There are many aspects of myself which I have worked on. I’ve worked on my patience, my work ethic, my ability to forgive. I’ve gone vegan, bleached my hair, taken accutane, and hit the treadmill. I’m a firm believer in the power of an individual to shape their life and exercise control over how they develop.
A BBC Documentary a few years ago introduced me to the concept of plastic surgery for your vagina. It came out when I was reaching the end of puberty and for the first time people other than myself were seeing this particular part of my body. I watched the documentary and loosely wondered whether I should consider the surgery but without too much thought decided the investment wasn’t necessary.
A few years later and TV Show, “The Only Way Is Essex”, comes to England. A reality series which had quite the impact on culture, trebling sales of false eyelashes. It also made the ‘vajazzle’ a thing. The act of sticking gems around your waxed vajajay to make it sparkly.
Fast forward to 2019 and the vajazzle has been replaced by the vajacial (vagina-facial). Gwyneth Paltrow takes a mocking for admitting she’s steamed her lady parts to keep it glowing down there.
I’ve thought about my vagina a fair bit over the years but never really with the pride that men often feel about their genitalia. I wouldn’t flash it at a pool party, and I’ve only recently gotten over my confusion around masturbation and its role in my life. I’m glad my vagina functions but I also feel I have lessons to learn in which buttons to press to make it function a little more readily.
I’ve cursed it over my period, groaned on the table of a beautician. I’ve squeezed my thighs together on hearing stories of violence and bought better underwear when I needed a treat.
There are so many ways it has featured in my life, but I never really saw having one as a privilege.
That was until I heard Hibo Wardere’s story.
Hibo is a Somalian-born author, and public speaker, who at the age of six, was the victim of type 3 FGM (female genital mutilation).
The FGM happened to Hibo in Somalia and at age 18, she moved to Britain.
She visited a Dr. and, after 12years of physical and emotional agony, properly looked at her vagina for the first time.
“What I saw took the breath from my body… there was only one word for it: devastating. For the first time I could see what I have been left with… it was just a hole everything else had been chopped off and sealed up. Despite the Dr’s opening my skin enough to expose my urethra so I could wee, there were no fleshy labia like other women had. No protection. No beauty. There in between my legs looked like dark brown sand that someone had dragged a faint line through.” – Hibo Wardere
They’d performed a massacre of her anatomy and this is what she’d been left with.
Decades later, hers isn’t a victim story. With seven children and a life in the UK, she is powerful and fabulous, but of FGM she was a victim. Meaning if you are the owner of a vagina and no-one has fucked it up, you are in possession of a great privilege.
Since hearing that story I’ve seen my vagina quite differently. Not just a functional private place, but as a powerful part of my body.
Less something that looks a bit strange, and more something that looks exactly as it should. It’s healthy, it’s mine, it’s untampered with. It’s only been touched by myself and a few exceptionally privileged individuals.
This isn’t a public call to arms to mould your vagina in plaster and stick it on your walls, but a private one. A reminder, or acknowledgment of just how lucky you are to possess one.
So steam it, preen it, do whatever the fuck you want with it. It is yours and that makes it special. Be grateful and proud. It’s a good feeling.
To find out more about Hibo’s story and campaigning, you can follow her on Twitter @HiboWardere