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I'll Show You Mine: Diana

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Submitted by Heather Corinna on Mon, 2011-07-25 07:48

We're so very excited to kick off this series today which features some of the stories and photographs from I'll Show You Mine, a book by Wrenna Robertson and photographer Katie Huisman, and by all of the women featured in the book, collectively. The book is an educational resource which was created to debunk society’s artificial and unrealistic standards for normalcy and beauty with the vulva, and to help people really get a sense of not only what vulvas can look like, in all their diversity (and without our pal Photoshop in the mix), but the diverse ways people who have them can feel about them. Sixty women are represented in the book, each with two large, true colour photographs. The photos are paired with in-her-own-words stories of each woman’s experience of the shaping forces of her sexuality; the stories range from heart-wrenching to celebratory, from angry to sensual. Women from a variety of ethnicities, ages spanning from 19 into their sixties, and all walks of life are represented: students, doctors, artists, academics, sex workers, mothers, grandmothers, housewives, entrepreneurs and more.

To find out more about the book, Wrenna, and why we think this is such an important project, check out our interview with her here. Or, you can visit the website for the book to find out and more and get a copy for yourself so that you can see the whole of this amazing book.

Over the next eight weeks, we will be posting the photographs and first-person narratives of eight of the women featured in the book. We will lead with the narrative, and follow with the photographs. If you would like to ask the person whose body and words are featured in each entry any questions or have a conversation with her, most of the subjects have agreed to make themselves available here in the comments for discussions with our readers. As mentioned in Wrenna's interview last week, so many people never get the opportunity to talk about genitals in an honest, open and safe way with others, so we encourage you to avail yourselves of this excellent opportunity, and are so grateful to the women involved for making this kind of conversation available to Scarleteen readers.

We're also happy to talk with you as Scarleteen staff or volunteers if you like. Depending on your feelings about your own genitals or those of others, and your experience (or lack of it) in seeing vulvas so realistically before, reading narratives or seeing images like these may stir up feelings for you which are uncomfortable. We're glad to talk you through any discomfort if you like should that happen for you. We're also happy to answer any questions this series may bring up for you about sexual or reproductive anatomy, either here in comments, on our message boards, or through our text service.

As is always the case with any interactive content on the site, comments for this series will be moderated, and as we always ask of those who comment, please dedicate yourself to respectful and thoughtful conversation. Thanks!

Reminder: This post includes a set of unaltered, unretouched and detailed photographs of the vulva for the purposes of awareness and education, not for sexual or other entertainment. If you do not wish to view photos like this, or are in a location where you do not feel comfortable viewing them, you may not want to read or scroll to the bottom of this page. We have left substantial space in between the words and the images so you may read all of the author's narrative without also viewing the images if you prefer.

This post also includes a first-person narrative reflective of the author and their thoughts and feelings, which may or may not reflect the opinions or values of Scarleteen as an organization.

With no further adieu, let's get started with Diana!

My name is Diana.

When I was a very young child, I remember really, really loving my vagina. The smell and sight of it made me feel comfortable and at home, and I was very vocal about how proud I was to be a girl. When I was still young and cute enough for adults to find me benign and non-threatening, I'd boast at length about my genitalia, describing its structure in detail - even feeling it was far superior to the junk of the boys around me.

I'm not sure exactly when, or how, or from whom I picked up the fear and shame I developed surrounding my vagina, but by the time I was 6 or 7 I wished it didn't exist. By the time I was 10, I'd almost succeeded in putting it completely out of sight and out of mind. The occasional fluid leaks and period scares were the only things keeping me attached in any way to the space between my legs. The onset of menstruation only made me feel dirty and self-conscious, and I bundled my shame in toilet paper and cotton, wrapping discarded pads in layer after layer of tissue, hoping my family would never find out that I bled.

I was not raised in an environment where women where allowed to be proud to be women.

By the time I started having sex I had racked up over a decade of sexual shame. It took almost a year for me to learn how to feel, to breathe through the discomfort and embarrassment and the guilt, to feel like I could, in fact, experience pleasure.

It still takes a lot of effort and encouragement, from myself and from others, for me to feel comfortable expressing fondness for and felling anywhere near as delighted as I once did about my vagina. Participating in this project allowed me to feel a whole new level of love for it - like what I have is wanted, and can be loved, and that this love is deserved.

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Want some information on vulvas and other sexual anatomy, gender and body image? Check these links out to get started:

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