The Vulva Gallery Book - Improving sexual health education
Great news! We reached our stretch goal, this is amazing! This means that everyone who has pledged the book (or more) will receive the Vulva Quartet Game as a gift. The game will be shipped along with your book in April. And also: from now on everyone who pre-orders the book or more via my Kickstarter campaign will receive the Vulva Quartet Game as a gift as well!
The Vulva Quartet Game is a fun card game (similar to "Go Fish"), in which you have to collect sets of 4 cards from different categories, and the person with the most sets wins. It's a playful way to open up conversation about topics we’re not used to talk about, and it has educational value as well. This game covers all kinds of vulva-related topics, for example: pubic hair, labia shape, menstruation, STIs/STDs, skin conditions; and on each card you’ll find information about these topics. I added an example image of the game (this is not the final design, but just to give an idea of what the game will look like). More details will follow soon!
I think this game makes a great addition to the book, a playful side-kick making it even easier to talk about all kinds of vulva-related things.
The problem of "the perfect vulva"
All vulvas are unique and beautiful - just like our hands, noses and eyes are. The problem is that there’s just one kind of vulva shape being displayed in the popular media. Whether it is in magazines, mainstream porn, or even biology books, all over the world we are constantly confronted with the distorted image of a “perfect” vulva, and this has led many of us to believe that we don’t fit the "normal" image. As a result, girls as young as 9 years old are researching labiaplasty surgery (the surgical procedure that alters the aesthetic appearance of the labia and/or clitoral hood) online, and there is a sharp global increase in girls under 18 (and even under 15) undergoing labiaplasty surgery, making this procedure one of the fastest growing types of cosmetic surgery in the world.
So, what can we do about it?
We’ve somehow gotten the idea there’s something wrong with us. But there isn’t. To proof this, I started The Vulva Gallery in 2016. The Vulva Gallery is an online gallery and educational platform celebrating vulva diversity, aiming to improve sexual health education and opening up conversation about topics that are still being stigmatised. Since 2016, together with a rapidly growing community of over 250,000 followers, I’ve been working on improving this stigmatised image of the vulva. And the response has been amazing.
From an online gallery to a beautiful book for everyone
My next step is to bring The Vulva Gallery to the mainstream. I want to create a book that embodies everything The Vulva Gallery has touched upon over the past 2 years. A book that can be used in practices and in health classes, that can be looked at in waiting rooms, and that can be gifted from one person to another. For individuals with ánd without a vulva; for all who have ever struggled (or still struggle) with the appearance of their vulva; for parents to open up conversation with their children and teach them about body diversity. The book will open up conversation about a topic that is often being hidden, and take a step in de-stigmatising this part of the human body. This book is for all who want to hear a different voice as opposed to what we learn from the popular media - as this book will be gender inclusive, respectful and encouraging.
Inside the Book
The book will answer all kinds of vulva-related questions and disclose information on anything from pubic hair to changes in labia shape to personal hygiene and menstruation in a respectful and inclusive way. You’ll find a chapter about anatomy, accompanied by a diverse range of anatomical illustrations. Myths will be debunked and the book will contain all kinds of wonders of the vulva & vagina. It’s a gender inclusive and positive book, in which many different personal stories will be shared alongside vulva portraits. The book will open up conversation about a topic that is still surrounded with taboo and shame - and take a step in de-stigmatising this part of the human body. In the book you'll find:
- More than 500 colourful illustrations, all based on real vulvas
- A chapter about anatomy (with colourful & diverse illustrations)
- Vulva portraits & personal stories
- Vulva myths debunked - medical health providers explain why these myths are false
- Wonders of the vulva & vagina - interesting facts that everyone should know
- Questions answered - all kinds of vulva- and vagina-related questions
- How to draw a vulva
- Vulva names around the world
- Positive quotes about vulvas from individuals from around the world
What I aim to achieve
With this book I aim to raise awareness around body diversity, to inspire and empower individuals by sharing personal stories, and to provide information on anatomy and sexual health. It will be accessible and will tap into the very active dialogue around inclusivity. To sum up, it will:
- Represent and celebrate vulva diversity
- Normalise open conversations about vulva-related topics
- Normalise different aspects of our vulvas such as differences in labia shape and colour, pubic hair and skin conditions
- Debunk myths and provide inclusive education about anatomy
- Provide a more positive and inclusive usage of language
- Focus on the beauty in diversity, and on the functionality of our vulvas instead of objectifying or sexualising them
- Share many diverse vulva portraits & stories, thereby encouraging individuals to appreciate their own uniqueness
- By sharing appreciation of our diversity, encourage developing a more positive genital self-image
By showing diversity
and openly talking about our experiences and insecurities
we can change the way we look at our bodies - and the bodies of others
Why I hope you'll support the project
This book is dedicated to everyone with a vulva ánd without a vulva. It's dedicated to all who love their vulva, and to all who don't (yet). It’s dedicated to everyone familiar with vulva-related struggles: maybe you have a friend who feels insecure about their vulva, a daughter, or a sister who deserves to see how beautifully diverse we can be. It’s dedicated to everyone with a curious mind, wanting to learn more about this beautiful part of our bodies - and hear a different voice as opposed to what we learn from the popular media. It’s dedicated to everyone with a vulva, no matter their gender, as this book is gender inclusive and welcomes all. I hope you'll support this project as it is dedicated to you.
About the author
My name is Hilde Atalanta. I'm an illustrator and painter, living and working in Amsterdam. My work revolves around the themes of diversity, body positivity and inclusivity. Before I started working as an illustrator two and a half years ago, I studied clinical psychology at the University of Amsterdam - and I got my Bachelor’s degree in 2016. During my studies I followed a sexual health education course, and was very interested in pursuing a career in that direction. After I graduated I took half a year off to orientate myself on a master's degree, and in this period I started illustrating (something I loved doing when I was a kid). From the start, the topics I touched upon in my illustrations tended towards diversity, inclusivity and sexual health. Soon after starting The Vulva Gallery I realised that through social media platforms like Instagram I had the opportunity to reach a bigger community with my message than I would by solely working as a therapist. I've been working as a full-time illustrator for a year and a half now, and with projects such as The Vulva Gallery and You're Welcome Club I hope to continue spreading the positive message of celebrating diversity and appreciating the beauty in our differences. The future is inclusive!
I want to thank The Transketeers for making the wonderful video of me, Hans Hogendoorn for helping me with editing the voice recordings, and Sebastian Kersten for helping me tremendously with the animation and supporting and encouraging me throughout the whole process.
A special thanks to the community members (from 19 different countries!) who were so kind to help realising the campaign video by recording their voices: Céline, Jade, Amber, Lydia, Nikkie, Eduarda, Suze, Alina, Tony, Deema, Pâmela, Anne, Sarah, Paige, Margaux, Danae, Jackie, Anja, Inga, Caitlin, Brandice, Ellie, Brittany, Debs, Kylie, Katherine, Theo, Caroline, Mieke, Nathalia, Anne, Aimee, Anna, Alice, Alexandra, CKATO, Lorena, Elen, Zoé, Tanya, Lucila, Ruby, Georgina, Birdee, Seah, Mar, Paz, Carmen, Pleun, Aleksandra, Shuree, Mieke, Margaux, Margaret, Stevie, Gretchen, Nikki, Vivienne, Kat, Patricia, Katarina, Jasmin, April, Marine, Chiara, Kelly, Natalie and Raini
For more information about The Vulva Gallery please visit the following websites:
Risks and challenges
This is the first time I’m making a book, which means every step in the process is new to me. I'm very happy to have a lovely and experienced graphic design duo and a great editor by my side, plus a lot of wonderful people around me who will help me make this book as wonderful as I'm aiming it to be. If there are hick-ups in the process, I'll make sure to provide timely information; and I'll communicate all updates with all of you throughout the process. Let's make this book a great success together! :)Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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