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.

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