Before I saw my actual vagina this morning, I saw an article offering advice on how to lighten it.
If that’s not a fucked up wayto start what was promising to be a rather jolly Thursday then I don’t know what is.
The article, published on Huda Beauty was called “Why your vagina gets dark and how to lighten it” and there is SO MUCH WRONG WITH IT.
My first problem?
Well, the fact that they are completely wrong with their anatomical labelling seems a good a place to start as any.
The vagina, ladies and gents, is the bit INSIDE your body. It’s the bit that the willy goes into, the bit the baby comes out of, it’s where the tampon goes. IT’S THE BLOODY BIG HOLE (sometimes literally).
What Huda Beauty are so shamelessly and disgracefully talking about, is the VULVA. This is the bit outside your body. This is the bit that you can see. For any loyal readers you may remember I explained the exact difference between vagina and vulva in the article I published on Tuesday, discussing the symptoms of vulval cancer, if you want to read it please click HERE.
So my first problem is a big one, it’s the fact that someone took the time to do all of this research into some bullshit shaming article focussing totally on the aesthetics of a body part that is perfect just the way it is, and totally failed to realise that they were shaming us into altering the wrong bloody body part entirely!
(I should perhaps stop using the word ‘bloody’ so often in my vagina article…)
I of course take precedent with the contents of the article too. The ‘advice’, offered by “trusted expert” and dermatologist, Dr Doris Day, is extensive.
We are told that using lemon juice, yoghurt, coconut oil and egg white can create a DIY lightening solution. Quite frankly I am sure I have read this line up in every single cook book I have ever opened.
The idea of creating a lemon curd for my vagina is brilliantly ludicrous. All I keep thinking is: who was the first person to try this? And then, why did they do it again???
IMAGINE PUTTING A LEMON CURD ON YOUR VAGINA MORE THAN ONCE!!!
Alas, if only it were that easy. It turns out one vagina-pudding is not enough to ensure a happy downstairs region. No no. There are preventative measures we should be taking too, including losing wait (because ladies remember, weight loss is the key to ALL AREAS OF HAPPINESS), moisturising, and my personal favourite, asking a dermatologist for a prescription brightening cream or CHEMICAL PEEL such as hydroquinone or tranexemic acid.
I don’t HAVE a dermatologist, WHO even has a dermatologist?
And then, as if the prospect of rubbing a zesty pudding all over your vage wasn’t enough, I now need to ask a stranger for some ACID to add to the mix? Are you fucking kidding me?
I would like to just write this off as a bad article. I enjoy picking holes in it and poking fun at the absurdity of it all. Ha ha ha. Let’s all have a bloody good laugh at the people moronic enough to think publishing an article on VAGINA LIGHTENING was a good thing to do.
But underneath the pudding-cracks (sorry, can’t resist a vagina pun), this is actually a very distressing issue.
Let me explain.
I have never seen another woman’s vagina IRL. I’ve seen the pubic area, maybe the top of the vulva of a few friends of mine, but as for the actual nitty-gritty-all-up-in-there-genitalia, I know only what I keep on my person.
This is a huge short coming in society. If something were wrong with my vagina, I would not know. I would have no way of knowing. There is nothing to compare it to, there never has been.
I don’t know how my vagina is supposed to look.
I know that I’m supposed to have toned arms and elegant feet and pouty lips and a small waist and big boobs and a round bum and white teeth and long hair and hip dips and thigh gaps and all that shit. I have spent my entire life looking at the body parts of the women around me and comparing myself to them.
She has nice arms, I want arms like her. She has nice legs, I want legs like her. She has such a flat stomach, I wish I had a flat stomach like hers. She has a perfect face WHY CAN’T I RIP OFF HER FACE AND HAVE IT FOR MYSELF???
The only body part that I have never been self conscious about is my vagina, and that’s been a very nice way of existing. Ignorance, in this instance, really is bliss.
Until today. In the back of my mind this morning I found myself wondering – is my vagina too dark? And then… how do I find out? I’m going to the pub with my best mate tonight (the proud owner of a vagina I have never seen BTW), would it be weird to ask her what shade on the dulux colour chart she would describe her fanny as? Or shall I just sit, like so many women, on top of another insecurity, quietly letting it eat away at me for the rest of my life?
I haven’t even brought race into this, I honestly don’t know where to start with it. What comment I, as a white woman, can make. But the idea of needing to lighten something, to imply that for whatever reason having a ‘dark’ vagina is not aspirational, that is problematic. No matter where you look at this issue from, you can see that it is very problematic.
As women we need to be able to have open and honest conversations about our genetalia. I am a very proud ambassador of the Eve Appeal, the charity dedicated to raising awareness and funds for gynaecological cancers and my work with them is centred around women getting to know THEIR normal.
One of the main reasons gynaecological cancers go undetected in women, one of the main reasons gynaecological cancers are KILLING women, is because of a total lack of awareness we have surrounding our vaginas. Our vulvas. All of it.
We don’t talk about it, we never have.
And so on the one hand BRILLIANT that the word vagina has been said more in the news today than ever before.
On the other: was this really the way that we had to start the conversation?
Girls. Your vaginas are beautiful. Perfect.
And they absolutely don’t need to be turned into some weird lemon drizzle cake. Not now, not ever.