PSA: The self conscious vagina dialogues
This is taken from my column at Nylon magazine
Question: Hey Kayden! I’m writing to ask your opinion on a topic that greatly hinders me having any type of healthy and enjoyable relationship. I am extremely insecure about my body and ALL things related to me. For instance, I still have these feelings of not being good enough, or not being able to please my man sexually, four years into our relationship. I honestly never felt like I could please him or was satisfying him because my vagina wasn’t “tight and right” so to speak
Am I crazy? How do I know what a good vagina is? And what do guys consider a good and attractive vagina? How can I overcome this emotionally taxing issue of mine before I ruin my life and never get the chance to experience a real and pleasurable relationship?
Answer: There’s a thing I like to tell people when they ask me why I never make foot fetish films: Only a foot fetishist can shoot foot fetish content. Personally, I could probably point and aim a camera at a foot, if push came to shove, but I wouldn’t know when the foot was arching in the “sexy” direction, and I wouldn’t know which toe had the sexpot lead in regard to the other toes, and I definitely wouldn’t know which end is up in terms of how to frame it all. Do I point down onto the foot while I stand in the model’s space? Do I come in sideways from a bush crawling stance, or, rather, should I be the passive one and let the foot come to me?
You don’t know squat about whether your vagina is attractive or not. You’re assuming it’s not, but in the same breath, you’re asking me what attractive might look like. You are probably not a foot fetishist and therefore, should not be making foot porn. Similarly, you are definitely not a vagina fetishist. You don’t even know where to begin on the laws of vagina attraction. You should not be making vagina judgments, especially from the extreme bias of looking at yourself in the hand mirror.
A quick game of logic: If a vagina is gross, then, by extension, we might all likely assume that people do not want to be near it. They especially do not want to return in the capacity of some sort of repeat customer. Yet you are describing a relationship that involves regular visits to your vagina. In fact, your partner wants to have sex with your vagina so much so that he is committing to an exclusive relationship with it, at the expense of having sex with the other vaginas out there. If the man’s dick seems to be working when given the opportunity to interact with your vagina, it suggests that he is probably sexually aroused by it, thus defeating your argument for possessing a “gross vagina.”
I promise that your significant others—the present one, the past ones, any future ones you may have—will spend more time worrying about his or her genitalia than thinking about any flaws they may have been noticed in yours. Welcome to being a person. You have a body, and you’ve cataloged its every detail. Your vagina doesn’t stack up to expectations that you can’t even operationally define. What makes a good vagina? Here’s the answer: A good vagina is attached to the person that the beholding eye wants to sex up. You have one, I have one, women everywhere have one. Vaginas, like anything else, are relative.
If the confidence issue stems from hygiene or pH imbalances, it’s on you to correct this issue. Your partner can’t be expected to turn a blind eye or do the job of personal care for you. General hygiene can be addressed with things like showers. Performers in the adult industry are notorious for keeping baby wipes in place of toilet paper and for always freshening up after a workout. The key here is not always the freshening up so much as the workout, though. Lifestyles lend to pH balance. Regularly exercising and breaking a sweat, eating an alkaline diet, and keeping a lid on alcohol intake, cigarettes, and other substances will all lend to a balanced body chemistry that in turn lends to nice-smelling vaginas. More immediate fixer-uppers include vaginal gels like RepHresh and homemade remedies with active ingredients like yogurt cultures or baking soda. There are plenty of solutions available online if you feel that what’s making you uncomfortable, but the only long-term solution is a healthy lifestyle.
But! If the issue is one of anatomy, you’re not alone in obsessing over how your vagina stacks up. Honestly, I’ve been in the same predicament. Shortly after I had my daughter, I became obsessed overnight with the idea that childbirth had somehow ruined me. (Couple that with the drastic hormone dip that women experience after childbirth and the fact that my partner is paid to have sex with other women for a living, and you can see how the whole situation might become catastrophic, and fast.) It went from a twinkling of insecurity to a complete and utter letdown in our love life. I did the same things that you’re describing. I projected onto him the idea that he didn’t like what I had to offer. It frustrated him because I was telling him how he was feeling rather than hearing what he was telling me he was feeling (and the things he said were all positive and affirming points along the lines of “you feel exactly the same,” although eventually it bled into something like, “Okay, but seriously, let’s stop talking about this now because I’d rather be having sex”). The more I hung onto that insecurity, the less I was able to enjoy sex until I couldn’t enjoy it at all.
This further frustrated him because I’ve actually skimmed over an important point about what makes a good vagina—a warm, wet, and willing one. A sexually aroused vagina happens to possess exactly these qualities. In fact, I’m not sure there’s anything men love more than the way a vagina feels immediately after climax. (Maybe bacon?)
In fact, sexually aroused vaginas are so much more subtly wonderful that my trick before performing in a scene is to rub one out. They just really sparkle with that added touch, those vaginas. And that’s exactly what I remembered during the love-life dip. I remembered that a strong motivating force behind many sexual interactions is orgasms—having them, giving them, enjoying, sparkling in the wake of them. I decided to just go back to doing that and let the pieces fall where they may. They fell in the direction of more and better sex.
Men love the look and feel of a woman who is enjoying herself in bed with them. By hyper-focusing on your insecurity about his unsubstantiated feelings regarding your vagina, you are preventing your vagina from feeling its best, both for you and him.
But! This may not even be about anatomy or hygiene, but instead about your general perception of yourself. I’m not going to throw some tired cliché at you, like “You can’t expect others to love you if you don’t love yourself,” but I will give you a sort of tightened version of it, which is that you can’t love the particulars of yourself (such as vaginas) if you don’t love yourself. That’s something worth looking at.
What’s so wrong with you is that you believe you deserve having your happiness blocked. As for the tired cliché that I don’t want to reference, you absolutely can and should expect others to love you. “You” are an aggregate of your particulars, and even if your vagina isn’t up to par (not the case—just continue this thought experiment with me), there still remains a whole host of things to be weighed. Things such as the way you deal with others in the world, the way you pronounce your “t’s” when you speak, the specific timbre of the way you laugh, the things that you believe in, the experiences you’ve shared together, and the feelings that you instill in him that, in turn, also help him to love himself.
In other words, he is not dating your vagina. He is dating the aggregate of you, and when you bring the very tenets of your connection with him down to the elasticity of your vaginal canal, you are robbing yourself and robbing your partner of the chance to experience the highest sort of things that can be experienced inside of a romantic relationship. Vaginas and penises are not what the sex is about. They are just the tools we are given with which to experience it.