Photography can be a powerful tool for good. Photographer Ellie Sedgwick recognized that, and she's using her camera skills for a coffee table book on vulvas and to encourage body positivity, curiosity, and understanding.
Sedgwick, who lives in Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia, began the project after teenage experiences and a previous partner's insensitivity made her feel so self-conscious about her vulva that she considered labiaplasty, a surgery that involves reducing the size of the labia minora, the inner vaginal lips, and often, sculpting of the labia major, the outer vaginal lips. Thankfully, after a visit with a doctor who encouraged her to explore the topic, she discovered that there was nothing wrong with her genitals and she had nothing to be ashamed of, saying she was glad the doctor kept her from removing "half of [her] labia." And it isn't just Sedgwick. Labiaplasty is one of the fastest-growing plastic surgeries in the world.
Her work extends beyond photography. On Sedgwick's website and Instagram, readers can find one-stop hubs for her work ("Flip Through My Flaps" and "Browse Through My Boobs"), frank and honest discussions on women's anatomy and experiences, bookings for personal and group shoots, body positivity apparel and merchandise, sex toys, and more.
Sedgwick hopes to create a coffee table book of her work specifically for doctors' and cosmetic surgeons' waiting rooms to help women experiencing insecurity feel more comfortable with themselves. She also hopes to one day open a gallery to showcase her work and her subjects.
Now I get vulva owners all around the world to 'Spread their legs to spread the word' that labia, just like eye brows, belly buttons and big toes…. are all unique and that is what makes us beautiful.
Sedgwick talks about her mission a bit in the video below (video is NSFW):
Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.