April 13, 2011

I’ll Show You Mine

Up to 89% of women do not think their genitals are attractive, sexy or beautiful, and more than half (57%) of women think their genitals are of improper size (Education | Show Off Books). As a reaction to the widespread increase in cosmetic genital surgery, I’ll Show You Mine, edited by Show Off Books founder Wrenna Robertson, is a photo study of sixty women’s genitals embracing the diversity of the vulvae. The photos—unaltered, life size and life color—capture a stunning diversity and beauty of the female vulva that does not abide by the unrealistic ideal of a neat pink clamshell vulva propelled by mass media and mainstream pornography. But as Robertson writes in her preface, “as imagery has the power to define reality, so too does language.” And truly, the accompanying personal stories of the photographed women, who range in age from nineteen into their sixties, are stunningly powerful too.

Many of the stories reveal heartbreaking memories of shame and embarrassment instilled in childhood through parents and peers, causing not only women conflicted relationship to her body, but denying her ownership of it. As Jeanette writes in her story, the shame that was instilled in her by her mother prevented her from claiming her own sexual voice when she started dating in high school. – She recalls one boyfriend, tired of asking if he could have sex with her, in the end didn’t ask; “He by no means forced me, he simply didn’t ask, and I was not equipped to express my opinion … I had never practiced having a sexual opinion.” As a result, Jeanette became a teenage mom.

Yet I’ll Show You Mine also includes proud poetic narratives, and victorious moments of women reclaiming ownership of their vulvae. Many women describe their relationship to their genitals as an ongoing process of growing acceptance towards their bodies and sexuality. While some women describe how their sexual partners have made them feel awkward about their genitals, there are more who write about how their sexual partners have helped them nurture an appreciation for them. And several express being part of the book as significant to their journey of building self-love.

There are stories shared by mothers and daughters, older and younger women, heterosexual, bisexual, lesbian, transgender, and queer. As a whole, the stories underscore the importance of young girls having access to information about their vulvae and sexuality to resist the shame and embarrassment that continue to affect women.

Show Off Books was recently founded by Wrenna Robertson and her partner Whelm King to “empower women and men by presenting, through the publication of books and other media, the reality of the human body.” Their website includes a page of additional stories submitted by women who describe their relationship with their vulva, an educational page with more information, links to external resources, and more. 10% of the net sales of I’ll Show You Mine is donated to women’s charities, locally and internationally. Show Off Books is based in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and they ship worldwide. Shipping to Canada and the US is included in the purchase price. You can order the book from their website.


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