Vajacials. What?

This afternoon (moments ago), as I was (am) procrastinating on my German homework, I came across an article addressing something I never in a million years thought would exist: a vajacial.

Needless to say, I had a strong first reaction: What the hell.

A vajacial is a treatment-type thing that spas are selling. It’s advertised as a facial for your vagina, or more accurately, your vulva, to address a whole number of things from wrinkles to ingrown hairs to general appearance. Now, this put me off for a number of reasons. One: I had already heard about Gwyneth Paltrow’s fav but controversial vagina steaming. Fav because she loves it, and controversial because it is actually kind of (read: super) bad for you. WHY oh why are all of these people going out and promoting doing things to your vagina that aren’t actually healthy or safe and may or may not give you a massively unpleasant infection? Gwyneth Paltrow is not a doctor! Two: nobody should be telling me how to groom myself! What I choose to do is between me, myself, and sometimes my gynecologist. Three: this thing sounded like it could be mildly uncomfortable? So, I was naturally displeased at the hype this was getting. It seemed bananas.

Upon some research, I found a hilarious and important article. Along comes Jenny Slate, one of my favorite comedians, talking about her experience getting a vajacial, in a piece titled “Jenny Slate Got A Vajacial So You Don’t Have To.” She does not have a positive experience. Slate goes on to say that it seems pretty uncool to tell women their vaginas are not aesthetically pleasing enough, especially in a society that constantly tells us that vaginas are something to be ashamed of and hidden in general. She claims that it promotes an unhealthy self-image, and that the whole deal isn’t all that body-positive. This argument sounded good to me at first, and I relate to it in a lot of ways. As John Mulaney mentions in his comedy special The Comeback Kid (out on Netflix, highly recommend), I as a woman feel like I should be able to shout from the rooftops that YES I DO HAVE A VAGINA AND IT IS BEAUTIFUL and I shouldn’t have to make it any fancier than it is because it’s already ~fancy~ as hell in its natural state! Except I also found Slate’s perspective one-sided. Claiming that these are pointless is extreme. Maybe they’re not so fruitless. What if this is a practice about more than aesthetics? Just because Jenny Slate doesn’t love it doesn’t mean it’s a necessarily bad thing. Maybe treating and grooming your vagina can be a nice, body-positive thing for some people? Because it’s about choice, yes? And you should be able to feel good and empowered about your own decisions regarding your own body, yes?

Upon further research, I discovered another article, titled “7 Reasons Why Vajacials Are A Super Body Positive Ritual.” Some people are in fact finding the bright side to the vajacial: these can be personal rituals that reclaim autonomy, allow you to connect to your vagina, and encourage you to love it and appreciate it for all the reasons it’s good. This, yes, this is how I feel. Should anybody tell me, as the proud owner of a vagina, that I am now required to go get it slathered in a smoothing Amazonian clay mask once a week? Of course not. Should anybody try to make me think, even for a second, that my pussy isn’t perfect if I don’t spend extensive time grooming? No. But if the idea and practice of a vajacial makes me happy, healthy, more comfortable, and empowered? Then I should be able to practice what I want without someone telling me that it’s pointless or, worse, wrong. There’s this weird double standard women constantly put up with: too often women are told that doing anything outside of a very femme-normative ideal is unacceptable, and on the other side, women who subscribe to these beauty standards are sometimes shamed or discouraged. But guess what? It’s my hot body and I do what I want. And everyone should get to do what makes them and their hot body happy.

Overall feelings on the whole thing: I wouldn’t recommend putting steam, or egg whites, or yogurt up there (all things that actually have been recommended by people on the internet). These things really won’t do any good, and they will probably just get you a little yeasty. But if doing some pampering makes you feel good, and you do it on your own terms, then why not?

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