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Relax and get yourself a hand mirror. It’s time to do some sleuthing.
If you Google the question “Where is my vagina?” the top result is from Yahoo Answers, a question that has apparently been asked on the community question-and-answer site over fifty thousand times. While some Yahoo users try to be helpful when a girl can’t find her vaginal opening, others respond with such insightful pieces of advice as “SEE A BOOTY DOCTER [sic]” or “Watch porn and you will understand.” Worse still, some older women shame young women who can’t find their vagina: “I just don’t understand how you can be 19…and still not know where your vagina is.” Too bad Jeeves isn’t around anymore. He probably knew the answer.
All kidding aside, our lack of familiarity with our own private parts is a serious problem. Citing a recent study from The Eve Appeal, U.K.’s Telegraph reports that half of British women between the ages of 26 and 35 could not locate the vagina when presented with a medical drawing.
More worrisome still is the fact that many of us can barely bring ourselves to talk about our sex organs without using an elaborate set of euphemisms. The Eve Appeal found that 65 percent of women expressed distaste for the terms “vagina” and “vulva” and that 40 percent of young women prefer a euphemistic term like “lady parts,” which totally doesn’t evoke the nightmarish image of a vagina being assembled on a conveyer belt like a car engine.
If you’re reading this and you don’t know where your vagina is, please don’t ask Yahoo Answers. I can help you find better places on the Internet where you won’t have to sift through a sea of sarcastic responses in order to find the truth. So whether you’re 16 or you’re a British woman who just flunked sex ed, here’s how to find your vagina:
I’m not one of those mean bitches on Yahoo Answers. This is a shame-free zone. A lot of women don’t even look down there, as one YouTuber found out when he recently asked women to look at their vaginas for the first time. The task of finding your vagina—whether on a medical diagram or on your own body—can be really tricky. So tricky, in fact, that Eve Ensler’s play The Vagina Monologues opens with this famous anecdote about the amount of work that it takes to even see the thing:
A high-powered businesswoman was interviewed and she said she was too busy; she didn’t have the time. Looking at your vagina, she said, is a full day’s work. You have to get down there on your back in front of a mirror that’s standing on its own, full-length preferred. You’ve got to get in the perfect position, with the perfect light, which then is shadowed somehow by the mirror and the angle you’re at. You get all twisted up. You’re arching your head up, killing your back. You’re exhausted by then.
People with penises can just unzip their pants, whip it out, and voilà, the work is done. We vagina bearers have to solve a puzzling geometry problem before we can find out what’s going on down there.
A lot of women, too, are worried that vaginas are ugly or gross, but they’re not. The sooner you take a good look, the sooner you can learn that for yourself. In order to take that peek, though, you’re going to need to invest in some special equipment.
2) Buy a hand mirror.
Why bring your vagina to the mirror when you can bring the mirror to your vagina? You’re going to need a handheld mirror if you want to definitively locate your vaginal opening. Settle for nothing less. A makeup compact simply won’t do. Nor should you try to hold up a smartphone set to its front-facing camera because you will end up dropping your phone onto your own vagina. Trust me. This once happened to…a friend of mine.
Being able to clearly see your own anatomy is worth the ten to twenty dollars that a mirror will cost you. So buy it. If you don’t have your own money yet, get your parent to buy it for you, even if you just tell them that it’s for hair and makeup. This mirror will be your gateway to full self-discovery, your portal to the world of the vagina.
3) Consult reputable Internet resources.
The basic idea here is that you need to compare what you see in the mirror when you hold it between your legs to some diagrams. Try not to think about how ridiculous you look lying in bed, a mirror propped between your legs, as you crane your neck to the side to look at a laptop or a tablet. This is all for the greater good.
Which Internet resources should you consult? Here’s where this gets interesting—the Australian Internet has much better resources for vagina location than the American Internet. I guess it only makes sense that the Down Under would have the best resources to help you find your own down under, eh?
The diagram on the American GirlsHealth.Gov, for example, shows the vagina as a grey and blue clamshell swimming in a sea of pasty white legs. It’s tiny, it’s weird and it’s completely unhelpful. The Aussie diagram is the one you want: it’s close-up, it’s detailed, it’s colored in with normal human colors, and there’s even some pubic hair pencilled in on top for added realism.
Alternately, you can point your web browser to the Australian version of the Kotex website where you’ll find another helpful diagram and a ton of useful information. It even tells you that “the clitoris is one of the parts of your vagina that makes you feel good if it is touched or stimulated” because Australians aren’t as puritanical about sex as Americans are.
I spent ten minutes, by the way, looking for a diagram of the vagina on U.S. feminine hygiene sites. Even on the “U by Kotex” website, the best thing I could find was a Q&A page where older women tell you to go buy a book if you want to see a picture.
4) Get your hands dirty.
The only thing left to do is touch. If you think your vagina’s gross, remember that you probably touch a smartphone all day long and that thing is absolutely disgusting. Try to feel the various parts listed in the diagram and, when you find your vaginal opening, use your finger to feel inside. This menstrual blog is an excellent resource to consult if you’re having trouble maneuvering your finger into position without freaking out.
5) Love your vagina.
As Erin McKelle of Everyday Feminism notes: “Vaginas are the objects of a cultural hate-fest.” Part of the reason why so many women can’t find their vaginas or simply don’t bother to look at them enough is that women aren’t taught to love their own bodies, especially their vaginas. McKelle notes that women are raised to believe that vaginas are gross, that they’re ugly, and that they’re only good for penetrative heterosexual intercourse.
Don’t buy into these nasty rumors. Vaginas are like shy cats; they’re sweet once you get to know them. If you’ve followed these steps, you’ve already found your vagina. Now, all you have left to do is fall in love.
Samantha Allen writes about sex, sexuality, and gender. She's a senior reporter at the Daily Beast, but she's also contributed to Paste, Hello Giggles, Salon, the Advocate, Mic, and others. Allen holds a doctorate in women's, gender, and sexuality studies from Emory University, and her piece "Why Bisexual Men Are Still Fighting to Convince Us They Exist" won the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism Article in 2018.