This book is fucking amazing. I love it. It consists solely of vulva photos and women talking about how they feel about their genitals. There are two photos for each woman and they are all shot exactly the same way – one straight on while the woman is standing and one with her legs spread so the labia are exposed. My favorite pages are at the beginning and the end and line up all 60 pictures. I like being able to make a fast comparison with all of these very different looking vulvas. I had no idea how diverse woman’s genitals are!
Which is why this is such an important book. I have had more opportunity than most people to see what vulvas look like. I was a doula for years and have attended many births. I look at porn. I’m pansexual. But I realize now how little I’ve been able to really examine vulvas. I had no idea what “normal” looks like. I now know that there is no normal, or at least, normal is so broad that it covers everyone. This is deeply moving for me.
The whole book moved me. I adore the smooth, subtle pink cover. The shape of the book itself reminds me of a wedding guest book. I’m tickled by the thought. When I started reading it I fell in love with each woman. They are so diverse, and yet the same. I’m thrilled that queer and trans are represented. I like seeing young and old pussies – not that you can always tell the difference. I’m so happy to see the differences in skin tone. Truthfully, all of these pictures are beautiful.
I have to admit though, I reacted badly at first. I read around a dozen profiles before I realized that I was feeling queasy. I put the book down and thought about it for a while. Why did seeing naked women make me feel sick? For me it came down to my sexual abuse history. I had feelings of disgust and shame toward my own body and I projected it onto the pictures in the book. I’m not normally aware of these feelings, but the book put them into focus in a way that made it easier to look at.
It has something to do with pubic hair. I have an uneasy relationship with my pubic hair. I don’t want to be shaved because I look like a little girl, but I’ve had this perception that it was wrong to be hairy. I’ve continued to get bikini waxes even when I stopped shaving my armpits and legs. What I’ve learned from “I’ll Show You Mine” is that I am nowhere near the hairiest woman in the world. I like my pubic hair. I like grooming my pubic hair, but I no longer feel compelled to have it any specific way.
I was able to read the rest of the book without difficulty. I really enjoyed it. I plan on using it to teach other women about their bodies. I’ll leave it where my kids can look at it if they have questions. I’m hoping that continues to grow as a movement. I’d love to see a website where women can share their stories and pictures of their vulvas. It’s a powerful thing.
Along those lines, I have chosen to share my photos, shot as close to the book as possible, and my story about my vulva:
This is my cunt. I like the word cunt because it feels right to me, kind of cozy and mysterious. The biggest mystery of my cunt is that all five of my children came into the world via this passageway. It is also deeply amazing to me the pleasure that I feel both with partners and alone. I feel blessed by a beautiful body. But I haven’t always felt so good about myself.
Years of childhood sexual abuse left me feeling dirty and ashamed of my body that would respond even when I didn’t want to. I felt separated from my private parts. If people wanted them but not the rest of me, then I would just seal my mind away from the rest of my body. I didn’t feel ownership of my vulva until my mid-twenties.
Then a few years ago I started worrying about my labia being too small. My outer lips are usually quite closed. I became paranoid about looking like a little girl. I wondered if the abuse that I survived had maimed me somehow. I didn’t have anything to compare myself to, but it seemed like the images I saw showed women with larger labia. I heard about women who wanted smaller labia and felt confused. My partner found some photos of other women for me that made me feel more comfortable with myself. He also took close up pictures of my cunt so I could really see what I looked like.
I fell in love with my body. I could still see everything that I thought of as imperfections – places I tore giving birth, a mole, my pubic hair going grey – but I could also see the beauty of my vulva. I still sometimes feel self-conscious. I am hesitant to let someone go down on me if I’m on my period or think I’m smelly, but I now publish pictures of my vulva on the internet. I hope that it helps other women to love their cunts!