks at Scarleteen well know, these worries are clearly fueled by the plastic surgery industry, making as much money as it can by defining one coochie look that trumps all others.
We’ve done a couple blog-a-thons on it in years past. We’ve answered questions like this tirelessly for years. We’ve talked about it in other pieces, we’ve suggested visiting gynecologists to have an expert assure women they’re normal. We’ve directed women to some links or book with labial imagery. We’ve worn t-shirts which proclaim “I Love Labia!” while shaking peach, violet, brown and pink pom-poms on the White House lawn (okay, so we haven’t but if someone sent me the supplies, I would in a heartbeat), but for the love of Pete, the labia-freakouts keep sticking around. Whatever it is that keeps churning labia worries out these days is doing it like bunnies.
Maybe we’re just shouting into the void and some folks are just going to stay convinced their bodies are abnormal or unacceptable no matter what we say; no matter what logic and realistic information we put out there. I sure hope not: women deserve to feel good about and accept our bodies, including our genitals. Buoyed by that optimism — and figuring you can never have too much of a good thing — and just that freaking devoted to you accepting yourselves, goshdarnit, I’m giving it all another go.
The article is full of excellent facts for any female-type person in your life who might have these concerns. It also contains a link to Betty Dodson’s vulva illustrations on the Scarleteen site. Just to give you a little sense of variety, here’s one of the several sets at the link (not safe for work if your work is opposed to human anatomy on principle:
Think about it this way: we can see how short or tall someone is pretty easily, and many people still wish they were taller or shorter, but we all accept the height we are knowing there’s not jack we can do about it. If someone started saying we really COULD be too tall or too short, gave a lot of lip service to how much better we’d feel if we were only the “right” height, and advertised surgeries we could have (and or creams or pills), to change our height, can you see how easily we might move from a grass-is-always-greener mentality to a holy-crap-I-gotta-get-this-awful-height-fixed-NOW mentality? Since gender and sexual identity is all tied up in ideas about genitals in ways they’re not so linked with ideas about height, the issue is even more loaded.
As always, Body Impolitic stands for maintaining and appreciating human variety. I don’t have anything to add; I just loved this article, and thought you might as well.