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10 Reasons Your “Ugly Vagina” Is Normal and Gorgeous

Wed, Jul 27, 2011

Advice, Dear Em & Lo

photo via Flickr

Dear Em & Lo,

A male acquaintance recently started a conversation about “ugly” vaginas with my friends and me. He said that some vaginas resemble “kebabs” and that a lot of guys are really put off sex when they get a hot girl naked and find that her vagina isn’t as “neat” as they imagined it would be. It made me feel really self-conscious about my own, even though I never have been before.

Anyways, as I have never really seen many vaginas before, I decided to Google “ugly vaginas.” I was curious about what an ugly vagina actually is, and whether mine was one of them. Oh my god! I was shocked. What I thought was normal is actually “kebab-like”!!!! There were images of “beautiful” and “ugly” vaginas. The Vagina Institute in particular compares the two. The “beautiful” ones have plump outer labia and you can’t see the inner labia poking out from them…but the ugly ones are just like mine, when you can see the inner lips slightly.

It has made me feel so self-conscious. I hate to think of my ex and future partners being turned off by my vagina, especially as I try to keep it neat by trimming and waxing! Now I feel like growing a bush to try and hide my lips!! The horrible things is, I think when I was younger my vagina was more beautiful (I’ve seen the pictures of me running around naked on the beach as a child)…at least it looked more like the beautiful vagina pictures. It looked more like a little bottom than an adult vagina. Do you think that I have made it look worse by having lots of sex or something? Or is it just where I am older (I am 22 now). Can you have surgery on your vagina? I really want my inner lips to be made smaller. Is it possible?

–”Ugly” Betty

Dear U.B.,

Oh man. Where do we start? We could write an entire book on this topic. And it would involve a lot of ranting and swear words. Let’s try for the abridged version.

First of all, the bad news: We hate to say it, but yes, there are plenty of guys out there who, like your pal, use terms like “roast beef” or “kebab” to describe what they consider to be “ugly vaginas.” (Ignoramuses! The correct terminology for external female genitalia is vulvas, not vaginas, so we’ll be using that from here on out.) We wish we didn’t live in the kind of world where sexist idiots come up with insulting names for female anatomy, but damn it, we do, and much as we’d like to lie to you and tell you that all guys are just happy to get access to any vulva, no matter what it looks like, we can’t.

These same guys will probably tell you (if you ply them with enough drinks) that a so-called “ugly vagina”, where the inner lips protrude beyond the outer lips, looks that way because the woman has had too much sex. And this is why they find “imperfect” genitalia a turn-off — it makes them think the vagina has too much “mileage.”

First of all, what the double-standard fuck? But second, they’re flat-out wrong. Sex does not make your labia “grow.” Let’s say that one more time: The size and shape of a woman’s labia has nothing to do with the number of notches on her bedpost.

But now the good news: Just because some guys think this way, doesn’t mean they all do. Nor does it mean you have to put up with it. Say no to vulva prejudice! Here are ten things you should know that may help you fight the good fight.

1. Even though seedy quack operations like the Vagina “Institute” (no link for them, they’re assholes) will tell you that vulvas like yours are “abnormal,” they’re not. There’s no such thing as abnormal when it comes to labes. (Okay, maybe if you could play hackysack with your inner labia, that would be a bit abnormal.) Labia come in all shapes and sizes. Most women’s aren’t symmetrical, and it’s incredibly common for a woman’s inner labia to protrude beyond the outer labia. (It’s for this reason that we always use the terms “inner labia” and “outer labia” rather than “labia majora” and “labia minora,” which falsely represent the scale).

2. You know the only place where the vast majority of vulvas do look “perfect” (i.e. the same)? Porn. And it’s for the same reason that most of the ladies in porn have big boobs: It’s a job requirement, so if they weren’t born that way, they go under the knife to get that way. It stands to reason, therefore, that guys who watch a ton of porn are more likely to have strong (and wrong) opinions about your labia. Check out this Australian (NSFW!) report on how porn is responsible for the rise in labiaplasty operations.

3. Yes, you can have surgery on labia. And NO, YOU SHOULD NOT EVEN CONSIDER DOING THIS. If you don’t believe us, Dr. Kate says the same thing. Your labia are full of nerve endings. Every day we are inundated with letters from women saying they can’t orgasm–and you want to lessen your chances?!! Labiaplasty (that’s the “technical” term) to trim your inner lips definitely won’t make sex feel better for you, and it definitely could make sex less pleasurable or even painful.

4. The more a guy is into you, the less likely he is to give a shit what your vulva looks like. Sure, there are some guys out there who have an unbending aesthetic preference, love be damned, just as there are some women out there who can’t imagine sticking it out with a guy who’s less than average-sized. But just as most women will overlook a man’s size if they’re in love with the man attached to that penis, so too will most men learn to love your labia. Hey, it’s not the worst thing in the world to hold off on getting naked with a guy until you’re sure he likes you for more than just your genitals.

5. Some of our best friends have classic “ugly” vaginas. And you know what? Anecdotally speaking, it makes sex better. Like we said, the inner labia are chock-full of nerve endings, and they encase the clitoral head, which means that during intercourse, there’s a whole lot more friction going on. Friction = stimulation = Big Os for her. So there, you vulva fascists.

6. You know what we think is ugly? That plucked-chicken look a vulva gets a few weeks after a full Brazilian (or sometimes even a few days after). Sure, maybe that makes us vulva fascists, too, but we’re just saying is all: Back before people started taking it all off down there, nobody stressed out about their “ugly vagina”, so far as we know. We don’t think you should opt for re-growth to “hide” your vagina–you’ve got nothing to be ashamed of–but you should know that nobody’s adult vulva looks like a little girl’s, with or without pubic hair. So stop trying!

7. And you know what? We’re kind of glad that nobody’s adult vulva looks like a little girl’s. Who wants their vulva to look like a 7-year-old’s? Or a little mini tushy on a kid? That’s some fucked up shit!

8. Next time you’re feeling self-conscious about a body part, do NOT Google it. The Web is overrun with horny 13-year-olds who have unlimited access to porn and very limited knowledge of real women.

9. Libraries are supposed to be “neat.” Office cubicles are supposed to be “neat.” A lawyer’s side part is supposed to be “neat.” Your labia are not.

10. If, like us, you wish we didn’t live in this kind of world, then start changing it, one man at a time: Educate your guy friends. Don’t sleep with men who make you feel self-conscious about your vulva. Do sleep with men who feel self-conscious about their penises. Better yet, find the kind of guy who likes longer inner labia — there are plenty! — and reward him. Educate your female friends. Love your vulva.

Yes, we just lit a patchouli-scented candle.

Em & Lo

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181 Responses to “10 Reasons Your “Ugly Vagina” Is Normal and Gorgeous”

  1. Johnny Says:

    I had a girlfriend who was self-conscious about her darker, longer inner labes. I truly, really did not care or ever think of her vagina – oops, I mean vulva – as ugly.

    Your friend is a crass jackass. Personal preference aside (which I don’t judge him for, we all have ‘em), only an asshole makes a comment like that knowing that any woman in the room might look that way.

  2. ja bond Says:

    Cast your fears away, what you describe is actually what I and many men prefer. And even if we didn’t prefer it – we still love it!!

  3. BTJ Says:

    One of the reasons that a lot of magazines feature do not feature vulvae with long inner labia is because censors deem it too “explicit”. Having an “explicit” vulva is pretty hot if you think about it.

  4. BTJ Says:

    One of the reasons that a lot of magazines do not feature vulvae with long inner labia is because censors deem it too “explicit”. Having an “explicit” vulva is pretty hot if you think about it.

  5. T Says:

    I have longer inner labia… and my boyfriend says I have the most beautiful pussy he’s ever seen… more to play with! :)

  6. Stu Says:

    Well, to put things in another context: I’ve known girls refuse to have sex with “uncut” guys. I’ve known girls who complain about ugly penises on their sexual partners.

    Fact is people have tastes in genitalia.

  7. Britney Says:

    I can definitely relate to this article. I have long inner labia as well. I used to be really self conscious about it before I started having sex, but once I got with my boyfriend (my only sex partner), I started feeling a little better about it. He says he likes the way it feels & sometimes plays with it. :P

    Unfortunately, there are always going to be guys with preferences, but there are also a lot of guys who really don’t care.

  8. E. Says:

    I mean… there’s nothing wrong with having preferences. On the other hand, there’s no reason anyone needs to be with someone who doesn’t like the way they are.

    Also… I hope the “Do sleep with men who feel self-conscious about their penises” comment was a joke? Men are already insecure enough – nearly everyone is, regardless of gender, and it’s not any funnier because it’s not the group that normally gets pegged for it.

  9. Seashell Says:

    I think girls should be educated about the way their vulva will develop when they are educated about periods. In the long list of ‘puberty changes’ I was given at school, changes in the vulva were not listed. Because of this, I was a bit scared when mine started to grow.

    Like Em and Lo said, there is a difference between a little girl’s vulva and a mature woman’s. Its normal, and the earlier we start telling young women this, the better.

  10. Lala Says:

    My husband literally looks like Chris Hemsworth from Thor. I am not lying, he is 6’4 chiseled, and has the same face as him. Point being, I have one of those ‘ugly’ vaginas, and mine don’t protrude slightly, it is pretty damn visible. Well when my husband then boyfriend saw them he didn’t care. Yes at first he wasn’t sure what to do with them as he hadn’t seen that type before but it didn’t make him feel disgusted or anything. And he is a gorgeous man. Oh, and I had a friend who told me the same comments about kebabs and roast beef and how it is a turn off when I was in college. He was a 5’9 nothing special bloke who was nothing like a stone cold hunk of a man nor had the experience and prowess my now husband had. So think about the type of men who get turned off or care about it…

  11. Johnny Says:

    ^ good call, seashell, and another reason why I favor gender-separated sex ed. Boys should not be given the same talk.

    “Some of you will develop great big swinging dicks… others, not so much. And some of you will not grow an inch – that’s called a micropenis. But hey, don’t worry! It’s all normal!”

    That’s the last thing boys need on their minds as they enter adolescence.

  12. Lovereaction Says:

    What kind of shit speaks about these kind of thing with a platonic friend????

  13. Kitty10 Says:

    I am one of the girls blessed with the longer inner labia and, I’ve never heard anyone say they had a problem with it thankfully. It’s fine to have a preference I guess, but only and asshat would go and make fun of someone for how their body looks naturally. My boyfriend loves my labia! And I love his uncut, points off to the side when erect (and awesome) penis.

  14. Karen Says:

    I find it hard to understand how men can be so judgemental about women and then expect us to be nice to them and treat them like gods. At the end of the day we are all different and that is what makes us beautiful, not this sculpting to make us all look the same. If certain men can’t deal with it then forget about them, and if they’re being really insulting delivering a few home truths to them might give ‘em enough of a shock for them to think twice.

  15. ZZZZ..... Says:

    Well…women beat the crap out of guys all over the internet about penis size.That topic is used for misandry fodder and the the butt of jokes on sitcoms,in stand up comedy,movies,infomercials,radio spots,porn and an ace card for ultra-feminist types.What about the term “man up” ? ive heard women use this on guys.If a guy says something similar to a female he is a “useless,sexist,misogynistic pig that doesn’t deserve a woman”.Also,some women watch too much porno and have zero clue to what the average size package is so its kinda hard to reipricate alot of respect when many guys receive none themselves.

  16. ZZZZ..... Says:

    @id also like to state that personally i love a woman for WHO SHE IS not WHAT SHE HAS.

  17. Gwen Says:

    I asked my ex about his preferences, and he just looked at me like I said the stupidest thing ever, and asked why it would even matter, he would be with someone because he loved them, not what her vagingo looked like. It seems that a lot of guys don’t notice much difference.

  18. Melanie Says:

    Any man close enough to form an opinion about your vulva should be pretty damned grateful for the privilege.

  19. zuh Says:

    @Melanie: Why is it a privilege to be near a woman’s genitals? Comments like that show the fundamental sexism most women have.

    This whole post is kind of steeped in it. I don’t like women with vaginas that have labia and what not all over. I think it looks gross. When I encounter these women, I don’t freak out and tell them they need to get that fixed or anything, but I usually extricate myself from that situation as delicately as possible.

    Shame on the author for condemning people who feel the same as I do. People all have their own tastes and just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean a guy should be grateful he’s even getting any.

    The only point that needs to be made to respond to the woman’s original concern is that some people are jerks and that’s something that crosses the gender barrier.

  20. eliza Says:

    Honestly this is all opinion. I am a women and I get waxed and shave the “plucked chicken look” and you know what my partner loves it. its not to look like a 7 year old girl. I hate body hair and its what I like to do. I’m not trying to demean myself like this article is trying to make it seem. Its not fucked up and its quite immature to think portray other preferences as such!

  21. blaaw Says:

    @zuh : so if a girl is pretty and have a nice personality you wouldn’t be intimate with her because of her large labia? I agree with your feminist comment but come on. have we sunk this low? trust me I don’t mine the size of the guy and how its look a very few girl does. I doubt you have been intimate with someone in your life.
    its pretty sad people are judging in the appearance of other private part, women who does the same thing with guy is equally wrong. its doesn’t make sense: you are physically attracted to that person but the second you see her part its a turn off and you don’T want any?? yup p*rn does that.

  22. the_unforgiven Says:

    This is odd. Considering how much women put into penis size, fasination with balls, cut/uncut, undecended testicles, cancer surgery removals, etc… how can you possibly complain about this? Or even point the finger at a guy who would judge this without pointing the finger at women who do the same thing, and a lot more frequently?
    Why complain about something you do worse?

  23. eee Says:

    oh my god! this article has busted my self-esteem up. somewhat.
    i am so self-conscious about my “ugly vagina” my inner labia is like way more out than the outer one. like seriously way more out. and it looks like roast beef (dark roast beef) and oh my God!!! it pisses me off when im wearing jeans and it itches. i told my doctor about it and she said it was totally normal and even took a look at it (did it make me feel better? no.) I have been with my boyfriend for almost two years and i am ready to make love with him but i am scared he gets grossed out :( . he has like a 10inch penis… and i…. i have an ugly vagina :( …. my body is nice, not the sexiest but not the ugliest… i have a nice body… i hope he appreciates my body and my vulva when we make love and doesnt get like grossed out :/… <3

  24. guy Says:

    Yeah stfu and quit complaining ladies..78.8% of all suicides in america are MALES!!..of whom many im sure feel worthless and have self-esteem and body issues due to the media and unrealistic standards put on them by WOMEN.So be a little nicer to us okay? Thanks

  25. Kieran Says:

    Men, who aren’t self aggrandizing assholes who are too caught up in their own attractiveness for their own good, love vagina. You are what you look like, and there is no objective “beautiful” vagina. Don’t get me wrong, some women look perfect. However, I jack off too perfect and have sex with women. I want my girl to have the confidence of a porn star in bed WITH me. Not look like a recreation of a porn star.

  26. orly Says:

    Yeah stfu and quit complaining ladies..78.8% of all suicides in america are MALES!!..of whom many im sure feel worthless and have self-esteem and body issues due to the media and unrealistic standards put on them by WOMEN.So be a little nicer to us okay? Thanks

    are you serious? because of that women should be critize and rejected by the look of their vagina? i’ve seen maybe thin pretty women with fat guy. ok this is a serious problem for male suicide, and need to be resolved. we need more mental treatment available therapy etc. but cant you tell me what unrealistic standards you are talking about?

  27. orly Says:

    This is odd. Considering how much women put into penis size, fasination with balls, cut/uncut, undecended testicles, cancer surgery removals, etc… how can you possibly complain about this? Or even point the finger at a guy who would judge this without pointing the finger at women who do the same thing, and a lot more frequently?
    Why complain about something you do worse?

    two WRONG doesn’t it make it right. they is not much women like that. that kind of surgery is not on the rise but labiaplasty is. you see in porn penis of all size but not vagina. woman who act this way are equally stupid.

  28. Kieran Says:

    Orly, I see a lot of different vagina in porn, of all sizes. I don’t think it should bother anyone, but there are definitely women who will not sleep with a man with small penis.

  29. orly Says:

    well not on most popular porn site! size should not matter. man with smaller pen are more active in bed and know how to please i’m pretty sure! why should the size of labia or penis be important for some people? people think guy with smaller penis are not good in bed and women with large labia are loose and promiscuous or dirty. they think an uncut peen or large labia look unclean! what kind of stupid mentality is that. the number of discussion board I’ve read about this is very discouraging :(

  30. Kieran Says:

    Orly, lets leave the expertise on porn to me. Now an asshole usually looks the same, but a vagina is pretty much like a second, very unique, face. And when you love someone, you love staring deeply face to face.

    Granted, if your “only” trying to hook up with the hottest ass around, then yes you will be judged. But nobody falls in love based on a point scale. I hope.

  31. Rae Says:

    So, are you saying that “short” labia that don’t protrude past the outer labia look like a little girl’s? Doesn’t that make you just as bad as the people that say long labia are ugly?
    Secondly, I bet if the website had said “small clitorises are feminine, big clitorises are unfeminie”, you would agree with that. Even though you say you believe that “all vulvas are beautiful.” It’s the good old double standard.

  32. Mike Says:

    First let me take the wind out of everyone’s sails…I’m a dick, pig, shallow, jerk…etc and you may find grammatical errors all over this. Now that everyone can feel better with a label let me be honest. There is such a thing as an ugly vagina. Oh my God is there. I’m not trying to be mean, really I’m not. I just want to be honest. My last girlfriend had the ugliest vagina ever and she wanted me to always go down on her. It’s like if my dick had scales I wouldn’t tell her to go down on me. Anyway…there is such a thing and (though most wont admit) it’s a total turn off. Now, if I met a girl who was perfect in every way would I leave her because her vag looked like the sleeve of a wizard? No, I wouldn’t but for the average girl. It shouldn’t matter but it does. So you can all sit here and say how “no matter what its beautiful” in fairytale land but if you want to come back to reality not everything is beautiful that’s something parents and teachers just don’t teach anymore.

  33. jennifer Says:

    think of what you want mike, but this attitude is not normal. to be turn off by the way a vagina look? really? its like some women are turn off by the size, shape foreskin of the penis, that even more stupid?

    most guy think that when a vag look this way, it’s because the girl is promiscuous loose and so on. this is the most mentality of guy who watches to much porn, sorry nothing against its but its the reality.

    porn is for arousal not for reality. when young inexperience nerdy boy watch to much of it, well they can handle any type of vag they see. that IMO is mess up.

    have preference for anything but having preference for someone genital? really? have we stoop this low? I’m pretty sure your ex-gf is better off you.

  34. jennifer Says:

    So you can all sit here and say how “no matter what its beautiful” in fairytale land but if you want to come back to reality not everything is beautiful that’s something parents and teachers just don’t teach anymore.

    I think parent and teacher have better thing to teach you know…

  35. Mikey Says:

    like grammar for instance? just kidding. Im with Mike… there is such a thing as an ugly Vag and it most undoubtedly can turn you off. Although, admittedly I am such a horn dog I would just kill the lights and we’re good to go within seconds…My wife has an ultra pretty (yes these exist too) “wizard sleeve” (never heard that before, had to try using it at least once) and it rocks! Im lucky, and happy, and you really should be jealous. Life on this side of the fence is sooooo much better. The grass really IS greener… trust me.

  36. jennifer Says:

    meh English is not my first language so sorry for the bad grammar lol. Still each their own. but I still find it weird that some can find a vag unattractive and be turn off, I didn’t hear much of a lady being turned off by a dick. oh well guess we shouldn’t care for those people! the number of time I’ve heard a women get labiaplasty because of what some guys/bf thinks! still a small % does it for medical reason but really its sad to see this kind of surgery on the rise. They aren’t doing it for themselves 95% of the time.

  37. Emily Says:

    Right. Why the hell should it matter what they look like of you love someone? Think about it..you wouldn’t leave someone coz of their nose or their face shape or something like that! And if you would then you shouldn’t have been with them in the first place! I just don’t think that people should be so judgemental about it. If I was truly in love with someone I wouldn’t care about the size of his penis. I think people who do care personally are shallow idiots. Preferences are fine, but you don’t have to completely mould your life around it.

  38. Adela Says:

    I too have a very visible pair of inner lips which stick out of my outer lips. I did have one very immature boyfriend who said that my vagina wasn’t pretty and I then told him, since it wasn’t pretty, there was no need for him to come near it again and kicked him out.
    He got the point.

    Besides him, I never ever got comments from anyone else.

  39. Ryan Says:

    Your article is spot-on. I think labia minora that protrude past the labia majora are actually the norm. I have no idea why the thinner variety is seen as more desirable; in my humble opinion, larger labia are gorgeous to look at and incredibly erotic during cunnilingus. At the risk of coming across as a bit crude, larger labia offer more to roll around with ones tongue when going down. I Love It!

  40. anon poster Says:

    there are alot of ugly-ass ones out there…

  41. Zara Says:

    thank you for putting this up, i wasnt sure about down there but i feel so much better, thanks :)

  42. cacho fontana Says:

    Well I love to eat corndogs with mustard…honestly eat a freaking napkin with mustard..as far as the whole labia thing…they are all beautiful.

  43. Tom L Says:

    Ugly? I love all external female parts/labia. They are as varied as we are people, as they “should” be. Thanks, ladies!

  44. autumn Says:

    my lips are TOO BIG !!

    i h8 it..any advice?


  45. John Doe Says:

    Personally, I like women natural. I like some bush so I know I am having sex with a WOMAN,not a child. Much more of a turn on.

    Secondly, I like a nice set of lips. More for me to suck on and lick. I want to pleasure a real woman.

    Labia are highly variable, but all are beautiful. Skip the labiaplasty.

    Check out sexylabia.com. You can see some nice lips there.

  46. Jim Says:

    I read up to the 10 reasons and didn’t even have to go on. Sorry, but there are some god awful looking vaginas. In fact, most of them look like serrated wounds. Though not the fault of the “owner” it’s by no means beautiful just because it’s from nature, etc.. Just accept some things in life are hideous and leave it at that.

  47. SuzyQ Says:

    Um…I got news for you. If you find vulvas to be unattractive, then perhaps, fellas, you are gay.

    Bottom line, though. Who cares what genitals (of either sex) look like. If you find yourself attracted to another person enough to want to engage in sex, who in their right mind stops to inspect the goods and judge them? Aren’t you overcome with horniness, lust and passion? Aren’t you thrilled to be with the person – body, mind, heart and soul?

    If not, then perhaps you should keep it zipped and go back to trawling on the Internet for airbrushed pics of naked bits.

  48. mikelle Says:

    After seeing many vulva, I find most are what I would call, ugly. Not trying to say personal hurt. Just as a whole, compared to every other part of the female body, which is beautiful, I find that evolution forgot about making the vulva, a desirable organ, for the eyes. No argument on the taste, smell, or touch of vulva. Even some guys bits hard to look at. Time to go back to sex in the dark.

  49. Elizabeth Says:

    I myself had this problem. My confidence got so low that I cried when guys would even joke about “ugly vaginas” around me. I thought they were making fun of me when none of them had even seen my vagina. I went to my GYNO and had a Labirctomy (getting them cut) and it was the most painful after healing process I’ve ever gone through. Now I am back to normal and have full sexual feeling in my vagina. My labia is still slightly sticking out but way less then it was. My boyfriend didn’t care either way but I am way more confident during sex now.

  50. JustTheFacts Says:

    ..the people (men and women) who scrutinize the most when it comes to t-t size,weight,
    d-ck size,looks etc..are usually the ones who can’t really afford to be picky and are are often so nasty they themselves couldn’t get laid in a brothel.

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