Watch Your Mouth!

Vagina is a bad word.

I remember being in an eyebrow threading salon with my friends. As we sat waiting for our turn we were catching up by gossiping about the latest music and boy drama in our lives. At some point in our conversation the topic changed and I remember myself commenting the unfairness and the double standards women experience on a daily basis. Although I do not remember exactly how the conversation occurred, there is a part of it that stuck with me all these years. As our conversation continued I remember beginning to use the term “vagina.” I did not see anything wrong with using this word. In my brain this word is registered as a medical term, the proper word to refer to a female’s genitalia. The moment this word came out of my mouth my friend’s facial expression, body language, and tone of voice changed. Their entire presence went from relaxed to tense in a matter of seconds. I noticed the change and before I could say anything one of them quickly responded in a whispering but semi-shouting tone, “Ale shut up!” I was confused and said “What? Why? What did I say?” Her response was both disappointing and patriarchal. Her exact words were, “You can’t say that word, someone will hear you, there can be kids around.” The moment I heard this I did not know if to feel angry, sad, or embarrassed. Angry because my friends were being narrow minded and patriarchal. Sad because my friends once again were being NARROW MINDED AND PATRIARCHAL. Or embarrassed because I was using a term considered foul and dirty, therefore I should feel ashamed of myself. Out of these three emotions, the dominant and victorious one was the feeling of embarrassment. All the eyes of those strangers in the salon glancing over at us, at me, made me feel insecure and desire to crawl under a rock until everyone forgot about it. In that moment, just as Feinberg shared her inspiration for the creation of the “Pussy Pouches,” I felt like, “putting the purse in my lap…and having my legs closed together tightly” (Feinberg). This is exactly what I did as I became silent for the remainder of our time in the salon.

In the article “Can You Spot How These Unique Purses Are Removing The Stigma From Vulvas?” Feinberg states that she wanted to create a form of fashion art that addressed social injustice. Through her purse designs Feinberg’s goal was to “remove the stigma” and “for people to be forced to say it (vagina), to stop being afraid of discussing this part of womanhood” (Feinberg). Feinberg’s design gathered much success that even celebrities like Beyoncé have been photographed with the pussy pouch. I had never heard of this creation until now, and I for one feel very happy about it. I might not go out and purchase one of these purses, but I love the meaning behind it and the simple symbolic design it carries. The simplicity of the illusion of the vulva demonstrates that a female’s genitalia is nothing to fear, it is normal and should be treated as such. Feinberg’s pussy pouch is confronting vagina beauty standards, standards that even now women have to experience pressure to look a certain way down under. Apparently it is not enough for society to tell us what is the ideal beauty image we should strive to obtain out in the surface of our faces and bodies, but also for the private and personal areas such as the vagina. I strongly support Feinberg’s design and hope that she continues to create more jaw dropping fashion art with a strong message embedded in every stitch. My birthday is coming up, I might change my mind and end up asking for a pussy pouch backpack, so I can proudly parade it around campus on my way to class.