Facing the Vagina

I am a 9-year-old living with my family in Argentina. The day is so hot that if it weren’t a Saturday and we were at school the teachers would have fed us popsicles at recess to keep our temperatures from rising.

We are swimming in the shallow end of a pool. There are five of us.

It’s my turn to use the scuba mask. The other girls are bobbing around in a row.

I take a deep breath before dropping underwater…  as I float by, each girl pushes the bottom of her bathing suit to the side to show me what’s behind the nylon fabric… thin slits between flesh are all I see… and then I’m up and out of the water, greeted by giggles as I gasp for air.

I take my place in line and pass the mask down to the next curious girl.

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The Vagina Talks

Why is it that I feel squeamish about saying “vagina” in public? I didn’t realize how much of an issue this still was for me until about a month ago when on a crowded plane, my boyfriend cracked some joke with a punch line ending with the word “hoo-hoo.” Immediately turning into a word monitor, I looked at him and said “SHH!!”

As I turned to make sure that the little girl seated in the row behind me didn’t hear what he said—I caught myself. Why am I freaking out?

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