Everyone experiences a lack of confidence in parts of their bodies, even supermodels. One area we don’t tend to talk about much, however, is our private parts. While it may seem odd, many women are highly self-conscious about the look of their parts “down there”. This filmmaker realized this and set out to prove that your vagina is more beautiful than you think.
Your Vagina is More Beautiful Than You Think
Documentary filmmaker Layla Martin noticed that there is a gap between how women see their bodies and how their partners see their bodies. This gap was particularly evident when discussing the private area between their legs: Their vaginas. (1)
To prove to you that your vagina is beautiful, she brought in different women from different life stages to have a photo taken of their vagina. She then showed them their photo and filmed the ladies’ reactions to it.
Next, she showed the picture of each woman’s vagina to their respective partner and filmed his reaction to it. The women’s reactions were, unsurprisingly, quite negative. They felt awkward and self-conscious even looking at that part of their body and certainly weren’t proud of it.
Their partners, on the other hand, we’re heart-warmingly positive. They describe all the little things they like about their partner’s vagina, how in awe they are of it, and how beautiful they think it is.
Layla proves that no matter what you think about your body, in particular your vagina, it is much more beautiful than you think. In fact, many of the things that you dislike or are self-conscious about are some of your partner’s favorite things. (1)
Much of the shyness and negative opinions around our private parts for both men and women are learned: We are taught from a very young age that discussing our genitals and private areas is not appropriate.
Layla’s documentary highlights the importance of men and women feeling comfortable talking about even the most private areas of their bodies. It shows just how important it is to normalize what our bodies look like naturally, and this includes the female vagina.
What Should a “Normal” Vagina Look Like, Anyway?
Often when talking about a healthy or “normal” vagina, we talk about the smell. After all, the way our vagina smells is often a cause of anxiety for many women. Though many have pushed to normalize talking about the smell of our vaginas, even going so far as to create vagina-scented candles, what the vagina is supposed to look like is still very much a mystery for many women.
First of all, when talking about what our vagina looks like, what we are really talking about is the vulva. The vagina is an internal canal that connects to the cervix and the rest of the reproductive organs. (2) The vulva is the part we see on the outside (2):
- The labia
- The clitoris
- The openings to the vagina
- The openings to the urethra
As with all parts of the human body, no two vulvas are alike, and there are many shapes and sizes that it comes in. (2)
The Anatomy of the Vulva
To know what a normal vulva is supposed to look like, we first must know what it consists of.
1. The Labia Shape
The labia consists up of two parts: The larger, outer lips and the smaller, inner lips closer to the vaginal opening. These are known as the labia majora and the labia minora, respectively.
There are so many different shapes and sizes that both your inner and outer lips can come in, there is not such a thing as one “normal” way your labia can look. (2) These shapes include (3):
- Asymmetrical inner lips
- Curved outer lips
- Prominent inner lips
- Prominent outer lips
- Long, dangling inner lips
- Long, dangling outer lips
- Small, open lips
- Small, closed lips
- Visible inner lips
Both lips can be the same size and cause the outer ones to stay open, other times the outer lips can completely hide the inner lips. The latter is usually seen in prepubescent girls and is unfortunately what one sees most often when watching porn. This “idealized” lip positioning, however, is very uncommon in grown women. (2)
2. The Labia Color
The labia can be a variety of colors and usually does not match the skin tone of the rest of the woman’s body. (2) These colors can include (2):
The labia are not all-one color either and will become darker when you are aroused. It’s also normal for the skin around the labia to have a bumpy texture, especially if you shave regularly. (2)
3. The Clitoris
This is the tiny organ at the top of your vulva where the two inner labia lips meet. Often it is covered by a hood, however, the clitoris can vary shape and size just as your labia does. (2)
You Don’t Need Vaginal Rejuvenation
You may have seen “vagina lifts” or “vaginal rejuvenation” procedures advertised on social media or elsewhere. I am going to lay this out for you plain and simple: Your vagina does not need cosmetic or surgical procedures. (2)
Not only are these procedures completely unnecessary, they can be potentially dangerous. The FDA has warned against vaginal rejuvenation spa treatments for this very reason. At-home treatments in particular have caused severe burns and scarring in some cases. (2)
Cosmetic gynecological procedures are also becoming increasingly popular, and these, too, come with plenty of risks and, honestly, very little reward. (2)
A labiaplasty, or labia reduction procedure, is one where either your inner or outer lips are trimmed down so that they aren’t as long. The majority of these surgeries, however, are done by plastic surgeons, not obstetricians or gynecologists. (4)
According to Dr. Jennifer Blake, CEO of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, there are no real medical reasons for having this done, but there are certainly plenty of risks. (4)
“Labia provide protection and sexual comfort through stretch,” says Blake. “People don’t realize that labia shrink during menopause. Women are having this surgery done when they are young but we have no long term data on it. We have no idea what’s going to happen to these women during menopause.” (4)
Other types of cosmetic gynecological procedures include:
- Hymenoplasty: The surgical restoration of the vaginal membrane. (5)
- G-spot augmentation: Making the “G-spot” larger in an attempt to enhance the sexual experience. (6)
These procedures are highly expensive, ranging from $4000 to $6000 or more. Currently, the long-term side effects are unknown. The biggest issue, particularly with a labiaplasty, is that you can’t regrow the tissue once it has been removed. (3)
Stop Vagina Shaming
Most of what women are told is a “normal” or beautiful-looking vagina comes from the porn industry and frankly, is not true. Dr. Blake agrees. (3)
“The other thing that’s alarming is where people get their ideas of what’s normal and unfortunately a lot of this comes from the [mainstream] pornography industry where cosmetic procedures to modify the vulva and labia are common,” says Dr. Blake. “And these are vaginas that are altered to look juvenile—that’s disturbing too, on a whole other level.” (2)
We need to normalize the fact that women’s vaginas – all shapes, sizes, and colors – are beautiful. Its time we celebrate our bodies’ differences, both men and women, and normalize the fact that adult body parts don’t look like child and adolescent ones.
“We should be celebrating the diversity and pushing back on messages that try to homogenize us or infantilize us,” says Dr. Blake. (2)