[Not safe for work] Here we go. Are you ready for something a bit different? Have you ever seen an image of a vagina? I don’t mean the kind of image you see in men’s magazines or online porn. I mean a ‘real’ vagina. Not an airbrushed one (because yes, the vaginas you see in men’s mags are digitally altered, just like everything else in every other magazine).
When I was at Cosmo, we ran an awareness campaign about the misogynist and appalling censorship law that demands all images of female genitals that are published in magazines be digitally altered to ‘seal’ them to ‘a single slit”. You can read more about that at the ABC website Hungry Beast, where they did a major story on labioplasty (both read and digital) and the censorship laws earlier this year.
There’s a great scene in one of the earlier Sex & The City episodes when Charlotte admits she’s never looked at her own vagina. Her friends are shocked and urge her to go home and get out her hand mirror to take a proper look. She does it with much trepidation but is soon fascinated.
Men see far more of each other’s genitals than women do. Unless you are a gynaecologist, lesbian, midwife, GP or beauty therapist who does waxing or laser, you will probably go through your life never seeing another ‘real’ woman’s vagina.
So it’s not that surprising that more and more women are opting for genital plastic surgery because they’re worried they’re not ‘normal’ down there. Because what does normal look like anyway?
A book called Heart of the Flower: The Book of Yonis was sent to me recently that proved very illuminating. While the title is a bit hippy dippy for me (!), the premise is an excellent one. In the words of the authors:
Heart of the Flower: The book of yonis is an unflinching exploration of the beautiful diversity of women’s genitals, free of judgement, shame and embarrassment= display_ad('x18', 'hidden-xs hidden-md mm_incontent', 'MM In Content'); ?>= display_ad('x20', 'visible-xs mm_mob_incontent', 'MM In Content (Mobile)'); ?>
Fifty everyday women have posed for up-close and personal photographs that show their genitals from many different and rarely seen angles. Each woman writes candidly with wit, wisdom, passion, even despair, about her relationship with her yoni.
The book brings into light the ins and outs of the female sexual anatomy, and demystifies and challenges the way society views women’s genitals and sexuality.
Heart of the Flower is designed to normalise and celebrate diversity at a time when labial reconstructions have reached an all-time high and women’s body image is at an all-time low.
So because I think those are admirable sentiments, I wanted to share some pictures from the book with you. Yes, they’re graphic but I think that’s OK. Do we have a problem with vaginas? We shouldn’t. They do some marvellous things.
BIG APOLOGIES UNFORTUNATELY THE PUBLISHERS HAVE ASKED US TO TAKE DOWN THE GALLERY.