After the success of the Innie vs Outie Vagina Poll (which revealed that around 80% of participants have outie vaginas), I have decided to run a pubic hair poll for women visiting the Labia Project, to find out how they generally maintain their pubic hair. Please vote in the poll by selecting the answer that best applies to you, and clicking “Vote”. To view the results of the poll, click “Results”.
This fascinating British documentary called The Perfect Vagina explores the reasons why women are increasingly undergoing labiaplasty surgery to reduce the size of their labia.
The documentary takes us through the female author’s personal journey in exploring this secret world, and tries to figure out what or who is fueling womens’ desire to have perfect vaginas. The author interviews woman and men about their views on labiaplasty surgery, and in going through the journey, the author also confronts her own perceptions of her vagina.
(Note: the documentary is 51 minutes long and is not a quick watch, so give yourself some time to watch the whole thing)
In recent years, labiaplasty surgery has become one of the fastest growing plastic surgery procedures worldwide, and women often contact me with questions about the procedure. Watch this short video in which Dr Gemma Sharp, an Australian clinical psychologist discusses labiaplasty surgery. In the video, she explores the reasons more and more women are going under the knife to change the way their vulvas look.
I receive many e-mails and messages asking whether it is normal to have an innie vagina or an outie vagina, and asking how common innies and outies are. I have decided to put an Innie vs Outie Vagina Poll up to find out what percentage of the visitors of the Labia Project have innies and outies. Please vote in the poll by selecting the answer that applies to you, and clicking “Vote”. To view the results of the poll, click “Results”.
This informative BBC Labiaplasty documentary features interviews with doctors and young women regarding the increasing prevalence of insecurity regarding the labia.
The documentary includes expert views about what is normal when it comes to womens’ genital anatomy, and regarding statistics of young women who undergo labiaplasty surgey paid for by the NHS.
Innovation in the female sanitary and personal care market is generally very slow, and there have not been many big product launches over the past decade. If you’re one of the 7 out of 10 women who doesn’t trust a tampon not to leak, and who wears a liner with your tampon “just in case”, this innovation may just what you need! It’s a brand new product called the tampliner, and it’s essentially a tampon with a liner attached.
The liner is smaller and softer than a pad. It tucks between the labia and provides an extra layer of security in case the of any leakage from the tampon. It was developed by a gynecologist, and it is being sold through a company called Callaly. At this stage, it’s available only in the UK, but the good news is that it is expected to be available in the US in the next few months.
Would you be interested in a product like this?
“Reverence starts in the mirror. In other words, above and beyond all appearances, opinions and circumstances, know there is a light, a sacred Presence, within you. Recognize It, honor It, and revere It, and It will set you free.” Dennis Merritt Jones
In my December post, I proposed that making peace with our yonis (the Sanskrit word for our vulvas) was a condition of experiencing sensual and sexual pleasure. I actually think it’s bigger than that: when we are not at peace with our bodies, our sensual and sexual selves, we are separate from an integral part of ourselves. As Regena Thomashauer so aptly says in her book, Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts: “…the journey toward knowing yourself is not complete until you know and own your sensuality.” What we sacrifice when we are disconnected from our sexual selves is uncompromising self-acceptance, self-confidence and full empowerment. It is as profound a disconnect as if we cut off one of our hands.
Hopefully, with last week’s blog, you’ve begin to recognize how generations of negative input about women’s sexuality and especially yonis has twisted and co-opted our thoughts and feelings about something so personal. Today, I will suggest a few additional steps to help you reconnect with your yoni; next time around, I’ll add a few more steps.
Before we go any further, I urge you to make a deliberate shift in your attitude and to mindfully adopt an attitude of reverence toward your whole self. Reverence is “a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe, veneration.” Dictionary.com. It also means to honor and admire profoundly—with deference and respect. Reverence presumes an intrinsic merit. Shouldn’t we all view ourselves with a sense of reverence? If you can’t do this for yourself, who can?
In addition, it is important to shift your mindset about female genitalia in general and to recognize that each yoni is beautiful and unique—and they are all different. If you’ve never looked at books or websites like The Labia Project or GynoDiversity that tastefully display non-sexualized photos of yonis, you may find that to be a useful starting point. What you’ll discover is that there is tremendous variation in colors, sizes, shapes, labia structure and every yoni is beautiful and normal just as it is. Joani Blank’s Femalia is a wonderful print resource that emphasizes this point: all yonis are different—and all are perfect.
Second, I encourage you to take some time—perhaps over a few days or weeks—to look at and become intimately familiar with your own yoni through mirror play, remembering always that “reverence starts in the mirror.” With a beginner’s mind, an open heart and an attitude of reverence—and with ample time and privacy, spend some time looking at your yoni. Note what you see. Take in your yoni’s color, whether and how the color changes from outer to inner labia; yoni colors are gorgeous and can include fiery or soft rosy reds, rubies, pinks; oranges in sunset, salmon, peach; soft beige to browns and purples. Now look at your labia. Are you labia asymmetrical? That’s nature at its most normal and best! If you hear any critical voices, say to them: “I hear what you’re saying and I know you’ve been with me a long time. And at this moment, I’m making a new decision about my yoni. I see beauty I’ve never seen before. I love and accept my yoni just as it is.”
When we try to silence critical voices through anger and hostility, they tend to strengthen. Instead, affirm your intention to explore your body with an open mind and heart—and the intention to develop a new, positive relationship with all aspects of yourself—and especially your yoni. The critical voices of the past—of others—will abate over time. And a new voice—your own—filled with strength, reverence, tenderness and self-respect—will replace the critical ones, as you emerge—whole, complete and loving yourself, just as you are.
Jane Steckbeck, Clinical Sexologist and Certified Sex Coach
“Yoni: The Sanskrit word for female genitals. Translates to “source of all life” or “sacred space.”” Urban Dictionary
“When you own yourself sensually, everything is open to you. You awaken more feeling in your whole being, experience the joy that is available to you simply because you’re a woman. If you are sensually aware…you are more confident and you enjoy your life more.” Regena Thomashuer, “Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts.”
In our times, very few girls are taught to know and value their sensuality, sexuality and capacity to experience pleasure. Even worse, our religions and popular culture train most girls and women to think there is something wrong with their yonis: they are ugly, or “dirty” or “look funny” and smell bad. Very few girls are taught to use the terms “vulva” “vagina” or “yoni” and instead are taught cutesy slang terms like “hoo hoo,” “vajayjay” “yaya”—or worse, the vague and ominous “down there.” The terms our crude pop culture assigns the lovely yoni are even worse—not worthy of mention here.
With very little exception, most women arrive at adulthood somewhere between outright disgust to benign ambivalence about their yonis. When we hold shame for any part of ourselves, we become separated from our wholeness, our vitality, and our potency. As important, we unwittingly allow others to determine how we feel about something as deeply personal as our own bodies and sensual expression. How can we possibly allow ourselves to revel in the fullness of our sexual power and sensuality when we despise the very source of our pleasure?
I challenge you to confront how you think and feel about your yoni, to identify thoughts and feelings you’ve accepted as your own—that may come from relatives, mother culture, social/mass media—sources outside yourself. I am going to ask you to consciously clear out all thoughts and feelings that do not originate with you and mindfully adopt new thoughts and feelings about your yoni. As long as you hold beliefs that your yoni is ugly, dirty, smelly, misshapen—you will compromise your ability to reclaim and value the fullness of your pleasure and feminine power.
Thus, I ask: How do you think and feel about your yoni? Before you attempt to answer this question, first ask: “How have others taught me to think and feel about my yoni?” (Recognize that if you have negative thoughts and feelings about yonis in general, you have them about your own!) Include messages from parents, relatives, religions, and mass media/pop culture. Make a list of thoughts and feelings you’ve collected from others. Then ask: “Where have I accepted others’ beliefs about my yoni that may not be my beliefs?” Place a check mark by thoughts and feelings you have that may not be yours. Then ask: “Can I put aside the thoughts and feelings of others about my yoni? And finally, “Without anyone else’s input, how do I think and feel about my yoni?” More on how to do this in my next post!
The longer I have worked coaching women in reclaiming empowered sexuality, the more I have grown fierce about identifying and rejecting negative input about women’s bodies—especially our yonis—the very seat of life and exquisite pleasure. From my personal perspective, there is not a person on this earth whose opinion I value above my own when it comes to my yoni or any other aspect of my sexuality. And I choose to treasure me—just as I am.
I invite you to join me on this journey of fierce self-acceptance—and adamant rejection of negative cultural messaging in all its forms, especially as applied to women and women’s sexuality.
For many, this will be challenging. You may feel upset, confused and unsure. You might not like your yoni at all. Understand this: the weight of generations of negative input about all aspects of women’s bodies can be hard to overcome. I can assure you, the effort to make peace with your yoni is worth it. Isn’t it time we—each of us—claimed our inherent beauty and perfection just as we are?
Jane Steckbeck, Clinical Sexologist and Certified Sex Coach
Introducing Jane Steckbeck…
I am delighted to be supporting Clare’s potent work with the Labia Project. When she asked me to participate as a guest writer and commentator, it was an easy “yes” because the Labia Project helps women accept themselves as they are. In my work as a Clinical Sexologist and Certified Sex Coach, I focus on women’s sexual empowerment—and self-acceptance is integral to empowerment and often something missing in women’s lives. Yet, there is only one person on this earth who can grant you self-acceptance: you. That the Labia Project helps women in this process makes it something well worth my time to support.
A little bit more about me. I became a Clinical Sexologist and Certified Sex Coach after a ten-year sexual healing process, where I consciously healed from the effects of childhood sex abuse. When the dust settled I began to realize that women are profoundly disconnected from themselves sexually due to a toxic culture that marginalizes women’s pleasure, our bodies, and tells us that we are in so many ways “less than.” I decided that I wanted to help women to recognize inaccurate cultural messaging and to reclaim their sexuality on their own terms so they could experience the fullness of embodied pleasure, passion and personal power. I’ve learned over the years that the healthier a woman is sexually, the more she accepts herself, the more powerful and confident she is in all areas of her life.
Thanks for reading my posts. I look forward to hearing about more women claiming their empowered sexuality and loving their labias—and entire bodies—just as they are.
Labia facts – love your labia <3