Lydia explains, “I’ve become so used to looking at it that I just think – there it is!,” adding, “If you never saw [your vulva] how would you accept it? How could you celebrate it if you never look at it?”
Having started her body casting business two years ago, Lydia first practised on a handful of friends who, as she tells GLAMOUR, were only too happy to help out:
“I’d cast their vulvas and cast mine, and we’d turn them over and look at them and it was just beautiful. There was no judgement – it was very much like oh, your [vulva] is like this and mine is like this. It was so liberating.”
This is one of the central principles of body acceptance, which encourages people to practise taking a neutral stance towards their body. It’s often considered a more do-able alternative to body positivity, which – let’s face it – isn’t always possible.
Lydia’s business is going well: “I get so many messages from people saying that since coming across my profile [where Lydia shares her castings], they changed their minds about wanting labiaplasty and have embraced how they are.”
She says, “To hear other people who were where I was [in terms of wanting labiaplasty] say that because of my work, they’ve realised how beautiful, unique and normal they are, is incredible.”
For Angie*, choosing to have her vulva cast was part of her journey in recovering from sexual violence. She explained, “When I saw the finished result out of its box I cried. It was like I finally had a part of me back and it was beautiful, a piece of art made from me. It was a wonderful feeling and I smile every time I look at it.”
Hanna*, another of Lydia’s clients, told GLAMOUR, “I didn’t have a healthy relationship with my vulva. I thought it was ugly, not normal and in my words I wanted a ‘tidy vulva.'”
“After seeing Lydia’s work and the stories behind the casts I realised that actually I was incredibly normal and that everyone is different,” says Hanna. “I booked a casting session for myself to make peace with my feelings about my vulva and to learn to love and appreciate just how amazing it is!
“It’s birthed my two beautiful children and now as a woman I realise that you are beautiful just the way you are.”
As Lydia deftly puts it, “The more vulva acceptance is talked about, we’ll feel less ashamed, less embarrassed and will actually be able to talk to our friends about what our vulvas look like.”
We don’t know about you, but that’s a world we want to live in.
*Names have been changed to protect anonymity.