The Vulva Gallery is a series of illustrations of all kinds of vulvas - celebrating the vulva in all its diversity all over the world. The Vulva Gallery was created in 2016 by Hilde Atalanta, an Amsterdam based illustrator.
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 350,000 followers, I’ve been working on improving this stigmatised image of the vulva.
From an online gallery to a beautiful book for everyone
My next step is to bring The Vulva Gallery to the mainstream. I’m currently creating a book that embodies everything The Vulva Gallery has touched upon so far. 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 will be gender inclusive and encouraging and so it is for individuals with ánd without a vulva, for all who have ever struggled (or still struggle) with the appearance of their vulva, 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.
”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”
What I aim to achieve
With The Vulva Gallery 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. With The Vulva Gallery Book, I aim to:
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 illustrating a wide range of vulvas in all shapes and colours, and opening up conversation about diversity, body positivity, and vulva-related topics I want to show that natural variety is a beautiful thing, and that the natural human body is something to appreciate instead of feeling ashamed about.