“Don’t Talk About These Things Publicly!”
By Sharon Arnolda Ceylon Today Features
From hiding pads to being too polite to make the first move, the one thing women know best is that there are some things that can only be spoken about in ‘hushed tones’. Even though its simple biology and chemical reactions that we would ideally have a better grip on if we spoke about it more openly, there is something about talking about female problems that automatically triggers the ‘awkward’ response from people. So naturally, women have a lot of insecurities that have over a period of time given birth to multimillion dollar franchises that ‘empower’ women by taking our hair off, making our cheeks slimmer and making our faces fairer.
So from time to time there are appearance related ‘problems’ that require ‘solutions’. According to an article published by the Refinary29 on Women’s Day in 2019 based on the feedback of 3,620 of its female readers, close to half (48 per cent) had issues concerning the appearance of their genitalia (including the clitoris, labia minora and labia majora), out of which 64 per cent were concerned about its size, 60 per cent about its shape and almost a third (30 per cent) worried about the colour of their vulva. This is an extract from the website of the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery in 2017.
“Somewhat surprisingly, the plastic cosmetic procedure that has seen the most growth around the world in 2015/2016 has been labiaplasty, a remodelling of the enlarged inner lips of the vagina. Also known as labia minora reduction surgery, the number of labiaplasty procedures performed worldwide has exploded, with a stunning 45 per cent increase over 2014/2015. Brazil is currently leading the way in the number of labiaplasty procedures, with 23,155, while the United States comes in at second place, with 13,266”.
So if you look at the statistics, we can see a “problem” and what seems to be a “solution”. Women are largely insecure because of how they are portrayed in the mainstream media, there is a photoshopped bar that the rest of us doing life without it can never get to and this is resulting is more and more women being insecure about most aspects of their sexual anatomy including their sex drive; because God forbid your girlfriend is hornier than you right? Sl**?? So talking one myth at a time: Each vagina is unique, the labia (or your lips) doesn’t have to look like what it looks like in porn or paintings or whatever other platform that portrays the vagina that one white dude thought was pretty in the year dot.
Because let’s face it; that is the ‘ideal woman’ that is still portrayed across all platforms. And because most people only see other naked people in porn, this creates unrealistic expectations purely based on a lack of representation of what’s natural. Porn doesn’t represent the ‘real human’, you know the rest of us that aren’t walking around camera ready. So everything that is not seen on a screen is not ideal; a misconception some carry for the rest of their lives.
I was watching Sex Eductaion; because let’s face it I’ve learnt more about safe sex and sexual anatomy from a TV show than I did in school; because again, “hush hush”. The show talks about this website thevulvagallery.com. It’s an initiative by Hilde Atalanta, an Amsterdam-based illustrator. The website is an entry to most things that we don’t talk about starring our anatomy.
The website features real life stories of women who speak about the different shapes and sizes of their labia and how they overcame the insecurities that were attached to thinking they were not ‘normal’. What’s normal is what’s not out there; if you actually take the time to go through the website you will understand how different we all are and how absolutely normal it is.
The mere reason I’m writing this is because I myself was unaware of how many people feel insecure about themselves based on what is portrayed around them; myself included. And we can’t even openly talk about these things because there are limits placed on where our decency runs out. This is just making many women get themselves ‘fixed’ to fit into something that is completely irrelevant.
We are creating a problem for ourselves and paying to fix it. There is no such thing as an ideal labia or an ideal shape to a vagina; and this is not said enough. The real problem here is the lack of representation, women are so objectified that anything beyond what is deemed petite or pleasing to the eye (not even the general eye) is not put out there to avoid ‘awkward’ and ‘displeasing’ situations.
This is not just happening to women, men are insecure about the size of their penises and so many other things that I don’t know about because no one really talks about these things; we should be. It’s about time we figured out, we are being toyed with and empower ourselves beyond our skin because beyond what is deemed perfect lies what is natural; what is human. The moment you realise this; it becomes your superpower.