Because I was multi-screening last night, I ended up with the TV on for the first 10 minutes of Channel 4's Naked Attraction. That 10 minutes was enough for me to spot that 5 out of 6 of the female contestants had completely shaved their vulvas. FIVE out of SIX!!! And the sixth? She'd shaved hers to within a gnats whisker of her fleshy folds.
I am totally ok with that. Shave. Don't shave. Trim. Topiarise. Whatever. But KNOW WHY YOU'RE DOING IT!!!
The trend for shaved vulva's is a relatively recent one, and comes directly from the porn industry. Shaved vulva's are attractive there because they allow the voyeur to see all the action - and, more disturbingly, because they convey youth. So if you shave your poor foof to within an inch of her life, you are correlating to a pretty inaccurate, fairly misogynistic idea of what female beauty is. The chap on the show last night said he liked a shaved vulva because it shows a women is taking of herself. And he's not wrong. Think of the time, effort and expense to keep your vulva bald (not to mention the itching).
This morning, I spied this article, and it says pretty much everything I want to say about our relationship with our FEMALENESS. It's a 5 minute read, and well worth it. And it supports my internal rage as I cleaned my teeth last night;
* THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOUR VULVA * (It's a vulva, your vagina is INTERNAL) * Like women, vulva's come in all sorts of shapes and sizes * YOUR vulva is perfectly fine as it is * You do not NEED to shave your vulva. A shaved vulva has only recently become the norm. * You do not need scented panty liners, douches, wipes, special soaps or sprays or anything of the sort. Your vulva can and will look after herself. * BE WARY OF PEOPLE AND BRANDS THAT TELL YOU YOUR VULVA NEEDS TO BE CHANGED.....
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that while it may not be a patriarchal plot, the inevitable result of telling women they need to tinker with their parts is to make us fearful of natural selves. And when we're fearful of something without really understanding why, it has the capacity to control us.
Do NOT be ashamed of the natural state of your body. Your body is amazing, and will be here looking out for you long after those brands, and influencers and 'slebs are packed up and forgotten.
And yes, I DO think this relates to birth. I meet a LOT of women who do not trust their bodies, and who are fearful of their elemental nature - their inherent WOMANNESS. It feels too intense. Too raw. Too powerful. Too untameable. This is one of things women fear about labour - will it be too intense for me to handle? No, Darling, because it IS you, and you can handle it. And if you don't want to handle it, THEN call in the drugs, and feel empowered to do so through informed choice.
YOU CAN ONLY TAKE CONTROL IF YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT IS CONTROLLING YOU.
<Steps down from soapbox>