Nov 162013
 

In order to spark discussion about women’s depilatory choices (waxing, shaving, or natural pubic hair), creative agency Mother London put out a call to women, inviting them to participate in “Project Bush.”

“On Thursday 3rd October, Mother London is launching Project Bush, a call to action for women to stand up to the pressures of modern society and present their bushes in all their glory. Whether waxed or never tended, young, old, black, brown or white, we want to display London’s lady gardens in all their variety, and demonstrate the choice that many young women – particularly – may not realise they have when it comes to waxing.” [1]

Alex Holder, the project’s (female) creative director, says the purpose of the project is to “get a few more pictures of normal fannies out there. We are not saying the Brazilian is bad, we are just pro-choice. We want to shift a few opinions.” [2]

Ninety-three women accepted the call and were scheduled to be anonymously photographed by photographer Alisa Connan in 15 minute time slots. [3] The results of the photography sessions were arranged into a photographic montage currently on display at Mother London’s agency offices until November 18th.

project bush

Photo courtesy of WJ London and Mother London. Photographer, Alisa Connan.
click image to embiggen

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Besides the variety of bushes, notice anything else? Notice anything missing?

Where are the women of color? Where are the labia?

The women who volunteered to be photographed were self-selected, and for that reason, there’s no presupposition the final product is a representative sample of the varieties of women’s skin colors, shapes, and appearances (Mother London doesn’t suggest it is). Whoever volunteered was photographed.

The majority of those volunteers, apparently, were white women with hidden labia. While the racial imbalance is puzzling, the lack of labial variety is understandable — perhaps women who are ashamed by the appearance of their (large) labia are less likely to volunteer to have themselves photographed. According to the photographer, Alisa Connan, a “certain type” of woman responded, “they were either proud of what they had or wanted to make a statement.” [2]

project bush

courtesy of “Project Bush,” Mother London

While the purpose of the project is to spark discussion about waxing and grooming, the project also wants to put “a few more pictures of normal fannies out there” [2] and suggests ties to a larger debate about the challenges of modern feminism. According to WJ London, “Having worked with ELLE Magazine and the Feminist Times on a project on equal pay, Mother wanted to launch a campaign to address the question of modern feminism – how does it manifest today, what are the challenges it faces, what does it mean to be a feminist?” [4]

If the aim was to present a ‘feminist project,’ it would have been far more adherent to the aims of feminism to seek out and encourage women of color and women who illustrate a wider, more representative variety of genital appearances.

While Mother London has every right to highlight whatever issues it chooses, it’s irresponsible to omit at least an acknowledgement of the racial imbalance in the final product. In my mind, it’s also irresponsible (though much less important) to fail to acknowledge (and explain) the homogeneity of vulva and labia appearances in the photomontage.

If they couldn’t (or didn’t want to) find a more representative sample of women’s diversity, at least they could have been more explicit in acknowledging the scope and limitations of the project.

 


[1] “Project Bush,” Mother London.
[2] Britten, Fleur. “How Does Your Garden Grow?” The Sunday Times. 10 Nov. 2013.
[4] “Mother Presents: Project Bush,” WJ London. 11 Nov. 2013.

 

  14 Responses to “what’s wrong with “project bush”?”

  1. That reminds me of the 007b project & The Great Wall of Vagina. Only much less well done.

    • I’m familiar with the Great Wall of Vagina, but I haven’t heard of the 007b project — can you give me a link for that? I’d be interested in seeing it.

      And yes, Project Bush isn’t nearly as well done. It doesn’t show the variety that the GWOV does. It’s a shame, too — I like the idea of showing a variety of grooming choices, and while Project Bush does this well, it doesn’t show any other type of variety.

      • No kidding… as xojane says… I have an “outie.” I’d never much considered it until I saw some porn. Then I had an asshole boyfriend who went on and on about “porno perfect pussy.” Emphasis on the “perfect” part of that. Mine certainly does NOT look like the porn aesthetic. Anyhow, I will attempt to make a link… I really have no idea how to format things on here.

        http://www.007b.com/breast_taboo.php

        • Thanks for the link, Anonymous. :)

          Now that I’ve seen it, I do remember seeing it before… I just didn’t recall the name (they need a more memorable organization/website title!).

          as xojane says… I have an “outie.” I’d never much considered it until I saw some porn.

          Heh. Yeah, I do too. Outie is a much nicer name than others I’ve heard. I think mine looks like a hairless flying tree squirrel… among other things. :)

  2. Well said.

    Labiaplasty is on the increase in the UK. Some are arguing that it’s due to the ‘normative’ effect of pornography. Hence the increase in the number of women having the intervention on the National Health Service (which they are damned lucky to have, but that’s another story).

    “Similar increases have also been experienced by the NHS. A study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 2009 revealed that there had been an almost 70% increase in the number of women having labiaplasty on the NHS on the previous year. There were 1,118 operations in 2008, compared with 669 in 2007 and 404 in 2006.”

    I wouldn’t mind betting that the stats are even higher now.

    Full article here:

    http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2011/feb/27/labiaplasty-surgery-labia-vagina-pornography

    • Personally I think blaming pornography for this rise is a red herring. Within much of hard core pornography there is a huge diversity in the type of female genitalia shown as opposed to soft core porn or nude images shown in more main stream medias. If you look at those kind of images you will not find one single exposed labia.

      Please do check out the video below. This is Australia but I am fairly sure they are not alone in this

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pK9GtT-khb0

      Mollyxxx

      • Wow. That video really irked me. My lady bits don’t need to be TIDY!! Ugh! And protruding labia are certainly not offensive. :/ Thanks for sharing it.

        I will say that I could see that most women (where I live, and yes we do talk about this kind of thing in my particular family and also my family of choice) are largely exposed to other women’s vajayjays via soft core porn. Hell, it’s in your inbox and all over the internet and probably in a mag somewhere in your home if you live with a man. So while it may or may not be the fault of some kind of governmental censorship, the net result is that women see porno pussy and it all looks the same. This is put forth as the only acceptable way to be sexy and desirable. (Don’t get me started on the rest of the image not including the lady bits!) So I can see how women might be getting a complex.

      • @Molly

        Personally I think blaming pornography for this rise is a red herring. Within much of hard core pornography there is a huge diversity in the type of female genitalia shown as opposed to soft core porn or nude images shown in more main stream medias.

        I disagree to some extent, though I only have my own personal experience to support it. When I first started watching porn (after college), all I saw was what might be described as “hard core” — the stuff I found browsing seedy sites on the internet.

        I don’t think I saw any soft core porn (images or film) until Tumblr, really. We didn’t have cable television while I was growing up, and I didn’t have it when I was in college. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Playboy magazine in person, and certainly, I never had access to magazines like it.

        So, in my case, it was porn… ‘hardcore’ porn.

        With that said, I absolutely agree that the softcore obscenity standards are making things a million times worse than they might be otherwise, and no doubt, it’s contributing to lots of women’s self-consciousness.

        My biggest fear is for teenagers coming up in the age of ubiquitous, easily accessible pornography thought the internet, tumblrs, etc. It’s not that I think being exposed to sex is negative (I don’t!), I’m just afraid the sex/sexuality/physical appearances teens will be most exposed to are those that promote incorrect notions about what sex is “supposed” to be and what people are “supposed” to look like.

  3. First, I was saddened that I, a woman in training to become a mental health counselor in a graduate program that demands multicultural awareness, should have been so unobservant as to not notice the lack of diversity. I can’t excuse that.

    Second, the video that Molly posted made me so sad. I am a woman with protruding, asymmetrical labia. I’ve never been with a man that wasn’t pleased (and a little humbled) by the opportunity to worship at my genital altar. What are we doing to ourselves?

    • First, I was saddened that I, a woman in training to become a mental health counselor in a graduate program that demands multicultural awareness, should have been so unobservant as to not notice the lack of diversity

      If it makes you feel any better, I noticed the lack of labia before I noticed the lack of color. Perhaps it’s because I’m self conscious about my labia, but I’ve never been self-conscious about the color of my skin.

      It’s no excuse, but it is a reason.

      the video that Molly posted made me so sad. I am a woman with protruding, asymmetrical labia. I’ve never been with a man that wasn’t pleased (and a little humbled) by the opportunity to worship at my genital altar. What are we doing to ourselves?

      Indeed. I’ve seen it before, and it is sad.

      In part, I think people (some men, in particular) need to tone it down with the bro-talk. The guy who will make a joke about ‘meat curtains’ is the same guy who is pleased as punch to eat pussy when it’s presented to him, no matter what it looks like.

      • “The guy who will make a joke about ‘meat curtains’ is the same guy who is pleased as punch to eat pussy when it’s presented to him, no matter what it looks like.”

        Too true.

        While we’re at it, can we women please stop saying ‘ewww’ when presented with an uncircumcised cock? It’s genital shaming from the other side of the gender barrier.

        • While we’re at it, can we women please stop saying ‘ewww’ when presented with an uncircumcised cock? It’s genital shaming from the other side of the gender barrier.

          Yes to this! You’re 100% right.

          Great thought, Night Owl.

  4. i didn’t read this whole post yet, but i know personally i like grooming because it feels better when i wear panties.

    what i’m actually commenting on is the wall of coifed cooches looks like a wall of martini glasses filled with different drinks… and i love it!

    • i didn’t read this whole post yet, but i know personally i like grooming because it feels better when i wear panties.

      To each her own. I’ve been bald as a cue ball and as furry as a wookie. :)

      I’m all in favor of women making their own choices, and I support any project that aims to show a range of ‘normal’ in the promotion of diversity… it’s just that while particular project demonstrates one type of diversity very well, it fails miserably at illustrating any other type of diversity (the type women have no control over).

      wall of coifed cooches looks like a wall of martini glasses filled with different drinks

      Ha! You’re the second person I’ve read who said that! Someone else mentioned martini glasses on a comment thread of an article about the project. I can kinda see it… :)

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