Prude To Nude: Learning To Love My Womanly Parts

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vagina body image
One brave woman poses for a sculpture that shows there is beauty in all bits.

I mean, yes, yes…I've done the ol' crouching with a mirror fandango. I have a vague idea of what I look like. But the truth is—and I am more than a little embarrassed to admit this—but I'm a bit…shall we say…bashful about my own lady parts. And I consider myself to be a pretty open, sex-positive person. Maybe even a bit more so than many other people I know. And yet, for most of life, I've treated my vagina like I would my credit score—I only look when I absolutely have to. As a result, I obviously don't even know myself well enough to pick myself out of a line-up.  Men, on the other hand, could probably do a pen and ink drawing of their penises while blindfolded and clutching the pen in their teeth. My Penis Is Just Right: A Man On His Size

The only reason I'm not more embarrassed about being so vagina-shy, is because I have plenty of female friends who are the same way. And these aren't creationist child brides with 12-inch braids swinging down their backs. These are strong, independent, open-minded women, who suddenly go all Victorian when the topic of vaginal examination comes up. We could be chatting about all sorts of things related to vaginas—vibrators, tampons, etc. But mention the girly garden itself, and out come the painted fans and smelling salts. (Granted, these women are straight, as my lesbian friends are obviously on much friendlier terms with the vagina.)

 

Despite Sex in the City, Toys in Babeland, and Eve Ensler's best efforts, well there is still a bizarre culture of secrecy, and—judging from the labiaplasty craze—shame, when it comes to the vagina. As I watched those nervous women on TV meet with doctors, it was so easy for me to tsk tsk their foolishness. And yet, I obviously had some vagina issues of my own.

Which is when I got to thinking—David and I had been wanting to take a trip to London…. Why not pop over, see Big Ben, pose with a charming red phone booth or two, then hop a train to Brighton and participate in "Design a Vagina?" 

By the time our educational viewing ended for the evening, I was forming a plan. It was time to put my money where my vagina is.

The next day I get to work googling the artist. I find his webpage, and send a nervous email: "Does you still need models?" I am half-hoping he will respond with "Nope. I have all the vaginas I need, thanks." No such luck. He writes back that afternoon, with a friendly note saying that he does indeed need a few more models. His tone is so mellow and affable. I was expecting something more formal, but he sounds like we are arranging a drop-off for an old futon.

Convincing my fiancé of my plan is astoundingly easy. I was prepared for a smallish row over the idea of letting a stranger pour plaster into my vagina. And yet when I pose the plan to him, he barely flinches.

 
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