Why It’s Wrong to Say There Are “5 Types of Vaginas”

Earlier this week, Elite Daily published a story quoting an anonymous former bikini waxer who shared her view that there are five “types of vaginas,” by which she meant vulvas, the external female sex organs.

In the schema “Mel” developed, there is “Ms. Barbie,” the type in which the labia minora or inner lips are completely inside the labia majora or outer lips. (Yes, every type has a cutesy, female-gendered nickname. 

No, after learning them I feel no inclination to nickname my own genitals.) There’s “Ms. Curtains,” where the labia minora extend beyond the labia majora; “Ms. Puffs” (blah), which is apparently where the lips hang noticeably lower than the pubic bone; “Ms. Horseshoe,” where “the opening of the vagina spreads wider at the top”; and “Ms. Tulip,” which “looks like a flower bud about to bloom.”
The whole exercise reminds me of fashion magazines’ traditional insistence on divvying women up by body types such as “apple,” “pear,” and “boy” (BTW, what?), implicitly — or explicitly — ranking them in order of desirability. (Seriously, who wants to be called an “apple”?) And like bodies, genitalia are unique from person to person. Lumping them into categories, especially categories with female names, may do more harm than good: codifying vulva/vagina types may lead people with female anatomy (not all of whom are women) that doesn’t conform to a type to feel abnormal. Intersex people, for example, may have female genitals that don’t fit neatly into broad categories like these.

“Your vagina is perfect. It’s just like a curtain,” Mel adds. “You wouldn’t hate your house if it had ugly curtains” — which, yikes, let’s leave the descriptor “ugly” out of the discussion of genitals altogether, and why not ditch the labels, too, while we’re at it? There’s no health or beauty reason to claim a category for the appearance of what’s between your legs. 

If it helps you get down with what you’ve got going on, then great. But a more helpful way of making peace with your unique anatomy may be to check out the lovely Labia Library (SFW site until you agree to click through to its ~graphic~ section), which offers a refreshing variety of photos of labia that aren’t grouped any which way — which is closer to the reality of human anatomy anyway.

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