Inspired by Jenny Slate's well-documented journey, I tried a vajacial (a facial for one's vagina) late in 2015. Slate's piece for Lenny Letter was headlined "Jenny Slate Got A Vajacial So You Don't Have To." But honestly, this sort of title — which immediately established the practice as something negative — felt very discouraging to me. Although Slate's piece was witty, honest, and probably relatable to some, it seemed to exclude others' experiences with having a vagina, specifically those who struggle with body positivity.
Getting a vajacial, or doing a DIY version like I did, seemed to have a lot of potential for being an extremely self love-inducing act that others could benefit from. In my own experiment, I was seeking to give the vajacial a more body positive spin, hoping to encourage my readers to check it out for themselves along the way. After all, why not try a new beauty trend out while simultaneously pampering your vagina?
As someone who has had significant issues in loving that part of my body, I thought it was important to shed light on the practice as being something helpful, and extending my experiences to others who struggle with gender dysphoria or post-traumatic stress, as well as those who have conditions that make sex painful, such as vaginismus. With that in mind, here are some reasons why vajacials are body positive, and why they might be the perfect thing to add to your own self care routine (at least every once in a while).
1. You Can [Reclaim] HELP FIGHT Vaginal Stigmatization
Most of us can agree that the vagina (as well as womanhood and all things feminine) is highly stigmatized in our society. Vaginas often connote fragility, with the word "pussy" used as an insult against someone who is weak or scared. Vaginas are also often something we might feel self-conscious showing, since our society sexualizes nudity, especially regarding feminine bodies.
However, we owners of vaginas know just how strong the vag is, as it's capable of amazing feats of the sexual and non-sexual variety, like childbirth and multiple orgasms. Giving yourself a vajacial is just one of many ways to assert agency and power over your own vagina, as well as argue for its right to be more visible in your beauty routine and life.
2. It's Good To Spend Quality Time With Your Vag
The lack of sex education in this country is incredibly problematic, leading to vagina owners sometimes knowing little to nothing about what they've got going on down there. Many times, much of what we come to know is learned through actual sex, and less through curious, non-sexual personal investigation.
A vajacial might provide the perfect opportunity to explore your nether regions, and get you to know your own anatomy better, while also allowing you to check on how your vag is doing and feeling. And since our vaginas are not often a part of our beauty routines, it could be useful to learn what feels good beauty-wise on the skin of your vulva.
3. Trying New Beauty Routines Is Fun
Beauty rituals have the potential to feel very loving and thoughtful. In some cases, beauty routines even help anxiety and other disorders that might benefit from some grounding and one-on-one time with yourself.
I know whenever I try something new in my own beauty routine, it always feels completely rewarding — like I really did myself a kindness that day. Experimenting with something as different (and to some, peculiar) as the vajacial is loads of fun, and can open you up to new options that you can then incorporate into your day to day or weekly routines.
4. Pampering Yourself Feels Good
Beauty routines, including masks, baths, or manicures, usually feel great. When trying to cultivate body positivity, it's been important for me to set aside that pause in my day to give my body some sweet TLC. Vaginas aren't normally part of these routines that we so cherish, but it deserves just as much love and pampering as any other part of you does, if not more so (when you consider all the things it does for you).
It doesn't matter if you think your vagina is beautiful as it is, or if it won't necessarily benefit from the alleged anti-aging properties of the vajacial itself. Physical effects aside, it's perfectly OK to partake in something like this solely for the body pos benefits. IMO, any cosmetic benefits of the mask are hugely outweighed by the general sense of love and care your vagina can receive from such attention.
It's similar to how I love putting on a sheet mask at the end of a busy day because it feels calming and centering, not because I hope my skin will look dramatically different once I peel the thing off. You don't necessarily need to see results for a beauty endeavor to be considered successful. It's all in the act and the intentions behind it.
5. It Can Make You Feel Luxurious
While giving myself the vajacial, I wasn't exactly invested in seeing any real change occur. However, I was pleased to see that my vulva felt baby smooth and moisturized for days after the treatment, which made me feel amazing. Not only was it lovely for my partner and for sex purposes, but I couldn't help but run my fingers across the newly smooth skin throughout the day.
By now, my vagina has returned to the way it normally is, and I feel the same way about it as I always do (mostly loving, with hiccups of body negativity here and there). But the delicious smoothness that lasted the entirety of the week served as a constant reminder of a body positive act I had done for myself. Every absent-minded stroke of my smooth-as-butter labia felt like a victory lap for my own journey to learning how to show my vagina some much-needed compassion.
6. It Can Help You Love Your Vag Overall
Despite the popular portrayal of many feminists and sex positive people being completely comfy with their vaginas, it's simply not the reality for many of us. People may have strained relationships with this part of their body due to ambiguous genitalia, gender identity, inability to have vaginal sex, or a whole myriad of reasons.
These are issues we have to acknowledge and bring awareness to in order to normalize. Through small body positive acts like this, we can learn to look at and love our vaginas, complete with their different abilities or appearance. Personally, I don't identify with the gendered aspects of my vagina, which is one of the few reasons I feel strange about it. But giving myself a vajacial reminded me that I could love and interact with my vagina without attaching a gender to it.
7. It Also Helps Build Trust
I was sexually assaulted two years ago, and it's been hard for me to come back and be present in my relationship with my vagina ever since. Sometimes, it's still difficult to even touch it or show it any love. Other times, it's downright scary to imagine touching or penetrating it, which certainly affects my sex life as well.
Small acts of self-care, like giving myself a vajacial, provide great excuses to touch my own vagina and slowly help me build trust with myself and my body once again. The same could be useful for others looking to build trust with and positivity towards their bodies, be it after experiencing trauma or assault or otherwise. Vajacials truly are for anyone who has a vagina.
Images: Andrew Zaeh/Bustle (7)