If you have a vagina, you may have felt insecure about it at some point. Maybe the beauty ideals in porn led you to believe your labia were the wrong size or shape. Perhaps you were taught that vaginas didn't smell good. Or maybe you were afraid that period sex would be aversive to your partner. It's hard to deny that those with vaginas have been subject to an enormous amount of shaming. But here's the good news: As OB/GYN Jen Gunter demonstrates in her book The Vagina Bible, vaginas are not unsanitary, unattractive, or anything else misogynistic marketing makes them out to be.
Even as taboos on female genitalia lift, we've somehow become subject to even more unrealistic standards. The rise of products like vaginal wipes and washes are partially to blame, as are celebrities who promote unnecessary treatments like vaginal steaming and vaginal vitamin E. These products and therapies often advertise themselves under the guise of improving health, but they really thrive off body shaming.
"Shaming women about their healthy vaginas and vulvas is not a new phenomenon," Gunter tells Bustle. "Products that claim (falsely, of course) to treat vaginal odor or to 'cleanse' or 'tighten' have been around for decades, if not centuries. These products (as well as home-made versions) predated our understanding of the vaginal ecosystem and of contraception. They were from a time when a woman's worth was measured in the weird duality of her being virginal as well as being able to produce offspring. Despite the fact that we now have decades of research telling us that a vagina is just fine, thank you very much, these products are proliferating instead of going away."
But you know better than to listen to them — or, if you don't, you will soon. Here are some vagina worries that may have been drilled into you but that you don't actually have to worry about at all.