Kitchener’s Taylor Devalk likes open aired conversations about vaginas, did you know?If you go to dearvaginaa.com, you’ll see a lot of her doing it, and other people too! Alongside pictures of fruit, there’s no 18+ warnings.
Thanks to the continued courage of voices like Devalk and the other contributors of this incredible blog, we, as a community, actually talk.
This is when we stop leaving vagina related conversations in the gender specific washroom accessible only to those who pass as patriarchy-approved female.
This is when we allow the space for the voices saying, “I’m in pain,” “I need to stop,” or “no — I’m not “just bloated.””
This is when we listen.
Devalk, bright and sunny, sat across from me at Show & Tell in Kitchener a couple of weeks ago.
And there, in that busy, bustling place, she just said it: “I live with Endrometriosis, and PCOS. I didn’t know until recently, but I’ve been living with intense menstrual and sex related pain since I was 14.”
And nothing stopped. No one gasped. No dirty looks were shot. The world carried on, almost just as it was before she said it. But now it was out there.
And that’s exactly what Devalk is trying to do with her community blog, Dear Vagina.
“It’s meant to be a collaborative blog for people who live with vaginas or in close proximity to them, to come and share their story,” she said.
The blog, subtitled “a collection of personal dispatches” reflects the evolving nature of learning to love one’s body, even when it may feel at war with itself.
After originally sparking conversation through her Instagram posts, Devalk realized the value of her voice.
“People would message me and say I was brave for talking about it,” she said.
Someone once approached her and called her “one of the strongest voices,” but in almost every one of her posts Devalk reminds readers that she is talking from her own experience.
“I know I’m not the only person living with health problems stemming from hormones and sex organs,” she said. “I just think that aren’t enough people talking.”
“For the longest time, I felt like no one believed me. Doctors would minimize my pain, tell me to ignore what my body was telling me. I was [Googling] my own disease to try and understand how to take care of myself. I felt alone, ignored, and sometimes invalidated,” she said.
“It’s a common experience, and I don’t think that’s okay.”
Long term, Devalk sees Dear Vagina filling that gap.
“Socially, there will always be some people who don’t want to talk about it. But wouldn’t it be neat to have a space where people could go, share their experiences and learn from one another?”
“Maybe one day, Dear Vagina could have support groups, or panel discussions where we invite doctors doing amazing work to come and talk. But for that, I think I’ll need a little help,” she laughs.
So log onto dearvaginaa.com, read a post, share a post, and help Dear Vagina in its mission to make this world a better place.
When Canesten stops being a $30 punishment for taking antibiotics, we’ll know we’re on our way.
Racheal Walser is a local literary short fiction author and poet working in feminist non-profit. She lives on a ranch for retired house hippos along with her great white carpet, er, dog, Anthem and her not so squish, Squish cat who meows maliciously at feeding time. Her work has appeared in publications by Mensa, Fast Forward Press, After the Pause, Canadian Stories and many more.