As a child I was very lucky that my mother talked about how the woman’s body changes during puberty. That girls are roses and as they grow, they blossom and their flowers become more visible and start to unfold. Something we would never consider as “ugly” or “strange”, but exactly the opposite. Although I grew up with these wise words of my mother, this couldn’t protect me against the ignorance and insensitivity of people that made me feel uncomfortable in my body. So after becoming this rose, I’ve almost forgotten about these words.
It was not the porn industry that gave me the conception of “not being normal”. It was the movies on television and biology books at school, showing illustrations of vulvas with tiny labia and a slit between it. This kind of vulva looked very different from mine. It was uncommon for me to see adult females without longer inner labia and without a highly developed clitoral hood, because I have always thought that every woman develops in this way. At this point I would like to mention that of course there are women who do not have a highly developed clitoral hood and smaller labia, but this is just one shape out of millions of shapes and should not be considered as a general orientation. Actually, there should not be any model of a “typical” vulva, because this does not exist and that is why I consider The Vulva Gallery and the project so important.
I started to compare myself with women I saw on TV and in movies. To be honest, I started to believe that I am not a 100% woman, but something in between (intersex) because I thought it cannot be normal to have something so big between the labia majora and I haven’t seen this type of vulva among my friends in the locker room or in the shower. A few years later (I was about 15 y/o) I dared to go to a gynaecologist. He treated me as “normal” as he could and said that everything is okay with me.
Unfortunately this was not the end of the story. It was my first sexual experience with 18, when my partner said that I am strange “down there”. Today I know this was just a sign of inexperience and not my “strange vulva”. I was too young to defend myself, but I have forgiven him now, knowing that this can never get me down again.
I also shared my problem with one of my best friends and explained why I could never go to the spa without a towel around my hips. She looked very surprised and said: “How can that be a problem, everyone looks the same there!” I was shocked that not even other women know about the diversity of the vulva. I really hope that this will change over time and I think that The Vulva Gallery contributes a lot to it.
So what did I do to change my situation? One day I stood in front of the mirror and asked myself the question: Are YOU really not happy with your body? Do you really have a problem with your vulva or do you have a wrong conception of it because of a certain ideal of beauty and because of drawing comparisons to other women? And I felt very relieved as I recognized that I have no problem with it at all.
I am writing this text, because I don’t want any other girl in this world to feel like this, in a lifetime where we are young and healthy and should be proud of what we have.
I hope every person will be educated with the knowledge that every part of a human body is different and unique, like other body parts. Nobody would question, if a nose or feet look exactly the same. Some have bigger or smaller noses and so on, so why should a vulva look always the same?
If you feel sad, please think about the blooming rose. It is a piece of art, just like you, and it just gets more beautiful.
N. - 26 years old