thoughts on getting up close and personal with my lady parts
What is it about vaginas that inspire fascination, disgust, lewdness and the occasional muffled giggle? Our lower female anatomy is the source of life and the source of intense controversy. In my opinion, no other body part is faced with such polarizing extremes and can make for such compelling artistic exploration.
I spent a few hours this week drawing my pussy. Yup, that's right - vagina, vulva, lady bits, pussy - however you say it, it's not a dirty word, it's part of my body. Until college, I never really looked at it before. When I decided to start using birth control, I was approached by one of the specialists at Planned Parenthood to participate in a study of women using the pill for the first time. This included photographing my vagina at different intervals of time, glossy photos and all. That was the first time I ever really looked at my pussy.
As part of a creative exercise for myself, I cozied up in bed with a mirror and began to draw what my vulva looked like. Lips, opening, clitoris, folds of skin and strands of hair, the pussy envelopes a world of intrigue, desire, lust and life. It is incredibly challenging to sketch as well. Lines do better as smudges of dark recesses and mounds of light. Quick impressive strokes do more to signify it’s unique shape than deliberate, intentional edges. Drawing from life and self also reminds me of the impermanent nature of the subject before me. Subtle movements change the positioning of my body and the flow of light. I can see more or less with altered shadows and highlights. Individual details unique to me become more apparent - the slight protrusion of the outer labia, the curve of my public hair, the hidden head of the clitoris, the small mole just left of the perineum. The time spent examining myself in the mirror and translating my impressions to paper was quite spiritual.
Ever the documentarian at heart, I took a few photos of my process to post to Instagram. One of the photos exploded to 274 likes in two days (a personal record for me), as well as boosting my following by over 100 new followers. Is it pussy power or mere curiosity? Is it our inner goddess inspiring praise, or the creepers of the internet craving a free peek? A huge part of the Femme Project mission is to eliminate the stigma and shame around our bodies and our sex. To help women realize that being comfortable with your body, and ALL of the parts, is the first step towards empowerment. As women, our sexuality is ours. The more we control it, the more control we have over our place in society.
And right now my most intimate self, my sex, is out there for the online world to see. Because that is what I choose to do.