It sounds ridiculous that I was scared of my own vagina for so long, I know, but it’s totally true. While I didn’t have eurotophobia, it wasn’t far off. It took me nearly three decades on this planet before I got to a point where I could look at and appreciate my lady bits, but I’ve finally done it. Now that I have, I wonder why I ever waited so long. Here’s a rundown of my relationship with my vag and how it’s improved.
- The “period lady” at school kind of scarred me. The boys were sent off into a different room, making me think that menstruation was a special secret we had to keep from men. The period lady would tell us lots of scary stuff about how we would bleed every month for the majority of our lives and how it would probably hurt and we’d feel like crap. However, we should just shut up and deal with it. She didn’t use those exact words but that’s what I took away from it. Is it any wonder I hated my vagina for so long?
- She instructed us to get a mirror and look “down there.” Not in class, thank God, but when we got home. She told us to grab a small mirror and have a really good look at our lady bits, but I just couldn’t do it. I could barely touch it, let alone stare at it. I hadn’t even known there was more than one hole down there before that point. I thought that there was just one hole for peeing and I hadn’t put much thought into where babies came out. I didn’t want to see that part of me close up, thanks. I was way too scared to look at my vagina at that point.
- I learned about sex from “Neighbours,” an Australian soap opera. A character told her boyfriend that she was pregnant even though she wasn’t. Then she told her friend that she would just “get pregnant for real then.” Seven-year-old me laughed. I thought it was impossible. I was convinced that women just magically found out they were pregnant whenever it was the right time, like it was just part of their life plan. It wasn’t until my mom gave me the birds and the bees talk that I realized the truth, and I was even more scared to look at my vagina than before.
- I started my periods and attempted to use tampons. Who’d have thought a tiny little tampon would cause so many difficulties? This was why I was convinced the other hole didn’t exist. Despite trying many different positions, I just couldn’t get it in there. I tried with my leg up on the bath, squatting, lying on the bathroom floor, but it just wasn’t working. This did nothing to help my relationship with my body below the waist.
- I had some sex and it was a bit crap. At least I could tell there was potential for it to be good. The 19-year-old dudes I hooked up with had no idea how to navigate a vagina. I’m not sure they even knew how to spell the word clitoris, let alone figure out where it was. It took them long enough to find my actual vagina but eventually, they did, which was better than I could do. I wondered how an entire penis could fit in but not a little tampon. Another vagina fail.
- Guys really, really love their penises — why don’t women feel the same? OK, SOME guys. I know men with small penises sometimes struggle, but I’ve been with guys that have presented their junk like it’s some kind of ancient relic to be worshipped and adored. I wish women loved our vaginas as much as men love their penises. Even now, I still can’t whip my underwear off and splay my legs open with a proud smile which says, “Yeah, I made that. Great, isn’t it?” But hey, it’s good to have goals.
- Even after I learned to pleasure myself, I still didn’t reach for the mirror. I was scared that since I was starting to think my vagina wasn’t too bad, seeing it in all its great hairy flappiness might undo all the good progress. I didn’t really look at myself naked at all. Back then, my way of accepting my body was to just pretend the bits I didn’t like didn’t exist. I later realized that these bits were always going to be there. They’re part of me and I should learn to love them.
How I got over being scared to look at my vagina
- My friend bought me a vibrator, which was a turning point. I was scared of it at first. It was big and sounded like a washing machine, but with a bit of practice, I began to enjoy it. Then I was curious. I wanted to see what it looked like as the vibrator was going in. I slowly shifted in front of my full-length mirror and holy cow, there it was: my vagina. It was fascinating and not actually gross at all.
- Now I know the truth: vaginas are freakin’ amazing. Women are like superheroes. We can grow actual live human beings inside us and our vaginas will expand enough to push them out. I mean, that’s some insanely magical stuff right there. Even for women who can’t or don’t want to have children, the vagina is an incredible organ capable of experiencing incredible pleasure. They’re really beautiful.
- I’ve channeled my inner “period lady.” I’ve looked at my vagina a few times in the mirror since then. It’s strange that it’s been part of me for so long and it took me 30 years to look at it closely. It doesn’t look like the tidy, bald vaginas in porn, but as I’m sure any gynecologist will tell you, vaginas are all so different and that’s okay. Once I stopped comparing mine to what I thought was “normal,” I realized what an incredible thing of power I had right there between my legs.
Even if you feel nervous or scared to look at your vagina, do it. Once I did, it changed my perspective. I understood my body more and appreciated it too. I highly recommend it.