This is body-shaming at its most ridiculous.

Faith Salie
December 05, 2017

I’m a woman with three vaginas. You probably are too. Let’s check: Go to a mirror, take off your top, and see if there is any skin where your inner arm meets your upper body.

If there is—and there should be, because you are a human female—then you have “arm vagina.” We can thank Jennifer Lawrence for coining this phrase in 2014. “I know I have armpit fat,” she confessed on the red carpet at that year's SAG awards. “It’s okay… it’s armpit vaginas, it’s awful!”

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Lawrence's blithe self-deprecation served as the birth canal for a butterfly effect, spiraling women into despair and body dysmorphia. One celebrity stylist has even declared that this apparently unsightly and completely natural fold of skin is among her female clients’ greatest insecurities. Some have even turned to cosmetic surgery.

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If you’re like me, you didn’t even know you had arm vaginas. I personally have always thought one set of lady parts down below was enough, although it would have been nice to have a back-up vagina during and after childbirth. Now when I think of how handy my armpits are for holding stuff while my arms and hands are otherwise occupied, I’ll congratulate myself on doing my Kegels.

Ladies? Do we really not have enough going on, what with muffin tops, hip dips, thigh gap, underboob, and side boob that we needed to hit ourselves with arm vagina?

I’m not sure I even understand the dis. Are we now supposed to loathe our body parts for merely existing? Because arm vaginas don’t necessarily have to do with excess fat. There’s an actual muscle underlying—or in some cases entirely comprising—your arm vagina. It’s called the “teres minor.” It flexes. So if you’re someone who does a few planks now and then, don’t be surprised when someone says, “Whoa, have you been working out? Your upper body’s looking…vaginal!”

And is calling something a vagina an insult? My real vagina has come in pretty handy and has produced more things than my armpits ever have. I have a pretty deep cleft in my chin, and someone once told me it looked like a vagina chin. I took it as a compliment but only after asking him to call it “yonic.”

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Look, naming things is powerful. It can lead to solutions. For example, “Hey dude, when you spread your legs on the train, pretending that your bald-and-wrinklies deserve their own seat, that’s called manspreading.”

But when you name something for which there is no solution (even if you’re the beloved, irreverent J. Law), you’re not helping. You’re not helping women at large when you diminish us into body parts—parts which invariably fall short of anatomically impossible standards.

There’s a culinary movement called “nose to tail” in which folks pride themselves on consuming all parts of a pig. I feel like women have created our own nose to tail movement, except rather than using all our parts, we abuse them—making ourselves sexist pigs in the process.

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We’ve spent so much energy trying to keep predators and lawmakers out of the business of messing with our vaginas that the last thing we should be doing is identifying more of them on our bodies and attacking them ourselves.

And I’m sorry if I was the one who introduced you to the notion of arm vaginas. At least we aren’t expected to wax them.

This article was revised on December 6, 2017 to remove a doctor’s quote.