Friday, January 27, 2012

Meet our Models: Aurora

I will stay true to my name just as I am trying to stay true to myself. My name is Aurora. It has taken me so long to sit down and write my story because I am still unsure of where it all started really. 

Whether it started when I lost my virginity at 14, or if it started when my curiosity did.
See I didn’t have parents that hushed things away to keep me from growing up. I had my mother, which to keep me safe, taught me about my body; what it did and how it did it at a very young age. I was 5 when I learned that sex was when a man and woman intertwined, that it feels good, and that a baby can come from all this. She even taught me how the baby is formed and showed me all the stages of development. Now don’t get me wrong, I had never even been told stories of a stork bringing a baby to your doorstep. I am so thankful that my mother told me about everything and I was defiantly happy being the youngest kid I knew who had seen the truth. But not being ignorant did not stop me. I wanted to know more. I wanted to know how it felt. Now I’m not saying I went out at 5 and tried to have sex, or that I would even talk to anyone about it.

I had a lot of friends on the block, and I had a lot of sleepovers, and without ever exchanging words about sexual conduct I would coax my girlfriends to experiment with me. Scissoring, kissing with tongues, and rubbing up on each other became a midnight secret between me and my friends for many years. Always sneaking around, and our curiosity for more, I began to feel ashamed of what I was doing and eventually myself.

Around age 9 I was caught by my friends mother. I was kissing her daughter while she laid over me, I had never been so embarrassed in my life and I kept praying to myself that she wouldn’t say anything to my mother in the morning. It paid off, my mother never found out. And I became so disgusted with myself and I hid everything away. When my friends would tap on my shoulder to ‘play’ I would turn a cold shoulder. Now that wasn’t always the case, but now anytime I had met anyone new that part of my life stayed ‘private’.

Even thought my first experiences were with females I was still attracted to the opposite sex. And when I was 13 I had my first experience with one. Then when I was 14 I lost my virginity. I think my age had a large role in how much was added to my disgust with myself.

I went through a lot in a short period of time after that. And a lot of self hatred as well.

But now I am a mother to the most beautiful girl, and it seems that her birth has been my transformation. I have gone from self loathing to self loving just seeing what beauty being a woman really can be. Not only did giving birth to my daughter change my outlook on myself but it transformed my body as well. And seeing my new vulva has led me to love my past vulva as well and all the things that came with it.

Being a woman and being capable of the most beautiful thing in life, creating it, is a gift. Cherish it, worship your body, love yourself and let yourself love you.


Year of the Vulva Pt. 1: Lower Prices = Vulva Love

You are going to hear me say it a vagillion times: 
This year is the Year of the Vulva. 
And that doesn't only apply to women changing the world (which is going to happen this year)
It applies to VulvaLoveLovely
This year is our year. 

So the first really big, freakin awesome new change?
Last night I was up late and had too many glasses of chocolate soy milk and I lowered all of the prices on our pendants!
Most by $20, some by as much at $70. 
The average price has gone from $63 to $48.
{It was a crazy night}

Financially, things are tough for all of us. 
But the reason we started Vulva Love Lovely was to spread the Vulva Love. 
The best way to do that? 
Having you Vulva~licious women wearing our pendants so that other women start a conversation with you about it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Skinny and the Full Book Review all rolled into one: Vulva101

A new book came out featuring photos of 101 Vulvas, so of course I had to read it. I have a bit to say: so the first part of this is the Skinny followed by notes to fill her out.

The Good:
  • The book featured 3 photos of each model at different angles, really giving you a 3 dimensional image
  • The photos were, for the most part, unedited. So the natural colors of the Vulva came shining through. It was definitely a refreshing deviation
  • The photos were taken with a variety of light sources: we loved this because when a woman looks at her Vulva for herself its not going to be in studio lighting.
  • The book featured a really good number of photos, with 101 models and 3 photos a piece at least
  • The book has some really awesome resources listed: it mentioned the documentary: the perfect vagina and its how we found out about Clitoraid

The Bad:
  • The models stories were almost entirely unimportant. The few that were presented were paraphrased by the author, so the end product was really the author's interpretation of the story.
  • Almost all of the text and comments from the models were not about the project, the models experiences, or how the project really affected the models. Instead they were about the photographer and how he's not a creeper.
  • There was very little ethnic diversity in the 101 Vulva.
  • There was very little lovin' given to the bush in the 101 Vulva. 
  • The book takes a round about way of sorta kinda endorsing  labiaplasty. We expand upon this in the text notes below.

The Epic:
  • The book included several women that had undergone sex reassignment surgery.  

Here are two of the pages in the book.
I really, really like that there are 3 different pics of each model. It does an excellent job of giving you a full view of the woman.
When we look for ourselves its good to know that we look different depending on what angle we are using.

Pieces of the book that I had to share:
For Better
* " Witnessing her reaction and transition was probably one of the most powerful moments of this experience for me. If this book helps only her, then it was one hundred percent worth the effort" pg. 13
     ~Words from my own heart. If you can change the world of just one person, you have changed the world.
*" The Hawaiian word punani (which means 'vulva') is a contraction of the words pua and nani which literally mean 'beautiful flower'". Pg 16
*From a model: "I like piercings.... I thought having a very noticeable "landmark" might help out the fellas. Not so"- {lol}, Pg 21

For Worse:
* "Maybe it had to be a man doing this." pg 13
     ~Excuse me? Wait... what am I doing? 

Skinny, fin. Now for
More Notes
*Vulva, a fragrance. Definitely unimpressed.
On pg 13 we get a short and sweet endorsement for Vulva: Original: which is a roll on scent that replicates the smell of Vulva accurately and is based off of the scent of a 25 year old, blond, thin German woman.
Excuse my language here but f*ck that, with a capitol F. Why you ask? Click on the linked text and you'll see why.

*I completely understand the  perceived need to justify this kind of work and establish that  you are in fact not a creeper. I really, really do. I get just as much hate mail as I can take. BUT, spending 85% of the text doing it can negate what you are saying.People think to themselves: if your work is justified, then why are you so worried about pointing it out? 

*On labiaplasty: "(one model says) It was an awesome thing for me!" .....I firmly believe people have the right to make any alterations to their bodies they see fit" Now, don't get us wrong, we completely agree. The thing that bothers us is that there is no alternate opinion, just one woman telling us her labiaplasty was awesome. For the most part women going for labiaplasty are in a never ending cycle of not being happy with themselves. Once they have their labia 'fixed' they will find something else that needs to be fixed. Its the very same reason any recovering anorexic will tell you that they NEVER hit their ideal weight. They loose that 10 lbs they wanted to.... but they look at themselves and decide they need to loose 5 more.  So yeah, women should be able to do whatever they want with their bodies. The problem is: this is non-reversible and it won't treat the cause. None of this is really talked about in the book to any detail. So we have an issue with it because the text is sort of leaning towards telling women that they have the right to make a decision (which they do), but leaves you with enough info that it would be a very uninformed decision based on one direct line from one woman and the author's sum up of that one woman's experience.  

*The cover is really off putting. Its masculine x100 and almost violent. It's not until the end of the book that  you see its a manipulated photo of a Vulva. When I see it I always hear "This is Sparta!" shouted in my head.

All in all, I think this is a pretty great book. Its hard for me to be 100% in love with it: this is what I do for a living, I'm passionate to a fault. And even with that, I absolutely loved the photos and would definitely recommend buying the book because it does a beautiful job of showing you a wide range of Vulvas in lighting and positions that you are likely to encounter when you look for yourself.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Perfect Vagina: The Documentary

For your pleasure, the full documentary.

The perfect vagina from heather leach on Vimeo.

*Some warning: you see a labiaplasty.
It will make you feel it in your toes: but seeing it really opened my eyes to the incredible amount of shame a woman must feel to go through with that. Its only a few seconds and if your anything like me, it will make you cry.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mrs Myrna Monday: What Causes Early or Prolonged Periods? The Traveling Menstruation Bug

Mrs. Myrna Mondays:
Where we answer all of the questions you have about your Lady Parts

Dear Mrs. Myrna,I have a question that is puzzling me. I went overseas, from Australia to Japan and even though it wasn't remotely due, my period started. Since then it really hasn't stopped (it's been 2 weeks and now I'm back in Australia), in fact it just started up in earnest again. Do you know why this sort of thing happens when you travel? I've heard from other people that it seems to happen when your body goes a long distance but I don't know why. 
The Wanderer

Dear Wanderer,
Because of the correlation between your traveling and the wonkiness of your period it would seem a logical cause. But, there isn't much in the way of showing any link between traveling and the onset of your menstrual cycle. Its much more likely that a different change has caused your period to start early and then try to re-align by starting again closer to when you normally begin menstruating. 

So what causes early and or prolonged periods?
There are a bunch of things that can do this. Both psychological and physiological.
*Anxiety or Stress (both of which pretty often go hand in hand with traveling)
*Fatigue (Again, pretty standard with traveling- especially when you are adjusting to a new time zone)
*Taking new meds / switching meds 
(Changing birth control is a HUGE culprit, but starting or changing any med can do it.)
**Antibiotics interfere with any birth control you are on, which can not only through off your menstrual cycle but can cause you to get pregnant if you don't use a back up method**
*Weight -(Have you lost/gained weight?)
*Other Women (Our cycles have this freakin awesome ability to sync up. Are you staying with a group of women while traveling?)

Its pretty likely the cause of the unpredictability of your cycle is one or a combination of these. Your body should  get back into it's normal groove and your period should regulate pretty quickly. If you have this happen again next cycle, or you continue to bleed intermittently call your Certified Nurse Midwife or ObGyn to schedule an appointment as this could be an early sign of several different problems.

Let's Learn About Mentruation! Vintage Sex Education Video

*So, how does the egg get from the ovary into the fallopian tube? Why, via Menstruation Magic of course!

During Menstruation:
*Bathe or Shower (But not with freezing or scalding water! It's ok to bathe in water of an extreme temperature generally, but if you are menstruating and you do this some unknown bad Menstruation Mojo will take over your Uterus)
*Wash your Hair (Dry it quickly! Bears can smell menstruation in wet hair)
*Swim (But not on the first days of your cycle. If you do that then it's sharks that will smell your menstruation. Even in a pool you want to be careful- while they can't get you there they will smell your menstruation and know)
*Dances and Picnics are cool.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Vulva: Original- Objectification you can Smell!

There's a new product on the market and we don't even need to tell you why it is completely, horrendously disgusting. 
The website will do that for you. 
*For your own well being, we marked out the name of said product. If you really want to google it, trust us, it wont be hard*

Now, don't get me wrong.
Finding women to be sexy, alluring, erotic: that's all good. We are all of those things and MORE. 
But this takes creeper to a whole new level. And for all of us brunettes, redheads, gray goddesses and other non-blonds: apparently our Vulva's don't smell erotic enough for the male public . That goes for anyone over the age of 19 and over size 1 in skinny jeans.

Dear strange men that I don't know:
She doesn't know you and she doesn't want to know you.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

2012: Year of the Vulva? Absolutely.

The Chinese new year is just days away and everyone is all excited about the year of the Dragon.
Which is nice.
But, I'm pretty sure everyone knows its the year of the Vulva.

And that doesn't mean people born in this year wont pair well with a snake but would do great with a horse. That's silly.
It means that this year will birth something new and amazing for women.
And I'm actually for real about this one. As soon as midnight hit this year I felt this amazing electricity in the air. If we want it, this year is ours.
If we as women come together as a united front, something crazy awesome is going to happen and the world is never going to forget it.

And don't give me any of that, "we can't change the world" crap.
 Because we've done it already.

But what can you do?

*Sponsor a girl's education 
*Adopt a Clitoris
*Volunteer at a battered women's center
*Switch to cloth pads and donate your un-used disposable menstrual products to a woman's shelter
*Challenge a friend or a group of friends to take our New Year's Resolution Challenge.
Sure, were past the new year but its never too late to start loving yourself.
*Support women-owned businesses 
*Support women and body positive businesses
*Talk to other women in a way that shows you refuse to be shy or ashamed of your body. 
~Talk about the beauty standard, talk about menstruation and what it is to be a woman. Make the topic of being female far from taboo for the female community. Word can be viral, talk about it and let it spread.

Decide what it is you are going to do. It doesn't have to come from this list. Hell, create your own list. Just decide to do something. Even if its just one thing. Post it here, be accountable. Change the world. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Meet our Models: Sapherea

My vulva has given me more than I could ever express. She was the gateway to my faith, and to my (deeply buried) sexuality. But, only after I told her she was beautiful. Only after I stopped hating both her and myself.
I grew up, as many girls do, being told that I was wrong, that I was unworthy, that I was dirty, and that I was inferior. I never believed any of it for a second. I was an extremely shy child, but was surprisingly assertive (and, occasionally, aggressive) in defending girls. I hated hearing people constantly talk about how girls were mean, and shallow, and needed male friends to “soften” them. As far as I could see, girls were kind, sweet, friendly, wonderful, and far more humble than the boys and men who insulted them. Of course, some girls did fit the misogynistic stereotype. However, I felt that their behavior was in reaction to how they were treated, how they were perceived, and how they felt they were expected to behave. I was upset that no one else seemed to be able to see this, but I was also upset with the girls for allowing themselves to be ruled and controlled by submitting themselves to the stereotype. These feelings that women are incredible, wonderful, and beautiful, no matter what this patriarchal society says, have always been strong within me, from the youngest age I can remember.
Even when I was told that my destiny was to submit to a man one day, to live beneath him, to follow him… Even when I was told that I was disgusting, that I was filthy, that I was secondary, that I was wrong… Even when I was told that my own body didn’t belong to me, wasn’t mine to make decisions for… Even when I was told that my body was literally the property of a patriarchal god, and that I was only being allowed to “borrow” it to perform His will… Even when I was told that menstruation was sickening, a painful punishment from God for something I didn’t do… Deep inside, I always said, “No.”
However, over time, society and my parents’ religion taught me to hate myself. I clearly remember, at age fourteen, praying to God through my tears to forgive me. What did I think my sin was? Becoming aroused after reading a love scene in a horror novel. I begged God to take away any and all sexual feelings, thoughts, and impulses. I got my wish. I scared myself so badly, and hated myself so much that I never felt the slightest bit of arousal again until I was almost twenty years old. I was completely cut off from anything to do with sexuality. I now see that I was so ignorant that it made me vulnerable. My freshman year of college, we took a survey in our Bio 188 class about sexual health and activities. It may as well have been written in ancient Greek. When I didn’t understand the first question, I turned to my two friends and asked, “What’s oral sex? Is that… that’s kissing, right? That means kissing?” I was eighteen years old.
Something slowly changed in me throughout my freshman and sophomore years at college. There was something I desperately wanted, but couldn’t identify. I began to tentatively research different types of feminism. I found Betty Dodson. And then, I found Vulva Love Lovely. The first time I saw one of her pendants, my face flushed, and I quickly scrolled down to hide the picture. I stared at my keyboard for a long time, and then slowly scrolled back up. After several long moments, something broke inside of me. Tears came to my eyes. I had never seen anything so beautiful. I looked over every page of VLL’s website, clicked on the links, watched the videos. For about two weeks, I spent all of my free time researching information, history, artwork, and books on the vulva, the Yoni, the uterus, and menstruation. There were all these women who loved their bodies, who loved each other, who accepted themselves, and accepted each other. They didn’t just respect each other... They adored, they loved, they celebrated themselves and each other. They supported each other, were there for each other. They openly talked about their vulvas, their uteruses, their menarche experiences… They celebrated menstruation, saying it was wonderful, it was vital, it gave life, and filled the world with beauty. They said their vulvas were beautiful, like flowers, or seashells, or butterfly wings…  They called their vulvas “gateways to life,” saying they were sacred, they were holy, and they were absolutely stunning. They said that all of these most feminine of things weren’t disgusting, or weak, or punishments. They said that these things made them powerful, and strong, and beautiful. They loved being women. And, I wanted to be one of them.
I remember the first day that I took out a mirror to see if my vulva was as beautiful as all of those on VLL’s website. I remember the first day that I attended my Goddess Temple. My vulva led me to my faith. She led me to the incredible wombyn and Priestesses there, all of whom are now so important and so vital to my life. On a spiritual level, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I’ve never felt so right, so content, so loved, so accepted, and so enthralled by life.
After I began to think of my vulva as beautiful, she gave me everything. I realized my own sexuality, found my faith, and became a member of two incredible communities of women—The Order of the Clitorati, and Temple.
My vulva was once nothing but an empty, dark, shameful hole between my legs. But now, she is a radiant flower, stunning in her beauty and power, the gateway to everything that makes me a wombyn who loves being a wombyn.

Friday, January 6, 2012

This New Year: Change the Way You SEE, Not the Way you LOOK - A Body Positive Blog

Every year around this time Women all over the world decide that they are going to something that: instead of changing the way they feel about themselves will make them feel worse about their bodies. 
And you're picking up exactly what I'm puttin down. 
Loose weight, fit into those skinny jeans, blah blah so on and so on I look like crap. 

Now, don't get me wrong. Wanting to eat right, get fit and healthy, work your cardio: those are fantastic.
Loosing weight to look good is NOT the same thing. 

And here's a hard truth: You will never be happy with your weight if all you are doing is trying to look good. 

You'll reach your goal and decide you can loose another 5 pounds, then another 2- just to get rid of love handles that only you can see.
Don't believe me? Ask almost any 'thin' woman if she is happy with her body size.

It's the way society programs us, women especially. We are never pretty enough, never thin enough.
Still don't believe me?
Crack open this month's Cosmo.
If we could be naturally beautiful then how would anyone sell us anything?

So, to the point. 
If your New Years Resolution is to loose weight because you're not happy with yourself do YOURSELF something that won't make you feel worse. Do something that will change the way you see yourself. 
But what, you ask?

Every time you look in a mirror, 
find something you LIKE about yourself.  
And Girl, I mean EVERY time.
Even if its just one thing: that freckle on your cheek, the curve of your lips, your fingers or toes. 
Find something new every week and soon you will find there is a HUGE picture, a beautiful one, that you were never able to see because everything in our society tells you its not there. 

The first few times it will be tough, but after a while something awesome will happen.
It will be easy as pie. And the things you like about yourself will start piling up.
Write them down on your mirror.
I write them in red lip liner pencil.
Because I am DAMN fine. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Saints of Somalia- Your daily dose of Female Empowerment

There is not a doubt in my mind: When the world finally finds peace it is going to be because of women.


My mother would always (and still does) tell me, "you cannot change the world".
I think it was her way of trying to normalize me. It was said with good intentions.

But think about how VLL has affected your life, your body image and your perception on your female-ness.
And I'm not special, just bull-headed.
These women are the same.

Don't ever let that feeling that you can't change the world stop you from doing it.
Imagine what would have been lost if these women accepted that?
Now, think of what will be lost if you do.

*Thanks to my amazing husband for sharing this video with me. <3

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Panties are all in a Twist at this Transphobic Libra Tampon Commercial

Wow, this upsets me beyond belief.
As any of my friends/customers know, menstruation is kinda my thing. Its something that has been vilified since the beginning. It is something that has created a sisterhood between all women since the beginning of time and yet, since then we have been unable to utilize that bond or power because we are taught that there is something inherently wrong with menstruation.

To see a commercial in which a woman actively flashes her tampon with pride is such a deviation from the usual " Our tampons are sneakily packaged to look like candy so that no one will ever suspect if they happen to fall out of your bag, heaven forbid" aim that they normally take. It would leave me jumping for joy with excitement.

At least, that is what I thought.
But to see this huge step in advertising (which, lets face it, is a big source of cultural and social beliefs) done solely on the backbone of transphobia makes me so mad that I am literally biting my tongue. As if the underlying message of shame wasn't enough, now pride or even just acceptance of your period is ok, so long as you are putting a trans person down. There are so many profanities I want to spill out all over this computer screen.