- Warning: adult content
Towards the end of last year, I published an essay about my vulva – in a book, and then in the Guardian. At 25, I’d spent years considering labiaplasty and having sex with the lights off, because of things ignorant boys had said, as well as some of my friends. I felt a deep sense of shame about my body, which over time became crippling.
It’s this shame that photographer Laura Dodsworth is aiming to overcome with her latest project, Womanhood. In a book and accompanying film for Channel 4, she tells the stories of 100 women and gender non-conforming people through portraits of their vulvas. It’s the third instalment in a series: in Bare Reality and Manhood, Dodsworth photographed and talked to people about their breasts and their penises, respectively (both stories featured in Weekend magazine). The photographer has described the series as an “unexpected triptych”; she didn’t know the project would take this direction at the start (and, when it was first suggested to her, she didn’t want it to). But the more she thought about photographing women’s vulvas, the more necessary she felt it was.