You guys, how crazy are vaginas? SO crazy? A little crazy? Do we even think about them at all? Or do we just pretend we don't think about them?
Across the board (in media and in our personal lives), women are continuously taught that vaginas are our precious, little secrets not to be shared or talked about, and CERTAINLY not to be compared to one another.
While we're all pretty used to seeing penises literally everywhere — cartoons, subway graffiti, drawn on our friends foreheads in college — images of vaginas are rarer to come by, and when we do, man oh man, are they radically paired down from the real deal.
I had the opportunity to speak with a former wax specialist named Mel, who not only brought me pictures of incredibly fascinating IRL vaginas, but dropped some female anatomy truth bombs on me that I've been thinking about since meeting her.
Now, when the room is quiet and my boyfriend and I hit a TV commercial, sometimes I'll say things like, "Did you know over half of the female population has exposed labia minora? As in, it just hangs out the bottom of their vaginas?"
Guys, did YOU know that? Over HALF of the female population has it.
Why is this such a shocker? Well, Mel, who wishes to remain anonymous out of respect for her clients, pointed out that a lot of our surprise has to do with the lack of exposure we have to actual vaginas in our lives.
And damn does she make a good point.
In fact, based on Mel's experience getting up close and personal with literally hundreds of them, she has determined there are five distinct categories of vaginas that all women fall under in one way or the other.
However, Mel says that not everyone will fit perfectly into a certain category. She tells me,
This isn't a mathematic algorithm. This is just to help women understand this weird 'secret' [the appearance of our vaginas] we keep from our friends and society at large is not as scandalous or peculiar as we may have thought.
Before we jump into the images and descriptions below, one important thing to understand is that society tends to refer to the entire female pubic area as the "vagina," when really, the vagina only describes the actual hole, anatomically speaking.
That being said, TAKE A LOOK AT THESE AWESOME "VAGINAS":
This is what most people think of when they picture a vagina, and contrastingly, Mel says it's also the most uncommon.
With Ms. Barbie, the labia minora (the inner lips) are completely contained by the labia majora (the outer lips), and both sets of lips rest up against the pelvic bone.
For Ms. Curtains, the labia minora extend past the labia majora. And depending on the person, they may stick out a lot or just a little bit.
This is arguably the MOST common type of vagina to have, and it's often seen in some combination with the other types listed here.
Ms. Puffs may look similar to Ms. Barbie, but the distinction is in how close the lips hang to the pubic bone.
With Ms. Puffs, they sit much lower and can be either full and puffed up or thin and loose. People might think this has to do with the age or weight of the woman, but Mel says there's actually no correlation.
With Ms. Horseshoe, the opening of the vagina spreads wider at the top, exposing the labia minora, but it touches and closes off toward the bottom.
With this one, there will be no extension of the labia minora past the labia majora, and the general shape is that of an actual horseshoe.
Aptly named Ms. Tulip, this vagina looks like a flower bud about to bloom. In this case, the labia minora is slightly exposed through the entire length of labia majora.
This is different from Ms. Curtains in that the labia minora are considered "exposed" but also "contained."
I'll admit, I'm ashamed to say I was taken aback when first looking at the wide variety of vaginas out there, and I was sad to learn how incredibly uneducated I was about female anatomy in general... especially, ya know, being a female myself and all.
Mel explains that she was caught looking at vagina photos on the train in preparation for our meeting and even startled a woman next to her with the images.
She says, "I was like looking at all the vaginas on the train, and this woman next to me was like [gasp], and I was like 'This is a problem. Look at these vaginas! You have one!"
Ain't that the truth.
Of course, the sooner we can normalize women's health and bodies for men AND women, the better. And obviously, starting and continuing to have conversations like this are part of laying the ground work.
Mel, who is now my Fairy Vaginamother, summed it up beautifully, saying,
Moral of the story is that every vagina is different, but it shares a sisterhood with all other vaginas, and nobody should feel strange or abnormal. Just because you haven't met your sister vagina yet, doesn't mean she isn't out there.
She also adds, "Your vagina is perfect. It's just like a curtain. You wouldn't hate your house if it had ugly curtains."
PREACH, FAIRY VAGINAMOTHER. PREACH.