Media release: 29/9/2013
Parents invited to bring children to vagina exhibition
There is so much in the media these days about children learning about sex and sexuality through pornography, and about the startling rise in women and girls seeking out labiaplasty, yet very little is put forward by the way of alternative information and education sources.
The 101 Vagina book is not about sex per se, nor is it an educational manual. However, it is about women’s sexual organs and their relationship to them, and presents a perspective which is honest, candid and often very moving.
The black and white photos are a frontal view in standing pose. They are not intended to shock, nor as a detailed lesson in genital anatomy, they simply show that “normal” is a broad range, rather than the narrow view presented by mainstream media.
In this way 101 Vagina aims to break down the taboo around genitalia and body image shame generally. It celebrates diversity and the sharing of story and wisdom, and intends to generate debate and greater acceptance of our bodies and our sexuality.
As if to highlight the taboo, police visited the exhibition in Sydney in June due to complaints and requested that the gallery windows be covered. They also suggested that minors should be kept out of the exhibition. The project creator and photographer, Philip Werner, responded by writing an article called “Children come out of vaginas but are not allowed to see them?” published in Ciao magazine.
Such real, unedited photos, and candid messages about women’s relationship to their bodies are uncommon for children to come across, yet it’s important that the distorted view presented by the mainstream is countered somehow.
One women had this to share about bringing her three year old daughter to the exhibition in June: “… I was thrilled to bring my 3 yr old daughter along, and set her on the path for having pride of her vagina, her self, her future pleasure, her body and it’s life giving abilities & to make sure she’s empowered! …”
Children, growing into teenagers, don’t naturally develop shame about their bodies, it is taught to them by us adults. They are naturally curious, trying to understand the world around them, which means they’ll find information one way or another. Therefore it is up to us adults to guide them through the misinformation in the culture we’ve created.
Attending the gallery Werner said: “Several teachers have come through the exhibition and said how great it would be to get school groups through here, or get the book in to school libraries. I’d love for that to happen. More than one woman in the book wrote about considering labiaplasty as a teenager. This is such a great antidote to that.”
The 101 Vagina Book Exhibition is part of the 2013 Melbourne Fringe arts festival as is up for another week until Sunday 6 October.The exhibition is free and open to the public (rated PG), though donations are appreciated to help pay for costs.
101 Vagina Book Exhibition
Dates: 25 Sept to 6 Oct
Times: Mon-Fri 10am-6pm; Sat-Sun 12-5pm
Venue: Colour Factory 409-429 Gore St Fitzroy
Melbourne Fringe event page:
101 Vagina project website:
Philip Werner (project creator): firstname.lastname@example.org
Colour Factory Gallery: www.colourfactory.com.au