Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. From our hair to our legs to our behinds, and, yes, even our lady bits. And just as some women struggle to love their bellies or noses, others feel inadequate when it comes to what’s between their legs. Ladies have the often unrealistically “perfect” bodies seen in pornography to partially thank for that.
But visual artist Hilde Atalanta isn’t down with this negative self talk. In fact, she’s aiming to change the often misconstrued mindset women have when it comes to their vaginas by using a language we all speak: art.
The Amsterdam-based illustrator has launched The Vulva Gallery, a series of simplistic yet wonderful illustrations that celebrate vulvas of all shapes, colours and sizes. She doesn’t discriminate against ones that have been shaved bare or have tufts of curly pubic hair. Some are bloody, some have dangling tampons strings, some have stubble. But all are equal and beautiful.
The art movement, which she began last year, comes on the heels of the rise in labiaplasties–an invasive surgery that hacks away at the inner (minora) and outer (majora) parts of the labia, most commonly done for aesthetic reasons.
“I find it very difficult to see how far many individuals go to reach the ‘perfect’ looks,” Atalanta writes on her website. “Of course, plastic surgery is something that we’ve seen growing in the past decades. But to have a surgeon cut away such a delicate part of your body — a part that is so sensitive, that gives you sexual pleasure, a natural part of yourself — just to look ‘pretty’; it’s hard for me to grasp that this is happening so often.”
The Vulva Gallery is kind of like the 2017 version of the Great Wall of Vagina, a sculptural installation that showcased over 400 clay-cast female genitals, but more colourful and modern and welcoming.
Explore some of Atalanta’s body-positive works below, and as you scroll, remind yourself: what I’ve got down there is gosh darn gorgeous.
✨ Never feel ashamed of having your period. It’s as natural as breathing and smiling 🌿 Yes, periods can get messy. But that’s ok; it’s just a natural human body getting rid of some unneeded tissue. There’s nothing wrong, weird or dirty about that. It’s perfectly natural 💕 Be gentle to yourself, sleep well, eat well and be patient with your body. If you have the luxury of being able to choose between menstrual products: use organic tampons/pads (they don’t contain chemicals), or go greener and use menstrual cups (also cheaper on long term!), cloth pads or period underwear. And for the ones among us who love to go au naturel, free bleeding is a perfectly fine option as well! As long as you choose what feels best to you 🙌🏽 Love yourself – and love your vulva, because all vulvas are beautiful just the way they are 💕✨ #thevulvagallery #vulvas #vulvaart #vulvalove #period #periods #letstalkaboutit #letstalkaboutperiods #dontbeashamed #supporteachother #nojudging #respecteachother #love #empower #genderinclusivity #humananatomy #labia #labiaart #bodypositive #bodylove #youarebeautiful #loveyourself #hildeatalanta
✨ Anatomy & age ✨ The genital tissues are greatly influenced by natural fluctuations in hormone levels, which lead to changes in labia size, appearance, and elasticity at various life stages 〰 Approaching menopausal age, the labia majora gradually lose fat, becoming flatter and more wrinkled, and pubic hair turns grey. Following menopause, falling hormone levels cause further changes to the labia. The labia minora atrophy, making them become less elastic, and pubic hair on the labia majora becomes more sparse. All these changes are part of the life cycle, and don’t make your vulva any less awesome 🙌🏼 Love yourself, and love your vulva – because all vulvas are beautiful just the way they are 💕✨ #thevulvagallery #vulvaart #humananatomy #biology #bodypositivity #bodypositive #labiaart #genderinclusivity #ageinclusivity #positivity #pubichair #empowerment #bodypositiveart #bodylove #youarebeautiful #loveyourvulva #selflove #respecteachother #loveyourself #hildeatalanta