Last month, I came across a body-casting artist whose work showcases the human body. Now, she’s bringing her work to a wider audience by creating a book containing photos of 200 vulvas she cast from 2019 to 2021. With her new Vulva Diversity Project, Lydia Reeves hopes to celebrate vulvas, educate readers and help women feel less alone in their experiences with their vulvas.
Alongside photos of 200 diverse vulvas are the stories of 100 individuals who took part in the Project. These stories tell of the relationship these vulva-owners (for not all photographed are women) have with their vulvas. Some are joyful, others upsetting and all are eye-opening. (Trigger warning: Some stories tell of rape, abuse and other topics some people may find distressing.) The stories cover concerns over labia size, pubic hair, experiences of sexual trauma and abuse, disease, discharge, pornography, giving birth and reclaiming sexuality. All the stories are open, honest and told without judgement.
Why ‘only’ vulvas?
As is so often the case, impactful projects like Lydia’s stem from personal experience. This blog was born from feeling like I was the only one dating rubbish men and has become an educational platform where I write honestly about sex, dating and relationships. Lydia, too, speaks openly about her insecurities with her own vulva, saying that, through her teenage years, she believed she could ‘fix’ these insecurities with labiaplasty. Shortly before the date of her operation, she realised surgery was not the solution for her. Whilst Lydia chose not to go through this surgery, this isn’t the case for many women and labiaplasty is the fastest-growing cosmetic procedure in the world. Many of these operations are for aesthetic reasons.
Like many of us, Lydia is concerned about young women growing up with insecurities about how their vulvas look – and young men’s expectations of how a woman ‘should’ look. The narrow portrayal of what a vulva looks like in porn is a well-known issue, and whilst porn was never meant to be sex education (so shouldn’t necessarily be vilified), it has become the main source of sex ed when the sex-ed curriculum is so clearly not up to scratch.
So Lydia hopes to complement the curriculum and that her book “speaks to those people who have doubts whether their vulva is normal, and show them that each vulva is actually completely different and that that in itself is so normal.”
The Kickstarter aptly ends tomorrow, 8th March, International Women’s Day. There’s still time to back this worthy cause, so follow the link and pledge what you can.
To find out more about the Vulva Diversity Project by following this link.
Follow Lydia on Instagram.
Image credit: Lydia Reeves.