April 6, 2015

Is My Vagina Pretty?

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What is the issue?
Ann Haritonenko
Ann Haritonenko

That’s all I could think waiting in that room.

The prettiness. Or lack of it. Would I be able to hold my own against the others? I was fighting a growing obsession with wanting answers to uncomfortable questions, superficial validation stayed tugging at my jeans, weaseling into my every thought. I never really knew if I was enough. If she was enough.

I wasn’t too familiar with her. I was too eager to let him Christopher Columbus my body, I didn’t stop to think exploring myself was necessary. I wasn’t sure of the things she needed. Or the way she wanted to be touched, and the ways she didn’t. I hadn’t learned her yet. And turns out when you don’t know much of yourself, you put a lot of stock in what other people think. It’s easier that way. At least, at first.


I sat there, back sticky against the pristine table, and let my mind go to some…weird places. I began imagining an alternate-universe pageant, but the kind of thing you weren’t going to catch on cable television. Instead of bronzed babes in bikinis, actual vaginas paraded around the stage, doing whatever vaginas strutting their stuff would do. I don’t know how. Maybe the vaginas had legs? That part wasn’t figured out.

The judges would stare blankly, jotting down a few notes. There’d be that one softie who tosses an approving nod towards a favorite vagina. And I wondered, where would my vagina rank? Would I pull top 10? Would I be laughed right out of the competition? Would my vagina be crowned reigning Vaginal Queen?! “What an honor!” I’d cry, or something. Maybe I’d just get wet. Not sure the logistics of it.

I looked very quickly under the sheet, as if I was doing something wrong. I was afraid of being caught, some kid doing something far too adult. I guess I was just a kid. But I wanted to know.

Was I, or maybe more specifically, the lower half of me, pretty?

Female genitals are always compared to flowers, close-up paintings of lilac-tipped tulips creeping into the back of my mind. Beautiful imagery. Opening. Blossoming. But I was feeling grossed out, just knowing my vagina couldn’t possibly be like an orchid or lily. It was a vagina, not some sweet little picture hanging in an art gallery in some trendy corner of town. But still, I wondered, was my vagina something to be admired as well?

I wasn’t even concerned with whether or not it would hurt. The medical instruments were already out, waiting on the little desk. It was something people did all the time, I assured myself. I’d be fine. I clenched my jaw, focusing on the tightening in my mouth. Everything smelled clean. Lysol. Bleach. Scrubbed to perfection. It made me feel weird, like I prefer a little mess.

My neurotic little mind kept buzzing around what she’d think. Like my vagina was getting ready for a strange questionnaire. She must have seen so many! She’d surely know what an aesthetically pleasing vagina would look like!

But what if I didn’t want to know? This inner monologue that would have probably worked in some sitcom script. Or maybe a Judd Apatow film. But it was my real life. And I was just freaking the fuck out.

I picked a flaw in the ceiling to focus in on, trying to anchor my nerves. It was this small dark spot in otherwise flawless ivory. I figured it was the paint chipping. It could have been a little hole. A hole

Holes.

I was trying to not obsess about holes. Deep breath. I’m fine. I kept staring. This strange little indent. So much about me felt like strange little indents. Holes. I was coming undone.

“Try to relax. The speculum will go in much smoother if you can relax,” a tender-voiced 50-something year old woman said, her fingers cold on my thighs. Right. Relax. Because it’s that easy to just loosen up the first time a stranger inspects your lady bits.

I was only seventeen. And I jumped into sex too quickly. I realize that now, but I was in the midst of grief and unimaginable loss. Sex seemed like the safer route to dark depression. It was more fun, this wild release of hormones and passion. But I digress.

I didn’t even really know this doctor, but I kept hoping she’d just say it. “What a pretty vagina!” I was aching for a professional to reassure me. I don’t know why I cared, or why it mattered. Being naked. Being vulnerable. I’ve made a habit of championing this act, but it isn’t always as easy as a blog post.

Sitting in robes, waiting for someone to look at you and assign you meaning. Or sitting in the backseat of a Green Scion, hoping my body is pleasing. I’m not sure I even know how to please myself. I do not like men to go down on me. I don’t want the attention. Maybe that’s an issue. All this time scared my vagina is pretty, and I still don’t know what would make her feel pretty.

I don’t know much, really. All I know is he always asked to keep the lights on and I prayed for a power outage. TC mark

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