I was reading the newspaper a few weeks ago and saw an ad on the outer corner of a page with the headline “Love Your Lady Parts.” Reading that, I became instantly filled with joy that there was something somewhere in local media that would herald such a positive message to the women of Portland.
But then I continued reading.
“If a large or thickened labia is keeping you from doing the things you love . . . you don’t have to suffer silently. Labiaplasty is a safe solution and is performed right in Portland.”
What a letdown.
How could slicing off one’s inner labia possibly be the answer to loving one’s “lady” parts? In my own mind, I cannot imagine how this could be an answer. But I have a personal inclination to love my vulva (aka: yoni). Not all have that perspective.
I do not condemn those who choose to get a labiaplasty in order to find peace and acceptance with their vulvas. What I condemn is the idea that getting a labiaplasty is the only option one has to find peace and acceptance with their vulva.
In seeing that ad, I became enraged because of what it implied to the viewer: “Hey, hate your vulva? Get a labiaplasty, ’cause it’s quick ‘n easy!” This is a message that suggests taking the easy way out, that extols normalcy in the reshaping (and obliteration) of your pussy petals, as though there is no other viable option.
In conjunction with the ad, I would’ve liked to see another that suggests taking the road less traveled, that which is learning to love one’s genitals as they are.
And yes, we must learn to love ourselves. It is a learning process. We’ve been taught (consciously, subconsciously, directly, indirectly) through various means and modalities to loathe ourselves and our bodies for most of our lives on this earth. And the only way to combat these falsehoods is to learn a different way—the way of radical self-acceptance.
Here are some things that have, over the last few years (because I too have only just begun!), led me to love and cherish my yoni the way it is.
1. Look at your yoni and develop a relationship with it.
A lot of people can live their whole lives without really knowing what their vulva looks like, and they’re perfectly fine with it. For many, we feel that this kind of ignorance is blissful—and it is. But it is this ignorance that falsehoods and crippling fears are born.
If we are to liberate ourselves sexually, if we are to reclaim our bodies as ours and become proud of them just as they are, we must fiercely love and be fully acquainted with every single part of ourselves. Every single part. This includes our genitalia.
So, how does one develop a relationship with their yoni? They see it. Frequently. With a clean hand-mirror in a well lit room. Every day. And what they see they embrace, even if it makes them uncomfortable or gives them feelings of uncertainty or disapproval.
Those who have a relationship with their yoni write down what they see in a secret diary:
“Today I see colors of coral, crimson red, and a purplish hue that reminds me of my favorite tea. My clit resembles a tiny bud that rests near the top of my inner labia, an exotic flower whose petals entice those in search of honey.”
They give their yoni a nickname, one that only they (or their dearest lovers) call her: ladybug, sweet peach, jewel box, cunt. They treat their yoni with the utmost attentiveness, just like the rest of their bodies, giving it yearly checkups, bikini waxes, and TLC (like masturbation) religiously.
2. Have your partner look at your yoni and describe to you what they see.
Try this if you’re feeling brave: Lie on your back with your pants off and legs apart with your partner sitting directly in front of you. Now, ask them to look at your pussy and describe to you exactly what they see—color, texture, shape. Tell them to be honest, but not critical; observant, but non-judgmental.
The first time I ever did this exercise was when I was doing orgasmic meditation with Jonathan, which I’ve written about before. It went something like this:
I almost wanted to tell him that I didn’t want to know what he saw; that he could duly note his impressions in his own mind and keep them to himself. It’s silly to think about this now, especially knowing how many times (hundreds, likely) he’d seen my lady bits prior to even hearing Nicole Daedone’s name. This wasn’t new territory for either of us, yet the sheer idea of him paying that much careful attention to my vulva made me want to close my legs and flee the room. What if, when asked to truly see me, he doesn’t like what he sees? What if what he describes about my vulva is so grotesque that it scares us both away from ever wanting to become intimate again?
In the midst of my panicky thoughts, he began to speak with truth and love precisely what his eyes were looking upon. With a tiny smile on his face, he chose honest words to illustrate my sex; words that were so exacting, so beautifully honest that I listened with great awe, as if meeting myself for the first time. And when he finished, his eyes met mine. I then let go of the breath I was holding and wiped cold tears from my cheeks.
We’re often cruelest to ourselves and the way we see our bodies, so having an intimate partner, someone we trust and love, describe to you what it is they see when they look at your yoni will, I’m sure, be an enlightening experience, not to mention will help chip away at any disdain you feel about her.
The best time to try this exercise is when you’ve come fresh out of the bath or after you’ve had a sexy moment with your partner—when your inhibitions are low and your ability to surrender to the moment is high. This exercise is meant to be done with your vulnerability intact, not completely demolished.
BONUS: If you’re feeling especially courageous, have a look at your yoni together. Have your partner sit behind you as you recline in their lap with your legs butterflied open. Take a hand mirror and place it in front of your crotch and feast your eyes and take a good look. Talk to each other about what you see, again with the same air of honesty and non-judgment.
3. Go on a mainstream pornography and erotic media fast.
Much of the erotic imagery of vulvas by way of porn is very biased to only feature images that are aesthetically pleasing to the male gaze. This sometimes means digitally altering footage or featuring actors who have had labiaplasties to continue this skewed agenda.
We don’t realize that even when we’re unconsciously consuming media, it still enters our subconscious, and this can directly conflict with all the glorious body- and cunt-loving we’re in the process of doing.
So during this period of learning to love your yoni, it’s important to only allow images that will lift your perspective of it higher. Comparing and contrasting what’s between your legs against a homogenous selection of yonis will hinder your progress.
4. Look at other people’s yonis.
We’ve been unfairly inundated with particular, boxed in ideals of what beautiful, acceptable vulvas look like. And to help combat this melting pot of sameness, sometimes we need to reach out to find diversified (i.e., truthful) enrichment elsewhere.
So while my last suggestion was to go on a porn fast, I am now suggesting to feast on the images that feature a gorgeous assortment what we’ve been deprived of—artistic and real-life depictions of yonis from all over the world.
We can often find comfort when we look out into the world and see a familiar face (or sight) staring back at us. Feelings of otherness diminish and we suddenly feel more normal. In seeing a healthy array of yonis—in varying shapes, sizes, and colors—I have found consolation, which in turn helped bring me to compassionate vulva acceptance.
5. Respect your yoni.
Don’t ever call it (or someone else’s) by a derogatory name again. You know the slang terms; I’m not going to repeat them here. Make a promise to yourself that you will try your best to refrain from speaking about your yoni in demeaning words and phrases. Have your partner and gal pals hold you accountable.
And if you are within earshot of someone speaking ill of another’s yoni, speak up.
6. Create new mantras that herald positivity and acceptance of your yoni.
Post them wherever your eyes frequently travel. Murmur them to yourself whenever you touch your sexual center. Give your cunt the honeyed words it deserves.
Things like. . .
My vulva is beautiful as it is.
My pussy petals are gorgeous.
My cunt is a gateway to the sacred.
I love my yoni.
Upon hearing, reading, and seeing these words, you might feel inclined to not believe them, perhaps to not even mean them. Say them anyway.
Say them as if you were reciting a prayer. Over and over. Breathe the love and compassion imbued in them down toward your vulva. Feel the effect these truths have on your body, on your yoni herself.
These words are regenerative. They have within them a power to dissolve falsehoods and can act as a guiding light as you move through murky uncertainty and disbelief. They buzz with life-giving, love-drenched energy. This is what your yoni craves.
If we are to be sexually liberated beings, if we want to feel wholly connected to our erotic selves, we must first start at our sexual center. We must begin to reconcile with that part of us that houses so much of our erotic energy: our genitals.
And this process of vulva acceptance requires mindfulness, tender care, and compassion. It especially begs of us patience, as the road to radical self-acceptance can be lifelong and arduous.
Go easy on yourself.