Monday, April 23, 2012

Meet Our Models: Treakel

I became acutely aware of my vulva and vagina a month before I turned 10. My menarche was a surprise, to say the least. My mom and dad were both very forthcoming with information about the growing body, so it was not that I was uninformed, it was that I was scared. I felt so totally alone and honestly thought that there was something wrong with me. I was bleeding from my vagina, vaguely aware that it quite possibly could be my first period, but so deathly afraid that I was going to have to go to the doctor, yet again, that I suffered in silence. Drop by drop, slowly soaking whatever cloth I thought I could possibly get rid of without anyone noticing. Thus, began my very personal and empowering journey.

From that moment to this, I continue to learn that there is something powerful and wonderful about what I have. From my first boyfriend in high school, to my recent ex husband these lessons have been hard learned and wonderful all the same. I have learned to harness what. I have learned that to be a woman is wonderful and scary, painful and rewarding. I am recently divorce, and that journey from marriage to isolation to abject horror to freedom has only strengthened who I am. I remember being so afraid of my husband and what was going to happen, but knowing that when he was gone there was really nothing that he could do. When he was present, I did not have to be. I knew deep down that he was angry because there was something that I had that he would never, no matter how much he took from me, made me endure, and heaped upon me, gain or break. That was my womanhood. I may not have been able to refuse him, but I did have the ability to, when he was not there, be myself with myself. Hard as he may try to make me feel dirty and filthy, unworthy of love, I still have the power to accept myself, and there is nothing more powerful than knowing that your vulva is what makes you, well, you.

My vulva is a beautiful. She is not filthy, she is wonderful. She has given me happiness and ushered in life. I have never been ashamed of my vulva, because what is the point? A leopard cannot change his spots, why would I want to change my womanhood and deny myself of my vulva. My vulva is mine and no one else’s, and I would have it no other way.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

We Get by With a Little Help from our Friends

For about 2 years now the idea of putting Vulva pieces inside of lockets sat hidden in the back of my mind. 
I knew it was brilliant! I also knew that as soon as I listed it the design would be vulnerable to being copied. 
While the concept seemed pretty simple, no one had done it yet. I'm not gonna lie, I was very proud of the design. 

So late last year I dropped over $1,000 and spent countless hours working with our intellectual property lawyer to get the design patented. Its a pretty big and very expensive venture. So, once we went patent pending I started listing the lockets to help me try and raise the money it would take to finalize the patent, $3,000.

And I was slowly but steadily getting to that goal. Ok, very slowly.
Then several weeks ago I saw my design in another artist's shop. This happened just a week after I lost my wedding ring, my car decided to give up and my grandfather passed away. This design was my baby, an idea that I spent 2 years growing. Needless to say I was crushed. It was a rough couple of weeks.
So, I sent a very friendly e-mail over letting the artist know that we had the design as patent pending. She essentially replied letting us know that  until the patent was finalized she was going to continue to use the design. Now I was crushed and a little disheartened with humanity.VLL is a very small business. Its really just me working hard to support my family. We are not a big company that can deal with big hits to its designs. So this was really bad news.

But you know me, I love pulling myself up from my bootstraps.
So I will be listing several $35 lockets {they originally start at $48} every week until I can raise the $3,000.00 to finalize the patent on the design I've really put so much into. 

So, if you can please lend us a hand:
In return you will get a beautiful, hand sculpted locket piece and so much gratitude and Vulva Love from myself. And if all you can do is share this with your FB friends or pin it, anything to just help us get the word out there, know that we truly appreciate your support.

With Vulva Love,
Jessica Marie
Owner, Artista Feminista

*please note:
-We are not trying to patent the idea of making Vulva art or even Vulva pendants. We love that there are women all over the world picking up the Vulva Love vibe and making it there own. We just want to protect our original locket design. That's it. We want every Vulva artist to support one another, make their own beautiful and unique designs and move the Vulva Love movement to a whole new level. But we can't do that by stepping on one another. We have to work together.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Meet Our Models: Tad Ekam

Tad Ekam “That one”, a respect name for a Chaos Dragon; they exist where physical light and darkness do not separate, where Primordial Matter waits to be formed into physical manifestations.

My mother never talked about her body. She never talked to me about sex, outside the limits of keeping me ‘informed’ by giving me a  simple  generic basics , a “how babies are made” booklet when she was pregnant with my middle brother  and not protesting when my private school  and then latter my public high school taught their versions of Sex Ed. I remember her saying something that basically was along the lines of her preferring me to learn about Sex Ed and sexual health from someone else, from the streets or through my own personal blunderings, rather than from her.
She was self conscious and uncomfortable with topics of her body and sex. How much of this was because of her past experiences she never talked about (she vaguely told me a story of how she was almost raped in a barn as an explanation of why she never insisted I had a boy friend growing up and how her second oldest brother ripped her earrings out of her ears), her religious upbringing and ideals (she would become very distressed at the idea of the thought of masturbation because apparently you’re not supposed to do that according to the Church or something. It was never explained to me so I never paid attention to it), her body image (she was overweight after having my two brothers and she never really lost any of the ‘pregnancy fat’), or my father (while his heart was in the right place, he was brought up “Old School” and had his own issues, fears and demons that he project onto everything and everyone).
  I have not spoken with either one of them for four years. Her last words were to tell me she was going to pray that I would fail so I would crawl back home. His last words had been telling me what a lying thieving piece of welfare/disability check riding piece of shit I was.
I joined the Army in Oct 2008, went through training in Feb 2009. I joined to get away from my parents, my past and to finally have a stable job (I will have been employed for two years this July). I am still, by definition, a virgin as I’ve never had partner sex, kissed or even touched another person in any way.  This gives me both a longing and a confusion that manifests itself in a crippling fear that I have yet to overcome.
 I do not give my Vulva enough attention at times due to a busy work schedule and not having a room to myself (Oh….how I await my promotable/Sergeant status that increases my chances of getting a room with no roommate!) but I am aware of her.  The outer Labia piercings I had done last year make it all but impossible to “forget” that she is down there.  I had six of the eight piercings all done at once and the last two (the top two) done two months after.  Why did I have them done? Because she is mine. She is my Tad Ekam and no one will take her from me.
I am neither the same person I was five years ago, nor the same person I was two years ago.  There is not a day I am grateful for that, for I am closer to undoing the damage I had been unaware that was done to my thinking and understanding of the world and myself.  One day I may be able to forgive those who unknowingly and knowingly fed me lies and misinformation and one day I may be able to forgive myself for believing them, no matter how fleeting.  I am closer to understanding and accepting myself as I am.
~Tad Ekam

The Menarche Diaries: Josie's First Period

The Menarche Diaries:
Josie's First Period

I got my first period when I was 10 years old. I remember the day like yesterday, I was going to the bathroom when I happened to look down in my underwear...I freaked out. I came out of the bathroom and went to my mom, telling her I thought something was wrong with me. I had something weird on my panties.
She asked to see, so I showed her, nonchalantly she said I might have my period-she took me to the bathroom and gave me a pad. One of those big puffy ones that make you think of a diaper. (Nothing cute nor colorful for me!)
"Put this on, if you wake up tomorrow and see blood on it-you have your period."

I went to bed, praying that this wouldn't happen. I woke up the next day and the first thing I did was check the pad. Damnit...blood. I have my period.

My mom printed information for me off the internet, it talked about menstrual cramps, how long periods typically last, and the general...non-personal information every girl learns over time.

Never did I have a warm hug, welcome to womanhood speech. I was given a pad and the cold-hard facts...and Tylenol or ibuprofen if needed. I felt like I was a rebel in school; hiding pills from the teachers so I wouldn't have to ask to go to the nurse. I remember telling one of my school friends that I had gotten my period over summer vacation-soon some of the popular girls at school came up to me in the bathroom. They asked (in a snide voice) if I had gotten my period. It wasn't seen as something "cool" but it instantly put me down lower on the "status" chain at school than ever. 

No one to talk to, relate to...I was an outsider. I couldn't ask any of my classmates questions-my mom had the "suck it up" was never made out to be something special or celebratory for her. It wasn't for me.

It was embarrassing for me at such a young age, to become a woman. Especially without the support group of positive people around me-it's taken me many years to get over the idea that my period is misery in liquid form. That it's a time for me to be gentle with myself, love myself, and treat myself as a woman. I'm strong, but yet it's not always painless...I get tired, worn out, and cranky. I push myself through every day tasks, sometimes just wanting to curl up into a ball instead. I'm working on getting over my shyness over admitting "hey, I have my period...I'll do my best, but if I'm not as chipper as normal-that's why."

I think my overall confidence in myself would've been better, had my period experience been more positive and affirming. 


Monday, April 2, 2012

Meet Our Models: Arianna

April 1st 1993 – I am 14 years old and pregnant. This is no April Fools Day Joke.
 I skipped school and walked myself into the crisis pregnancy center in my local town , I gave a fake name and asked for a pregnancy test.   The ladies were very kind and had me administer the test myself. They asked me what my plans were and I remember telling them that my parents were going to kill me when they found out. They told me I had options and would help me if I wanted to keep my baby or give it up for adoption. I asked about an abortion not really understanding what one really was. They told me they had a video for me to watch. The video was very graphic and had me hysterically crying before I left. I knew that an abortion was not an option.
Word spread pretty fast that I was pregnant. It was a small town and we knew everyone. Eventually it reached my family.  As suspected , my family was furious. They were furious at me, at the ladies at the crisis center, at everyone. They said I was just a child and there was no way I could raise a baby , they made me an appointment with the local clinic against my wishes. My mom kept telling me it was just a mass of cells and not a real baby yet. I remember driving there 27th days later with my parents and feeling so ashamed and embarrassed especially when I saw the religious groups picketing.  They brought me in the back for my “ counseling session” and when they asked me if this was what I wanted I told the lady no, I was being made to do this. My mom then interjected again and started telling me how since I didn’t have adequate medical care and was not on prenatal vitamins that my baby would be born deformed if I didn’t do this. I asked the lady more questions and she told me the same, its just a mass of cells and would “ Look like a cotton ball” and they would “ dispose of it”.  I was 7 weeks along.
I was taken to another room to get my gown on . It was so cold. The radio was playing the song “informer” . The nurses name was Mary and she was much older. I remember a shot of some sort , maybe an Iv. I was so scared. I was shaking. All I saw was women until I became very groggy and everything in the room was fuzzy. I then heard a mans voice and the sound of a machine. It was so cold and it was metal. Something pinched me. Am I dreaming? Where am I? The next thing I remember I was in another room on a bed and there was another girl in there. I started screaming and crying hysterically. I kept calling for “ my baby”. They got my mom because I was making such a scene. My mom got me and my dad picked me up and carried me to the car. I was kicking and screaming over my dads shoulder on the way to that hot car.
As the weeks went on I was bullied at school and I was called a baby killer by kids at the local bowling alley. I hated my parents and was put on medications for depression. Less than 2 years later I became pregnant again.  I now have 4 children.  Throughout my adult life I have always been ashamed of my vulva. Today, 19 years later on the anniversary of my first pregnancy I am able to move on.  I know I have been forgiven.  I thought my vulva was ugly and I never wanted anyone to go near it. I am ready to let go of that shame and show the world.  I am beautiful.