Let’s just get right to it: Our culture is obsessed with penis size. Watch any popular movie or TV show and you would believe large penis size is the most important tool to fulfilling sexual experiences for women. This stereotype is harmful to both men and women and extremely untrue. According to ABC News, less than 20% of women can orgasm from intercourse alone, meaning that penis size is way less important to orgasm than clitoral stimulation, which can be done manually, orally, or with the help of a sex toy. 

Less talked about, but equally as toxic, is the myth of the “loose vagina”. Historically, our culture has emphasized the importance of a tight vagina, idealizing virgins in a harmful way, and performing unnecessary and brutal medical operations such as the “Husband Stitch” to tighten a woman's vagina post-birth for her husband’s purported sexual benefit. Even today, woman are still sold the idea that we need to change the size and shape of our vaginas through labiaplasty or vaginal rejuvenation surgery.

The truth is, there is no perfect size or shape for genitals. Vaginas come in sizes large and small, with vulvas as varied in shape and size as petals on a rose. In 2017, the BBC reported a disturbing increase in teenage girls seeking labiaplasty to change the shape and size of their labia lips. Unfortunately, I don't find this news completely surprising. I have a distinct memory of being in my late teens and catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror and thinking: There is no way that looks right 👀. But I was wrong! It's not unusual for inner labia lips to stick out past the outer lips, be asymmetrical, or not be perfectly smooth. Even occasional pimples are totally normal (though, to be real, also completely annoying). 

In 2016, illustrator Hilde Atalanta started The Vulva Gallery, an art project that celebrates ✨vulva variety✨. She was inspired to start the project because of the lack of diverse genital representation in mainstream media and sexual health classes. 

Her art project quickly went viral, and the messages Atalanta received emphasized the life-changing power of diverse representation.

"I started receiving more and more messages from individuals from all around the world, thanking me for the gallery and telling me that it changed their view on their vulvas; that they never realized their vulva was actually normal; and even some of them cancelled their labiaplasty surgery. I was touched that something so seemingly simple could have such big effects - even changing lives," Atalanta said.

The Vulva Gallery - Hilde Atalanta

Image: Hilde Atalanta - The Vulva Gallery.

 

"Sexual health education should focus on how to communicate, how to treat each other respectfully, how our bodies difference from each other (and these differences are great). Positivity (pleasure and fun) should play a part in sexual health education. From a young age on, kids should learn not to be ashamed of their natural human bodies."

I couldn't agree more. And it's worth remembering that your vulva houses the clitoris, the only human organ designed exclusively for pleasure. That is a pretty amazing thing to have, so why not stop worrying about looks and start focusing on other sensations, like how good it feels to explore down there!

As far as worries go about having a vagina that is too loose or too tight, if you and your partner don’t match up size-wise, there are plenty of non-penetrative sex acts you can do with each other to have an orgasmic blast. So don’t stress, the way you look below the belt is just another thing that makes you uniquely you. And you are pretty awesome just the way you are. 🙌

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