Are you a Vagina reader?
Yesterday, a student newspaper, 'Honi Soit' was pulled from the stands at Sydney University and its front page set to be destroyed. What was featured on the cover of this weekly print, were 18 non photo-shopped vaginas. Yes you heard me. Vaginas (well actually, vulvas). This was a cover worthy of a blog post... Yes I do mainly features on lingerie and what is available out there, however what piques my interest most in this industry is actually female body image and lack thereof. This is why I thought it important to talk about.
'Honi Soit' wanted to photograph a variety of un touched (yeah, ah ha ha... funny... sarcasm here) vulvas in a natural light. The purpose of this controversial cover was to make a stance when it comes to insecure female body image. “We are tired of society giving us a myriad of things to feel about our own bodies. We are tired of having to attach anxiety to our vaginas,” they said in a statement. “This cover is intended to reassure other women”.
We as females don't get to see what every day, average vagina looks like. Males have a much more honest image of what a 'real' one is and that to me is rather scary. We have probably only seen our own and a lot haven't even done that! Who wants to take a mirror to their private parts?? The only other image we may have been exposed to is through media and pornography. A completely hairless, pink, smooth, and photo-shopped version of what 'beautiful' genitalia is. So yes, I understand completely what this newspaper wanted to achieve by doing this controversial edition. It wasn't to stun the crowds or create media hype but to present a non photo-shopped image into every day view, in the hope that women will see themselves as A OK and more comfortable with their own bodies.
Initially the Student Representative Council at the University, requested the genitalia be partially censored with a black modesty strip covering the 'offensive' parts before being distributed. It partially defeated the purpose of this cover, but had to be agreed to before publication. However after printing was complete and the newspaper sent out it was realised that the modesty bars weren't nearly opaque enough to cover what could offend some... Hence it reached social media, main stream media and conversations about vulva's and censorship were started. #vaginasoit
Bodies to me are amazing and completely fascinating! But when all we are exposed to is a media driven version of what we should look like, it annoys me. I think about the extremes some women go to in order to achieve that image of beauty. Waxing, bleaching, labiaplasty and all those things just regarding the vagina. We already dye, pluck, cover, and paint our way to perfection as we see it to be. And for what? For someone else to admire?
I don't look in the mirror very often. And I certainly don't look at other women or vaginas in a way of comparing theirs to my own. I would rather have my own image of what beauty or normality is and not allow outside influences to impair my own judgement. So if I am only shown someone elses version of beauty perhaps I will see myself as less. But if I am exposed to a wider variety of beauty then hopefully I will see myself as beautiful. And since I don't live on a deserted island with no one else around me, I would rather be exposed to more, rather than less.
So yes, publish Vulvas on the cover of your magazine. Put natural light, no makeup women into main stream media. Write about more than just the current fashion trends and make up available. Talk to your friends about your anxiety towards beauty. Show the world more than just the one dimensional, photo-shopped version of yourself... I much prefer reality.
What do you think of all the talk behind #vaginasoit? (remember, your post can be anonymous...)