Uneven or tightly tucked, it comes in different shapes and sizes. It also goes by one too many pet names, from “koochi” and “vajayjay” to “nonny” and “cookie”. At times, our reluctance to say "vulva" or “vagina” shrouds our bodies and sexuality in shame – but this shouldn’t be the case.
Our “down there” is no longer quite private when it comes to self-care.
Today, the female anatomy has become a symbol of female empowerment following the global #metoo movement as a topic for books, exhibitions, wellness sessions and workshops, with women taking a wholesome attitude towards how they look at it, groom it – and talk about it.
And, it’s time that we get comfortable with our vaginas (short for the whole kit and caboodle in common parlance) – and while we’re at it, the vulva, clitoris and labia too.
From left: Ng Yi Lian (Editor of Her World), Cynthia Chua (founder of Spa Esprit Group and Wonderscape Holdings), Erin Chen (founder of Gilly), Bella Koh (founder of Slowhouse)
On Nov 30, the second edition of Her World Rally presented by Strip: Ministry Of Waxing did just that, engaging some 30 invited Her World readers with a panel of specialists in the areas of wellness, beauty and sexual health, at the quirky vulva-shaped TWO L(I)PS pop-up space at Pasir Panjang Power Station.
Her World Rally is one of Her World’s signature events that aims to broaden the aperture on topics that truly matter to women, while Strip: Ministry of Waxing is the leading brand that has revolutionised Singapore’s beauty standards in Brazilian waxing techniques.
The robust panel included sex and relationship counsellor Erin Chen of Gilly; Bella Koh, founder of Slowhouse; and Cynthia Chua, founder and chairman of multi-brand outfit Spa Esprit Group and Wonderscape Holdings.
The hot topic: How should the modern woman practise self-care? Moderating the conversation was Her World editor Ng Yi Lian. She observed that despite the newfound openness to discuss anything and everything to do with the vulva, many women are still uncomfortable – or shy – when broaching the topic.
Know Your Wondrous Vulva
Erin Chen, founder of Gilly
There are also women who have no relationship with their vulva, noted Erin. “Many Asian women whom I’ve met experience painful sex, and they have few resources to learn about sexual health and wellness,” she added.
And women should first get to know and embrace their bodies, Cynthia told the audience. “The vulva is the most neglected female body part because we’ve been brought up to think that talking about it is to speak of forbidden, embarrassing things,” she said.
The lack of body literacy also contributes to the fact that many women are unable to identify the basic architecture of the vulva.
“If women know their bodies better, open up to share their stories with their closest girlfriends, know where to go for advice, and how to care for (their vulva), it can destigmatise the female anatomy,” Cynthia conceded. “Vulva care can add immense pleasure to our lives, too.”
Bella Koh, founder of Slowhouse
Connecting sex with wellness makes sense, as it’s often from one that we realise that the other needs attention. They form a huge part of women’s overall well-being.
Bella said: “Sex is also an integral part of self-care, and you’ll get positive energy from self-care, just like if you were to take time off for 15 minutes to listen to music or enjoy a cuppa.”
And, we’re the experts of our own bodies. “Even looking at your vagina with a mirror, you’re connecting with yourself, and your sexuality. Be friends with your vulva,” Erin shared, as the room broke into laughter.
The open, light-hearted session closed with guests mingling with the panelists over champagne and canapes, getting their energy read through Spa Esprit’s Super Vibrator - a bioenergy device, and testing TWO L(I)PS products - touted as the world’s first luxury intimate health care range. TWO L(I)PS is the sister brand to Strip: Ministry of Waxing and newest brand under the Spa Esprit Group’s portfolio.
Of the engaging two-hour event, Her World reader Crystal Lee, 22, said: “It’s great to have and learn that there are more available options for women in the area of self-care.”
Cynthia Chua, founder of Spa Esprit Group and Wonderscape Holdings
Cynthia, who made Brazilian wax mainstream 17 years ago with Strip, believes in taking baby steps when it comes to vulva education.
The charismatic entrepreneur said: “Two Lips is also an avenue for women who are curious and may have questions on intimate self-care. Most importantly, they need to know that there is no one perfect vulva. Everyone is special – and unique.”
Swipe through the gallery below for more pictures of what went down that day.