When I was a growing up I spent a lot of time in Finland, where my mother is from. Finland is famous for the sauna, a hot steamy room where you sit with other people, naked (gasp!), and you sweat yourself clean. I remember being a small girl and noticing my mother’s, my grandmother’s, and my aunts’ bodies. Their breasts were certainly bigger than mine were, but they were also so different from each other. Their vaginal areas, too, were different, not only from mine, but from one another. Some had barely any hair, others had more; some looked like a “V” while others resembled a “W.” That nakedness with other females gave me a sense of the incredible diversity of bodies. It also gave me a warm feeling of belonging to a community of women.
But here in the U.S. there aren’t a lot of opportunities to witness the diversity of human bodies in a warm, safe community. In fact, more and more the only bodies we see are the perfectly airbrushed, sanitized, deodorized, whitewashed ones the media show us. We know that girls and women have begun to do all kinds of things to try to look just like those perfectly unreal bodies. And perhaps the most drastic of these efforts is plastic surgery. These days, there’s an increasing demand for “genitoplasty,” or surgery to alter the appearance of the genitals. A recent study showed that young women are bringing plastic surgeons photographs from pornography (which are undoubtedly digitally altered), saying, “I want mine to look like that.”
Hold up. Wanting to look just like someone else? Consider our faces. The shape of our eyes, noses, chins, and lips all differ. Can you imagine a human race of identical faces? Scary! Despite the unreal faces that we get bombarded with in magazines, different facial structures reflect different kinds of beauty: the wide mouth of Anne Hathaway, the regal nose of Sarah Jessica Parker, that funny little oblong mole on your own cheek.
Interestingly, diversity is more than just skin deep. I once had the opportunity to see photographs of about a dozen different stomachs. Yes, I mean the internal organ. And lo and behold each one was remarkably different. One was long and skinny, another more bulbous, another sort of lumpy. Yet each of these stomachs had served its owner well. Each one had digested food, and done the job a stomach is supposed to do.
Why wouldn’t it be so for the layers of skin around our vaginal opening? Just like our facial features and our internal organs, the external female genitalia, known as the vulva, differs greatly from girl to girl, and woman to woman.
By the way, your vulva is a pretty awesome set of structures. It’s basically the outer portal of your uterus (or womb), and protects your vagina by a "double door": the labia majora (large lips) and the labia minora (small lips). It seems to me that each vulva is probably quite ideally designed, the perfect match for its owner. And though I can only speculate, I’m thinking surgically altering vulvas might make them a lot less effective at doing their job.
Let’s get real. Like noses, eyes, chins and lips, the real body parts we don’t often get to see differ from person to person. Penises certainly come in a variety of shapes and sizes. It should be no surprise then that vulvas and vaginas do too. Yours is uniquely yours. So celebrate diversity! Even “down there.”
i agree 2.. vaginas r "good" stand up 4 womem be proud 2 stare @ vaginas love them like i do!! , i honestly LOVE my period! ever since 3rd grade, i used 2 see my older sis'used pads and culdnt wait!! now i got it and luv 2 c a fully "damaged'' pad i cant wait for it u 2 cum bak" - thatgirl
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