Ask Kayy

Dear Kayy,

I’ve always been somewhat self-conscious about the way my vagina looks, but I never felt worried about it until I actually watched a porn video as a joke with my girlfriends. I noticed that I look very different than the girl in the video. I’ve never really looked at my own vagina up close or with a mirror, but I’m definitely aware of the fact that my labia are bigger and one side is a little bit bigger than the other. Is there something wrong with me? I’m really self-conscious and can only hook up with the lights off, and even then I’m worried that he’ll notice that I’m weird or different. Am I strange? Is there any way to fix this?



Dear Vaginaconscious,

Worrying about the shape or size of your vagina because of watching pornography is like comparing your breast size to those actresses. Although I do not believe there is anything inherently bad or damaging about pornography (and to delve into this topic would be a whole column in and of itself), it certainly is a hypersexual display of inaccurate and unattainable body images.

Although many people have a lot to say about pornography, these displays are not very different from music videos, television or movies. Although pornography is much more detailed and graphic in its sexual content, women’s (and men’s) bodies are impossible to achieve. I mean, you’re not looking at the genitals of actresses on primetime, but their 5-foot-11, 110-pound bodies and cosmetically altered facial features are enough to make any beautiful real world girl feel inadequate.

Anytime you compare your own body to that of someone who is paid to be on film, you won’t feel totally satisfied. I mean, props to any person who still feels confident when compared to supermodels. But these people are chosen for these jobs because they are the closest to perfection that can be found, and if they aren’t, they are altered to look this way, especially in the time of the advanced technology that can airbrush or digitalize any flaws away.

Porn is no different. Take the whole picture into account: two (or more) people, often having just met recently, experience perfect orgasmic bliss with little to no effort in good lighting on silk sheets. Now how often does that happen? You can’t seriously compare your own sex life or body to these films. If and when your partner watches these films, he probably thinks he doesn’t compare to the actors as well. The average penis size is somewhere around six inches, and the average penis size of a male porn star is . well, a lot bigger than that.

Okay, enough porn talk. Your problem is bigger than watching a random sex flick. As you mentioned, you were uncomfortably aware of your nether regions previous to that viewing. The issue at hand is that many women feel uncomfortable about their anatomy – not just their weight or nose shape, but the shape of their vaginas, color of their nipples and the fact that their breasts are not exactly the same size.

This could be due to any number of reasons besides the unrealistic proportions of porn stars. If we are fortunate enough to get a sexual health education, it is extremely rare to talk about the nitty gritty details of things like penis or labia size – mostly because it would make people feel uncomfortable. So we’re left in the dark. What is it supposed to look like? What is more sexually attractive? Should I be worried?

Your biggest worry should just be about physical comfort. Having larger or longer labia might make exercise, tampon use or intercourse uncomfortable or even painful. Women who have ridden horses or bikes or been in accidents may have this condition, and it can be treated from underwear choice (spandex helps contract the labia for easier moving around) to small-scale surgery.

Labioplasty is a cosmetic procedure that is relatively simple and painless using local anesthetics and done in your OB/GYN’s office. While I don’t suggest getting this costly procedure unless the size of your labia is affecting your daily life in an extreme way, it is an option.

Keep in mind that you have no real reason to worry about your health. It is just as common to have uneven labia as it is to have two different sized breasts. Your concern should not be about infections or cancerous growth but about self-esteem. I’m a big proponent of the mirror procedure to heighten comfort with the body – using a mirror to inspect all the different angles and aspects of your vagina. This could also be good for your health, as being aware of the natural state of your vagina could help you notice any growths, abnormalities or changes.

Inspecting your vagina could definitely make you more at ease in sexual situations. One of the biggest components of attaining sexual pleasure is comfort level, and locating your clitoris is quite obviously important during masturbation and play with others. If you’re freaking out in bed about what you look like, you’ll be too stiff and nervous to really enjoy yourself.

The more you see something, the more comfortable you are with it. For instance, I feel that the more time you spend naked, the more okay you will be with how you look and the better you’ll feel about yourself. I don’t suggest walking around on campus pants-less, but spending alone time like reading or watching TV naked isn’t a bad idea. A rise in self-assurance will definitely show when you’re with a partner; they will be blown away by your self-confidence.

Keep in mind that there are as many different labia shapes and sizes as there are women, and just because the pornography in our culture aims for small and hairless vaginas, that doesn’t mean that’s what all men want.

Chances are your partner doesn’t even notice the size because he’s been with real women and not just watched pornography. And did you know that in some cultures, women actually wear weights to weigh down and lengthen their labia to be more attractive to mates?

Don’t worry about perfection; celebrate your body.