The influencer industry – and capitalism at large, really – relies on you being unsatisfied with something in your life and believing buying something will make it better.
And of all the areas we can be influenced – food, interiors, getting lip fillers – your vagina is the easiest target of all.
Take a dive into Pinterest and Etsy and you’ll find remedy after remedy sold as being able to make your vagina cleaner, tighter, and more ‘detoxed’.
These remedies are often nonsense, pure and simple, and they can often pose serious health risks. But for a while, they were contained in hidden corners of the internet, only available to those who searched for an answer to their vagina-related woes.
That’s not the case anymore. The influencer and wellness industries have realised just how much cash can be made out of our vaginal insecurities, and are now turning their full attention to sell all manner of products to make your genitals more glorious.
There’s Mysweetv_, an Instagram account dedicated to selling gummies that apparently sweeten the taste of your vagina, promising to ‘give you a semi-fruity taste, sensual smell, optimal performance, sensation, desire in the bedroom.’
Love Wellness is a brand selling probiotics to help you ‘maintain a healthy pH balance while preventing infection and supporting vaginal health through the immune system’, in perfectly Instagrammable packaging, of course, as well as ‘Do It All’ wipes for your vulva, advertised in flatlays alongside peaches.
Then there’s The Perfect V, selling mists, highlighters, and an exfoliator to give you, well, ‘the perfect v’.
All of these sorts of brands and the influencers paid big money to sell them are capitalising on a simple bit of knowledge: it’s very, very easy to plant the seed of insecurity when it comes to the vagina.
If you’re a straight woman, you likely haven’t seen many other people’s vulvae. Sex education didn’t show you pictures of real vulvae in school or chat at length about how you should look after that area – it was more focused on explaining pregnancy and warning us all to wear a condom (important, absolutely, but couldn’t we have had some time dedicated to general genital care?).
If you watch porn, you’ll see perfectly smooth vaginas with nary a slither of labia or a sprinkle of stubble.
Then you’ll hear people chatting about how ‘loose’ someone’s vagina is, making jokes about smelling fish, or even – as I remember growing up – singing songs about women’s ‘flaps hanging low’.
So you’ve got a lack of education combined with a lack of exposure. A load of myths run wild and there’s not enough knowledge to disprove them. And because people’s vulvae aren’t visible in every day life (thanks, clothes), you don’t see the truth of their variety, instead believing that a ‘normal’ or ‘good’ vagina is the one in porn, the one that doesn’t get made fun of – meaning tight, with no visible labia, and smelling of roses.
Because your vulva is hidden away until you get sexually intimate with someone, it’s easy for insecurity to thrive in the darkness. You can’t see anyone else’s, so you imagine they must be far better than yours. The shame starts early and it sticks hard. You’re paranoid about your scent, your looks, how you feel, and worry that if your vagina doesn’t fit the very narrow ideal you’ve been presented, it’s so ‘gross’ it’ll repel all potential partners.
Then brands come along with apparent solutions to those deep, horrifying concerns.
Buy this special wash, and you won’t smell gross, they tell us. Labiaplasty is the key to feeling ’empowered and confident’, according to the Google ad listing for surgery brand Mya. Loose vaginas are ‘bad’, so getting a magical tightening stick is a great idea.
The brands and influencers team up to make you feel even worse about your vagina and sell you an ideal that isn’t real. And they do it because it works so well.
They can’t tell you the truth, because that’ll stop you spending.
The truth is that the vagina needs no cleansing products at all, as it’s self-cleaning. In fact, using any sort of cleansing product internally is likely to knock your pH balance off kilter and cause irritation and infection. All you need to do is wash the vulva (the external bits of your genitals) with warm water.
Your vagina has a natural taste and smell that’s pretty glorious. It shouldn’t taste like a gummy bear or smell like roses. A change in smell can be a sign of something going wrong, and if you’re concerned you should head to a gynaecologist to check for an infection, not mask your symptoms in a haze of lavender scented mist.
Labia come in all shapes and sizes. There’s no type that’s ‘wrong’, and it’s simply not the case that everyone else out there has the invisible labia you see in porn.
No amount of sex will make your vagina ‘loose’. It’s designed to stretch and return to its glorious form, and a vagina so tight you can’t get inside isn’t a sign of goodness, but evidence that the person isn’t physically aroused enough.
And hair removal, should you choose to do it, is a bitch. Stubble happens, so does irritation from a razor, ingrown hairs are a thing, waxing hurts – these are all perfectly normal and not a failing on your body’s part.
The only way to guard yourself from influencers shilling transforming vagina products and ‘natural detox remedies’ (your vagina does not need a detox, and putting anything up there that doesn’t belong there will give you a nasty infection) is radical self-love. Get wise to the scam of insecurity and self-hate as a way to sell you all sorts of stuff you don’t need, and refuse to buy into it.
Your vagina is wonderful the way it is, without the need for any gummy bear, highlighter, or surgery. Don’t let an Instagram post tell you any different.
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