Getting Lippy with Lisa Williams & the Eve Appeal
I don’t know what’s happened to me lately, but I just cannot stop talking about vulvas. It’s ‘labia’ this and ‘clitoris’ that and then ‘clitoris’ some more. I suppose I’m making up for lost time - the extent of my knowledge up until recently having been hasty sex education lessons taught by quite a blustery male science teacher whose faint embarrassment about the whole thing seeped in via osmosis (oh yeah, I know LOADS about sodding osmosis though. He didn’t give a shit about drilling in the stuff that REALLY mattered, it seems).
But sod the shame. Let’s all be as happy about our vulvas as men seem to be swinging their dicks around. This month is the #getlippy campaign, which aims to get women talking confidently about their bodies and to raise awareness of the five gynaecological cancers. I spoke to the gorgeous, pink lippie rocking Lisa Williams who is working in conjunction with the Eve Appeal about it, about the vaginal cleansing myth, and sex toys because why not.
Lisa. You have a sex positive podcast, a book on orgasms coming out (co-written with the gorgeous Anniki), and are helping front a social media campaign for the Eve Appeal. Would you say you are a vagina expert? A vagspert?
I LOVE the term 'vagspert' and need business cards. I am no expert though. Literally. I don't have any vulva-related qualifications and if you're worried about a rash or a bump I'm not the best person to show it to. However, I am pretty passionate about taking the shame away from our anatomy, and about encouraging open conversations about things like pleasure, pelvic floors and periods.
The book is called More Orgasms Please: Why Female Pleasure Matters and is about the orgasm gap between men and women, and it gently encourages women to take control of their own pleasure. It's out in July!
The Eve Appeal is a charity which raises money to fund research into the prevention of the five gynaecological cancers: womb, ovarian, cervical, vulval and vaginal. It's important to talk about these body parts with a straight face sometimes because many women don't realise what the vulva is, let alone that that there's vulval cancer. I say 'vulva' and 'vagina' at least seven times a day now.
I wanna talk about the Hotbed. I’ve been hooked ever since I saw your insta account with its pictures of a young John Travolta and was given full permission to salivate. How did it all kick off, and what’s it all about?
So The Hotbed is a podcast I started with Anniki Sommerville and Cherry Healey. It's a chance for us to mouth off about things like long-term relationships, sharing 'the mental load' and to ask questions about orgasms and desire. We get sent a lot of sex toys to review. We also use it to interview proper vagsperts like Dr Karen Gurney, Clemmie Hooper and Anjula Mutanda, and people we think have interesting stuff to say about sex, relationships, sexuality and gender. Hang on a minute, I think we interviewed a hot young thing called Rebecca Humphries once..!
Yes, it’s true and I looooved doing it actually. Available on iTunes! *does RuPaul smile to camera*
Tell us more about #getlippy
Get Lippy is a campaign by the Eve Appeal which takes place each year. It's about talking openly about gynae matters, encouraging those with vulvas to tune into what's normal for their body in terms of discharge, periods and bloating, so they know to get anything irregular (such as bleeding after sex or in between periods) checked out by a doctor.
It also partners with loads of amazing beauty and fashion brands, who help spread awareness around gynae cancer as well as donating at least 10% of sales of nominated products to the charity.
Beauty, fashion, vulvas? You have my attention.
Can you pick out a few of your favourite products you’re collaborating with?
I've bought so much Get Lippy stuff this month it's not true: I now have lip balm coming out of every pocket and every bag - which is great as I panic when I find myself without one.
I've bought the gorgeous little limited edition Get Lippy Vaseline tin, an Iconic London lip gloss and an EOS 'Watermint' lip balm which smells like chewing gum and looks like it was designed by Eames.
I also bought a Tatty Devine glitter lips necklace which is as kitsch as hell.
You & I had a bit of a moment last month where we shared a mutual loathing of this ‘vaginal cleansing’ industry that’s springing up, claiming their *coughcoughveryexpensive* products will wash your fanny the best. Tell me why they’re bollocks (if you’ll pardon the expression)
Yeah, well, as well as being sent sex toys to review for the Hotbed, we also get sent a load of vaginal cleansing crap: washes, wipes, exfoliators. Have you ever heard of anything as mad or as painful-sounding as a vaginal exfoliator?
We have no interest in promoting anything so silly. The Eve Appeal's CEO Athena Lamnisos has written a lot on the topic too. She says people should be free to use them if they wish, but that they need to be aware that they are being sold "shame in a bottle" because many of these products are marketed as something to "fix" a vulva that doesn't smell or look right.
More worrying still, she says that sometimes these products may irritate the vulva or vagina and/or mask the signs of something more serious, because a discharge that doesn't smell normal for you needs to be checked out with a doctor and not tackled with a cosmetic product.
NB, the vagina (internal bit) is self-cleaning, and the vulva (external bit) just needs to be washed with water.
Thanks Lisa, but oh my god as well can I ask what the best sex toy is?
I'd class the satisfyer as a sex toy, but another one... hmmm. I'd say a little leather spanker like the ones they make in-house at Sh! Women's Store, because they have a soft, stroky, warm-up side, and a butch leather spanky side, which you can alternate between to get the blood flowing. Also they're made in-house at Sh! and it's always good to buy British.
I literally love you Lisa.
Lisa and Anniki’s book ‘More Orgasms Please: Why Female Pleasure Matters’ is available to pre-order on Amazon now.