Photographer Laura Dodsworth, who has photographed the breasts of 100 different women, as well as penises belonging to 100 men, for her previous two books, has completed what she calls her “unexpected triptych” of photographic projects with her new book Womanhood: The Bare Reality, according to The Guardian. In the book, Dodsworth not only presents straightforward photos of 100 vulvas, she interviews each woman about what her vulva means to her.
While porn viewers may think they have seen enough vulvas to understand the meaning behind them, Dodsworth says that her realistic approach differs from what porn presents.
“There’s a world of difference between how you see vulvas in porn and how you see them in real life,” she told the BBC. “It’s so important for women to know what vulvas look like. It can help with body image anxiety. We really need to talk about them because many women haven’t looked at their own. They don’t know what’s down there.”
As Metro UK noted, the subject of the vulva is so widely misunderstood that the word itself is often used incorrectly.
Though the terms are often used interchangeably, there is an important difference between the “vulva” and the “vagina.” As a Planned Parenthood primer on female anatomy explains, “the vulva is the whole female genital package—your labia, clitoris, vaginal opening, and the opening to the urethra (the hole you pee out of).”
But while the vulva is the external “package,” the vagina is the internal “tube that connects your vulva with your cervix and uterus,” the PP primer explains.
Dodsworth told Metro UK that she initially tried to avoid completing her “triptych” after publishing Manhood, her book focusing on the human penis.
“I think I had some internal self-censorship, some shame and nervousness. The vulva is like a landscape and we generally only know one route through it—that route is sexual and pornographic,” she said.
“When you talk to women about their vulvas, so many stories come up. It was things like traumatic birth, bad sexual experiences or even something innocent like starting your period for the first time. I realized that when I had been batting this project away, I had been batting away taking a really intimate look at myself,” she told the paper.
The experience of creating Womanhood was entirely different from her previous book, on which she said she suffered verbal abuse for her interest in penises. “I was called a whore, a pervert and a cockaholic—but I was worried about the intimacy of this one,” she said.
“I feel like men were revealing themselves to a woman, in a sympathetic space,” Dodsworth told The Guardian. “This time, women were revealing themselves to themselves. Some women were shaking, asking me if they were normal.”
Photo By BareReality.net