Our Bodies, Ourselves

So it seems Twitter gets a real kick out of posting pictures of grotesque female genitalia.

Especially when the genitalia in question belong to black women.

In 2010, I saw more pictures of sloppy vaginas than I knew existed.  Someone decided 2011 needed to start with another picture of an unappealing vagina.  No, I’m not linking to the pictures.  You can find them, if you are so inclined, by searching the hashtag #thatvagina on Twitter.

I don’t see the amusement value in these pictures.  If folks were posting pictures of wretched-looking genitals for equal amusement value — if I could count the same number of two-inch crooked penises as I could count human vaginas that looked like they could birth elephants, I’d be less offended. 

But no.  Whenever someone posts a penis pic, unless it’s a celebrity penis worth making fun of, it’s usually large and quite erect.  These posts usually elicit “ahhhs” and queries about the owner’s contact information, as opposed to the derision reserved for the vaginas.

The great penis pictures and the bad vagina pictures often are posted, commented on, and retweeted by young black women.  This baffles me.  I can’t figure out why young black women would make fun of women’s, and especially black women’s, anatomy.

As a med student friend of mine pointed out, some of the pictures could be used by students doing an ob-gyn rotation to illustrate a broad variety of medical conditions: hormonal imbalances or prolapsed uteruses, for example.  Some could benefit from better lighting or camera angles.  Some simply show the natural effects of age and childbirth.  A doctor would likely confirm that most of these pictures depict normal vaginas.

But that’s not fun.  Or funny.  So we pass the pictures around and say “ewwww!” and make jokes about what our own bodies look like.

The ignorance is staggering.

I had a great discussion with my Twitter friend @NOLAQueenD about this.  I am going to borrow her words, because she summed it up so much better than I could:

“Geez, where to begin? 1. We are sadly very ignorant of our anatomy. It seems like the only people that have seen more of it are our lovers and OB/GYNs. So many women won’t even look at their own stuff.

2. In our hyper-sexualized porn culture, we [black women] see more white women fully naked on display so we’ve become used to seeing pink ones and maybe even a few light brown ones but not ours so much, so maybe we view that as more ideal?

3. we fail to take into consideration the factors that may cause our stuff to look the way it does, like hormones. we don’t even know because we either never learned or weren’t paying attention when it was taught.

4. we’re so catty and so used to attacking each other that we just do it without thinking of the impact.”

@NOLAQueenD went on to say:

“I am a huge proponent of ‘listening’ to your body. the more in tune you become to your body the more you can sense the subtlest change, right down to feeling an egg release. Change in mood, change in skin, change in gastrointestinal functions, change in body fluid consistency. We all need to quit playin around and learn about these things.”

This has nothing to do with politics or traditional feminism.  For the record, @NOLAQueenD is a staunch anti-Obama conservative who frequently questions feminist messages on Twitter.  It has everything to do with logic, self-knowledge, and self-respect. 

If some white person were going around posting these kinds of pictures for sport, we’d have a fit.  People would go on for days about the Venus Hottentot and black women’s bodies being used for entertainment value and on and on…yet we’re doing it to ourselves.

And it really needs to stop.

Notably, Sara Baartman, the “Hottentot Venus,” was an object of European fascination not solely for the size and appearance of her buttocks, but for the size and appearance of her external genitalia, which were preserved for study long after her death at age 26. 

Today, Sara Baartman’s vagina would be posted and retweeted for laughs on Twitter by black women who have no idea what “normal” looks like, and who think Kegels can reverse the effects of nature.

I tweeted last night, “Imma need black female Twitter to study female sexual reproductive anatomy before posting any more vadge pics.” 

I’ll add history to that as well.


11 Responses to “Our Bodies, Ourselves”

  1. Tweets that mention Our Bodies, Ourselves « Carolyn A. Edgar -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by starfishncoffee, K Lanise, ajua bliss, sawandi , Carolyn Edgar and others. Carolyn Edgar said: Our Bodies, Ourselves: http://wp.me/psOZx-f8 […]

  2. Lee Says:


  3. MissZindzi Says:

    I have been guilty of laughing at those pics and this article kinda made me snap out of that nonsense. It IS childish and vicious.

    The same also occurs with pics of women’s breasts, even though, 9/10 times, the guys laughing at those women’s breasts have D-cups themselves…

  4. tahmeka Says:

    Thank you for posting this. You’ve articulated my thoughts on this subject to a ‘t’. It’s sad and disheartning to watch women tear each other apart like that without considering the person in the picture. The assumption was that her vagina looked like that from too much sex -disappointing and ignorant.
    I was shocked that no one considered or asked if this woman knew that she was going to be on display like that.

  5. Haley Rhine Says:

    I love this post and agree with the positions stated. I didn’t comment or retweet. My first thought though went to “why did she take this pic” or let someone else for that matter? Not in regards to what was in the picture but when did your goodies need to be displayed publicly? Maybe its just my conservatism showing but I believe that private things should remain private.

  6. kim Says:

    I enjoyed this post. Twitter can be ridiculous at times. Fortunately I didn’t see any of the offending pictures. You are so right that black people are quick to clown each other but get indignant when other races do the same. In fact, it can get downright ugly. I have started unfollowing individuals who’s tweets are primarily on clowning others. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good laugh too, but not always at the expense of others. As a person who has been the object of ridicule over a condition I had no control. Trust, it’s not fun or funny.

  7. Melissa Chapman Says:

    We need more voices like yours to deconstruct ignorance and to prove that a vagina is a vagina no matter what color it is:)

  8. BB Says:

    I saw the picture retweeted several times and I was disgusted each time. Just because it looks different from what people have seen, it doesn’t mean it’s not normal. I wonder how the people who found that picture funny would feel about comments made about their genitalia.

  9. Hidi Says:

    Wow. If this is what people are tweeting, then I thank God I don’t have a twitter account. It is downright wrong to make fun of someone’s genitalia. People need to grow up, seriously.

    Like your friend said, many of these women re-tweeting are not aware of their bodies. Some don’t have ob/gyn regular check-ups.

  10. MsAfropolitan Says:

    Good on you for highlighting such a ‘taboo’ topic as the vagina. And the black one at that. As you say, ‘the ignorance is staggering’. I hope at least one of those people that lack the knowledge to not put themselves down by posting those pictures reads this and learns!

  11. Anonymous Says:

    How can you call them “grotesque” and “sloppy” in one paragraph, then question why they’re being made fun of on twitter? Aren’t those comments making fun of them in this blog post?

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