“I love you, but I can’t support you, people will ask what sort of a person does something like that.”
Well mum, the sort of person that does something like that is me. Admittedly when I first came across the project in a magazine I was quite disgusted as staring at me were rows of vulvas, not something you expect to be squashed in between adverts and style guides. However, the more I researched the project, the more it played on mind and the urge to be a part of something unique.
As I was reading that article, I didn’t imagine a few weeks later I would have made the trip to Brighton to find myself on the infamous ‘casting couch’. Doing my best yoga impressions I lay on the couch as warm goo was spread around my nether regions. To be honest I expected it to be uncomfortable and I also expected to return home with a yeast infection. Neither of the two were the case. In actual fact of all the times I have laid on a couch, knickers removed this was quite pleasant in comparison, not a plastic implement, swab or hot wax in sight. Jamie put me at ease and was very professional about the whole thing and the process was really quick. I don’t know how long I thought I would have to lie there ‘drying’ but it was only a couple of minutes before the whole thing was over and I was having a surreal moment, standing with Jamie looking at my inverted vulva.
At 14 I was raped of my virginity by two boys, they were meant to be my friends, at school I was brandished a slag and I just got on with things without speaking out. At 23 I finally decided to deal with the facts and confront the issue head on instead of running away from it, like I had been doing the past eight years. Needless to say it has been a year of therapy, anti-depressants and some of the darkest days of my life. It has also allowed me to look at myself in ways never possible before, (no amount of yoga has you face to face with your vagina!) I have surrounded myself with an amazing support system and had the opportunity to weed my life of all things suffocating.
When something like rape happens to you, you have no control over your own body and so for me, it became very important to realise that I own myself and have control back. You may think if she has already had two people she didn’t want near her vagina, why on earth would she put it in cast for everyone and their dog to gawp at.
The difference here is choice.
I have had a bad relationship with my body, to be honest I doubt I will be able to recognise my cast when they are all together but that is, in a strange way kind of nice because it means my vagina is perfectly normal and just by looking at it doesn’t stand out as being odd or scream rape victim. Neither does it make it apparent if I have a great sense of humour, let you know what my interests are or the colour of my eyes, all of that belongs to me, sorry.
What my vulva does is become part of a bigger picture, it becomes less focal and sexually explicit and once you get over the initial shock of the piece it just becomes another vulva (that’s desensitisation for you). I have every confidence in Jamie’s piece and the ideas behind it or I wouldn’t have agreed to be a part of the project. It was for me part of my therapeutic process and will hopefully last longer than I will. If one person can get something positive from viewing what Jamie has achieved then my journey has been worth it. Being part of “design a vagina” has empowered me.
Ladies we are just right the way we are, individual. Embrace what you already have and see where it takes you. You are not characterised by your vagina so changing its characteristics won’t change you.