Being the conservative nation that we are, the very idea of caring for one’s own vulva is still not yet in vogue, and may still arouse discomfort when brought up in conversation. To combat these fears and misinformation, Spa Esprit Group founder and Singapore’s Queen of Vulva, Cynthia Chua, wants to change all that with a new, exciting campaign and movement with Voyage to the Vulva-verse.
Voyage to the Vulva-verse will launch with a series of events to celebrate and normalise conversations around the vulva, including a vulva-themed art show, comprising both physical and virtual gallery experiences; Enter the Y-Zone, a nationwide poll that aims to reveal public opinions surrounding the vulva; and a fundraiser initiative benefitting local charity, Go With The Flow.
“The Voyage to the Vulva-verse campaign aims to create open and honest conversations surrounding the vulva and intimate care, which is important if we want to continue breaking taboos and changing perspectives,” Cynthia explains. “We want to highlight the vulva as a natural and beautiful part of the body, one to be seen as a positive celebration and not one of shame and embarrassment.”
Cynthia is perhaps best known for being the woman to make Brazilian waxing a norm in Singapore, revolutionising how women (and men) care for themselves, from top to bottom, through hair removal and grooming brand, STRIP. To date, STRIP has pruned four million vulvas, upped the ante of grooming standards and placed Singapore on the beauty world map.
“In 2002, we started a campaign to improve body hair grooming culture. Not only has it gone mainstream, but twenty years on, people want more. We know through long-standing experience and our conversations with customers that intimate health and care are what the market demands—the Voyage to the Vulva-verse movement is born from this, and we’re excited to be leading it, “says Cynthia.
STRIP and TWO L(I)PS, with Cynthia at the helm, are coming together to launch the Voyage to the Vulva-verse campaign. Taking self-love and grooming to a higher level, the movement aims to minimise vulva stigma and simultaneously normalise and liberate vulva-centric conversations.
As with every STRIP and TWO L(I)PS campaign, the Voyage to the Vulva-Verse campaign will roll out vulva-liberating activities in creative and thought-provoking showcases. In the first-of-its-kind vulva-themed art show in Singapore, ‘Voyage to the Vulva-verse’ will present a multi-medium art exhibition celebrating the vulva.
A total of eight artists, namely, Amanda Tan, Ashley Yeo, Hee Suhui, Tan Sze Yan, Kimberly Tan, Kristal Melson, Polina Korobova, and Yana & Jun will showcase original creations —from 3D and digital illustrations to a visual soundscape— through their own interpretations of this body part that is often objectified but rarely spoken of or honoured. Each art work was set up by the individual artist, where every installation feels like an intimate shrine to the vulva, each one unique, powerful, and arresting in both design and message.
The exhibition at Hatch Art Project begins with Tan Sze Yan’s (Barbarian Flower) cheeky All Around Us, which presents the topic of vulva care and intimate health via some familiar everyday items. While the vulva imagery is explicit in each of the three pieces, the colourful nature of the work also leads to a sense of whimsy with which we can discuss such health issues. Think a little deeper about the symbolism behind each work, and you’ll see how the cherries embedded in the cake represent ingrown hairs and folliculitis that we experience through hair removal; a cabbage on fire reminds us of the issues of skin irritation and inflammation; while the cut apple, orange and tomato sealed tight in a Ziploc bag reminds us of the pressures of Tight Pants Syndrome (TPS).
Ashley Yeo’s CARE is an intricate papercut figure, featuring illustrated details of the woman’s body and representation of the human anatomy, decorated with angels and butterflies. We see the figure as almost goddess-like, complete with a floorlight casting a larger than life shadow behind the artwork. Ideas of the body as a temple, and the divinity of our being come to mind, and a keen reminder to treat our body with the care and tenderness it deserves to achieve greatness.
Yana & Jun’s work Flora Fauna is next, and displays a video of ethereal, pink flowers across old desktop screens painted white. The effect is mesmerising, complete with a lullaby-like tune playing in the background, as these petals gently waft, with close-up details of the textures of each individual bloom, representing the individuality and beauty of each person’s vulva.
Glitter queen Polina Korobova creates self-titled work Polina, an embroidery of vintage tassels and ribbons crafted after learning to look at her own vulva, and appreciating it in all its beauty. Inspired by Polina’s favourite movie, Marie Antoinette, the final embroidered vulva is a crafty, dreamy vision of the organ, soft, intricate and precious, piece is dreamy, and a reminder to be gentle and loving towards your own.
Hee Suhui’s Other Faces is a nostalgic piece, where an oil painting of various vulva-themed objects, from antherium flowers to bivalve shells, communing in a surreal, Dali-like realm. A hand mirror stands in the centre, coaxing us to look back at ourselves, while also protesting the erasure of female genitalia and the consequence of forming identity without sexuality. Think of the vulva as a woman’s ‘second face’ and ‘second phase’; the painting is displayed atop her mother’s wooden dresser, as we reflect on how the women that came before us too faced similar moments of clarity and sexual awakenings.
Kristal Melson’s The Rebirth of Venus – Into the Vulva-verse is a distinctly pop art take on Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. But rather than various celestial beings amazed at Venus rising from a shell, Melson instead showcases a lone, modern Venus, on her knees and with a brand new haircut, representing the new way we should approach ideas of beauty and sensuality. Eye-popping in its colour scheme, one cannot help but feel a divine sense of glory wash over us as we gaze at this work, complete with gauzy, blue material gushing out from the artwork, and reminding us that we are all goddesses of love in our own right.
Kimberly Tan’s Part Your Lips is housed in a tiny constructed room, where the art work hangs suspended in midair behind a blue door. This is perhaps partly due to the image itself, which pays homage to the famous shot of Marilyn Monroe with her iconic white dress blowing upwards in The Seven Year Itch. This version however, re-depicts the dress as resembling woman’s intimates. Free from her sex symbol status of the 1950s, Monroe is now considered a representation of body positivity. This ‘flower’ towers over a garden cityscape (hence the door in the installation), and encourages viewers to break stigmas and be more open about speaking on women’s intimate health issues.
Finally, Amanda Tan’s innocuous Drip displays videos of vaginal fruits and flowers across two screens, dripping crystalline, shimmering liquid (made with fellow artist Polina Korobova), to produce a sensory visual and soundscape piece. Representing and celebrating female sexuality and pleasure, Drip also sees Amanda Tan exploring the idea of how the vulva is a portal to one’s inner self, intimately connecting the mind, body and soul – perhaps you too can find yourself in the throes of an incredible inner world, if only you’d look.
Alongside its virtual art show, STRIP and TWO L(I)PS will also be launching a nationwide online poll, Enter the Y-Zone, to deep dive into the public’s sentiments on the vulva. As a topic that is still shunned, from its image and word to everything it represents, the online poll aims to gain insight into Singaporeans’ perceptions and dispel misconceptions while revealing real public opinions, attitudes and diversity of stories on the vulva. At the same time, it also hopes to shed light on the importance for women to become better acquainted with our female anatomy, especially since there is still a lack of education in body literacy. Open to all, this anonymous poll will feature short questions centring around vulva knowledge, body image, self-care and intimate health.
Through partnering with Go With The Flow, a local non-profit organisation that aims to eradicate period poverty and period shame as part of the Voyage to the Vulva-verse campaign, STRIP strives to build on and normalise conversations surrounding the vulva, extending it to include conversations around period, period care and improving accessibility to menstrual healthcare, especially in low-income communities in Singapore. You can do your part by purchasing exclusive campaign merchandise, such as enamel pins, coin pouches and motel keychains. 20% of every purchase made between 26th August and 31st December 2021 will be donated to Go With The Flow, available here
“I like to tackle taboo subjects with fun and quirkiness. If our aim is to bring awareness to an essential message, the best way to get people into open and honest conversations is through a left-field campaign that people understand intuitively and actively participate in,” concludes Cynthia.
The Voyage to the Vulva-verse Art Show runs from 10th to 22nd September 2021 at Hatch Art Project, 7 Yong Siak Street, Singapore 168644. The Voyage to the Vulva-verse Art Show continues online from 23rd September 2021. Pre-registration is required. Book a timeslot or find out more about the Art Show here
Find out more about Voyage to the Vulva-verse campaign here