I’m not sure when or in what context I first realized that I have long labia. Maybe it was that teasing comment from an ex boyfriend, oh, seven years ago. Maybe it occurred to me at some point when I was watching porn and noticed that mine looked different. Maybe it was in the shower, as I haphazardly shaved my pubes into just a tuft. It was absolutely before I got my first completely bare wax, though having a hand mirror suddenly placed between my legs — so I could inspect the results — certainly made the point hit home. It was definitely in the last 10 years, though I’ve only made it a part of my self-deprecating comedy routine in the last five. Hey, if you’ve got long labia, you might as well joke about it.
But to be honest, and maybe this isn’t a surprise, I’m actually kind of insecure about it. I want to feel good about the way I look and, for the most part, I do, in part because there is plenty of outside messaging that tells me my straight teeth, slender physique, clear skin, etc. is considered conventionally attractive. (I’m not saying you need to be/have these things to be “attractive,” just that these are the qualities we’re told since birth are attractive and can inform how we view ourselves. And being told you’re attractive is also not necessary to being/feeling attractive. I digress.) But the messages being sent about what makes for a pretty vulva are less obvious; with the exception of hair removal trends, there aren’t three-page articles in lady magazines touting how to make your vagina/vulva* look its best or hide its flaws. And yet I’ve always felt distinctly aware that my long labia were not an asset. Keep reading »