Australians are being lied to about their vaginas.

I took my 10-year-old daughter to see Taryn Brumfitt’s new film Embrace, an incredible movie which seeks to create a global change for positive female body image.

Taryn became a sensation across the world in 2o13 after she posted a composite photo: one of herself at a bodybuilding contest, the other after she had given birth to three children.

The before and after photo of Taryn Brumfitt that launched the Body Image Movement.

More than three million people liked the photo, and it triggered the beginning of her quest to harness positive body image activism with the Body Image Movement, and now with her film Embrace.

When I heard today that it had been given an MA15+ rating by the Australian censorship board due to images of "protruding labia" in a short sequence showing different images of vaginas, I couldn't even remember that part of the film.

More than 50 per cent of Australians have a vagina.

In a blog post titled "Healing it to a Single Crease”, Journalist Kirsten Drysdale includes this sketch and writes: "If I handed you a pencil and paper and asked you to draw a vagina, odds are you would come up with something like this."

The rest - I think it's safe to say - either came out of one or go into one on a regular basis.

Not to mention all the vaginas men (and boys) see in porn, with the average Australian male seeing porn for the first time at 11 years old.

So I'd say that seeing a vagina is neither a terrifying, disturbing or even mildly surprising experience for the vast majority of people on the planet.

Vaginas are not unicorns.

You can watch the trailer for Embrace below. Post continues after video. 

And yet the image we have of what a vagina 'should' look like is still woefully screwed up.

The censorship board confirmed it yet again with this obscene ruling. It's the "protruding labia" that was deemed too terrifying for anyone under 15 to see, despite this brilliant film about the way women's bodies are portrayed being most helpful to that exact demographic - both boys and girls.


“The Board of Directors have got their heads in the sand if they think that’s offensive,” the body positive campaigner told

Taryn Brumfitt is not happy the film has been given an MA 15+ classification.

“These images are not crude. We don’t need to be ashamed of how our bodies look."

Did you know it's a legal requirement to use Photoshop to chop off a woman's labia in magazines?

When I was editor of Cosmo and became aware of this, we fought a campaign to protest this insulting, misogynist law.

It came to nothing. The law wasn't changed.

But I hope it alerted women and girls to the fact that the reason they didn't see vaginas that looked like theirs in men's magazines was because those vaginas were fake. They'd been altered either by surgery or by Photoshop.

And this circle is truly vicious.

"Protruding labia" was deemed too terrifying for anyone under 15 to see according to the Censorship Board.

The more altered vaginas seen by men and women in porn, the more men and women recalibrate their idea of what a vagina "should" look like.

This is terrifying. My friend is a GP and she laments the disappearance of pubic hair because "it's made women so self-conscious about their vaginas. Some are innies, some are outies and it's always been that way".

"But now that everyone is waxing and lasering and watching porn, I am inundated by patients who think they are somehow deformed when their labia are perfectly normal," she said.

The rise in labiaplasty has been exponential, according to cosmetic surgeons, since porn went mainstream online.

Women - young women particularly - are queueing up to have their genitals cut in order to achieve some mythical 'perfect' vagina.

That's why I am delighted for my daughter - and my sons - to be exposed to images of vaginas, that are unaltered by surgery or Photoshop. Like the ones briefly shown in Taryn Brumfitts's film Embrace.

Because vaginas - just like penises - come in all different shapes and sizes.

And can someone please tell that crazy woman who thinks that sex changes the shape of your vagina?

She really needs to see Taryn's movie. With her daughters.