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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Bodies » Making Peace with Madame Vulva

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Author Topic: Making Peace with Madame Vulva
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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You may have seen this today, which includes a mention that we have an awful lot of young women (and even one is too many, in my book) who come to Scarleteen feeling anything from worried about to outright hateful towards their own vulvas.

Have you been in that group, either during your tenure here or before you got here? Have you been able to better accept your body in all its glory, just as it is? Want to let other users know how you did that?

If you STILL feel funky about your vulva, today strikes me as a great day to try and work that out. How about speaking some friendly words to make peace with your girlie-bits today and move into a better body image from here on out?

P.S. I LOVED what Dr. Berman said at the end of that piece.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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fallchild
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Wow I thought Dr. Berman's comment was great too [Smile] Just to share some personal comments, I was never a hater of my own vulva but I was a stranger. I never pulled out my handy mirror and took a gander because....well, I don't know why. I was raised within a set of cultural/religious/gender norms that really wasn't cool with women owning their bodies and sexuality, so maybe that's part of it. I remember the day I did look though and remember thinking, "Whoa....cool." After I got to "know" my vulva, by caring for its medical, hygenic, and sexual needs I began to feel really empowered. Yep, I masturbate because I not only like the sexual pleasure it brings but because I feel proud to know that I know my own body well enough to help myself reach orgasm. Yep, I wear washable cloth pads because I'm not afraid of being in close quarters with the fluids that come out. Yep, I'm pretty cool with checking out my discharges just to make sure everything is running the way it should. Yep, I'm really cool with letting partners be intimate with my vulva. It's a part of me. I could never hate it.

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"It's better to die on your feet than live down on your knees"

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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Great comments!

On a personal note, what's so strange about all of this for me is that vulval appearance in terms of normal/not-normal, or attractive/not-attractive never even OCCURRED to me as something to think about until I started hearing other women talking about it in my very late twenties.

I had many sexual partners before then,including in my teens, and it was never something I thought about. Even with having been sexually assaulted, it wasn't something I thought about. I even had my vulva photographed and painted by a few artists by then, and knew total strangers would be looking and it STILL was never something I thought about. My Dad's Playboy mags were often findable when I was younger, but in that era, it's not like one often saw labia or vaginal openings then in pornography (even at angles where one might have gotten some glimpse, it was often obscured by pubic hair, because this was before the pubic hair removal thing was so common). Having had female sex partners, I saw other vulvas, and yet was never driven to make any comparisons between mine and theirs.

Now, I'm not going to suggest that all of this worry is media/cosmetic surgery industry driven, but I have to confess that I have to wonder how, if it's not mostly about that (and understand I have never been a big mainstream media purveyor), someone like me, who probably had more folks seeing her vulva than many didn't even think that I should CONSIDER having any concern before relatively recently if that didn't have a whole heaping lot to do with it.

(And I still remain unconcerned. My bits are what my bits are, they work just fine, they look as same and as varied as any other vulva or set of genitals that I have seen, and I'm not sure I've ever met an "unattractive" set of genitals, on men or women, in my life.)

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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September
Scarleteen Volunteer
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I've gotta say, my experience has been the same: the first time it ever occurred to me that one might be dissatisfied with the appearance of ones genitals was when I saw posts about that here on Scarleteen.

I started puberty relatively late, at 14, and at that point I was worried and insecure about a lot of aspects of my appearance, but my vulva was just never one of them.

I've actually always really liked my vulva. I think it's pretty looking, and I think it's nifty that it can make me feel all sorts of exciting things. I've also never been concerned with a partner seeing my genitals. I've been insecure about sharing painful aspects of my past with a partner, but not about sharing my body.

So I do think that the media hype has a lot to do with it, but I also think that you've got to bring some amount of insecurity about your body to the table for the media to have such an impact.

It's neat that TIME magazine has picked up on that and is offering such a critical view, though.

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Johanna
Scarleteen Volunteer

"The question is not who will let me, but who is going to stop me." -Ayn Rand

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diamonds4lucy
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Member # 28076

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It was something that I was nervous about when I first became sexually active at 17; the only time I had seen another woman's vulva was in pornography online- and I had never seen any that looked like mine. I finally confessed to my boyfriend that this concern was the reason I was apprehensive about sexual activity- he assured me that, from what he could tell, it looked just fine to him.

I guess from then on I figured that if my partner didn't care, surely I didn't have a reason to fret- and I've been fortunate enough to have partners who only made me feel better, not worse about myself, physically *and* emotionally. I wouldn't have it any other way- life's too short to be with someone who does anything less than embrace you fully, for who you are, inside and out. I wouldn't ever want to make my partner feel lacking in any way- why should I be with someone who would do that to me?

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I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be. -Douglas Adams.

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Stephanie101
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I never really looked at my vulva until I came across this site, I checked out the pink-slip and it was around the time of my Grade.9 health classes.

So I went with a mirror into the bathroom and had a look! It didn't really look like the pictures on the website, my inner labia are almost non-existant. But I'm okay with it!

Just like any other part of my body I'm going to have to live with it and accept it for what it is. It functions just fine, some people arn't very in touch with their genitals. I am 15 and I've already discovered what it takes to get me to orgasm! I feel sorry for those who havn't explored that area before! [Smile]

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stephh!

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cool87
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I got to say that I've personnally never really felt uncomfortable about the appearance of my vulva and about partners seeing my genitals, except maybe when it comes to body hair.

Growing up as a teen, I was worried about whether my partners would be okay/comfortable with what I chosed to do with my body hair (to shave or not or trim) but I've realized that it is my own body hair and that what I choose to do with it is therefore my decision, not my partner's, and that what matters most is what I'm most comfortable with, not so much my partner's preferences.

[ 11-23-2008, 02:13 PM: Message edited by: cool87 ]

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feefiefofemme
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I've done some up-close-and-personal vulva gazing with my handy dandy makeup mirror, and my fair share of masturbating, and I'm more than a little fond of my girly bits. I don't know. I haven't really had a lot of contact with other women's vulvas thus far, and so I always just sort of assumed that mine was just your typical, run-of-the-mill genitalia. It was only after I got here that I learned about all the variations that there could be, and that only really reaffirmed the idea that what I have is just fine.

I guess part of it might be because of the way my parents raised me (shielded from and scornful of the media). I didn't have much experience with harmful messages toward women in the media until I was pretty secure in my own body image. Of course it's impossible to avoid everything, but my mom did a fantastic job talking to me about what I did encounter. So... Thanks to my parents, I guess.

Also, I stumbled across Scarleteen just right around that period where my self image could have taken a serious downhill turn, and I think it helped me get through a lot of the middle school my-body-is-changing junk without too much drama.

[ 11-23-2008, 02:23 PM: Message edited by: BiGoddess ]

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king lear
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I agree with cool - I think the part that many girls often worry about is - "To shave or not to shave?"

Personally, I have always thought that my lady bits look just fine, and if a sexual partner disagrees, they will be booted off.

However, unlike others, I do not masturbate, and choose not to be fully acquainted with my vulva. I like that it is there and ready for stimulation from partners.

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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quote:
...if a sexual partner disagrees, they will be booted off.
That sentence left the phrase "Voted Off Vulva Island," in my head, which was really quite amusing. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Capucine
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Member # 40437

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Ever since I noticed my that labia mysteriously grew, I was horribly ashamed of the way it looked. After coming to this sight I realized that a large portion of girls young and old also felt this way.

This really seems to come down to, once again, the sex 'education' we recieve in elementary to high school. Because honestly, did anyone's school even HINT that the vulva/labia/clitoris were supposed to change? I know mine didn't. Really it seems that all young girls are only told 'you'll grow breasts and start to bleed once a month'. And if your lucky they might give you a heads up on pubic hair.

Because girls generally aren't presented with the information that their genitals are supposed to grow and change, many end up feeling shocked and horrified when their body does. Often, these feelings last for a number of years and by the time they do manage to find a wonderfully informative place like scarletteen, these fears and worries are very deeply ingrained and hard to change.

I know now, after finding scarletteen, that my vulva looks the way it does because my genome told it to, not because there is something wrong with it. And after accepting that, I grabbed a hand held mirror and decided to get to know that part of my boby. I love my vulva now!

If only this kind of information way presented to young girls early on perhaps vulva panic wouldn't be such a common thing now.

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*Hello Pussycat* -Peter O'Toole

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Jill2000Plus
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Learning to love your vulva, is the greatest love of all... (I just imagined Cordelia in season 1 of Buffy singing that).

I've loved my vulva for as long as I can remember, I have had a look in the mirror several times and I think it is wonderful, growing familiar with it's smell, appearance and how much pleasure I can experience from it has helped me feel a lot happier and more delighted with life and my body as a whole.

I agree that the media pressure is making things much, much worse, maybe the shaving pubes thing is used by some as a way of making women feel their bodies are even more on display, so their genitals can be judged, as it were.

I also agree that women aren't told their genitals are going to change, boys are told their penises and testicles will increase in size and change colour a bit, but girls don't tend to get that information.

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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AnonymousMew
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Wow, Capucine, you bring up a great point and you put it so well too! I realize that one of the reasons that I'm STILL not okay with the way my vulva has turned out, is because they really don't teach you about these changes in school. I'm almost 20 and even though I realize that it may be normal for me to have large inner labia bits, my vulva-confidence was shattered the minute I noticed these natural changes and I really hope that one day, I can accept it and perhaps not feel so resentful towards my vulva and myself. Unfortunately, I still feel like there's this brick wall holding me back from letting go of my lack of self-esteem in certain important areas.

All that aside, I DO masturbate and have done so since the minute I figured out how amazing it is to pleasure oneself (I think I was between the age of 12 and 14).

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"Things that try to look like things often do look more like things than things."
Granny Weatherwax in Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

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AnonymousMew
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Jill2000plus, you also bring up goods points. I was too eager to reply to the previous post, that I forgot to give you kudos as well.

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"Things that try to look like things often do look more like things than things."
Granny Weatherwax in Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

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