In the context of thinking about how mikveh can enhance our sexuality, we asked PT Tali Ginsburg if there is a common issue that many women have that might impact on their ability to have pleasure. Surprisingly, rather than a physical problem that many women are plagued with, she referred us to the emotional aspects that impact our experience, and specifically, issues of body image as they relate to our most intimate selves.
Pretty much every woman who comes to see me asks, “Is it supposed to look like that?” Well, as a physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor rehabilitation, the short answer is yes. If you feel like there might be something off down there then you are certainly not alone. Many women have a great deal of anxiety about how their vagina looks or smells. I know that especially after giving birth, the changes can seem pretty dramatic. In fact, our vulvas change throughout our lives, it happens to every woman and though it can be surprising, it is just a normal part of aging. So, YES it is supposed to look and smell like that. Chances are, your vulva (the outer part of your vagina) is gorgeous. Vulvas come in infinite colors, shapes, and sizes. Think of facial features, the variety is endless and the same is true about our privates. The labias can be light pink or almost maroon, short or floppy, smooth or jagged, symmetrical or asymmetrical and it is all perfectly natural and wonderful. I have yet to encounter an abnormal looking vulva.
In this light, artist Jamie McCartney created an incredible project, The Great Wall of Vagina.
Sparked by the trend for the “designer vagina”, where women resort to cosmetic surgery for a certain look, McCartney decided to create art to show that all bodies are different and there are many kinds of beautiful. The result was a 9 meter long polyptych consisting of four hundred plaster casts of vulvas arranged into ten large panels. The vagina molds are from women ages 18 to 76, mothers and daughters, identical twins, transgendered men and women and a woman pre and post natal. His goal was to highlight the diversity and beauty of the human body and to alleviate the anxiety and dissatisfaction of a growing population of women that seek to obtain the “ideal” even when one doesn’t exist. As art often does, this piece has generated conversation and cultural awareness in ways that words often cannot.
When you look at his work, you can really understand that while we are all similar, there is diversity and beauty that comes in many forms. Feel free to look at the pictures in this link, which display his artwork and the fieldwork. Be aware it contains EXPLICIT images of his vulva sculptures and how they were created: https://www.greatwallofvagina.co.uk/great-wall-vagina-panels.
Feeling good about your body means being comfortable and confident about your vagina. Worrying about how your labias look can sap all the pleasure out of intimacy and limit your sexual options. A good way to start appreciating your vagina is by recognizing how versatile and resilient it is. No other body part is as dynamic.