Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Vulva Dialogues

Yes, I titled this, "The Vulva Dialogues."


 With a title like that, you'd expect I'd start out with a joke that goes somewhat, "What did one vulva say to the other vulva?"

 Alas, no, that's not what this post is about.

 Wait! I haven't written the post yet. That's totally what this post could be like, and it would rule, rock, win the internet, and more! And I could get Allie Brosh on board and she could draw me an Alot monster made of vulvas and sell them on her book tour.

 This post could be anything I want it to become!

Anyway, I'm here today to talk about how I was the smelly kid in class in sixth grade and there was a gang of boys who tortured me for it on a day to day basis. And I grew up with the misconception that I had a dirty and gross vulva and had to shower a million times a day to hide the rotten smell.

 Fun. I decided to write about it after reading the article "My Vagina Smells Like Shame." The article left me wondering what healthy genitals smell like and reminded me of childhood nightmares.

 Puberty was awesome to me. I was constantly sweaty, got my period during the first month of school, had acne, and I was fat. I'm not sure how I became the target of all the meanest sixth grade boys in my class who ganged up on me every day, but I went from being one of the most popular girls in fifth grade to being mercilessly sexually harassed in a very specific manner.

 They called me Fish Girl. Constantly. Daily. Always. In front of everyone. During class, after class, before school, and after school. I'd come home with bruises from them trying to beat me up or take off my clothes, in tears from class after class of insults and abuse.

 No adults intervened. Thanks, Marley Middle School. Thanks.

 I'd obsessively ask my friends if I actually smelled, and my parents if I smelled. I was assured repeatedly that I did not, but I was terrified that they were lying to prevent hurting my feelings. Otherwise, why would the group of boys, day after day, hurt and embarrass me this way? It was traumatizing! I wanted to die.

And then magically, in seventh grade, they stopped. I came back to school and instead was teased by cliques of girls for normal, made-up reasons, like being a lesbian or having bad hair. I ended up having a normal middle and high school experience with a normal amount of friends, enemies, and boyfriends.

 But the damage was done. I was forever highly aware of any odor I might have and showered obsessively, several times a day, to hide my dirty secret. Yay?

 I didn't think much of it again until I had an extremely severe bacterial infection a few years ago which brought back all my insecurities. And try as I might, no matter how much I bathed or took antibiotics, no matter what anyone told me, I was convinced that I really was Fish Girl. I would not let my husband touch me, to his dismay. I didn't want to leave the house. I spent sometimes entire days in the shower. I drank liter after liter of water, and tried everything I could think of. I went to the gynecologist several times that year for the infection from hell. When the infection cleared up, my gynecologist repeatedly assured me that I was healthy. Be that as it may, nothing would shut off the constant concern that I was gross until recently.

 And by recently I mean last week.

 For years I wondered to myself how a gynecologist knows what a healthy vulva smells like. I went on a Google search. Website after website quoted the Vagina Monologues, "All cleaned up like washing a fish after you cook it. I want to taste the fish. That's why I ordered it." Then website after website cited the BV smell as fish. Internet, go home. You're drunk.

 After much Google searching I came across a perfume forum where people described what a healthy one smelled like and someone said, "Mashed potatoes." Yes! Yes, that's exactly what she smells like eight hours after my last shower. Mashed potatoes.

 I do not know what was up with those boys in my class more than twenty years ago, and I hate that I have the perfect comeback decades later, "Fuck you, you should never, ever, be allowed anywhere near a vagina. I hope your dicks fall off."

I have something to say to that little girl as well.

 Respect and protect your sweet, sweet junk. Get her checked out, keep her healthy and safe. Keep her rinsed with water, pat her dry ever so gently with towels, wear clean cotton underwear. And only let the finest, most respectful lovers near her. I assure you, she is delicious.

 I could go for some mashed potatoes right now.

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