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What Is Vagina Shaming?

Ways Self-Love Can Begin With Vagina Confidence

How many of you have felt uncomfortable about the way your vagina smells, your pubic hair, or the state of your labia? I know I have. We are not alone in this.

I've been speaking a lot about vagina confidence on panels and events. Those who have vaginas love to hear about this, I'm realizing. I've decided the topic has a place as centerfold for one of my new classes. I wanted to believe we were over vaginal insecurity but this is decidedly not the case.

In Amy Schumer's new Netflix special, she talks a lot about vaginas — obviously, this isn't particularly surprising given her comedy style, but one of her bits really rang true: she said that on her "best day" her vagina smells like a small barnyard animal. "Best," meaning a day when you're feeling particularly OK with your vagina. These days are few and far between.

When a woman as badass and confident as Amy Schumer manages to make an amphitheater laugh hysterically over how relatable this is, you can bet that it indicates a larger problem: many of us who have them don't feel comfortable when it comes to vaginas.

How could we? We're constantly made to feel self-conscious about the way we smell and look; we're told to douche, cleanse, perfume, trim, and wax until there is nothing left but a mound of pissed-off flesh that constantly needs tending to fit into some messed-up view of what it is to be feminine.

Vagina confidence is the root of confidence for many women. Without knowing with supreme and unwavering certainty that your vagina is AMAZING and perfect, how can you begin to feel good about yourself in other, more trivial ways? How can you feel good about your body when a major part of your body, the major part of your body, makes you feel like crap?

We have got to reclaim our vaginas. We've got to stop putting so much pressure on women to meet some strange idealized standard rather than loving the vagina as nature intended.

Own it to own your confidence

Your vagina is perfect the way it is. All self-love starts with love for your vagina. Polly Rodriguez, CEO of the women's sexual health brand Unbound, told POPSUGAR that "self-love starts with owning what it means to be a woman. Historically, we've been shamed about our bodies — whether it's blood or hair or weight or noises or smells — we're meant to feel like we have to achieve this unrealistic standard of perfection."

Society's standards of "vaginal perfection" are the root of every other kind of ridiculous standard many of us have faced through history. We're told to have tiny waists, huge boobs, perfect skin, and somehow look flawless all the time — while keeping our mouths shut, of course.

Meanwhile, men are told that their natural bodies are fabulous and everything they do is a blessing to the world. No wonder so many women feel terrible about themselves. We're told we're not good enough every single day from the time we're children.

Enough of that nonsense. No more subscribing to this ridiculous BS. You need to own your vagina for what it is and refuse to allow shame to overtake you.

Your vagina is the way it is for a reason

We are told to shave and sculpt and wash our vaginas. We're told we're "unclean" or "gross." Meanwhile, your vagina has certain characteristics for a reason — a really good reason.

Pubic hair protects the vagina from bacteria and provides an extra layer of comfort for your most prized possession. Your vagina is self-cleaning. Douching, washing, or otherwise will throw off the delicate balance of your pH.

Your vagina does not want you to feel like you have to alter it. Your vagina knows how it is supposed to be: "My recommendation is to use a mirror to learn about and explore your own vagina to become more comfortable with it — that way you can identify when something unusual is going on," Lauren Schulte of The Flex Company told POPSUGAR. Get to know your vagina. It loves you.

No one is allowed to tell you anything different. Your self-love begins with loving everything that makes you a powerful, unstoppable person. For some women, our vagina is the heart of this.

Your vagina is a miracle

Instead of focusing on the scent of a vagina and the state of your pubes and subjecting yourself to self-scrutiny about your bits, let's take a hot second to think about what a vagina actually does.

Your vagina is the vessel of LIFE. It has the power to push a child through it. The female body can grow and give birth to a living, breathing human being! That is unbelievable.

"Self-love starts with loving the vessel you were born into as a woman, and arguably the most unique component is the vagina. It brings life into the world and is the source of all beings. What is more powerful than to worship what makes you powerfully unique?" said Rodriguez.

How can we live in a world that shames us for the very thing responsible for life on earth? The next time someone says anything about your vagina or makes an uncouth comment, ask that person where they think they would be if there were no vaginas. Nowhere. They would be nowhere.

Thank your body for being strong enough to do incredible things. Do not look at your vagina as something to primp or fix or change. Embrace it for the beautiful and fabulous piece of human anatomy that it is.

Love yourself, you amazing goddess

All confidence is amplified from the source. If you don't love the very thing that defines your place in this world as a strong, life-giving human being, your overall confidence is in trouble.

"Many women tell me that they hate their period, which means that we are spending 6.25 years of our lives hating our own bodies. If we could turn one week out of every month into a week just as awesome as every other, we'd be practicing a whole lot more self-love," said Schulte.

When you're taking time to self-reflect, searching for self-love and wondering where to begin, start with your vagina. Learning to love your vagina for all its glory will help you figure everything else out along the way.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Mark Popovich
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