I’m Petra, the altruist and creative director of Fk. a sexual health and wellbeing collective based in Hong Kong.
We are a new brand that hasn’t quite launched yet, but jumped at the chance to be part of the Vagina Dialogues because this is exactly what we want to do for Hong Kong – to start a dialogue. The ideas and ethos behind Fk. boil down to a few key mantras that we all agreed the brand would be driven by: education, awareness and appreciation in all aspects of our future projects to build better relationships with ourselves and others, both mentally and physically.
When I was thinking about the topic “Vulva Love” I immediately thought of looks. I know it might sound a bit obvious at first, but think about it: how many women really know what their vulva even looks like? Our girly bits have been oppressed for centuries. Just look at all those glorious dongs on display in statues from ancient Greece or in Renaissance art – these male figures proudly holding the severed heads of their enemies or just casually kicking back on a marble slab in deep thought with their dicks on full display.
But when it comes to depictions of the female form over the centuries, we have always been shown these buxom beauties with strategically placed long, flowing locks partly covering their breasts and their hands shyly covering their genitals. Their expressions are coy and they gaze down at their feet. They are demure and delicate; their sex is hidden.
So I wondered if things have changed much in our modern, tech-driven world? Yes they have, but is it for the better? The statues of our time have morphed into unnatural proportions: hourglass figures with tiny waists and voluptuous butts, courtesy of quick-fix virtual surgical apps or IRL plastic surgeons. This then got me thinking about labiaplasty. The procedure is known by a few other names, such as “vaginal rejuvenation” or “designer vagina”. While “rejuvenation” sounds like an unnecessary company rebrand and “designer” sounds like you just picked up the latest seasonal trend at an obscene price, it can be done for various reasons. The procedure itself involves the removal and/or reduction of excess labial length, for cosmetic reasons or for women who experience difficulty exercising, pain during intercourse, or who frequently contract infections.
However, if too much skin is removed, it can prevent the labia from doing its job – which is to protect the vaginal opening. As a result, it may become easier for various nasties to get inside the vagina and throw off the pH balance, possibly resulting in more vaginal infections. And of course there are always potential risks anytime you go under the knife.
So when talking about love for our vulvas, it made me wonder why so many women are choosing this procedure for cosmetic reasons? Well, much like how those statues set female beauty standards in the past, the media has set the standards for the present. After decades of showing one type of women in adverts, one type of vulva in porn, one type of breast size in movies, ads and TV, It’s no wonder we have such a hard time accepting ourselves as we are. Porn in particular has been blamed for the obsession with tiny labia, as this appears to be the dominant look in the industry. We have been led to believe that this constant perfection parade is the “ideal” and not just one of the many ways we could look – sometimes manufactured, or altered digitally or surgically.
Sexual intercourse, foreplay, lifestyle and giving birth all affect the way labia minora and labia majora stretch over time. Even underwear can sometimes change labia length. And while it’s easy to focus on its appearance, we often forget what a work of art and powerful part of the human anatomy the vulva and vagina is. With 8,000 nerve endings in the clitoris alone (that’s double the amount of the penis), these beautiful organs allow women to bear children, give birth, bleed once a month, hold tampons and menstrual cups in place for hours and have orgasms lasting two minutes. So how about we show some respect for this hard-working organ that provides us with such tingling pleasures, because while science shows us that our vulvas are actively looking after us, are we really looking after our vulvas?
So when was the last time you took a good look? Why not drop your knickers, kick back, open those legs, get a mirror and get to lookin’, lovin’ and appreciatin’!
Viva la Vulva!