|This company says our vaginas need deodorant!|
It's the seemingly empowering slogan of "feminine hygiene" company Summer's Eve. But the message behind their products, like vaginal deodorant and "freshening" wipes, is anything but squeaky-clean.
I remember in my later years of high school, one of my best friends just lost her virginity. Sitting in my '89 Chevy Suburban in the parking lot of Alta High, she recounted her first night with Chad.
"Everything was going really good, until he was like, 'I want to go DOWN THERE!'" she exclaimed, eyes wide in horror.
"Did you let him!?" I recoiled, equally terrified of facing her boyfriend's preposition.
"No way!" she wailed. "What if he thought it was GROSS?"
Even before companies like Summer's Eve were telling girls and women our vaginas are - I'll just go ahead and say it - smelly, society has been laying the bricks for that stigma. This Jezebel article attributes women's smell-shame to a history of women being shamed for simply having a vagina, period. (Ever noticed how, since ancient times, it was never a man who was deemed, "unclean?")
I also believe that pop culture (comedians, movies, etc.) has perpetuated the idea that vaginas are gross. My husband and I were watching some comedian, I can't remember which one, but I cringed when I heard him smugly slur into the mic: "If you can smell it on the way down....go back up!"
Even the medical world has started vaginas off on the wrong foot. WebMD says, "It's normal for your vagina to have a slight odor," giving a negative connotation to the organ's natural scent.
Products like Summer's Eve, along with pop culture, are not doing men any favors, either. If a male expects a woman to smell like roses, he will be disappointed. But the wiser man will use our natural musk - and the arousing pheromones contained within - for his pleasure.
I'll admit, I've often been uncomfortable with my own area. Not just growing up, but also when I first got with my husband. I remember on our first night "together," me pleading to the Gods for him to "like it" down there! It took me a while, actually, before I could just sit back and enjoy that part of our sex life....till I realized, he enjoyed it, too.
There are days, however, when something is truly "off." The vagina is such a complex, self-policing and healing organ, that it sends messages to us through various odors and secretions. But it's unfortunate that some people's experience with a "fishy" day (typically signaling an infection), can scar them for life.
Breasts are also up to bat in the shame-game. I remember in high school, a football player asked me to flash him. And I did, thinking that was my tax for hanging out with the "cool kids." I was a late bloomer, though, and I guess the kid told his friends that my boobs were "weird." Weird compared to what, I dishearteningly thought, when the rumor made its way back to me.
Society has created the "normal" breast type: Whether they're big or small, they must be round or teardrop shaped, and perky, with small areolas. Don't believe me? Listen to any plastic surgeon discuss the ideal image with a patient (or go to their websites and see the "embarrassing" before and afters). Or ask Hugh Hefner what type of breasts he allows to be showcased in his magazines.
Even mainstream magazines don't offer any consolation to those who fall outside "the norm." Cosmopolitan featured an article where the advice for dealing with boobs of "two different sizes" is: Pad one side of your bra, or get plastic surgery.
So, how can women cope with this "perfect" pair standard, WITHOUT surgery?
Love them just how they are, right now.
Easier said than done. But I changed my opinion about mine, so I know it's possible.
In her book, Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, Dr. Christiane Northrup says the best way to love your breasts, or even the lack thereof, is a daily practice of basically cupping each one, and sending loving thoughts to them. Conversely, Dr. Northrup claims that loathing your lumps is linked to breast cancer. Extra: Watch this video on the power of words.
If you've already been under the knife (and according to this research, 74% of Utahns have), STILL practice loving them. Because the grass is ALWAYS greener if your eyes are only focused over the fence. Comparison will slowly kill any semblance of self-love and acceptance.
And then there's this: Despite the fact that the media's trying to brainwash all of mankind into desiring the perfect double D, when you're face-to-face with your partner, he will likely be charmed by your chest, no matter what they look like.
So, let's "hail" our own breasts and "V's;" but not with products or surgeries, just love. We women deserve to love the very things that make us women, and to have others respect them, as well.