Terrible pun but it is true – I have been talking about fannies quite a bit recently. Is that weird? Am I weird? Who cares! I need to talk and when I talk others join in. It’s nice.
I am a nearly 40 year old woman and live happily with my lady bits. I don’t worry about them or give mine much thought beyond the usual day-to-day normal necessities. But I have become increasingly aware of how ones fanny has become a fashion accessory, a statement piece, public property and I don’t like that. I’m not so much worried for myself. I’m old enough to carry a practical sized handbag in which to store a lifetimes worth of scathing one-liners, self-esteem, rescue remedy and gaffa tape but I am thinking about the future, our future. Our children. So, when the ABC aired ‘The Vagina Diaries’ late last month I just had to take a look……
I’ve blogged about the ‘designer vagina‘ before on my Realize Beauty blog and being in the cosmetic industry am no stranger to labioplasty and the pornification of beauty but what rattled my cage was that our (Australian) porn industry is adding to our female pain by photoshopping bits off. FOR OUR OWN MODESTY. Bloody Hell.
Now I am sorry to sound prudish but I’ve never been a connoisseur or porn and had held a belief that maybe, just maybe the ladies in these magazines had naturally small labia or had ‘had the surgery’ in the same way as you might have a boob job if you were a topless model trying to get work for ‘big, bouncy and beautiful’. While I didn’t like this I was willing to accept the ‘fashion’ for the pre-pubescent look while speaking out about diversity but I was wrong. The models who do these shoots are as big, small, in, out, hairy and nude as the rest of us, it is the censors that decided ‘women don’t look like that’. Are men exempt? I doubt it.
With my attention firmly fixed on the reality/ fantasy blurring of boundaries of our modern life (the subject of my new book) I’m worried that our idea of what a ‘normal’ female looks like ‘down below’ is based on fiction because someone in an office somewhere decided that was less offensive and photo shopped it off. I find THAT offensive. THAT implies that the female of the species is flawed, imperfect, better off fake. Pass me a bucket, I need to spew.
But wait, don’t our girls have access to better calibre resources? After all porn school doesn’t really have a good ring to it…..
Well ask yourself this. How many fannies have you seen (outside of the porn industry) recently?
I can’t say I’ve seen any except for my own and the dogs (shameless creatures) but what I have seen are countless crotch shots of young and obviously hairless girls wearing next to nothing. Lady Gaga and Mylie Cyrus spring to mind straight away. Plus there are the radio ads ‘get a hair free cha cha’ and the DJ talk ‘oooh I HATE hair down there’ Thanks Kyle Sanderlands, so we know that hair is not en vogue and once you are hairless you are one step closer to labia mania in my opinion. But let’s face it, pop culture is not exactly ‘primary research’. There must be something else?
Thankfully there are one or maybe two places that we can go to get a different view which I’ll share with you now.
The Labia Library is my first port of call. This photography project gives us girls a close-up-and-personal look at what women look like down below. While part of me still feels a bit pissed off (to be truthful) that we even need this to feel OK with ourselves I still love it. While I have never been a fan of porn I’ve often poured over medical books and find the presentation of this project familiar, honest, trustworthy and re-assuring.
The second is the Embarrassing Bodies Vulva Gallery. Again we see what real people look like and are struck by the diversity and individuality of each woman on display. The medical setting again gives this a trustworthy feel although the program also talks about labiaplasty and hasn’t (in memory) discussed the morality of this operation or given an opinion on the ratio of necessary-to-vanity regarding the operations soaring popularity. This does concern me slightly. I wonder if there is some unspoken rule in the medical world ‘though shalt not dis my procedure’ or maybe it’s about income streams or maybe there is a genuine fear of damaging Peoples mental health by refusing to take them as patients. I don’t know but I’d be interested to find out…
So with the body re-enforcement sorted it’s time to think about the mind. What is going on inside the head of a 13-20 year old girl or boy for that matter?
I must say the Vagina Diaries again gave me cause to celebrate (or at least let out a little ‘yay’). On interviewing several guys as they walked down the high street our host established that on the whole guys are happy with ‘whatever she’s got’ in the pant department with only one brave soul stating a clear dislike for the fuzz. As for surgical enhancements one got the feeling that none of the guys were that fussed about that either – a sentiment that was made more poignant in an interview with a young girl who had just gone through the procedure only to have her partner be nonplussed by the results.
But I wanted to follow this up with something more and that’s when I found Birdee magazine. This online teen-zeen was exactly what I wanted to find (Confirmation bias yes, do I care? NO, not right now). Featuring original content by young gutsy women not afraid to share their opinions and stand with their feet firmly on the ground. THIS is what I was hoping for. I encourage you to take a look and pass it on.
So maybe the girls are going to be OK! If we can just steer them into the thinking corner they won’t just survive with their body-love intact, they will thrive and turn into women that can love freely, birth naturally and live without fear. Hang on, what did I just say…..
And that brings my fanny chatter to a whole new level. It occurred to me this week that there is more than just vanity and our casual sex life at stake here. These pube-lic property issues if not nipped in the bud run the risk of shaping our birth choices therefore further undermining the role and status of the vagina.
I enjoyed two pregnancies and births without fear that my bits didn’t look right. Granted I was as concerned as anyone that I’d tear, lose control or stretch beyond repair but I didn’t ever think that the doctors and nurses would stand back and laugh at the size or shape of my bits. I was confident that if my bits could make a baby they could birth a baby. It has since dawned on me that maybe not everyone is that lucky?
With that in mind I am now determined to champion the ‘natural vulva/ vagina’ cause with renewed passion and vigour, to spread the word that we are OK, that we are not flawed and don’t need fixing. That the parts of us which bring forth new life deserve to be celebrated and enjoyed, that we are complete and completely beautiful.
A fanny doesn’t have to birth a baby to be valid or real, it just has to be respected so let’s do all we can to encourage that.
And that’s a rap.