As a psychosexual therapist I often deliver sexuality and sexual education workshops to the wider public. I have delivered many training days to male, female and mixed gender groups. The groups consisted of people of all ages - ranging from as young as 16 to over 70 years old – which gave me a wide insight into thoughts and viewpoints.
One of the topics which surfaces frequently is the different relationship men and women have with their genitals. Of course, there is a big difference between the sexes ... in males, genitals are external and boys from an early age cannot ignore the fact that their “willy” is there, just hanging around. In females the situation is quite different. “Private parts” are hidden and for lots of girls, invisible.
Girls often observe their mothers looking in the mirror, fixing their hair or make-up. They are told to go and look in the mirror whilst washing their face. Girls also spend a considerable amount of time looking at themselves in the mirror. But, one thing, as girls, we are never told to look at in the mirror – is our genitals. That part of our body is hardly ever mentioned let alone observed.
So, let’s fast forward some 10-20 years when the girl becomes a woman. Unfortunately, for lots of women they are still none the wiser when it comes to their genitals. When I ask women in my workshops if they have ever looked at their vaginas a large number say that they never have. Some who have would only do so to see if everything was OK or to attend to an itch, burn, pain, or some form of discomfort. Some women also only ever look when heavily pregnant. So, it seems that most women only look when “something is wrong or unusual”. Looking “down under” is rarely about exploration, curiosity, intrigue, excitement or admiration.
So, why is it that as women we rarely look and explore that area yet at the same time we have become preoccupied with our external looks? Does it fall under the category of "101 things my Mother never told me but should have?" Or do we find that part so far removed from who we are?
So, the next time you feel like it, consider spending some time with yourself - and have a look. It will take courage (especially if it is your first time), it might be scary at first but you might be surprised and find yourself amazed at how you really look down there. And just remember we are all different and that is the beauty of it!!