Most children and their parents at my talks often mistake that the vulva is called the vagina…Does it matter? Yes it does..Why? because they are different parts of your body. (It’s like calling your knee your foot. It’s not the correct name.)
So I challenge you say it now, 3 times if you can, as loud as you can … Vulva, Vulva, Vulva.
YOU DID IT!
Flappa jackas, wee wee, muffin, camel toe, honey pot or vajayjay. Even though we don’t often talk about it, the word ‘vulva’ can be difficult for us to say.
The often funny list goes on…. but the real name is…..the
vul·va - meaning
the female external genitals.
The vulva comes from a latin-deritative. It means ‘covering’ and that makes sense because that’s what you can see on the outside of a female’s genitals right?
The vulva includes the opening of the vagina (sometimes called the vestibule), the labia majora (outer lips), the labia minora (inner lips), and the clitoris. Around the opening of the vagina, there are 2 sets of skin folds.
What our children need to know about the vulva. (boys too)
1. The vulva is not the vagina. Many people mistake the vulva for the vagina.
The vagina is the muscular tube or birth canal leading from the external genitals to the cervix of the uterus in women and most female mammals. In short the vulva is what you see on the outside of the female genitalia and the vagina is the inside.
2. Most people would know that the penis comes in all different shapes sizes and colours (because you can see it) ..but the vulva? It does too. There is a great deal of variation in the appearance of the vulva and the vulva can change throughout a female’s life.
3. In the past, girls thought that vulvas looked basically the same, with the outer labia about the same size and the inner labia lips symmetrical. This is not nessarily the case. Not only can they look different but the colour can be dark or light just like your skin colour.
4. Pubic hair (if you have it) is very different too and changes over time. It’s usually darker than the hair on your head and courser, thicker and curlier. (but because of porn, (there is no hair) many people think that having no hair is ideal, but this is not necessarily true)
5. Pornography is not showing the real vulva and photographs are often airbrushed and not real.
Why do I think that calling a vulva a vagina is important?? Because our society often popularizes the idea that the labia should be perfectly symmetrical, and the inner lips and folds of skin should not be visible when in many cases they are. Unrealistic ideas lead to anxiety and shame in woman of all ages but particularly young girls is very concerning. A number of Australian girls, as young as 11, are seeking cosmetic surgery on their genitals. (see below article)
So let’s educate our children about our vulvas because really ?
..yours is normal no matter what it looks like.