CALENDAR WITH 365 VULVAS SEEKS TO ENLIGHTEN WOMEN AND MEN, TOO
Updated: Jan 11
What do "normal" vulvas actually look like? Totally different - that's what a tear-off calendar with 365 intimate close-up photos makes clear.
The editors want to give women self-confidence with their Germany-based project - and dispel myths about the vulva, Violetta Heise wrote for Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) on December 28, 2020.
Designed by activists in Freiburg, the calendar is made up of 365 photographs of vulvas, one for each day, viewed up close and without filters. The project is called "Vulvaversity," and the creators advise viewers to "take a good look" at the images displayed on tear-off A5 pages.
What motivated Indra Kuester, an artist and cultural scientist, was that there are no pictures of vulvas that are not pornographic - not even in anatomy textbooks, she tells dpa. Her group, including an artist, a filmmaker and an educator, published the 2021 calendar and has already sold 750 copies online.
"We think of ourselves as an enlightened society and know almost nothing about the vulva," says Kuester. Take the clitoris, for example, imagined by many to be a small spot, says Gwen Weisser, who co-founded the Vulvaversity collective. In reality, it is an organ in its own right, much of it located internally and not typically visible.
There is also linguistic confusion, with many talking about the vagina when they mean the vulva, and vice versa. Just as importantly is the concern that most people's ideas about the vulva are shaped primarily by pornography.
Vulvas shown in porn are "hairless, have inner lips that are barely visible, never bleed, there's no mucus, they're never shown after a woman has given birth, and the color of them is the same as the rest of the body," says Weisser.
And it seems this is a supposed norm that more and more women seek to emulate, according to the high numbers who seek aesthetic genital plastic surgery. The number of labiaplasties - operations carried out on the labia - increased by a quarter between 2014 and 2018 around the world, according to the International Society of Plastic Surgery.
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