When it comes to body insecurities, one of the biggest things women stress out about is our vaginas, or more specifically - our labia. The lips that announce the opening of the vagina, and differ a lot from woman to woman.
A lot of women feel insecure about the way theirs look. There probably isn’t a lady in the land who hasn’t questioned whether the shape and colour of her labia are too long, too short, too fleshy, too dark, too light, too wrinkly, too... all-of-the-above. But just because it might not look like a work of art, doesn't mean there's actually anything wrong with it. Real vaginas come in all shapes and sizes, so it's worth remembering that.
A major part of the insecurity around vaginas is the fact that we don't often speak about our own in any great detail. So period subscription service Betty decided to put a stop to that, and asked a bunch of women straight up how they feel about their bits.
1. "They're like belly buttons but better"
“I have one lip that’s longer than the other, that sticks out like a little tongue. I love it. It’s unique, it’s my vagina, and I think it’s perfect. Fourteen-year-old me would say there was ‘too much’ labia, that it was all supposed to be tucked in. I think maybe that stems back to the whole Barbie thing, where everything is so perfect and compact. Women have been under scrutiny for the tightness of our vaginas, theshape of our vaginas and the fluids they produce throughout history, and it’s*impossible* to get it right. So I don’t. Some labias are innies and some are outies.They're like buttons but better. There’s no right or wrong in any ofthat.”
- Lizzie, 27
2. "I was never sure if it was the right shape or size"
“I was always a little self conscious of my labia as I didn’t have a solid comparison. I was never sure if it was the right shape or size until it came up in conversation once and my bestie announced she’d seen mine on many occasions and thought it to be 'neat'. After the confirmation that I was 'normal' I haven’t really given it a second thought. I have an 'it-functions-and-I have-all-my-limbs' kind of attitude!”
- Sorrel, 31
3. "I worry that if men get too close they’ll notice how dark my labia are"
"I have never been a ‘naked person’, however I was once getting changed in front of my friend who commented on how dark my fanny lips were. I was mortified. I still think about it now and if I’m honest, try to deter men from seeing down there. It is something I am really conscious of and I worry that if men do get too close they’ll notice how ‘dark’ they are too and be put off."
- Lindsay, 27
4. "They aren’t 100% symmetrical, but neither are my eyebrows"
“I used to be far more self-conscious about my labia when I was a teen, however since blossoming into a much more self-assured young woman, they really don’t bother me as much. I never dared look down there when I was younger for fear of what I might find, but I decided one day to do what loads of ‘sexperts’ recommend by taking a mirror and just having a gander. I was quite pleasantly surprised and couldn’t help but wonder what I had been so freaked out about all this time. They aren’t 100% symmetrical, but neither are my eyebrows. I’ve just learnt to love them over time – I’m way more confident in the bedroom too now as I don’t squirm and cringe when someone gets a little close and personal down there.”
- Amber, 24
5. "Wearing a bikini is uncomfortable because sometimes my labia won't fit in"
"My labia sticks out really far. I am a regular cyclist and they often get numb when I ride my bike. Wearing a bikini is uncomfortable because sometimes my labia won't fit in. When my boyfriend and I are having sex, I have to guide him in because it can really hurt which totally kills the mood. Each birthday I beg my parents to help me get a labiaplasty as it isn’t something I could currently afford myself but they keep telling me to love my body the way it is. I think about it every day and it does really get me down."
- Roxy, 21
6. "Now I whip my clothes off in the changing rooms with pride"
“I have learnt to love my vagina. The lips stick out and I used to be seriously self-conscious about the way it looked until I saw one of my best friend’s labias when I was about 14. Hers was also an outie, but she was totally and utterly confident in her naked body (like, loved getting starkers in the swimming pool changing rooms while we were all trying to master the knicker trick). I saw how her confidence only enhanced her beauty and how empowering it was not to give a fuck. It made me decide I was going to give mine the same love and respect that she gave hers. Now I whip my clothes off in the changing rooms with pride.”
- Claire, 30
7. "Eyes, noses, feet and breasts vary from woman to woman, and so do vaginas"
“My labia aren't symmetrical – one side is different to the other – and they certainly aren’t all tucked in, but you know what, I really don’t care. I accept my labia exactly the way it is. Eyes, noses, feet and breasts vary from woman to woman and so do vaginas. No two labia are the same so worrying about whether mine is ‘normal’ or attractive is not the best use of my time. My boyfriend loves my labia but if I was with a guy who didn’t, I’d tell him to jog on and I’d find one who does!”
- Ali, 38
8. "I get ingrown hairs all the time and I’m really embarrassed about them"
"I have always been prone to ingrown hairs and no matter what I do – wax, shave, exfoliate, wash with cold water – they are always there. I was once getting ready for a date when I thought we might have sex and noticed a huge one on one lip. I was so embarrassed about what my date might think and was so desperate to get rid of it that I decided the best thing to do was try to claw it out with a pair of nail scissors. It began bleeding profusely. I was sitting there in pain, holding some toilet paper to my vag, cringing. I had to cancel the date altogether. I still get ingrown hairs all the time and I’m still really embarrassed about them."
- SJ, 25
9. "Now that my friends are having kids I think about how amazing it is"
“I was generally very self conscious of my body growing up due to weight struggles. So the cherry on top of that anxiety was my vagina. I don’t have sisters and my friends weren’t the type to chat about that sort of stuff, so I never knew if my labia was ’normal' or not. It sounds bad to say it, but it actually took me to become sexually active and realise that the guy didn’t even pass comment on it to make me realise that it’s just a body part. It’s only now that friends are having kids that I think about how amazing it is that our bodies can produce human beings and that it shouldn’t matter what it looks like. I feel like no one questions confidence and honestly if I could speak to my younger self I would tell her to get over it and concentrate on more important issues. I have a friend who is so self-conscious of her vagina that she is a 30-year-old who has never had sex or a smear test. I think this is labia insecurity out of control and it goes to show that maybe we do need to talk more openly about our vaginas.”
- Jenny, 28
10. "Nothing positive will come from feeling ashamed of any part of your body"
“I’m happy with my labia. Me and my friends have never been scared to strip off and talk about our bodies especially after a drink, or on a night out in the girl’s toilet. One friend described mine as 'tidy' and she’s always said that hers is 'meaty' in comparison which makes us laugh. As a whole, I’m confident and proud of it. Nothing positive will come from feeling ashamed of any part of your body, so you’ve got to love the labia you have.”
- Kerri, 23
11. "My boyfriend calls them my ‘meat flaps’"
“I don’t really notice them. My boyfriend calls them my ‘meat flaps’ because
apparently they’re the fattest part of my body. HA. I don’t think they’re significantly
- Alice, 20
12. "I'm worried that I’ll be forever spritzing perfume into my knickers"
"As a teenager I suffered quite badly with body odour. I thought this was something that I would grow out of but still no amount of deodorant or body wash seems to help. Luckily, I have been able to have botox under my arms to help me stop sweating and stop the smell however ‘down below’ still gets a bit whiffy. This is not ideal, especially as a single woman in her 30s and I do get really uncomfortable about it still. I’ve tried a number of medications and specialist washes however I'm still worried that I’ll be forever spritzing perfume into my knickers!"
- Emily, 33
13. "I thought mine was ugly"
“As a teenager, my perception of vaginas was seriously warped. My only reference point to what labia 'should' look like was the one peddled by porn and the sex industry – a wildly unrealistic aesthetic that wasn’t a reality for me. In comparison, I thought mine was ugly. The turning point for me was when I had a big sleepover with my friends and we did a vagina ‘”show and tell”. Out of 20 girls, only a couple had the neat, tucked in labia that I thought was standard – the rest were all kinds of shapes and sizes. It might have taken ten years, but I’m now happy and comfortable with my labia – designer vaginas can go to hell.”
- Katie, 26
Betty aims to empower and inspire confidence in women and young girls about their periods.
Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.
You Might Also Like