Do you have a vulva? Pussy? Cunt? Twat?
Whatever language you use to describe this body part, how comfortable are you with this area? The only thing I will nit pick (This isn’t really nit picking, it’s correcting misuse of terminology.) The vulva is the whole structure and all it encompasses including the inner and outer labia, clitoris, urethral opening, and vaginal opening. The vagina is just the vagina. We need to start moving toward correct usage of these words. You have no idea how frustrating it is to hear people saying vagina when they are referring to the whole vulva. It makes me want to go bat shit crazy and it’s so darn common!
Have you ever really, and I mean REALLY looked at it? For most vulva owners the very idea of looking “down there” is terrifying. They don’t want their partners to spend too long by their genitals, and often eschew receiving oral sex. We’ve been conditioned by society to think that vulvas are smelly, gross, ugly, and weird. There is a whole aisle in grocery and drug stores full of products to deodorize, perfume, and “cleanse” this body part. There is absolutely no need for these products! Vulvas and vaginas have very delicate ecosystems. All that is needed to keep a vulva happy and healthy is regular good hygiene. Yeah, just showering. You don’t really need soap except on the outside. It can get irritated with harsh soaps – and no one likes an irritated pussy.
Unlike most penis owners who get to see their sex organs with ease and frequency, people with vulvas have to make more of a conscious effort into seeing this hidden body part.
I’m all about encouraging embodiment and acceptance and the mirror exercise is just one small way to move toward that. A couple times during my schooling I had to do a version of a mirror exercise. Yup, I’ve been there. In one instance it was just exploration. In another it was an art project. (I highly recommend both.)
So how does the mirror exercise go?
If you’re going to do this exploration, make sure it’s at a time when you won’t be rushed – you really want to take your time. If possible, be in a warm room. Grab a mirror with a stand (or prop it up so you can have both hands free) and have good lighting, perhaps with a bendy neck lamp. Get comfy on the floor or in bed, propped up by pillows. It might even be beneficial to have some lube on hand. Whether or not one naturally lubricates with arousal, it is generally better to go in with more wetness than less (particularly since this is not an exercise in arousal, but exploration).
Sit back and position the mirror so that you can see your vulva. Spread your legs comfortably wide; you may wish to plant your feet flat on the bed or floor as you see fit. Using both hands, gently spread your labia. All vulvas are unique and look different. I can’t be too specific around this because what might work for me, wouldn’t make sense for another vulva, and wouldn’t work for yet another. Make this work for YOU.
And just as you might explore your favorite work of art, take in the sight of your vulva. The lines and curves, the nooks, the textures, the colors, and gradation.
If you’re holding your breath at this point, let it go. Relax. Breathe deeply from your core.
At this time you may wish to apply some lube if you haven’t yet. The purpose of this exercise is not arousal or orgasm though if either (or both) happens, that is more than okay. Once you have applied some lubricant take your time exploring with your fingers whilst looking in the mirror. See how many anatomical structures you can name. [Mons, clitoris, clitoral hood, inner and outer labia, uretheral opening, vaginal opening.] Try to feel below the surface of the skin to the vestibular bulbs and the crura, or legs, of the clitoris.
Please, don’t just see. Really Look. Get to know your vulva like the back of your hand. If you spend some time touching your labia and clitoris you may start to see a gradual, subtle (or not so subtle) shift in colors as the blood moves into the area.
I can only speak to my own experience around this, though I have heard similar stories, when I have done this exercise, I have found it incredibly awe-inspiring and erotic.
Please be open minded and try this out. Go into it with friendly curiosity. Be gentle on yourself and try to have fun along the way.