On Tuesday night, I attended and spoke at the opening of an exhibition called 101Vagina based on a graphic book that aims to break taboos around vaginas and the female body in general. It gives expression to women to speak from and about their vaginas and to generate dialogue, acceptance, understanding and love. (I wonder how many times I will say vagina during this post).
I walked in to the exhibition to be greeted by images of vaginas hanging on the walls, a large puppet vulva that you could put your face inside and have your photo taken and a spiritual nun who happens to also be a sex worker in a hoop dress where you could duck underneath and confess your sins to her vagina! At first I thought she might have been joking or it might have been something creative, but on close inspection I found out she was serious – hello vagina!
The audience was entertained with an amazing word performance piece by Tami Sussman and a talk from Sydney Uni’s Honi Soit Editor, Hannah Ryan. For those of you who were not aware of the controversy around Honi Soit, the cover of the magazine had to be pulled from shelves recently when a printing error exposed the entire image of 18 vaginas and deemed it to be offensive and even illegal. The link to an article about this also saw my Facebook blocked for 24hours due to inappropriate content, which is one reason I have included images from the night in this post as I could not risk having them on Facebook. When people can post images of dead children in Syria and dogs being boiled alive in a pot (both images I have recently see on Facebook posts) how is that a non sexual image of a vagina is taken down and deemed too much?
Recently that day I had spoken at the launch of Pink Ribbon Month, speaking about the importance of prevention and body confidence and now it was time to disclose my journey with the acceptance of the vagina. There is something so touching when you get the opportunity to speak to a room full of people who share your vision and passion around acceptance of this amazing part of the body and really listen and digest every word. The Pink Ribbon launch was covered by media, however this was not something we could achieve at this event. Many would consider this information too taboo to be broadcast in the main stream, but the main stream need to know and see what is trying to be done with 101 Vaginas.
We are living in a world where labiaplasty are at an all time high and we are constantly sent messages that our bodies are not good enough and need to be changed or altered to fit into some idea of perfection that really only 1% of the population have. We can try blame it on porn or the removal of pubic hair, but the vagina has become a victim to these beliefs. When will people understand that every body is different, unique and beautiful and every vagina is different, unique and beautiful?
I once held a dinner party at my place where “The Big book Of Pussy” came out for a read. A group of girls gathered around it and looked through images of different vaginas from different time periods and maybe had not been exposed to many other vaginas before but their own. But it was the responses after that really upset me and made me see how negative we really can be about this body part. After the curious comments came statements like “eww”, “that’s gross”, “look at that one” and other comments of disgust. How could someone see something that is so beautiful, life giving, pleasuring giving, amazing, wonderful and feminine as gross or wrong? We need to be more comfortable with our natural selves and stop trying to compare what we have to a false sense of normal. Who wants to be normal anyway, I want to be unique.
If you have ever wondered what other vaginas look like , if yours looks strange or something is not normal, than I encourage you to check out 101 Vaginas. If you have ever been curious about what everyone else looks like down there, check it out. It’s probably less confronting then jumping under a nun’s hoop skirt.
And for those of you who might follow some of my work, you will be aware that for the purposes of this article I have referred to this amazing piece of the body as the vagina not vulva. (The vulva is the entire area, the vagina is the entrance) but the exhibition and the book is called 101Vagina after all.
We need to live in a world where we feel free to be ourselves, love ourselves and accept our bodies just the way they are. We also need to promote the normalisation of the vagina. It’s not something wrong, disgusting, dirty or offensive, it’s something natural and apart of every women. We need not to fear or hide them, but celebrate and embrace their uniqueness.
Make sure you check out the 101Vagina exhibition this week or purchase the book http://www.101vagina.com/shop/. You could help normalise the vagina at your next dinner party too.
Happy Vagina Loving