Not long after I started photographing vaginas, it was pointed out to me that it’s not the vagina that I am shooting, it’s the vulva. The vagina is the canal, the passageway in. The vulva is what’s on the outside.
I like precision and specificity. And while you could argue that it would be more accurate to say that these are vulva portraits I’m making, I’ve just always thought of it, when I’m thinking generally about it, as my vagina. So have a lot of the women I’ve spoken with about the project. Many never even heard the word vulva before I brought it up.
A rose is a rose is a rose…
The underlying point of making v-portraits is to create space for a conversation we don’t usually get to have. An expansive space, one that holds way more than my ideas, experiences or language, where we could explore all aspects of our relationships with our vaginas…all of the names, imagery, beliefs, assumptions and emotions associated with our individual vagina stories. In a conversation about personal experiences, telling women how not to talk about this is not something I want to do.
Instead, let’s include the language we use, or don’t use, and why.