Liz Walker is bella's very own straight-talking, go-to gal, on all sex matters. She is a generous, wise spirit who is passionate about young folks gaining a healthy understanding of what sex is and where it fits into relationships, identity and life. We have hit her up with some of the hard questions. We think her responses are pretty great, so we're releasing them one by one for now.
How do I know if my lady bits are normal? What if I disappoint my future lover?
Great question! So many young women secretly wonder about this, but don’t know how to ask. To be honest, everyone wants to know if they are normal. Guys have an added advantage – they sometimes get a glimpse of other guys’ penises in change rooms because a penis is… out there. But when was the last time girls checked each other out? Highly unlikely, right?
When you’re ready, it’s a good idea to take a closer look at yourself – it can really help you be comfortable in your own skin. One of the things you may notice is that your vulva is not ‘even’ from one side to the other. The sizes of the larger bits of skin (labia majora) are probably not an equal match – perfectly normal. It’s a bit like your ears – if you could compare them (without going cross-eyed!) you would notice that they are slightly different in shape and size. Breasts are usually uneven too!
So just like ears, hands, feet and breasts – everybody has an uneven and differently shaped vulva to everyone else.
If you’re confused and thought it was called your vagina, that’s OK. (I know a lot of older women who still don’t know the difference, so you’re not alone.)
The vagina is what you can’t see (internal), whereas the vulva is everything external. It’s made up of the labia majora, labia minora, the opening for the vagina and urethra, as well as the clitoris (the area that brings most pleasure for women). Just like every other part of your body, the vulva grows and changes shape during puberty (and will probably look different after childbirth) – again, completely normal!
One of the reasons why so many young women stress about the size, shape and normalcy of their lady bits probably has something to do with pornography. Porn actors are hired for the shape and size of their body parts. so many young people are completely overwhelmed when they compare their regular bodies to those of actors. Guys feel as though they don’t measure up and girls feel as though they are not ‘neat’ enough.
Sadly, this has led to a whole pile of unnecessary body anxiety. Sometimes women go to the extreme measure of surgery to alter their perfectly fine lady bits – just so they can look like a ‘perfection’ that’s not real! The only thing you can do to change that is to learn to be OK with you. If you’re still feeling a bit anxious, check out the Different is Normal video below... (Just a heads up - there are pictures of penises and vulvas, so only watch if you’re ready to see that, it's ok not to.)
Be confident enough to tell yourself – and your (future) husband, that you are perfectly OK the way you are and he should be thankful that you’re so awesome!!
At bella we think sex isn't just a romp around in the sheets, your heart is in there somewhere too. We want to approach sex with some smarts, and care. Get in the know, ladies, so you may make choices you are at peace with.
Sex is not simple, it is an intricate matter that takes time to consider. Our culture often suggests we can separate the physical from the emotional, mental and spiritual when it comes to sex, but we're not so sure. There seems, to us, to be layers to sex. It is not separate, but part of a bigger design, and hopefully just one amazing element of a fulfilling, deeply committed relationship.
We encourage you to gather wisdom in this area. This takes time, an investment. Please take what is written here, think about it, talk about it with trusted people and know that when it comes down to it, your choices must be yours, and the consequences too.
Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a question for Liz. Please put 'Question for Liz Walker' in the subject. We will treat these matters with appropriate confidentiality.
DISCLAIMER: While this video has been useful for our message, we don't agree with everything Planned Parenthood do or say. Our philosophy at bella is draw out the good, let the rest slide away. Think for yourselves and take responsibility for the consequences of your choices!