Comment of the Week: This Woman Needs a Group Hug!

photo via flickr

Reader Jane wrote the following in response to our post “10 Reasons Your ‘Ugly Vagina’ Is Normal and Gorgeous.” Will you, our loyal and kind EMandLO.com readers, please set her straight? Will you please reassure her that (a) masturbation and sexual activity do not cause your labia to turn dark and poke out (that’s just plain growing up that does that!); (b) men do not expect things to be “perfect” down there, whether you’re a virgin or more experienced than he is; (c) if a man is into you, he’ll be into your vagina; (d) she will not be single forever! and (e) she needs more girlfriends and fewer asshole guy friends. We could tell her so ourselves (in fact, we just did, and have done so repeatedly on this site), but we figured that a chorus of voices chiming in would be that much more reassuring. Men, especially — good guys, we know you’re out there! — please speak up.

I am in my twenties and have never had sex with a man, but have done so much of everything else (mostly to myself), starting at a very young age, that my inner labia is darker and pokes out. I find it extremely unattractive, and I fear I’ll never be able to be intimate with a man, because when I tell them I’m a virgin… they’ll expect everything to look ‘perfect’ down there and then encounter a big surprise.

I’m an outgoing person and am comfortable with how I look everywhere BUT “down there,” so I meet many men that I’m interested in and have no trouble getting asked out on dates (not saying that to be boastful, I’m just illustrating my life), but I rarely go on more than two dates with the same guy because I’m terrified of what they’ll think of me when we take that next step.

As a result, I have very many guy friends because that takes away the pressure of intimacy, but it also forces me to listen to “guy talk” all the time, only talking about sex and “ugly vaginas” that they’ve encountered.  I join in and laugh, but little do they know… So I’ve come to the conclusion that I may just have to stay single forever. I’m not unhappy about that idea, but at the same time I wouldn’t mind sharing my life with someone either!

I liked reading this and knowing about other people’s experiences. It helped a bit.. however many people are talking about how everything turned “ugly” after having had children, and evidently I have not gone through that, so my anxiousness remains and probably will for a very long time.


  1. What Irene said. And the same goes for talking negatively about men’s bits. A lot of this seems to be immaturity and fear, and it’s not worth staying around people who think it’s OK to express immature, ignorant views.

    But the penises I’ve come to find truly beautiful are the ones attached to the men I’ve fallen in love with. None of them were especially lovely at first to me, and if I’m honest I was quite freaked out by each one. But soon I would have sworn blind that my man’s cock was the most beautiful Nature had yet created. When someone with a bit of maturity and intelligence falls for you they will fall for every bit of you.

  2. I would not spend two minutes with any man who would talk about “ugly vaginas.” With anyone, but much less with a vagina-owner in the room. That’s just not how decent people behave, in my opinion.

  3. I am so confused. Except for on this website, I’ve never heard of these beauty standards for vaginas before. When did this stupidity start? I’ve never heard of women going around comparing their vaginas to determine whose is the most beautiful. Porn movies I’ve seen show all different kinds of vaginas/labias (though, in all honesty, I’m getting tired of the hairless trend). Past girlfriends never expressed any anxiety over their labia. What’s going on? There are so many meaningful things to be concerned about in a relationship, unless you are part of the small percentage of women who have a true deformity (talk to you Dr. if that’s the case), this isn’t something to dwell on.

  4. Oh girl! There is next to nothing about my body I find remotely attractive! HA! There! Now that that’s out of the way I will add that my vagina is probably the most hideous part of me. To ME. My butt and hips are probably the only part of me I approve of. (Yes, I’m giggling to be saying this out loud!)

    NOW, please girl, hear this part of my confession, I have had a handfull of partners, I can count them on my hands. Everyone of them worshipped my body in ways I find mind boggling!No one saw my broken veins, uneven breasts, long body and short legs, fat feet, etc. etc. etc.

  5. “I never thought about from a guy’s perspective until my boyfriend started talking about how goofy he thought penises look and how he can’t understand why any girl would want to look at one or would be turned on by it. He told me that he thought girl parts just look so much nicer, so much prettier. But of course, he’s a straight guy – he’s not really turned on by a dick. So you may not be turned on by your own parts (or at least not understand how a guy could be), but just because you aren’t, doesn’t mean he won’t be.”

    Yes! What Samantha said! If you’re straight then of course you’re going to think your genitals look funny, or worse! And since you’re not attracted to them you’re more likely to notice what you like least. Your partners, on the other hand, aren’t just going to have different priorities, they’re going to have a whole ‘nother perspective.

    Put it another way, if you’re really into a guy how would you feel if he didn’t think you’d want to look at his penis because he wouldn’t want to? Because, they claim, there’s a little more loose skin on one side than the other, they claim, because of “so much of everything else” when they were growing up?

    Especially if you knew that unless by “everything else” they meant “with pliers” there’s really nothing a man can do to his genitals that’ll “deform” or even distort them.

    Oh, and incidentally? If there’s no way a man could distort his penis by playing with it, there’s no way you could have distorted your labia by playing with them.


  6. I think it is so sad for anyone (man, woman, adult, child, whatever) to hate any part of their body this much, especially a part that has the potential to provide so much fun!! We see all these perfect people in advertising, in porn, and even (worst of all!) in our own heads! But when you’re naked with a guy, he’s not thinking “JEEZ! That is NOT what I signed up for — I thought she was a porn actress. Whoops!” Any guy worth his salt knows that real women aren’t perfect, and if he’s gotten to know you enough to be in bed with you, then he’s well aware that you aren’t some air-brushed actress and he STILL wants you.

    Sometimes we have tummies or cellulite or zits or uneven breasts or unshaved legs or (what think of as) funny looking lady parts. But you know what he’s thinking when you two are lying together naked? That he’d rather be having sex with you than jerkin’ it to a video. That he loves how your body feels next to his. That he wants to touch you and appreciate your body.

    As a straight woman, I’ve always gotten a little nervous whenever a guy has seen me up close the first time – the loop of insecurities about how I look/taste/smell down there starts playing over and over and for about 1/2 a second I’m convinced he’s going to think I’m ugly. But that’s never happened.

    I never thought about from a guy’s perspective until my boyfriend started talking about how goofy he thought penises look and how he can’t understand why any girl would want to look at one or would be turned on by it. He told me that he thought girl parts just look so much nicer, so much prettier. But of course, he’s a straight guy – he’s not really turned on by a dick. So you may not be turned on by your own parts (or at least not understand how a guy could be), but just because you aren’t, doesn’t mean he won’t be.

  7. I’d like to add that it is not a man’s job to make women feel better about themselves.

    We’ve got to stop demonizing their preferences. Life’s fair as it is. If people decide to limit themselves to a certain type because society encourages it then that’s that.

    There’s enough diversity to keep everyone happy if they choose to be open to it.

  8. Ok. so my vulva is perfect in that it is exactly what most women don’t want. And sure I would prefer it if my most pleasurable of body parts could be admired by all but that isn’t the case.

    There’s things in all of us that aren’t exactly pretty but are of good use. So embrace it for what it is. There’s so much positive things about a vulva. The sheer joy it can give is enough to accept it as it is without risking destroying it’s main function.

    There’s so much more to sex than dark, long inner labias! And I am here to tell you there are many of us. That is a testament that it can’t be that unattractive. If no one wanted to sleep with us, the genes would not have been passed on and we wouldn’t exist! Let the existence of your labia be evidence of their sexiness!

    The world may be overpopulated but it increases our chances of finding willing, loving partners. You’ll find someone. I promise. or two or three or more. For every vulva there is a penis. Isn’t life wonderful!

    Now go, sweet one. Frolic in the sensuous land of body lovin’ and let your labia swing in the breeze and tan under the sun….

  9. Hi Jane,

    When you said “I find it extremely unattractive” that just struck such a chord for me.

    Can I tell you a secret about my own development and my own insecurities? When I was young I got an idea somewhere that all penises stick straight out when they’re erect. Mine curved straight up instead. I was so sure I was “deformed” that I literally almost cried the first time a girl touched me there — and by “almost literally” I mean my chin was quivering, my eyes were burning, and I wanted to stop her but she said she loved me and was going to have to “endure” my “deformity” sooner or later.

    And even though I was ready to run screaming from the room somehow she survived.

    Where “somehow” actually means “easily.” Because while my erection didn’t meet my expectations of what they’re “supposed” to look like, and while I considered myself to be horribly deformed, it turns out that it was well within normal variation. Pretty average, actually.

    What’s even more funny? Since the (perfectly normal, remember) curve in my penis still seemed unattractive to me I decided that since my first girlfriend had only seen mine she just didn’t know any better! And so with my next girlfriend, who actually did know what other men’s real looked like, I was nearly as anxious the first time with her!

    Is it ok for me to suggest you might be going through the same thing with your vulva that I was with my erection? You might not like your labia, for now anyway, but chances are your partner(s) will think they’re somewhere between adorable and… sexy. And, fortunately, in the whacky world of personal genital esthetics we’re almost always outvoted. 🙂


  10. Wow… That makes me super sad.

    1) I think it’s less about providing the facts (“masturbation does not make your labia dark”) as it is calling out the guilt and shame for what it is… You are projecting your guilt about masturbating onto your genitals, as if you somehow deserve punishment for being a sexual being. Confront that. Get angry at the guilt, at the shame, at the messages that are leading you to attack your own body image and sense of self. Forgive yourself for having had these feelings – we’re steeped in them from an early age – but it’s time to tell those feelings to f off, and to claim your sexuality as your own.

    2) Men are way less concerned about this than they appear. Remember how you “I join in and laugh”? They’re doing the same thing, expressing their own insecurities about sex and sexuality and what’s expected of them. Seriously. Guys are insecure sacks of slop. Don’t make the mistake of thinking everyone else is totally confident and you’re the only one faking it – 99% of people are faking it on one level or another (and the other 1% are probably pricks).

    3) This is important – any guy who will judge you based on the (totally normal) appearance of your labia isn’t dating material. Period. Even if you had “perfect” labia in his mind he’d STILL BE JUDGING YOU ON THE APPEARANCE OF YOUR LABIA. You just wouldn’t know, until a few years down the road when he started in on something else.

    I’m a guy. I’ve seen my share of vulvas. I have never once noticed one that I thought was “ugly”.

    But really, truly, I think this is about #1 – you feel guilt about your sexual desire, and you see yourself as undeserving of sexual pleasure, and you’re using your labia as a way to externalize that guilt. Get mad about that. Get a therapist who can help you unpack some of these things. Talk to your girlfriends.

    Good luck!

Comments are closed.