Move over Dove, real beauty is on the inside – well at least that’s what the Vulva-Positive Mission is about. Not only do women have issues acknowledging their outer beauty, it seems as though we aren’t getting the right messages when it comes to the beauty of our vulvas and vaginas either.
The “What do you like about your vulva and vagina” illustration project, led by Dr. Debby Herbenick, a research scientist, sexual health educator, sex columnist and author, is on a mission to counteract the many negative messages out there about women’s genitals.
The project, centered on an illustrative poster, being developed by Dr. Herbenick and Vanessa Schick, a research assistant, along with the help of artist Erin Tobey,will celebrate female genital diversity and illustrate that every “vulva is a beautiful vulva in its own unique way”.
“All too often, society focuses on things that make women feel badly about their bodies. There are products to clean women’s genitals, to get rid of some kind of “not so fresh scent”, and even to change the colors of women’s vulvas. We haven’t even mentioned the political and cultural dramas that often put women’s genitals at center stage,” Dr. Herbenick states on her Kickstarter campaign page.
In their research, the team surveyed hundreds of women about various health and sexuality related aspects of their vulvas and vaginas, and found that in spite of society’s dislike for down there, women generally feel “all right” about their vulvas and vaginas, but could “stand to feel more positively”. In fact, they discovered that those of us who do have a positive opinion of our genitals are more likely to take better care of our gynecological health and have more, pleasurable and satisfying sex. Need we say more?
The full color poster will show 16 different images of vulvas, alongside real quotes from women who took the survey and answered questions regarding what they liked most about their genitals. The poster is the first step in spreading the vulva-positive message, which aims to empower women to see their own bodies as beautiful and unique.
Dr. Herbenick’s greatest hope is that the posters will be placed in family planning clinic exam rooms and bathrooms, and suggests that you “send one to your favorite politician who could maybe stand to learn more about women’s bodies and love and appreciate them.” Hello Texas.
“When people think about vulvas and vaginas, instead of dirty or gross, we want them to think of words like awesome and beautiful. This project is not going to solve every vagina-negative situation in the world, but if it sparks a few conversations and makes even a handful of women feel better about their genitals, we believe it will have been a success,” Dr. Herbenick concludes.