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For more than half of my life I hated my vulva. I know that ‘hate’ is a strong word, but it is the only way I can accurately describe the feelings I had when I would look down and see her.
Have you ever felt ashamed of your genitals?
I remember the very moment in my childhood when my shame first showed up…I was so young. I was probably about eight years old when I was having a sleepover at my best friend’s house. When we were in the bath together, we were looking at each other’s bodies and of course, as curious children do, we were looking at our genitals. Then the words came out of her mouth “yours looks different to mine”.
It was true! My vulva looked very different to hers. Her vulva looked very ‘neat’, whilst mine looked very…hmmm, let’s say, ‘flappy’. Needless to say, I was a very confused little girl at this moment. So, when I got home the next day, I walked up to my mum and asked in a very small, shy voice about the ‘extra skin’ that I had down there. Her response went a little something like this, “oh yes, I noticed that when you were younger.” Full stop. End of the conversation. So, for the next twenty or so years, I felt different, ugly, self-conscious, shy, and disgusted by my own body.
The internet only served to confirm the fact that I was indeed different. Every porn video that I came across would feature more and more women with neat and tidy vulva’s; obviously this is what men want, right? During my teenage years, I discovered the existence of labiaplasty (vaginal plastic surgery). I felt a sense of excitement and reassurance that I could ‘fix’ my body! My goal was to raise enough money to get the surgery and make my vulva pretty so that I never had to go through the humiliation of being different to everyone else ever again. Today, as I reflect on those years, I am so grateful that I never came close to raising enough money to follow through with the surgery.
For nine years, between the ages of 16 and 25, I wandered through life seeking the approval of men. I would jump from one unhealthy, meaningless sexual encounter to the next, constantly apologising for my vulva and the way my labia looked. I continued the unhealthy relationship with my own anatomy. My yoni was sad. She felt unwanted and unloved. She felt as though her only purpose in life was to satisfy men, because that is where she found her worth.
In my mind, I became a ‘non-orgasmic woman’. I began faking it. Over and over and over again. My pleasure was not important. If I could just make my man happy, my job was done.
This pattern continued for a very long time.
It took a lot of courage and support from beautiful people for me to start to realise that I am worthy of love and pleasure. I am not broken or ugly or disgusting…I am different though! That’s one thing that is for sure; but being different is not a bad thing. It’s our differences that make us beautiful and unique. As I began my studies of women’s sexual anatomy and arousal, my eyes were opened to the magnificence of the yoni. Yoni is an ancient sanskrit word meaning ‘sacred place’ and is used to describe the entire female reproductive system, from vulva to womb. When we, as women, cut ourselves off from our yoni and become disconnected with our sexuality, we give away so much of our power. Our life force becomes depleted. Our yoni is our gateway to creation, manifestation, and infinite pleasure. The key to rekindling our love affair with her is innocent exploration.
One day, I sat in front of a mirror naked and alone. Fearful and nervous, I started to explore my own body with the innocence of a child, simply curious about what lies beneath my belly. I realised I hadn’t looked at her directly for years, and never with as much gentleness as in that moment. I wasn’t touching myself to reach an orgasm, I wasn’t trying to pleasure myself. I was just exploring without judgement.
What I found was something so beautiful, soft and powerful that it brought tears to my eyes. I looked at myself in the mirror and cried tears of sorrow for the years of neglect and self-hate. Tears of forgiveness and understanding for all that I’d put myself through, but beyond that, I cried tears of joy and love for the amazing body that I had been gifted. I held myself and released the trauma that I had created for myself for so many years.
I won’t tell you that everything was healed in that moment, because that’s simply not true. The path to fully accepting, honouring, and loving my body has taken time, but the gifts that I have received in return for putting in the work are beyond anything I could have ever imagined. A sense of sovereignty that allows me to embody my power as a woman and live a more pleasurable life. The greatest gift of all though, as a mother and step-mother to three gorgeous young women, is the ability to change ancestral patterns, encourage them to fall in love with themselves and model exactly what that looks like.
To my sisters reading this, I extend my hand to you all. If you are in need of support along this path, it would be my honour to be there with you.