I don’t know about you, but I don’t love mirrors. I don’t carry one in my purse, whenever I find myself in front of one I start picking at spots and counting the flaws on my face, and I can’t take a good mirror-selfie to save my life.
And yet, a mirror is the magical tool I’m encouraging you all to reach for in this article.
Otherwise, how will you see everything down there? That’s right. Today in what I’m impulsively naming “AM Appointment dares you,” I want you to go find a hand mirror, or even throw your phone in airplane mode* and turn on the front camera, take a deep breath, and greet your vulva.
Unlike people with penises, whose genitalia protrudes conspicuously from the front of their bodies, people with vulva’s need to be supremely limber in order to take stock of their bits without the help of a hand-mirror.
Why is self-examination important?
Well for starters, a visual understanding of what we look like, and the ability to connect the dots between what we feel and what we see, can help us focus on pleasure AND keep tabs on our health.
I know this may be challenging. Many women struggle to build relationships with their genitalia. Often feelings of shame, negative emotions, and even disgust swirl around when it comes to our labia and vaginas. It’s perceived as a dark, sometimes dirty place that we’ve been conditioned to look away from. Many of us have been ridiculed into shame about our bodies, whether by media and pop culture, our parents and partners, or even our own self-criticism. Even in 2019 – the year of female sexual pleasure – thousands of women are turning to labiaplasty, vagina rejeuvination, or other means of cosmetic surgery to “fix” their vulva.
We are very vocal in the opinion that YOUR VULVA IS NORMAL.
Labia come in a wide array of lengths, sizes, colours, and levels of symmetry. Your pubic hair is NORMAL, whether you choose to groom or not. Your clitoris is NORMAL, whether it’s tucked up and feels tiny, or protrudes out of its hood all the time. Any surgery involving trimming or removing parts of the labia should involve strict professional consultation, and should be undertaken due to medical need. We strongly discourage the idea of undergoing labiaplasty for cosmetic reasons, which could lead to infection or painful scarring. But that is an article for another day. Today, I’m here to talk about taking a peek at your junk as a learning experience!
In previous posts, we’ve spoken about how a dab of lube on a fingertip can work wonders when we touch ourselves. Wouldn’t it be amazing to SEE those wonders taking place? Watching arousal in action – swelling, moistening, changing colours – provides important data and feedback. Would you mix a cake batter, throw it in the oven and NOT watch the transformation happen before taking a bite? Seeing how and when a cake puffs up during baking helps you make a better cake next time.
Similarly, having a visual map of your junk can also help pinpoint problem areas if we’re ever experiencing pain, discomfort, odd smells or weird lumps. It could be a pimple or an ingrown hair, or it could mean you need to book an appointment with your GP. Wouldn’t you rather see what’s happening for yourself? When we know what’s up, we can use more precise language and ask more informed questions at the doctor’s office.
We see and respect the differing levels of comfort women have with our bodies.
We also believe that one of the most empowering and accessible ways we can take care of ourselves is by simply knowing what our bodies look like, even the dark and scary bits. Building that relationship thoughtfully and from a place of love can foster confidence and better self-awareness at any stage in life. And I’m certainly not here to tell you to spread ’em and show everybody your fleshy folds (unless you’re into that and explicit consent has been granted), but in your own time and the comfort of your safe space, have a lil looksee.
You can make it a fun date with yourself by going hunting for a fab antique hand mirror, treating yourself to a glass of bubbly or a couple fingers of whisky, keeping a sex toy nearby as a reward tactic, or even waiting until after youv’e had a wax if you like. You don’t have to do it now, or tomorrow, or next week. You don’t have to share your experience if you don’t want to, and you certainly don’t have to shout it from the rooftops that you’ve given yourself a thorough self-examination at bedtime (although we do encourage discussion for the sake of normalization). We just want you to know yourself as thoroughly as you can.
Mirrors to the rescue.
As often as mirrors can lead us to criticism and doubt (think Magic Mirror in Sleeping Beauty), they can also be avenues to greater awareness and knowledge about the bodies we live in (think Enchanted Mirror in Beauty and the Beast). So we dare you… shine a light on your vulva, and get to know her. It may lead to more questions, it may answer a few old ones. At the very least, you’ll be able to say you know yourself. And we consider that a big step in the right direction.
*to avoid any mistaken puss-pics ending up on your Instagram or Snapchat