Vajazzling: Bluffin' with your muffin?

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Among the many issues facing young feminists today, one problem remains woefully under-explored; how can we make our genitalia more decorative? 

Feminist icon Jennifer Love Hewitt tackled this touchy subject when she appeared on the George Lopez Show.  After a painful breakup, Hewitt abandoned the traditional remedies of Lifetime Original Movies and Ben & Jerry's, opting instead to enlist a friend's help with an avant-guard artistic form.  She described the pioneering practice with poise and eloquence, stating that "a friend of mine Swarovski-crystalled my precious lady and it shined like a disco ball."

Basically it's like confessional poetry, but for your vagina.

But wait, there's more!  Not only can vajazzling boost your confidence after a painful breakup, and distract you from your grief by refocusing your attention on the painful rash that you got from the craft-store glue that you used to D-I-Y vajazzle yourself, it can also spice up an existing relationship!  In a ground-breaking interview with spa-owner Cindy Barshop, Fashiontribes.com revealed that vajazzling has actually been available in select NYC spas since 2000.  She notes that it takes a certain kind of woman to appreciate the myriad benefits of vajazzling:  "Hip, trendy and confident women like Jennifer get this done." 

In fact, according to vajazzling is just one more service that women can do to make themselves more attractive to the men in their life-- I mean, to take care of themselves and make themselves feel good!  "Its like buying a new pair of lingerie or getting a mani/pedi," Barshop says.  "It's a feel-good service...and men LOVE it on women.  They love it even more when it's a surprise."  After all, what could be hotter than discovering that your romantic partner has rendered your likeness in faux-crystals on their crotch?

For the two of you who remain unconvinced, this Craigslist ad will certainly do the trick!  This adventurous New Yorker has come up with several creative vajazzling designs, including a "snow leopard," a "Hello Kitty on rollerblades, or "Anything else representing undying, passionate and eternal love."  I know when I think of undying love, Hello Kitty comes right after Romeo and Juliet.

But vajazzling also raising some important theoretical and methodological questions for the trouble-maker.  Most importantly, in the face of the global economic crisis, how can we ensure that spa-going urban-dwellers will still be able to afford to complement their monthly waxes with a bedazzling?  And what about the embarrassing problem of having Swarovski-crystals fall out of your gym-shorts after a vigorous jog on the treadmill?

To be serious for a moment, obviously I have an opinion on vajazzling, but we might be able to ask some legit questions about it.  Is this possibly a way of celebrating female genitalia, or yet another way of altering and hiding it?  And why has vajazzling become such a big buzz-word; what does it mean that a famous actress is sharing this info on a late-night talk show?  If you have other questions, or just opinions, please post!  Also, I did manage to find a picture, but didn't post it here for obvious reasons, but after extensive research I'm now prepared to answer most of your questions about the how-to's of vajazzling.  





7 Comments

Now I'm curious about the vajazzler--when people ask you what you do for a living, what do you say? "Hi, I'm X and I'm a vagazzler," with a big smile?

I'm also curious how much this costs. Especially if you're using Swarovski crystals, this can't come cheap.

Seriously though, I think that if someone wants to be vajazzled (and shouldn't it maybe be vagazzled?), that's their choice. It's not my call or my place to judge what someone chooses to do to their body. Of course, that being said, you get into sticky terriroty if a person is doing this for someone else and not for themselves. Jennifer Love Hewitt, it would appear according to her interview, did this because she wanted to, for herself. If you're doing it to please your partner, that might not be so bad, depending on everything surrounding it, but if there's any kind of forced vajazzling going on (is there evidence of this?), I'm certainly not okay with that.

Along similar lines: The Vajacial (which is oddly spelled both vajacial and vagacial in the article...).

Which brings me to the (totally offtopic) question - what's with the "vajay" thing? I remember it all starting when Dr. Bailey used the word "vajayjay" on Grey's Anatomy, which led Oprah to pick it up, and now it seems to be everywhere! I'm trying to keep this clean for blog purposes, but, what do you all think of it as a word choice? Did we really need a new word for it?

I agree with Becky that it's a matter of consent; "we can vajazzle if we want to" (i sung this in my head to the tune of "safety dance").

To Sophie's question about wordchoice, I do think that re-claiming/re-naming things is important for any project of empowerment. Your question reminds me so much of the opening scene of Eve Ensler's "Vagina Monologues," in which the performers inform us of all the different names they discovered (through interviews across the US) for the vagina ("meat curtains," "poof," and "gladys seagleman" were among the many). Another scene of the play is dedicated to, as the title of the monologue suggests, "Reclaiming 'Cunt'". While I certainly have many, many issues with The Vagina Monologues (see this good critique, but ask me to rail on it more, if you're interested: http://www.feministing.com/archives/006530.html), I do commend Ms. Ensler's desire to emphasize the power of naming. Self-naming, more specifically.

That's not to say there is anything wrong with sticking with good ol' "vagina," so, no we don't *NEED* a new word for it, but is there something kind of powerful in self-interpellation? Sure.

Now, is it okay that Grey's Anatomy and Oprah become that conduit for self-empowerment? Maybe not so much, but I think "having fun" with arbitrarily taboo topics guides us in the direction toward a more sex-positive society. On that note, I don't know why stating alternative names for the vagina would be "not clean" and why our queer/feminist blog would be a space you think would police that language? That's not an attack at all, just a sincere question about how we all define appropriate (clean)/inappropriate (dirty?).

I followed the link Sophie posted to the article about vajacials (I vote for the J instead of the G since "vagacial" should technically pronounced "va-gay-shul") and found this quote struck a chord:

"We've seen a long, ugly history of implying that girl parts are inherently dirty or gross."

Now, I agree with what Becky and Raechel said about consent; women should be allowed to put rhinestones and crystals wherever they want, but to me, it's hard to ignore the suggestion that "lady parts" aren't attractive or appealing enough as they are. We need to wax, get scrubbed/exfoliated/moisturized, make sure we're the right colour, get bedazzled, all to make sure that our anatomy is appealing. What I wonder is: where does this idea that "girl parts are inherently dirty or gross" come from? In some ways it feels like a contradiction to me: female genitalia is dirty and gross, yuck. . . but we should clean it up so that we can be ungross enough to have sex. How can female genitalia be gross, but not sex? I'm imagining someone trying to convince me that bread is gross, but sandwiches are fine.

i love raechel! i am all about exploring how we define appropriate/inappropriate! my favorite kind of trouble theorizing.

i performed "reclaiming cunt" a few years ago and appreciate your comments on this monologue and the monologues in general. as problematic as they are - which is very - they do one thing very well. they get people talking about things many people have never talked about before. and with topics as important as the ones the monologues attempts to tackle, that has to be applauded. at least eve ensler is opening the conversation right.

now with the vajazzling. to me, this all comes down to the same kind of thing ensler was talking about in the "hair" monologue. in regards to women shaving their goods for their partners. if you want to shave or vajazzle or die it green BECAUSE thats how you like your goods looking, i say go for it. but if you are doing any of this to please someone else, even though you hate it. thats not acceptable. but i probably singing to the choir here huh. on a personal note, i think its mostly just ridiculous. and yet another way to commodify the female body.

I agree that choice in our appearance and decisions around it is key. And that we can choose to do things for lots of reasons. But my question here, as with the SuperBowl ads, is how capitalism/commodification/consumerism shapes these choices for us and how to learn to become conscious about making them. To use myself as an example, I think there is a huge difference between my high school self who would not leave the house without makeup on because I didn't think that I looked good enough/that girls/women were supposed to adorn themselves in certain ways/didn't feel comfortable with myself and me now, who on occasion chooses to wear makeup, mostly for myself (although not always--and I know when my choices are problematic and struggle with that). Many of us internalize so much of what we are fed by the media and society; how do we know when we are making these choices for ourselves and when we are giving in/not thinking? This is especially important in issues (like vajazzling or makeup) when health issues are involved; we have numerous examples of something we were convinced was good for us/would make us cleaner, more attractive, etc. that actually has negative health consequences--and psychological consequences in convincing us that our bodies are not "good enough."

Liz brings up a great question: "Where does this idea that 'girl parts are inherently dirty or gross come from?

I think one possible answer is that narratives of female "uncleanliness" were created by American pharmaceutical companies in the first half of the 20th century. With contraception banned by the Comstock laws, pharmaceutical companies marketed douching products under the guise of "feminine hygiene." When Margaret Sanger challenged the Comstock laws pertaining to contraception and, in 1918, a court found a loophole in the law that permitted the sale of superior contraception methods (i.e. condoms) under certain conditions, sales dropped significantly for douching products like Zonite, Demure, and Pristeen. In order to find a new market for these products, their manufacturers created new advertising campaigns designed to educate women about "an offensive odor even greater than bad breath or body odor–an odor she herself may not detect but is so apparent to people around her" that comes from "her fountain syringe" (Zonite ad). (p.s. how do you like "fountain syringe" as a euphemism for vagina?) Anyway, these ads promised that by using products like Zonite to combat this "offensive odor" women can prevent "needless tragedies– homes broken up, few social invitations, and the feeling of being shunned" (Zonite).

You can check out the ads here
http://contexts.org/socimages/2008/08/21/vintage-zonite-douche-ads/

How frightening is it that ideologies about gender and our bodies are created by corporations, solely for profit motives? It's also frightening that many condiitons, even "diseases" have developed the same way. For instance, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) did not exist until the patent on Prilosec expired, and they needed to create a new patent in order to be able to maintain their market share. So, they tweaked the molecular structure of Priosec (in a way that had no impact on its effectiveness) and claimed that it treated a new disease called GERD. By getting GERD classified as a "disease" it allowed doctors to write prescriptions for Prilosec and bill it to the patients' insurance companies.

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