The problem of “the perfect vulva"
All vulvas are unique - just like our hands, noses and eyes are. However there’s usually just one kind of vulva shape being displayed in popular media. Whether it is in magazines, mainstream porn, or even biology books, all over the world we are constantly confronted with a distorted image of the ‘perfect’ vulva, presented as ‘normal’. This has led many of us (who look different from this ‘perfect’ vulva) to believe that we don’t fit the ‘normal’ image. As a result, girls as young as 9 years old are researching labiaplasty surgery (the surgical procedure that alters the aesthetic appearance of the labia and/or clitoral hood) online, and over the past years we are seeing a sharp global increase in girls under 18 (and even under 15) undergoing labiaplasty surgery, making this procedure one of the fastest growing types of cosmetic surgery in the world.
So, what can we do about it?
We’ve somehow gotten the idea that there’s something wrong with us, but there isn’t. To prove this, I started The Vulva Gallery in 2016. The Vulva Gallery is an online gallery and educational platform celebrating vulva diversity, aiming to improve sexual health education and opening up conversation about topics that are still being stigmatised. Since 2016, together with a rapidly growing community of over 340,000 followers, I’ve been working on improving this stigmatised image of the vulva and the response has been amazing.
From an online gallery to a beautiful book for everyone
My next step is to bring The Vulva Gallery to the mainstream. I want to create a book that embodies everything The Vulva Gallery has touched on over the last 2 years. A book that can be used in medical practices and in health classes, that can be looked at in waiting rooms, or can be given as an empowering gift.
This book is written for everyone with a vulva (ánd of course even those without!) - no matter your gender identity, as this book is gender inclusive and welcomes all. It's dedicated to all of you who already love your vulva, and to those of you who don't quite yet. I hope this book will help you in building a connection with your vulva and increasing appreciation for this special part of your body. The book is also for parents wanting to open up conversation with their children and teach them about body diversity, and for all who want to hear a voice that is different to what we hear in the popular media.
I’ll be publishing the book myself. I’ve been running a Kickstarter campaign with which I’m funding the book, which ended successfully on December 1st. The book is estimated to be launched in May 2019.
Inside the Book
This book will answer many of your vulva-related questions, and I’ll be sharing all kinds of information on everything from pubic hair to changes in labia shape to menstruation in a respectful way. You’ll even find a chapter about anatomy, accompanied by a diverse range of anatomical illustrations. I’ll debunk some myths and the book will reveal to you all kinds of wonders of the vulva & vagina. It’s a gender inclusive and positive book, in which you’ll get to hear many different personal stories alongside vulva portraits. I hope that this book will open up conversations about a topic that is still surrounded with taboo and shame - and take a step in de-stigmatising this part of the human body.
In the book you’ll find:
More than 500 colourful illustrations, all based on real vulvas
A chapter about anatomy (with colourful & diverse illustrations)
Vulva portraits & personal stories
Vulva myths debunked - medical health providers explain why these myths are false
Wonders of the vulva & vagina - interesting facts that everyone should know
Questions answered - all kinds of vulva- and vagina-related questions
How to draw a vulva
Vulva names around the world
Positive quotes about vulvas from individuals from all around the world
What I aim to achieve
With this book I aim to raise awareness around body diversity, to inspire and empower individuals by sharing personal stories, and to provide information on anatomy and sexual health. It will be accessible and will tap into the very active dialogue around inclusivity. To sum up, it will:
Represent and celebrate vulva diversity
Normalise open conversations about vulva-related topics
Normalise different aspects of our vulvas such as differences in labia shape and colour, pubic hair and skin conditions
Debunk myths and provide inclusive education about anatomy
Provide a more positive and inclusive usage of language
Focus on the beauty in diversity, and on the functionality of our vulvas instead of objectifying or sexualising them
Share many diverse vulva portraits & stories, thereby encouraging individuals to appreciate their own uniqueness
By sharing appreciation of our diversity, encourage developing a more positive genital self-image
By showing diversity and openly talking about our experiences and insecurities we can change the way we look at our bodies - and the bodies of others
This book is written for everyone with a vulva (and of course for those without one too!), no matter your gender identity, as this book is gender-inclusive and welcomes all. It's dedicated to all of you who already love your vulva, and to those of you who don't quite yet. I hope this book will help you in building a connection with your vulva and increasing your appreciation for this special part of your body.
It is written for everyone familiar with vulva-related struggles; maybe you have a friend who feels insecure about their vulva, a daughter or a sister who deserves to see how beautifully diverse we are. This book welcomes anyone with a curious mind, who wants to learn more about this beautiful part of human anatomy. I feel it’s time to give voice to a different perspective, to hear a different message from what the popular media tells us, and to break through the stereotypes and the misinformation we’ve been exposed to for such a long time.
Illustrator & creator of The Vulva Gallery