Wednesday, October 3, 2012

beauty is in the eye of someone

I did an interview last week which ended with:

Do you think there is a vaginal cultural ideal?

I laughed out loud and we had to start over.

Did I think there's a certain sort of vagina girls and women aspire to?


That is a thought that has never, ever crossed my mind.

For there to be a beauty standard, there would have to be way more vaginas out for public viewing. Or at least someone's viewing. Then, in comparison, those of the female persuasion would need to look at their own. And at that point, they'd need to know what they're looking at.

To be honest, I don't know many women or girls who've sent much time examining their vaginas.

To be even more honest, I don't know if that's true. I've never asked anyone if they've looked at themselves from that angle. No, wait. I did once have that conversation with a yoga instructor who leads women's empowerment groups. When she brought up the self examination part of her workshop I kept nodding my head but stopped listening. I didn't want the visual of a room full of women lounging on pillows, staring at mirrors held between their legs stuck in my head. Just that thought made me way too uncomfortable. Looking back, I'm not even sure that's what she said but I was so afraid it was where she was going I couldn't go with her.

I've given birth, vaginally, twice. Wrote a book about menstruation and spent three years talking about nothing else. But vaginas as a topic to discuss, explore, examine?

Haven't gone there.

Yesterday in Barnes and Noble I came across: Vagina, a New Biography sitting on a front table. I mentally made fun of the subtitle, dissed the cover design, and dismissed the author without knowing having read word one of her new tome.

Because I was uncomfortable. About an integral part of my body. Throughout history  this discomfort, this non awareness, this hiding from an important part of ourselves,  has gotten us in trouble.

Lysol as a douche?

Home abortions?

Scented tampons?

Maybe it's time to take a deeper look. Not at my vagina necessarily. But at how to be more open about something that's usually not a conversation starter.

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